Saga is introducing a new way to see Paris, the Champagne region and Provence on intimate 11 and 12-cabin river barges designed to navigate narrow waterways and canals.
The three and six-night holidays feature two barges, MS Raymonde and MS Anne-Marie – and although they are small, they have a big attitude! Each has a lounge area with bar, a sun deck and hot tub. Free Wi-Fi is available throughout the vessels and there are bicycles for guests’ use ashore. Cabins have an en-suite bathroom, TV and safe. Buffet-style breakfasts and set three-course lunches and dinners are served in the restaurant.
The 11-cabin barge MS Raymonde is deceptively spacious and designed with the waterways of Paris and the narrow canals of northern France in mind, while the contemporary MS Anne-Marie is a 12-cabin barge and small enough to navigate the canals and waterways of southern France.
MS Raymonde is a picture of elegance as she cruises into the heart of Paris. Mooring points are just steps from landmarks such as the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower and Musée d’Orsay, and the holiday includes tours through the city’s covered walkways and around the Saint Germain des Prés district.
MS Raymonde sails from Quai de Grenelle, along Canal Saint Martin and past Notre-Dame and Sainte-Chapelle, with plenty of time scheduled in for exploring ashore. The barge moors at Bassin la Villette for an included tour of Paris, from the Place de la République to Place Vendôme, before sailing past the Jardin des Tuileries and under Pont Alexander III.
Price from £729 departing on Eurostar from St Pancras International on February 23, 2017
MS Raymonde provides a friendly, relaxed environment as she sails through Champagne country from Epernay to Paris on the scenic Marne.
There are five included tours to Hautvilliers, Reims, Chateau Thierry, Meaux and Paris, and the sailing also offers guests the chance to sample local delicacies from Champagne to the fine Brie of Meaux.
An overnight mooring in Paris provides a grand finale to the all-inclusive barge cruising experience which features a bar which opens 12 hours a day.
Six nights from £1,599 departing on Eurostar from St Pancras International on April 18 and October 3, 2017
Secrets of Southern France – Six nights, all-Inclusive
This cruise through Provence and Langeudoc-Roussillion features diverse cities and seaports as MS Anne-Marie sails on the Canal du Rhone-à-Sete.
The barge holiday price includes a 12-hour bar and six included tours; the first is in Arles, where artist Vincent van Gogh painted many of his masterpieces. In the Camargue, guests can look for wild white horses and there’s a Provencal ranch visit to discover how the Camargue cowboys help preserve herds of black bulls. Guests can explore the walled city of Aigues-Mortes and the seaside resort of Palavas-Les-Flots before visiting the bustling fishing port of Sete, which sits between a vast seafood-producing lagoon and the sea.
Six nights from £1,799 departing London Gatwick to Montpelier on April 7, 2017
For details call free on 0800 300 400 or visit saga.co.uk/rivercruises