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Heart of France Bike & Barge: Paris – Montargis

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

  • 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

Heart of France Bike & Barge: Paris - Montargis

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 Daily Ride: 2 – 4 hours on bike paths and roads through both urban and rural areas

Climate Information

Average Daily Temperature (°F) – Paris
Apr 57°  May 64°  Jun 70°  Jul 75°  Aug 75°

Average Rainfall (in.) – Paris
Apr 1.5  May 2  Jun 2.4  Jul 2.9  Aug 2.4

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 aboard a canal barge, 1 night in a Paris hotel at both the start and finish of the 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 walk

VBT No-Air Package guests: You are responsible for meeting our barge, the Fleur, between 1:45 and 2:15 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 make alternative arrangements. The barge will be moored at Port de l'Arsenal, Boulevard de la Bastille, Paris. Contact telephone number is ++0031 622 738 010. Please refer to the information listed in the tour handbook.

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 2:00 pm, we shuttle to the barge, arriving at around 2:15 pm. 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 walk along the banks of the River Seine. This evening, gather on board with the group for a welcome dinner.

Hotel: Barge Fleur
Meals: B, D

DAY 4: Cruise to the lock of Evry / Cycle to Melun

We enjoy our first breakfast during a leisurely cruise along the Seine. Our Trip Leaders teach us useful French phrases during a brief language class before we arrive at the lock of Evry, where our ride begins.

We cycle mainly along the banks of the Seine, passing some lovely residential villas, until we reach Melun. Built at the crossroads of ancient Roman roads, the town developed around a bend in the River Seine. Here you will have free time to wander the narrow streets, shop and enjoy dinner on your own in one of the local restaurants.

Hotel: Barge Fleur
Meals: B
Daily Options: 18.6 miles (30km)

DAY 5: Cycle to Barbizon, Château of Fontainebleau and Moret-Sur-Loing

This morning, we cycle along the banks of the River Seine. Our first 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 cycling through the wonderful forest of Fontainebleau. Keep your eyes open for the pretty little red squirrels. Stop at 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 on a series of stately courtyards. There'll be time to explore the Château and gardens and to buy lunch before continuing our ride.

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: 17 or 23.3 miles (27.5km or 37.5km)

DAY 6: Cycle Moret-Sur-Loing to Nemours

Today we leave the River Seine behind as our ride sets off along the River Loing. After passing through the small village of Episy, we continue into the beautiful Grez-sur-Loing. This lovely locale inspired many artists and was one of the main centers of Impressionism. It still attracts artists from all over the world.

After free time for lunch, we continue through the peaceful forest of Fontainebleau to 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.

Continue cycling through peaceful farmland to meet our barge in the charming medieval town of Nemours, located on the River Loing and its canal. After dinner on board this evening, you may wish to walk into town and explore its historic center and canal system.

Hotel: Barge Fleur
Meals: B, D
Daily Options: 12.5, 21 or 33.5 miles (20, 33 or 54 km)

DAY 7: Cycle Nemours to Neronville with a guided walking tour of Château Landon

This morning we cruise out of Nemours until we reach a lock on the outskirts of town. Here we cycle through open agricultural lands to the small town of Egreville and on to the medieval town of Château Landon. Perched on a rocky spur, its ramparts and towers recall the Middle Ages. Here we visit 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. Afterward, join VBT friend Gillian Mundy on a guided walk around the town, during which she will bring history to life.

A short afternoon ride delivers us to our barge in the rural locale of Neronville. Enjoy dinner on board this evening.

Hotel: Barge Fleur
Meals: B, L, D
Daily Options: 23 miles (36.5 km)

DAY 8: Neronville to Montargis

After breakfast, we cycle from Neronville through the lovely countryside 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.

This afternoon, we ride through fields, pastures and farmlands before meeting our barge in the city of Montargis. 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.

This evening, you can take some time to explore Montargis, tracing its network of bridges. You're sure to find a local restaurant for dinner on your own — your Trip Leaders can point you in the right direction.

Hotel: Barge Fleur
Meals: B, L
Daily Options: 14, 27 or 35 miles (23 km, 44 or 56 km)

DAY 9: Montargis loop ride

Today we cycle through some of the loveliest scenery so far, 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 of 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.

Dine on our barge one last time this evening.

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

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

VBT No-Air Package guests: After breakfast, your tour ends. Please disembark with the rest of the group at 9:00 am. It is important that you leave the barge no later than 9:00 am in order for the crew to prepare for their next guests. Refer to the information listed in the tour handbook. You can join the VBT bus transfer back to the Millennium Hotel Paris Opera.

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 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

France Barge Photo Gallery, France Adventure Travel Photos

Reviews
  • Ratings Summary

    Calculated based on filtering:

    • Value:
    • Trip Leaders:

    4 out of 5 travelers would recommend this tour to a friend.

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  • A truly wonderful bike and barge experience.

    The VBT bike tour from Paris to Montargis is fabulous. From the moment of arrival and checking in to the hotel, to meeting the others and boarding the barge, you know you are in good hands. Accommadations on board the Fleur were excellent, not too frilly, not too Carnival Cruises. Food was top notch, with the boat crew friendly, out going, and excellent at wine selection. Every thing is "there" without overdoing. Our trip leaders were the best as well. Knowledgeable, understanding, and happy. I`d do it again in a heartbeat.

    Yes, I recommend this tour.

    Posted on: June 24, 2014
    Posted by: Sparky
    From: Bangor, Maine
    Age: 65 or over
    # Of Trips: 1

    • Value:
    • Trip Leaders:
  • Fabulous experience

    My husband and I along with two other good friends did this trip in May 2014. It was delightful. The barge was superb and the crew charming and devoted to our comfort. The trip leaders were professional and also fun to be with. Each day we had several options, ranging from no miles to 35 miles. The four of us did all the longer options. The riding was mainly pretty easy, with only a few do-able hills. Food both for meals on the barge and at the restaurants our leaders suggested for our "free" choices was excellent. Barge captain had a terrific selection of wines for us. This was our first VBT trip but we definitely plan to sign up for others.

    Yes, I recommend this tour.

    Posted on: June 23, 2014
    Posted by: Coloradocyclist
    From: Golden, CO, USA
    Age: 65 or over
    # Of Trips: 1

    • Value:
    • Trip Leaders:
  • Of our ten VBT trips, this is my favorite!

    VBT trip leaders are always excellent (we have done ten trips). But, the Heart of France will always be special in my mind. The joy of living the barge experience, created by a genuinely gracious crew was wonderful. This trip is special because of the beauty and historical significance of the area and the variety of experiences that we were offered "off the bike". A lot of people read of the "Barbazon Painters" but we rode to the town of Barbazon and visited a great museum there. Everyday was a new pleasurable learning experience. I had never heard of petanque and now I am playing the game in Hays, Kansas.

    Yes, I recommend this tour.

    Posted on: June 22, 2014
    Posted by: Explorer
    From: Hays, KS 67601, USA
    Age: 65 or over
    # Of Trips: 5 or more

    • Value:
    • Trip Leaders:
  • Great art, great riding, great guides and great food.

    We enjoyed a beautiful ride through the Fontainebleu Forest. The planned stops to see where the pre-Impressionist painters lived and worked in Barbizon was a highlight of the trip. The barge is small to go through the incredibly small locks on the inland canals of France. There were 18 of us, which made for a fun, intimate group. The meals on the barge were terrific. We also had a great meal at a local restaurant and at an apiary. All the guides we have encountered on our VBT trips have been fantastic and Bruno and Sophie were no exceptions. Great trip. Thanks.

    Yes, I recommend this tour.

    Other tours I recommend:

    Posted on: August 27, 2013
    Posted by: Jette
    From: St Paul MN
    Age: 65 or over
    # Of Trips: 2-4

    • Value:
    • Trip Leaders:
  • Not much fun

    This turns out not to be our kind of trip. We do not enjoy missing the views because of extremely detailed written directions. We had thought we would be riding along rivers and canals in beautiful places, which was certainly not the case. Our room on the barge was damp and we could not wash clothes; we travel very light and this was a problem. The food on the barge was mediocre and the breakfasts dreary.

    Response from VBT
    VBT Product Team - June 10, 2013

    Thank you for your feedback. We are constantly evaluating our vacations and make changes based on traveler feedback just like yours. Recent enhancements to our France Barge vacation have included adding more items to the breakfast menu such as extra croissants, more varieties of cheeses, fruit salads and hot breakfast items. We are also working with the onboard chef to enhance the dinner options. Overall Europe has experienced a cold and damp spring. Our Barge captain and crew encourage guests to exchange towels as often as they like to insure they always have dry towels. Thank you again for your comments, we appreciate you taking the time to let us know your feedback.

    Posted on: June 04, 2013
    Posted by: Blanche
    From: Amherst, MA, USA
    Age: 65 or over
    # Of Trips: 2-4

    • 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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