If this is your first barge cruise, you probably have some questions. We’ve provided answers below to some of the more common questions asked by our guests. And simply contact us if you don’t see an answer for your specific question.
HOW DO I GET TO THE BARGE?
Most guests fly into Paris / CDG Airport. If you’re cruising on board Nymphea, you’ll find your way to one of the wonderful Parisienne railway stations and hop on a TGV train. TGV stands for ‘tres grand vitesse’ which translates as ‘very great speed’. French trains are as wonderful as they are fast, and within an hour or so of leaving you’ll be getting off at the train station in Tours where we will meet you in our air-conditioned minibus to take you to the barge. If you’re cruising on board Le Papillon, your transfers between Paris and the barge are included and we will make transportation arrangements for you that work with your travel plans. When it’s time to leave most guests make the same journey in reverse – although some go on to follow their own itinerary. Of course, it is possible to drive to meet us – there is always parking at the ports.
WHAT IF I HAVE SPECIAL DIETARY REQUIREMENTS?
Our chefs freshly prepares all meals every day and can cater to most all dietary requirements but please mention any dietary restrictions at time of booking to ensure that we can accommodate your needs.
WHAT CLOTHES SHOULD I BRING
Summer in France is generally warm and can get quite hot in July and August, so dress as you would for a normal summer holiday. It can and does rain occasionally so bring something light and waterproof. We’re very casual on board but one day a week we tend to dine in a nice restaurant onshore and you might like to bring something smarter and more dressy to suite the evening. The fall months of September and October can bring a few cool days and evenings so be sure to pack a mid-weight jacket.
IS BARGING A GOOD HOLIDAY FOR FAMILIES?
We don’t recommend barging for small children but once the kids get to the age of 8 or so it’s a great family holiday. Certain itineraries are better suited for kids at different ages. Simply let us know your details and we will be happy to send you a great itinerary to suit your family.
WILL I GET SEASICK?
Canals are very placid stretches of water, as are the rivers we cruise on as well. Our barges move at a serene and stately pace and it is fairly unlikely you will feel any adverse effects.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I GET ILL?
France has a very modern and efficient medical system. Should you become ill or injured we will immediately take you to the local doctor or hospital. French pharmacies are also very good for minor problems.
ARE BARGES ACCESSIBLE FOR WHEELCHAIRS OR PEOPLE WHO ARE PHYSICALLY CHALLENGED?
Because barges have narrow gangplanks and steep staircases, we have to admit that they don’t really suit those who need an easily accessible environment. Please reach out to us prior to booking to discuss any mobility issues and we will be happy to see if we can comfortably accommodate you.
HOW OFTEN CAN I GET OFF THE BARGE?
Because the flow of water is regulated by locks, we make plenty of stops as we rise up and drop-down levels. These make for easy getting off places as we are cruising. In many areas, locks are quite close together so you can stroll between them and rejoin the barge at a later stage.
DO YOU PROVIDE ANY LEISURE EQUIPMENT?
We carry bikes for all guests – cycling the flat tow paths is fairly easy and good exercise.
WHAT ENTERTAINMENT DO YOU HAVE ON BOARD?
We have a hi-fi system with a selection of CDs and a rather eclectic library, mostly made up of books previous guests have left behind. We’re always happy for guests to swap books to keep the library ticking over. We also have a selection of board games.
DOES THE BARGE HAVE WI-FI AND A CELL PHONE SIGNAL?
The best answer to this is ‘at least part of the time’. French canals may have once been transport super-highways, these days they really are off the beaten track. So, it rather depends on whereabouts we are cruising. It’s generally fair to say that when we’re moored up evenings and mornings you should be able to find good connectivity.
DO I NEED TRAVEL INSURANCE?
We always recommend travel insurance – especially given the changing landscape of travel over the past few years. In regards to medical considerations, trip delays and government restrictions, we advise consulting with a travel insurance expert. If you don’t already have a relationship with an insurance expert, we have found that Brandon with the Travel Insurance Center has provided many of our guests with clear answers and reasonable rates for their travel needs.
DOES THE CREW SPEAK ENGLISH?
Yes. All of our crew speaks English and typically speaks at least one other European language.
DO I NEED TO CARRY CASH?
Rural France is slowly catching up with technology, but it will be some years yet before it becomes a cashless society. Having Euros on hand is always a good idea. In the bigger towns cards work fine and most ATMs are free to use.
IS TIPPING ALLOWED?
Crew gratuities are not included in the charter rates and if you feel the crew have given you the sort of service that goes above and beyond they’ll be very happy if you show your appreciation. As a guide, guests usually tip around 5% of the cruise fare. All tips should be given to the Captain on board and are shared between the whole crew. Gratuities can only be made on board by cash payment in French currency / Euros.