For health and safety reasons canal barging isn’t the ideal holiday for tiny children. But once they get to the age of 8 or so it’s a perfect way to holiday with parents. There is something going on, something to see and something to get involved in every hour of the day, which Daddy and Mummy can share in too. Or which Daddy can share in whilst Mummy lounges on deck with a good book and cup of coffee!

Taking part can start as early as before breakfast when the kids can accompany one of the crew down to the local bakery to buy bread, croissants, pain au raisin and pain au chocolat for the morning meal. They’ll soon start to pick up the words and by the end of the week they’ll be putting in the order – if they don’t know how to count in French, we’ll teach them.


Most of our adult guests get involved in the every-day aspects of cruising – helping work the locks, steering the barge (even on straight bits, where we let them have a go, it isn’t easy!), tying up in port. Kids love it even more – hey, how many 12 year olds get to steer a 110 year old canal barge? So, under the watchful eye of the Captain and crew, we’re very happy to let them get involved. At the end of the week we set them a bit of a test and, once they’ve proved they know what they’re doing, we have a ceremony and award them with a Barge Buddy certificate.


Every French child knows that France is all about food and that food comes from the kitchen. Barges don’t actually have kitchens – they have galleys. Galleys have chefs and, in turn, chefs are happy to pass on their skills to aspiring ‘sous chefs’. One particular French signature dish is ‘gougères’ – baked savoury choux pastry made from dough mixed with cheese. We often serve them on the barge as aperitifs. They taste wonderful, look impressive, but are simple to make. Chef is always ready to have a bit of a gougères’ fest and get young apprentices involved.


We always carry 4 bicycles on Le Papillon, simply because it’s great to cycle along the flat towpaths from lock to lock. When we have children on board we check their ages and height and swap out the adult bikes for ones the right size. If they have energy to burn they can buzz up and down between the locks.


We have board games in the saloon that kids can play. We can also add-in some local attractions that children find interesting from the Stone Age cave paintings of the Grottes at Arcy to the ‘Accro Branche’ tree climbing park near Avallon. Depending which route you’re cruising, we can organise outings for canoeing and go-karting. Most villages we moor at have a tennis court, and a ‘Petanque’ strip where the kids can play boules. Of course, parents are free to join in!


Breakfast is never a problem because we have yet to find a child who won’t happily munch through a pain au chocolat pastry (or two!). Come lunch and dinner we appreciate that not all children are gourmets! If that’s the case chef is perfectly happy to discuss a simpler menu. When we have children on board we always have at least one lunchtime BBQ during the week which we invite the children to help organise. Drinks-wise we can organise whatever the children most like to have.


We want to give you the best family holiday ever. If you have a special request just ask – if we can arrange it, we will. All you have to do is call or email us.