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Heart of France Bike & Barge: Montargis – Paris

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: Montargis - Paris

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

  • Taste the harvest of local beekeepers
  • Enjoy a guided walk of medieval Château Landon
  • Picnic at the home of local artist Pascal Bost
  • Visit Grez-sur-Loing, a beloved artists’ village
  • Explore the UNESCO Site of Château Fontainebleau
  • Discover Barbizon, home to an artistic revolution
  • Wander the ancient streets of the village of Melun
  • 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 Ride: 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 on 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, Paris — 2 nights $495, or Post-trip Paris – 2 nights $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
  • Special Good Buy Discount
  • 5% Frequent Traveler Credit to use on your next VBT vacation. See details.

New! Reading List

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

Dates & Prices
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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. 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
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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 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  +31 631 783 857. There is a train from Paris Bercy station (takes about 1 hr but does not depart very frequently). The distance from the Montargis station to the mooring point is about 1 mile.If you wish to join the VBT bus transfer from the Millennium Hotel Paris Opéra, 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, you will shuttle to the barge, arriving 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.

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
Daily Options: 7 miles (11km)

DAY 4: Montargis loop ride

Today, cycle through some lovely scenery, passing through 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, you’ll enjoy a picnic lunch in the Goûts’ garden.

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

This evening, you have time to explore Montargis, tracing its network of bridges. Dinner tonight is on your own in one of its restaurants.

Hotel: Barge Fleur
Meals: B, L
Daily Options: 12, 26 or 35 miles (20, 42 or 56 km)

DAY 5: Barge and ride from Montargis to Neronville

After breakfast, cruise out of Montargis and pause at the lock at Cepoy. From here you will 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 continuing to Egreville for a lovely picnic lunch. Explore the village’s 16th-century wooden market building; it hosts a small market on Monday morning.

After lunch, visit a historic site with a local guide; during your tour, meet two artists and see some of their work. Later, admire the art-deco style Jardin Bourdelle: 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.

Your afternoon cycling continues through more farmland until you meet your 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: 17, 25 miles (28 or 42 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, pedal a short distance to the medieval town of Château Landon. Perched on a rocky spur, its ramparts and towers evoke the Middle Ages. Here you will meet local VBT friend Gillian Mundy, who will bring her town’s history to life on a guided walk. After this personable tour, she accompanies 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 the charming medieval town of Nemours and re-join your barge, which awaits 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: 8.5 or 21 miles (14 or 33 km)

DAY 7: Ride from Nemours to Moret-Sur-Loing

Today you will leave Nemours for the small settlement of Larchant. This quaint village retains its medieval character, with the spectacular, gothic-style Saint Mathurin basilica its centerpiece. The church’s tower soars over 150 feet.

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

An afternoon ride leads to another enchanting 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. Continue to the small village of Episy and onto the bike path along the Canal Loing. 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 work.

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: 14 or 27 miles (24 or 44 km)

DAY 8: Cycle to Château of Fontainebleau / Barbizon / Melun

A morning cycle takes you to the 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 around a series of stately courtyards. There’ll be time to explore the Château and gardens and to buy lunch before continuing your ride through the sylvan forest of Fontainebleau. Keep your eyes open for the pretty little red squirrels.

Today’s second cycling 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. You will visit the local museum of the Barbizon school and see where famous landscape artists painted their works.

Continue cycling and meet 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: 7, 12 or 25 miles (11, 20 or 41 km)

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

Getting underway this morning, you will ride along the banks of the Seine, passing 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, where the barge awaits. You’ll settle in for a scenic cruise back to Paris.

Dine on the barge one last time this evening.

Hotel: Barge Fleur
Meals: B, D
Daily Options: 17 miles (28 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.

VBT Air Package and Post-Trip Extension guests: After breakfast, say goodbye to your barge crew and Trip Leaders. Then transfer back to your hotel in Paris. After checking in, there’ll be 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 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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Extend your Bike and Barge Trip in Paris

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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