Questions and answers about Saroche cruises

Website FAQs

In this section I have attempted to answer as many of the common questions about a trip with us that I can. However if the answer is not here please don’t hesitate yo ask me

How much Luggage should I bring with me?

For many of you the barge trip may be part of a larger European trip, it is important to know that even most European hotels have relatively small rooms and many of the airports and stations require you to drag bags all over the place. With this in mind, we recommend one larger suite case and a carry on per person.

The size of a barge is defined by the size of the locks, so whilst it is very comfortable, space aboard Saroche is not finite.

What to bring exactly will depend somewhat on the season you are travelling, however, a basic outline for the week aboard the barge is casual clothes for the day to day trip aboard and visits and one or two smart sets for lunches or dinners ashore. Even the most exclusive restaurants no longer require a tie however if you are planning to dine in a three-star Michelin restaurant then a jacket for the gentlemen is recommended. Bring a pullover and a rain jacket, as we all know the weather these days is all cockeyed, the barge has central heating and air-conditioning so you will be comfortable whilst aboard but whilst out and about they may be needed.

We have luxury bath towels aboard, a full selection of toiletries and hair driers in each stateroom, so all this can be left behind. We also have coat hangers in the cupboard of your cabin.

Luggage can be stored underneath your beds for the duration of the week.

Some choose to leave some luggage at their Hotel for the week as they return to it before their onward journey.

What should I wear?

We run a relaxed casual operation. There is no formality whilst onboard although nudity is frowned upon but not forbidden! But seriously casual slacks, tee shirts, shirts and easy lounging clothes are all perfect.

What footwear should I wear?

Running or tennis shoes are the best shoes for a barge holiday as they are comfortable for walking, cycling, sitting on the deck and doing the visits in. A pair of smart shoes are recommended for the smarter restaurants.

Can I wear high heels onboard

Sorry but the simple answer is no!

1) it’s too dangerous on a boat.

2) high heels destroy paint work and damage wooden floors. If your outfit requires high heels then please make sure you have some flats to wear around the barge and for getting on and off the boat but you will not be allowed to wear high heels on board. Sorry! And yes that applies to both sexes!

Will there be a hairdryer?

Yes... And each air conditioned cabin has its own private bathroom with soaps, towels and ample hanging space.

Can I bring my computer?

Yes, if you need to work whilst on board, or to download your photos then please bring a laptop but remember you need to lug it around everywhere before and after the barge trip. You can also rest assured that you can charge all your electrical equipment such as laptops, phones, cameras and electronic books on board.

Will I be able to use the Internet/wifi on board?

Yes there is wifi, please be aware that it does not work everywhere on the barge, the best place is in the living room and it may not work everywhere along the route, even in France there are black spots with no reception.

Also please understand the mobile WiFi is 4G in speed and this means that streaming films YouTube and uploading or downloading large files is not guaranteed. Wifi is improving every day in France but it’s still a little behind the times. Also this a vacation to disconnect for the world, 6 days of relaxation! Try and embrace it!

Do I need a Telephone?

It is a good idea for someone in your group to have a mobile phone even just for safety alone. You can get European coverage on most mobile phone plans. Please ensure you know how it works, any pin numbers and any codes you may need to access it. May I suggest you also try calling home once in Europe to ensure it works, its no good trying to use it in an emergency and not knowing how to dial a number in France. You can find My telephone number on the contacts page of this website.

I have a special Diet can you cater for me?

Dawn is an excellent chef, her food is wonderful as my waist line is testament to! However many of you will have a specific want, need, dislike or allergy. Dawn has so far in the last 2 decades been able to cater to every single dietary requirement that clients have had. At the time of final payment we send out a long list of questions to the group leader, it is here that you can let Dawn know about your likes, dislikes and any dietary concerns and allergies you may have, please be as specific as you can be because the more she knows the better she can prepare. Please don’t expect to turn up on the day and have a full menu catering to your vegan diet without telling us. Yes this has happened and “oh I didn’t think to tell you” doesn’t solve the problem!

If you have a private concern about food and drink you can email us and Dawn can have a more intimate conversation and come up with a plan for you.

I need a C-Pap machine to sleep with at night, will there be electricity?

Saroche is equipped with two silent generators and a huge battery bank and together with shore power points along the route we have electricity 24 hours a day. The Power is 50hertz 220 volts so please make sure your equipment can work in Europe.

We have USB connection plugs in all the cabins to allow you to charge your phones iPads and cameras.

I need to do my laundry how can I get this done?

The washing machine and tumble drier on the barge are in near constant use by the crew keeping up with laundry. There is a possibility to do smalls once during the week and the crew will explain this to you when you arrive. However if you need jeans, shirts and larger items laundered, we will have to send it out to a launderette at your expense.

Music/iPod

We have an Bluetooth stereo on the barge so if you want to play your own music then you are more than welcome to link in and do so, however we have a large music library that will play soft background music for you.

Do I need insurance?

The French company "S.A.R.L SAROCHE" is fully French registered and fully insured for the barge, bikes, mini-van. Not all barges are, so please be aware!

Personal Travel, Health and Cancellation insurance is imperative, I cannot stress this enough, GET IT, it could save you a fortune. We do not provide this but your credit card company, travel agent, bank and house insurer can.

What currency will I need?

France, Germany, Holland, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Austria and Greece all use the Euro. Switzerland uses the Swiss Franc and England still has the Pound. It is advisable to arrive in any of these countries with a couple of hundred dollars worth of local currency.

Can I bring Travellers Cheques?

Please do not bring travellers cheques as they are no longer used in Europe despite what some banks and travel agents may say.

Which credit cards work in Europe and how can I use them?

Visa and Mastercard are the most widely used credit cards and 99% of restaurants and shops take these cards. France and much of Europe uses a system called Chip and Pin and so as well as the traditional swipe and signing of a card slip the new system requires your card to have a chip on it and a 4 digit code.

ATM's (cash dispenser) are omni-present but again you'll need that 4 digit pin code to withdraw money.

Gratuity

In France and indeed Europe tipping is very acceptable, however only tip the staff if you have had a good experience. 10% is enough unless you have been blown away, then go for it.

For the crew aboard Saroche a gratuity is the best way to say thank you. The barging industry standard is between 7 - 10% of the trip cost. If you wish to leave a tip please make sure it is in Euros and that you kindly hand the envelope to the captain, we distribute the gratuity evenly amongst each of us. We cannot accept cheques or credit cards for a gratuity, sorry.

Where can we stay before and after the trip?

France is one of the most visited countries on the planet and because of this certain areas like Paris can become absolutely packed with Tourists. I Would recommend Paris to anyone who has never seen it before. It is as magical and romantic as you imagine, I shall not recommend any hotels as I have done so in the past and this has bitten me, I will say this even the lower class of hotel will cost a lot so use trip advisor on the web and pick carefully.

If you would prefer to get away from the hustle and bustle I recommend getting out of Paris and heading to rural France.

Burgundy

Dijon

For those of you joining us in Burgundy may I suggest coming down to Dijon a few days before the trip. Dijon is a small University Town with a wonderful mediaeval city centre, art gallery, Ducal Palace, impressive morning market on Saturdays, fine restaurants and hotels some of whom I recommend below. The tourist office will help you with all visits in and around Dijon, but please be careful not to do visits that we shall do later on in the week, the market aside, which I will replace with another visit, please see our itinerary.

How should we travel around?

France is blessed with space and because of this it has a wonderful train system, probably the best in the world. The road system through France is also very good. If you are just making the one journey from Paris to Dijon and return then I highly recommend the high speed train (TGV) it takes one and a half hour to Dijon and is a real experiense in itself. Tickets only become available three months before departure and it is often worth checking the difference between first and second class as it can be as little as 1 euro difference. Train to Dijon leave Paris on a regular basis from Gare de Lyon. For your information the name of the principle high speed train stations that you need to make your destination to is Dijon Ville.

Many people try to go direct from the international airport Charles de Gaule to Dijon. It is possible however the trains are at very sporadic times and so my advise is to get into the centre of Paris as there is normaly a train once an hour from Gare de Lyon.

To get from the airport to the train stations in Paris there are several ways, train, RER, taxi and bus. The train leaves from the airports train terminal as does the RER which is the french version of a tram system and maps will show you that it goes all over the city. the RER stops at all stations so it takes an hour and a half, this will bring you to Gare de Nord and from here you need to take the metro to gare de Lyon for Dijon. Taxis are reliable (make sure it has a taxi sign on the roof) but can be expensive and with bags and 4 or more in the group you will need two taxis. There are buses which are a great option and they go from all terminals direct Gare de Lyon it takes around 45 minutes and costs around 20euros per person.

Hiring a car is sensible if you are going to a rural part of the country as it really lets you explore hidden France at its best. There are rental firms at both and the airport and Dijon Train station for both drop off and pickup with most of the major companies represented.

Where can I stay in Dijon?

I can recommend a few hotels in Dijon for you. Please find their telephone numbers and web addresses below.

City centre hotels

  • Hotel Chapeau Rouge: (4 star) excellent position from station and to the centre of town, good restaurant. Tel (33) 03 80 50 88 88. Internet www.chapeau-rouge.fr
  • Hotel Phillip Le Bon: (3 Star) hidden in the old town good but expensive restaurant called Les Oenephile. Tel (33) 03 80 30 73 52. internet www.hotelphilliplebon.com

Hotels close to the station

Alsace

How do I get to the meeting point?

There are several ways to get to the meeting point in Strasbourg.

Coming from Paris or Charles de Gaule airport.
The high speed train takes two and a half hours and is comfortable, quiet and easy. There are several trains that leave terminal 2 called Roissy-Pole Charles de Gaule and those from Paris itself leave from Gare de L’Est. Tickets are not available until three months before the date of travel. And check the price of first class as well as standard as the prices can be very similar and the extra comfort of first class is well worth the extra money.

You can fly into Frankfurt in Germany and then take a train to Strasbourg however you need to make a change in Germany to get onto a French train that will bring you into Strasbourg. It is easy and there is a half an hour on average between trains at the change point so there should be no issues.

Strasbourg has an airport however it is not well serviced but there are direct flights from Amsterdam Schripol airport so this is an option for you. Strasbourg is a perfect airport for those who are flying in via private jet, landing and ground fees are reasonable and there is a full length runway accepting large commercial aircraft.

All the major European rental companies are represented in Strasbourg and so making it a drop off point or a pick up point for a hire car is easy. Please remember European cars are small so six people with baggage may need to ask for a Minibus.

What time do we leave the barge on the last day?

Departure from Saroche is at 9.30am on the final morning of the cruise, From here I take you back to Strasbourg train station unless we have discussed and agreed to another location. It is preferred to have one pick up point and one drop off point for the whole group.

Your week will either start or finish in Strasbourg depending on the direction and the other end of the trip is around 45 minutes away depending on traffic, so my recommendation is to NOT book an onward journey ticket before 11.15am

Can you recommend a hotel for us in Strasbourg?

Yes absolutely. Dawn and I have stayed in the Hotel Cour du Corbeau M Gallery by Sofitel. It’s a very nice hotel, some rooms can be quirky but there is plenty of hot water! The staff are lovely the restaurant is excellent and the position to explore the city is perfect. BOOK EARLY! There is a reason, it fills up so quickly!

Can you recommend a good restaurant in Strasbourg?

Yes but to be honest there are literally hundreds of pretty great small "auberges", bistros and cafes serving everything from Michelin stared haut cuisine to a simple plat du jour. You will not have trouble finding a good place to eat! Be warned portions in the Alsace are big and they don’t tend to do the doggy bag for what you can’t manage!

Is there a must see whilst I'm in Strasbourg?

Several in fact but the cathedral is a must and then to get a truly unique perspective of the city take the trip boat “bateau Mouche” around the canals of the old town, you will go through a lock that Saroche cannot fit into, it is really very good.

What time do we leave the barge on the last day?

Departure from Saroche is at 9.30am on the final morning of the cruise, From here I take you back to Strasbourg train station unless we have discussed and agreed to another location. It is preferred to have one pick up point and one drop off point for the whole group.

Your week will either start or finish in Strasbourg depending on the direction and the other end of the trip is around 45 minutes away depending on traffic, so my recommendation is to NOT book an onward journey ticket before 11.15am

Can you recommend a hotel for us in Strasbourg?

Yes absolutely. Dawn and I have stayed in the Hotel Cour du Corbeau M Gallery by Sofitel. It’s a very nice hotel, some rooms can be quirky but there is plenty of hot water! The staff are lovely the restaurant is excellent and the position to explore the city is perfect. BOOK EARLY! There is a reason it fills up so quickly!

Can you recommend a good restaurant in Strasbourg?

Yes but to be honest there are literally hundreds of pretty great small auberges, bistros and cafes serving everything from Michelin stared haut cuisine to a simple plat du jour. You will not have trouble finding a good place to eat! Be warned portions in the Alsace are big and they don’t tend to do the doggy bag for what you can’t manage!

Is there a must see whilst I am in Strasbourg?

Several in fact but the cathedral is a must and then to get a truly unique perspective of the city take the trip boat “bateau Mouche” around the canals of the old town, you will go through a lock that Saroche cannot fit into, it is really very good.

Contact Jason & Dawn on the Saroche

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