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La Renaissance Cruises and Charters

From: A Barge Cruise in France

captain's dinner

ABOVE: Amy folds napkins for dinner, using a different technique every night.


La Renaissance carries a maximum of eight passengers in two-person cabins, with a cruising season that normally runs from the end of March through early November. "Value" rates apply at the beginning and end of the season and in midsummer; these are about 15 percent less than the "regular" rates from mid-May to late July and from the end of August to mid-October.

If you travel alone, you'll pay a hefty single supplement, so it's worthwhile to bring a companion unless you're a hermit with a trust fund.

Confession: We were a little concerned about traveling with a small group of people whom we didn't know, but we needn't have worried: Everyone got along fine, and Philippe (the European Waterways operations manager for France) pointed out that snobs and misanthropes aren't the kind of people who normally sign up for barging holidays. Barging tends to attract convivial, experienced travelers who enjoy making new acquaintances.

Private charters

Like most hotel barges, La Renaissance is available for charter, with flat group rates available for six, seven, or eight passengers. Dip into the kids' inheritance for a family reunion or get several other couples together, and you'll enjoy a barging vacation that you can customize according to your interests and tastes. (For example, you might try to fit golfing or a specific sightseeing destination into your cruise, and you can have breakfast in your bathrobes without raising other passengers' eyebrows.)

For more information on cruise rates and charters, click the European Waterways Web link on the next page.

Next page: Practical information, Web links

In this review:
The barge
Food and wine
Activities, excursions
Cruises, private charters
Practical information

Also see:
Day-by-day barge cruise photo diary - La Renaissance
Satellite-photo maps of towns along the route
Canals in France: printed maps and guides