In this section we try to answer all the questions you may have about your cruise. You may have a question in which the answer is not here and of course you can contact me at anytime to ask anything you need to about the cruise. Three months prior to setting sail and at the time of final payment we shall send you a list of questions to fill in, allowing us to cater to your groups needs and to inform our insurance company.
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 relativly 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 large suite case and a carry on per person. The barge has an office we can and do store your bags in it for the week.
This will depend somewhat on the season you are travelling, however a basic out line 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. Even the most exclusive restaurants no longer require a tie however if you are planning to dine in a three star Micheline restaurant then a jacket for the gentelmen is recomended. Bring a pullover and a rain jacket, as we all know the weather these days is all cockeyed, the barge has central heating and airconditioning so you will be comfortable whilst aboard but whilst out and about they may be needed.
Running 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 restsaurants.
France is one of the most visited countries on the planet and because of this certain areas like Paris can become absolutly packed with Tourists. I Would recommend Paris to anyone who has never seen it before it is as magicle and romantic as you imagine, I shall not recomend 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.
For those of you joining us in Champagne may I suggest a few days north in Normandy visiting the D' day landing beaches and enjoying the calvados and Camembert. The idilic rural costal charm of Normandy is hard to beat and the regional food make it a real unsung part of France. For lovers of champagne, perhaps a few additional days in the region before or after your week with us would add. Reims is a large city and we will visit it during the week, like any European city the old town is small and so my thoughts would be for you to stay in a village on the Marne, perhaps Meaux famous for its Brie cheese and bordering the region making it an ideal stop off before your week with us.
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 wonderfull mediaeval city centre, art gallery, Ducal Palace, Impresive 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, please see our itineray.
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 or Reims and return then I highly reccommend the high speed train (TGV) it takes one and a half hour to Dijon and only 45 minuets to Reims 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. Trains to Reims are less frequent and the station of departure is Gare de l'Est, how ever in both cases there are trains that arrive around the 4pm meeting time.
For your information the name of the two principle high speed train stations that you need to make your destination are as follows.
Dijon is Dijon Ville
Reims is TGV Champagne Ardenne.
Many people try to go direct from the international airport Charles de Gaule to Dijon or Reims and 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 or gare de l'est for Reims. 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 to Gare de Lyon and Gare de l'est. in the case of Gare de Lyon heading to Dijon it takes around 45 minutes and costs around 20euros per person. I'm not sure for Gare de L'est but it is closer and therefore should be less expensive and less time.
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 Reims and Dijon Train station for both drop off and pickup with most of the major companies represented.
I can recommend a few hotels in Dijon for you. Please find their telephone numbers and web addresses below.
City centre hotels
Hotels close to the station
Yes... And each air conditioned cabin has its own private bathroom with soaps, towels and ample hanging space.
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 electricle equipment such as laptops, phones, cameras and electronicbooks on board.
Whilst on-board the barge we have no Television and no internet! Relaxation and escape is the aim of the game. However we are not completly cut off from the world the internet is available several times during the week from various restaurants and cafes and newspapers can be bought including the International Herald Tribune
It is a good idea for someone in your group to have a mobile phone even just for saftey 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.
Whilst we do have a washing machcine and tumble drier aboard the barge, they are normaly in use cleaning the bed linen and towels, there may be an oportunity to do one wash in the week on board but there is no guarantee. Ideally you should have enough laundry to see you through the week please and then at your onward destination, hotel, gite or bed and breakfast be able to do some laundry.
Many of our guests have Dietry requirements and Dawn has so far been able to cater to everyones needs with great success. All the restaurants you go to will be most accomodating and I shall of-course explain any needs you have on your behalf. Please please please let us know any dislikes or allergies before hand, no matter how small, its no good telling Dawn your a vegetarian when you get on the barge!
We have an ipod docking station on board so if you want to play your ipod on our system please feel free to do so.
The French company "Who Knows S.A.R.L" is fully registered and fully insured for 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 provide this.
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.
Please do not bring travllers cheques as they are no longer used in Europe dispite what some banks and travel agents may say.
Visa and Mastercard are the most widly 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.
The industry standard on barges, hotels and restaurants on tipping is between 5 and 10% of the total cost. However with the introduction of the minimum wage in the hotel industry waiting staff no longer require tips to survive so my guide line is this, if you belive the service, food and experience was worth it please leave a tip if not then don't. You will not get questioned and if you are tell them they dont deserve it!
Customers in the past have left gratuities for us as a way of thanks and we are incredibly greatful to anyone who does, however we cannot accept travelers cheques and in all cases whether on board, in Restaurants, hotels or a taxi please leave any gratuity in Euros, thank you.
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