Barging . . . Have It Your Way
Well into the 20th century, barges were the workhorses of transportation
throughout much of Europe. A network of interconnected canals and rivers
spanning France, the low countries, and Germany—all areas with abundant
water—once served as the most efficient way to move coal, grain, building
supplies, and more. Barge commerce still thrives on many European canals and
rivers, but, increasingly, barges have found new life as an escape for
vacationers interested in sampling the diverse areas through which they flow.
Today you can explore almost any part of France by canal, but the most
popular regions are Burgundy (Canal de Bourgogne and Canal du Nivernais),
Champagne (River Marne), the Upper Loire (Canal de Briare), the Loire Valley
(River Cher), and the Southwest (Canal du Midi). Most barge trips run a minimum
of a week. Several different styles of barging are available, each with its own
attractions and pros and cons. Here's a rundown on the options, so you can
choose one that's best for you.
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