Cast off this summer!

> Le journal du Palais de Bourgogne (July 2011)

An interview with Laureen Taillier, Sales Manager at H2olidays.

Lakes, rivers, ponds and canals… Burgundy has the largest network of waterways in France stretching over more than 700 miles. Forever improving what river tourism has to offer, over the last decade or so travel agencies have put their bets on trendy packages which, for example, include cruises on barge-hotel. Underpinning the trip are two to seven days’ full board stay including crew, complemented by excursions on shore, cave visits and sporting activities.

Tour operators that specialise in river tourism such as H2olidays offer up the French “art de vivre” way of life: “From April until the end of October, we offer full board cruises that mostly (90%) appeal to customers outside of France – notably American, Australian and South-African tourists.” Prices start at around 2,900 EUR per person for a week’s full board trip.

Conversely, cheaper boat hire means a group of between four and 12 people can set sail together, bringing costs down to as little as 60 EUR per person per day. Improvements in comfort on houseboats have drawn in larger crowds – especially families since you don’t need your “sea legs” nor apply for a licence. “This more flexible option allows made-to-measure holidays of various durations, at affordable prices.” More than 400 houseboats can be rented at 30 or so boat clubs, 42 sail boat ports and 52 sail rest points spread out across the region along almost 500 miles of blueways; these have been especially chosen as the best routes to discover Burgundy by while travelling by boat. They can equally be enjoyed by bike, since most of the 400 miles that make up the ‘Burgundy By Bike’ route follow the various canals, and also make use of the old towpaths – a truly pleasurable way to travel to discover your surroundings once you’ve moored.

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