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Heart of France Bike & Barge: Montargis – Paris

If you’re torn between the delights of the French countryside and the country’s cultural treasures, take heart.

  • 11 Days
  • 6 Reviews Recommended by 6 of 6 travellers
  • Activity Level: Easy / Moderate
  • Daily Mileage: 10 - 38 mi
  • Daily Biking: 1 1/2 - 5 hr
  • Small Groups: 24
  • Biking
  • Easy / Moderate
  • Plane

Why You'll Love This Tour

Overview

France Bike and Barge Vacation, France Biking Tours

This unique itinerary rolls the wonders of man and Mother Nature into one enchanting package. You’ll chart the course of French art from the Barbizon school to the Impressionists, as you visit the villages that inspired the artists with their beauty. As you travel from one site to the next, you’ll cycle through vast agricultural fields, pastures, and tiny farming hamlets. Along the way, picnic at private homes and at a local abbey, discover the art of beekeeping and more, for an experience of France that’s simply magnifique!

Cultural Highlights

  • Wander the narrow streets of Melun, a village at the crossroads of ancient Roman roads
  • Discover Barbizon, where an artistic revolution changed the course of modern painting
  • Explore the Château of Fontainebleau, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Learn why Grez-sur-Loing, a village beloved by the Impressionists, still draws artists from all over the world
  • Picnic at the home of local artist Pascal Bost
  • Join VBT friend Gillian Mundy on a guided walk around the medieval town of Château Landon
  • Taste the sweet harvest of local beekeepers Dominique and Jacques Goût
  • Immerse yourself in the leisurely tranquility of rural France on our private barge

What To Expect

This tour offers easy to moderate terrain throughout the trip. There are undulating roads, and some of the bike paths are unpaved. Our VBT support shuttle is available every day at designated points for those who need assistance.
Average Daily Mileage: 10 – 38 miles
Average Cycling Time: 1.5 – 5 hours

What’s Included:

Bicycle Tour Only – without Air

  • 7 nights aboard a canal barge
  • 15 meals – 7 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 5 dinners

No Hassle Air Package Plus

  • Roundtrip international airfare
  • Transfers
  • 7 nights on a canal barge, 2 nights in a Paris hotel – 1 before and 1 after your barge tour
  • 17 meals – 9 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 5 dinners.
  • AND the option to add our Low-Cost Trip Extensions: Pre-trip or Post-trip Paris – 2 nights for only $395

Both Vacation Options Include

  • 1 glass of wine with all dinners aboard the barge
  • FREE use of our custom VBT bicycle and helmet
  • Service of two bilingual VBT Trip Leaders
  • 6 days of cycling with FULL VAN SUPPORT during the cruise portion of your trip
  • Daily route directions and maps
  • Welcome reception
  • Sightseeing and cultural activities
  • 5% Frequent Traveler Credit to use on your next VBT vacation
  • Special Good Buy Discount
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Air Package Plus Single Supplement: $1445 | Land Only Single Supplement: $1195

Please note: Web Special savings cannot be combined with any other offer. Standard Terms & Conditions apply when purchasing this trip. 2015 Prices include all airline surcharges and Government taxes and fees. Ask our Tour Consultants for details. Every effort has been made to produce this information accurately. We reserve the right to correct errors. Prices are based on preferences selected above, including meals and sightseeing as specified in What's Included. All prices are subject to change. Departure dates and prices shown may be updated several times daily, and apply to new bookings only.

Itinerary & Map
Or, Expand All Days
DAY 1: Depart U.S. / Fly to Paris

Depart the U.S. for France. The particulars of your arrival overseas are detailed with your flight itinerary and airline tickets.

DAY 2: Arrive in Paris

Upon arrival at Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG) Airport, claim your luggage and clear customs. If your luggage is lost, fill in a PIR form before leaving the customs area – VBT representatives are not allowed into the customs area. Please note: Make sure that your VBT luggage tags are attached to your bags. This helps the representative identify you.

After exiting customs, enter the arrival hall and look for your VBT representative or driver, who will be holding a VBT sign. Your representative will welcome you to France and arrange for your transfer via taxi or van (approximately 60 minutes, depending on traffic) to your Paris hotel. If you are delayed in meeting your VBT representative at the CDG Airport, please call 06 72 07 59 24 or 06 15 15 15 25 from within France. Outside of France, call +33 672 07 59 24 or +33 615 15 15 25.

Please note that the hotel check-in time is 3:00 pm, but hotel staff will do their best to get you to your room as soon as possible. VBT provides you with City Information in your Final Travel Booklet that includes recommendations on what to see and do in Paris. Use the rest of the day to relax or to begin exploring Paris.

Hotel: Millennium Hotel Paris Opera

DAY 3: Embark barge / Warm-up ride

VBT No-Air Package guests: You are responsible for meeting our barge, the Fleur, between 2:00 and 2:30 pm. Please note that you cannot embark earlier as the barge is being prepared for your arrival. If you are late, you must contact the barge as soon as possible to advise the VBT Trip Leaders. The barge will be moored at Port Renee de France, Montargis (next to Hotel De Police). Contact telephone number is ++0031 622 738 010. Please refer to the information listed in the tour handbook. If you wish to join the VBT bus transfer from the Millennium Hotel Paris Opera, please be in the lobby in time to board at 12:30 pm. You should arrive at the barge around 2:15 pm. Please plan on having lunch before joining the transfer.

VBT Air Package and Pre-Trip Extension guests: After breakfast, make sure your luggage is packed and ready to be transported to the barge. At 12:30 pm, we shuttle to the barge, arriving at around 2:15 pm. Please plan on having lunch before joining the transfer. At the docks, meet the barge crew and your VBT Trip Leaders, who will welcome you aboard with refreshments. After visiting your cabin and attending a safety briefing, enjoy a warm-up ride. This evening, gather on board with the group for a welcome dinner. With its numerous canals and bridges, Montargis is affectionately known as the "Venice of the Gâtinais." Though quite modern, it retains a medieval charm throughout its downtown area, which is close to our mooring spot.

Dine on the barge this evening.

Hotel: Barge Fleur
Meals: B, D
Daily Options: 5.4 miles (8.7 km)

DAY 4: Montargis loop ride

Today we cycle through some lovely scenery, passing through small farming hamlets before arriving at the family home of Dominique and Jacques Goût, near Château-Renard. A peaceful home for man and bees alike, it has been in Jacques' family for several generations. Here Jacques will welcome us with a short film and an explanation about apiculture. Later, he will show us his bees at work and demonstrate how he harvests their sweet, sticky treasure. Naturally you will have the chance to taste the golden honey at the end of their hard labor, washed down by homemade cider. During our visit, we'll enjoy a picnic lunch in the Goûts’ garden.

After lunch, we continue our loop ride along the Fatisse Riviere before rejoining the River Loing and our barge.

This evening, you can take some time to explore Montargis, tracing its network of bridges before having dinner on your own in one of its restaurants.

Hotel: Barge Fleur
Meals: B, L
Daily Options: 12, 25.5 or 34 miles (19, 41 or 55 km)

DAY 5: Montargis to Neronville

After breakfast, we cruise out of Montargis and pause at the lock at Cepoy. From here we cycle through vast agricultural fields, pastures and farmlands to Ferrières-en-Gâtinais. Explore this medieval town's narrow streets and beautiful lavoir (wash house) before enjoying a picnic lunch in the gardens by the Abbey of St. Pierre.

After time to relax, we continue through more farmland before meeting our barge in the rural and tranquil setting of Neronville. Dinner will be served on the barge this evening.

Hotel: Barge Fleur
Meals: B, L, D
Daily Options: 16.5, 28.6 or 34.8 miles (26.5, 46 or 56 km)

DAY 6: Cycle Neronville to Nemours with a guided walking tour of Château Landon

After breakfast, you can join an optional loop ride from the barge. Afterward, we ride a short distance to the medieval town of Château Landon. Perched on a rocky spur, its ramparts and towers recall the Middle Ages. Here we meet local VBT friend Gillian Mundy, who will bring her town's history to life on a guided walk. She will then accompany you to the home of local artist Pascal Bost, who lives in the old Mint House. Enjoy a picnic lunch in his garden before learning about his artwork.

This afternoon, cycle through more agricultural landscapes and hamlets to meet our barge in the charming medieval town of Nemours, located on the River Loing and its canal. This evening, after dinner on board, you can walk into town and explore its historic center and canal system.

Hotel: Barge Fleur
Meals: B, L, D
Daily Options: 7.5, 13.7 or 24 miles (12, 22 or 39 km)

DAY 7: Cycle Nemours to Moret-Sur-Loing

Today we leave Nemours for the small settlement of Larchant. The village retains its medieval character; its undeniable centerpiece is the spectacular, gothic-style Saint Mathurin basilica, boasting a tower that soars over 150 feet.

We continue through the peaceful forest of Fontainebleau into Bourron Marlotte. Many artists from the Impressionist movement found inspiration and honed their skills here in and around this pretty village. You may wish to buy lunch here.

Our afternoon ride takes us through another artist community, Grez-sur-Loing. This lovely locale inspired many artists and was one of the main centers of Impressionism. It still attracts painters from all over the world. Our ride continues to the small village of Episy and onto the bike path along the Canal Loing. We meet our barge in the charming medieval fortified town of Moret-Sur-Loing, strategically situated on the banks of the Loing. Here the painter Alfred Sisley found many subjects for his masterful Impressionist paintings.

Our barge moors here overnight. Enjoy dinner on board. You might take a walk this evening on the “Sisley in Moret” trail.

Hotel: Barge Fleur
Meals: B, D
Daily Options: 21 or 33.5 miles (34 or 54 km)

DAY 8: Cycle Château of Fontainebleau, Barbizon and Melun

This morning, we cycle to the impressive UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Château of Fontainebleau. With origins dating to the 12th century, it has welcomed France's most important dignitaries, many of them lured here by the opportunities for hunting in the surrounding forests. Each century witnessed additions and improvements to the Château and the grounds, resulting in today's vast complex centered around a series of stately courtyards. There'll be time to explore the Château and gardens and to buy lunch before continuing our ride through the wonderful forest of Fontainebleau. Keep your eyes open for the pretty little red squirrels.

Our second destination is the “painters’ village” of Barbizon. During the mid-18th to mid-19th centuries, when Corot, Rousseau and Diaz de la Pena passed through here, it became the setting for an artistic revolution that was to change the course of modern painting. Even today, many artists live in the area, mesmerized by the countryside. We visit the local museum of the Barbizon school and see where famous landscape artists painted their works.

We continue our ride until we reach the barge at Melun. Built at the crossroads of ancient Roman roads, the town developed around a bend in the River Seine. Enjoy dinner in one of the local restaurants this evening.

Hotel: Barge Fleur
Meals: B
Daily Options: 8, 13.7 or 24.9 miles (13, 22 or 40 km)

DAY 9: Cycle to the lock of Evry / Cruise to Paris

Getting underway this morning, we follow the banks of the Seine, passing some lovely residential villas and the upmarket town of Seine Port. Here you can stop and buy a picnic lunch before arriving at the lock of Evry. Here we board our barge and cruise back to Paris, mooring in the Port de l'Arsenal, just south of Notre Dame.

Dine on the barge one last time this evening.

Hotel: Barge Fleur
Meals: B, D
Daily Options: 16 miles (26 km)

DAY 10: Depart barge / Discover Paris / VBT No-Air Package ends

VBT No-Air Package guests: After breakfast, your tour ends. It is important that you leave the barge no later than 9:00 am so our crew can prepare for their next guests. Please refer to the information listed in the tour handbook.

VBT Air Package and Post-Trip Extension guests: After breakfast, say goodbye to your barge crew and Trip Leaders, then transfer back to our hotel in Paris. After checking in, you have free time for independent exploration Please note that your room may not be ready when you arrive, but the hotel will store your luggage. Enjoy dinner on your own in town tonight. VBT provides you with City Information in your Final Travel Booklet that includes recommendations for what to see and do in Paris.

Hotel: Millennium Hotel Paris Opera
Meals: B

DAY 11: Depart for Home or begin optional Paris Extension

After breakfast*, meet in the hotel lobby for your transfer to the Paris airport and your flight back to the U.S.** Be sure that you are waiting at the designated time and transfer location.

*Please note: For guests with early-morning departures, breakfast at the hotel may not be available. Please check with the front desk to verify the times that breakfast is served.

**VBT recommends that you check your transfer time in your “Transfer Reminder.” The transfer is prearranged by VBT and is prepaid. VBT transfer times and departure points are finalized in advance and cannot be modified for individual guests. If you extend your stay beyond the scheduled program dates, return transportation to the airport will be at your own expense.

Meals: B

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Accommodations

Millennium Hotel Paris Opera

The Millennium Opera Paris combines the elegance and splendor of the 1920s with modern, comfortable amenities. In addition to a restaurant, the Millennium Hotel Paris Opera offers a lounge bar where guests can enjoy snacks and drinks by the fireplace and cocktails in the evenings, all with the background of music from the grand piano. Room service is available around the clock. Multilingual staff on the 24-hour front desk can recommend places to visit and provide concierge services, including theater and opera reservations and transportation arrangements. Wireless Internet access covers all public areas of the hotel and guest rooms. The hotel features 163 air-conditioned guest rooms with traditional décor in light colors, and includes period-style wood furniture with green leather-topped writing desks. All rooms offer satellite television, pay movies, safe, trouser press, minibar and coffee/tea-making facilities. En-suite bathrooms include hair dryers. The full-sized desks also feature high-speed Internet connections.
Free WiFi Included

Barge Fleur

A comfortable luxurious two-deck, 20-passenger barge with a homey atmosphere, the Fleur was put into service in 2002. The barge was built exclusively to navigate the narrow French canals, so it is slightly smaller than barges featured on other VBT tours. Its 10 comfortable cabins have private bathrooms with showers, and the barge has air-conditioning and heating throughout. Common areas include a dining room, lounge with a bar, and a sundeck at the bow. Smoking is only permitted outside on the sundeck. The barge moors each night. Drinks of all types are available for purchase at the bar on board the Fleur. It is not customary for guests to bring their own wine and liquor onboard; your understanding is appreciated. Onboard meal menus are set, though the chef is happy to accommodate vegetarians and those on restricted diets for health reasons.
Photos

Reviews
  • Bike and barge is a unique way to experience France.

    Sleeping on the barge and biking during the day is the perfect way to see small villages in France. Many of these villages you may miss on your own or not give them a 2nd look if you were passing thru. The barge experience is unique, a throw back to earlier travel times born out of necessity, not luxury. A very civilized way to meander thru beautiful areas of France. And the food on board was excellent!

    Yes, I recommend this tour.

    Posted on: July 31, 2014
    Posted by: Lynne
    From: Sacramento, CA, USA
    Age: 45 to 54
    # Of Trips: 1

    • Value:
    • Trip Leaders:
  • Great guides and crew once again

    We also got very good weather, little rain, minimal heat. We were joined by friends previously made on other VBT trips as well as other bikers who shared this wonderful trip. And then there was Paris!

    Yes, I recommend this tour.

    Posted on: September 05, 2013
    Posted by: PatriciaE
    From: Denver, CO
    Age: 55 to 64
    # Of Trips: 2-4

    • Value:
    • Trip Leaders:
  • This tour explored the great French countryside with the added benefit of having Le Fleur as a home.

    Starting the tour in Montargis with a nice 25 mile or 34 mile loop along open country roads, country lanes, and a canal path is a great introduction to the bikes and typical terrain. Along the way we visited a bee-keeper, had a picnic lunch, and visited the charming town Chateau Renard. All in all, it was a charming day. The VBT bicycles were excellent and our trip guides could custom fit them. The following day we had a 34 mile trip with a picnic lunch at Ferrieres en Gatinais and visited the the abbey ruins. Included was a small side trip to a monument to 8 American aviators who were shot down taking supplies to the French Resistance. This monument and the memorials to fallen townspeople in many villages are a sombre reminder of the price required to maintain freedom. We then cycled 11 miles to Chateau Landon for a town tour and picnic lunch at an artist's studio followed by a 22 mile trip to Nemours. All of the cycling was through the fabulous French countryside. At Chateau Landon we discovered how difficult life was keeping the upper class supplied with everyday needs. It is on a very steep hill above the canal. We met the barge at Nemours and had dinner, on our own, in a very nice but small restaurant. The following day we cycled to Larchant through open countryside with some steep hills and on to Bourron Marlotte for lunch (21 miles). Then on to Moret sur Loing along country roads and a canal tow path to meet Le Fleur. From Moret sur Loing we cycled the next day to Melun through the countryside and Fontainebleau forest to Chateau Fontainebleau and Barbizon Village (12.4 miles). We visited Fontainebleau and a the Museum Ganne in Barbizon that was originally an inn where the Barbizon School painters lived. Their graffiti and self portraits from 1850 are still visible. We cycled another 11.5 miles to the barge in Melun. From Melun we cycled 16.1 miles through nice neighborhoods and small villages along the River Seine to Evry where we had a picnic lunch. The route was relatively flat, but very crowded and busy with commercial traffic in the final parts. This was the end of the cycling part of the trip. We boarded Le Fleur for a trip into Paris. What a lovely way to enter the city. Le Fleur docked at the Bastille to end the trip. We took a walking tour of the Bastille area with the trip guides and the next morning the van took us and our luggage to the hotel. In addition to the excellent biking the pre-trip and post-trip stays at the Millenium Hotel, Paris Opera, were each excellent. The trips from and to Charles De Gaulle airport in taxis arranged by VBT were both smooth and hassle free. This was an excellent trip!

    Yes, I recommend this tour.

    Posted on: September 05, 2013
    Posted by: Trueloves
    From: Baltimore, MD, USA
    Age: 65 or over
    # Of Trips: 2-4

    • Value:
    • Trip Leaders:
  • Good but not great

    high points: great group of travelers; good guides weak points: directions were truly awful: it is amazing that more people did not get totally lost. Also, we were disappointed with the relative lack of interesting sights and things to do on our tour. Disappointing compared to the Moselle trip we did a few years ago.

    Yes, I recommend this tour.

    Posted on: July 11, 2013
    Posted by: Philmd
    From: Vermont
    Age: 65 or over
    # Of Trips: 2-4

    • Value:
    • Trip Leaders:
  • Another great tour!

    My wife and I continue to amaze at the great job VBT does in planning each tour, and then executing to perfection. This is a new tour for VBT in 2013, and the itinerary and services provided were nearly flawless as we have come to expect. Accommodations on the Fleur were spacious, and the crew and team leaders made the entire group feel at home. The ride was on the "easy" side of easy/moderate (as-published), and most of the rides were on bike paths or farm roads. And of course, starting and finishing in Paris is an added bonus.

    Yes, I recommend this tour.

    Posted on: July 06, 2013
    Posted by: AlohaRich
    From: Waimanalo, Hawaii
    Age: 65 or over
    # Of Trips: 2-4

    • Value:
    • Trip Leaders:
  • This tour has great potential.

    We were only the 2nd group to take this tour as it is brand new. The trip leaders were taking good notes on how to streamline directions. The trip winds through some beautiful agricultural country and quaint villages. Our visit to Fountainbleau and Chateau Landon were highlights.

    Yes, I recommend this tour.

    Posted on: June 11, 2013
    Posted by: rldmt
    From: McCall, ID
    Age: 55 to 64
    # Of Trips: 1

    • Value:
    • Trip Leaders:

Enjoy Your Vacation Longer With LOw-Cost Trip Extensions

Pre-Trip Extension - Paris

2 nights for only $395

Post-Trip Extension - Paris

2 nights for only $395

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