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Heart of France Bike & Barge: Paris – Montargis

Explore an unforgettable microcosm of French culture and history, the Île de France. It’s a region best savored slowly, which is why we’ll drift along its tranquil canals on our private barge and pedal through fabled forests and into tidy artists’ enclaves. We’ll begin in Paris and visit the Chateau of Fontainbleau, a UNESCO site, along the way.

  • 11 Days
  • Activity Level: Easy / Moderate
  • Daily Mileage: 10 - 38 mi
  • Daily Biking: 1 1/2 - 5 hr
  • Small Groups: 20
  • Biking Activity
  • Ideal for energetic beginners to more experienced riders.
  • Airfare Packages Available

Why You'll Love This Tour

Overview

Heart of France Bike & Barge: Paris - Montargis

Just outside Paris, lazy canals wend their way through France’s bucolic countryside, leading to endless cultural delights and quaint villages. Experience it in the most personal and relaxed fashion as you embark a slow-moving deluxe barge, with daily reels into rolling fields and sylvan forests. Coast into colorful artists’ villages. Explore the renowned Château Fontainebleau. And linger with the locals—beekeepers, farmers, painters, and art lovers—who find inspiration in everyday pleasures, It’s a rich and rewarding glimpse of the heart of France that you can only achieve by bike and barge, and only with VBT!

Cultural Highlights

  • Wander the ancient streets of the village of Melun
  • Discover Barbizon, home to an artistic revolution
  • Explore the UNESCO Site of Château Fontainebleau
  • Visit Grez-sur-Loing, a beloved artists’ village
  • Picnic at the home of local artist Pascal Bost
  • Enjoy a guided walk of medieval Château Landon
  • Taste the harvest of local beekeepers
  • Immerse yourself in rural France by private barge
  • Visit the Bourdelle sculpture garden Museum

What To Expect

This tour offers easy to moderate terrain on bike paths and roads through both urban and rural areas. 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 Cycling Time: 2 – 4 hours on bike paths and roads through both urban and rural areas

Climate Information

Average High/Low Temperature (°F) – Paris
Apr 60°/45° May 67°/52° Jun 73°/57° Jul 77°/60° Aug 77°/60° Sep 70°/55°

Average Precipitation (in.) – Paris
Apr 2 May 2.5 Jun 2 Jul 2.5 Aug 2.1 Sep 1.9

What’s Included:

Bicycle Vacation Only – without Air

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

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  – 2 nights for only $495, or Post-trip Paris – 2 nights for only $495

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

New! Reading List

Click here to download our Heart of France Suggested Reading List.

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Air Package Plus Single Supplement: $1495 | 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. 2016/2017 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.

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Itinerary & Map
Or, Expand All Days
DAY 1: Depart from home / Fly to Paris

Depart from home for France. The particulars of your arrival overseas are detailed with your flight itinerary.

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: 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 that includes recommendations on what to see and do in Paris. Use the rest of the day to relax or explore.

Hotel: Millennium Hotel Paris Opéra

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. Contact telephone number is ++31 631 783 857.  The barge will be moored near the lock entering the River Seine at the Port de l’Arsenal, Boulevard de la Bastille, Paris. This is near the Gare de Lyon railway station. A train can be taken from Paris CDG airport toward Gare de Lyon, changing at Châtelet – Les Halles, then take a taxi to the mooring place (or a half mile walk from the train station).
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.

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, you will 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.

Please note regarding Wi-Fi onboard the barge:  Each device (smartphone, laptop, etc.) receives 50 MB per day free, to be used on that day. Additional amounts can be purchased via credit card or Paypal. The barge crew can assist you. However, due to the nature of the barge’s varied docking points, internet access may not always be available. As such, if stable internet access is critical to you, VBT recommends that you purchase your own bundle before traveling overseas.

Hotel: Barge Fleur
Meals: B (included for Air Package guests only), D

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

Enjoy your first breakfast onboard during a leisurely cruise along the Seine. Your Trip Leaders will teach you useful French phrases during a brief language class before your arrival at the lock of Evry, where your cycling begins.

You will ride mainly along the banks of the Seine, passing some lovely residential villas, until you reach Melun. Built at the crossroads of ancient Roman roads, the town developed around a bend in the River Seine. Upon arrival, you have free time to wander the quaint 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, continue cycling along the banks of the River Seine. Your first destination is the “painters’ village” of Barbizon. From 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 changed the course of modern painting. Even today, many artists live in the area, mesmerized by the countryside. Visit the local museum of the Barbizon school and see where famous landscape artists painted their works.

Continue cycling through the sylvan forest of Fontainebleau. Keep your eyes open for the pretty little red squirrels. You will pause to explore Château Fontainebleau, an impressive UNESCO World Heritage Site. 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 your ride.

You will meet your barge in the charming medieval fortified town of Moret-Sur-Loing, beautifully situated on the banks of the Loing. Here the painter Alfred Sisley found many subjects for his masterful Impressionist paintings.

You will moor here overnight. After dinner on board, you might take a walk on the “Sisley in Moret” trail.

Hotel: Barge Fleur
Meals: B, D
Daily Options: 17 or 23.3 miles (27.5 km or 37.5 km)

DAY 6: Ride from Moret-Sur-Loing to Grez-sur-Loing / Nemours

Today you will leave the River Seine behind as your ride traces the River Loing. After passing through the small village of Episy, cycle to the enchanting artist community of 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, pedal through the peaceful forest of Fontainebleau to the small settlement of Larchant. The quaint village retains its medieval character, with the spectacular, gothic-style Saint Mathurin basilica its centerpiece. The church’s tower soars over 150 feet.

Continue through tranquil farmland to the charming medieval town of Nemours, and to your barge, which awaits 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 27 miles (20, 33 or 45 km)

DAY 7: Cycle from Nemours to Neronville / Home visit / Guided walking tour of Château Landon

This morning you will cruise out of Nemours to a lock on the outskirts of town. Disembark here to cycle through open agricultural lands to the art-deco style Jardins Bourdelle, which hosts a set of 58 bronze sculptures depicting the evolution of the artistry of Antoine Bourdelle (1861-1929). The garden was lovingly designed by Michel Dufet, son-in-law of the sculptor, to magnify the master’s work.

After, you will ride to the small town of Egreville. After taking some time to admire its 16th-century wooden market building, continue to the medieval town of Château Landon. Perched on a rocky spur, its ramparts and towers evoke the Middle Ages. Here you will 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, who will bring history to life on a guided walk

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

Hotel: Barge Fleur
Meals: B, L, D
Daily Options: 11 or 22 miles (18 or 36 km)

DAY 8: Ride from Neronville to Montargis

After breakfast, 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, you will ride among beautiful fields, pastures and farmlands. Meet your 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 your 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, 24 or 33 miles (23 km, 38 or 53 km)

DAY 9: Montargis loop ride

Cycle today through some of the loveliest scenery so far, passing small farming hamlets. Soon, you will arrive at the family home of Dominique and Jacques Goût, near Château-Renard. A peaceful haven for man and bees alike, it has been in Jacques’ family for several generations. Jacques welcomes you with a short film and an explanation of apiculture. Later, he shows off his bees at work and demonstrates how he harvests their sweet, sticky treasure. Naturally you will have the chance to taste the golden honey of their hard labor, complemented by homemade cider. During your visit, enjoy a picnic lunch in the Goûts’ garden.

After lunch, continue your 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 so our crew can 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 Opéra.

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 that includes recommendations for what to see and do in Paris.

Hotel: Millennium Hotel Paris Opéra
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 home** 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

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, a lounge with bar and a sundeck at the bow. 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. Please note: We have adopted a no-smoking policy in the van during transfers, on the barge and at meals. Please note regarding Wi-Fi onboard the barge: Each device (smartphone, laptop, etc.) receives 50 MB per day free, to be used on that day. Additional amounts can be purchased via credit card or Paypal. If travelers plan to utilize data in a normal fashion (i.e. email and basic web browsing) and avoid streaming videos and loading hi-res images, the 50 MB allotments should suffice. Please be advised that the wifi connection varies and it is not guaranteed. If internet access is critical during your travel, we recommend purchasing your own bundle either in the United States or Europe.

Millennium Hotel Paris Opéra

The Millennium Hotel Paris Opera offers an ideal Right Bank location, just 1,700 feet from the Opéra Garnier and the famous Galeries Lafayette department store, The building combines the elegance and splendor of the 1920s with modern, comfortable amenities. The hotel features 163 air-conditioned guestrooms with traditional decor in light colors and includes period-style wood furniture with green leather-topped writing desks. All rooms offer satellite television, pay movies, a safe, trouser press, mini-bar, and coffee/tea-making facilities. En-suite bathrooms include hair dryers. 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 to music from the grand piano. Room service is available around the clock. Multilingual staff on the 24-hour front desk can provide concierge services, including theater and opera reservations, transportation arrangements, and recommendations for places to visit. Wireless Internet access covers all public areas of the hotel, and high-speed Internet connections are available in every room.
Free WiFi Included
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Pre-Trip Extension - Paris

2 nights for only $495

Extend your Bike and Barge Trip in Paris

Post-Trip Extension - Paris

2 nights for only $495

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