Day 1: Paris
The embarkation is at 14.00 in the center of Paris. After the welcome by the captain, the crew and the tour guide will have some time left for a walk to the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Ile de la Cité.
Day 2: Paris - Bougival, approx. 35 km
During breakfast, the ship travels across the Seine through the center of Paris. At 10.30 you can go on board for a nice bike ride. Of course you can also stay on board and enjoy the view while the ship leaves the city of Paris. The ship Zwaantje is located outside the city.
Day 3: Paris (Bougival) - Auvers-sur-Oise, approx. 38 km
After breakfast you will cycle along quiet country roads along the Seine to the higher altitude St. Germain, where you have a magnificent view of the gardens of Le Nôtre. After that Forest area to Conflans with picnic in beautiful place. It continues after a short Stop at the bridge of Pontoise, over the picturesque Chemin des Monts to the small church from Auvers, which is known by Van Gogh’s paintings. During an evening walk we visit his grave.
Day 4: Auvers-sur-Oise - Beaumont - Creil, approx. 42 km
During breakfast, the ship travels to Beaumont. In Beaumont we get on the bike, where we follow the Oise upstream. By bike you will pass the abbey of Royaumont as one of the best preserved from the 13th century applies. At noon we reach the magical Chantilly, a magnificent castle with an impressive art collection and a big name in the equestrian world.
Day 5: Creil - Pont-Ste-Maxence - Compiègne, approx. 33 or 48 km
During breakfast the Zwaantje takes us to Pont Sainte Maxence. This city owes its name to the long-built bridge over the Oise, Pont-Ste-Maxence. This made the place a favorite lodging spot for kings and merchants along the way were to Flanders. From here begins your bike ride. Not far from here you pass the
Abbey of Moncel, founded in 1309 by King Philips le Bel. Before you reach today’s destination Compiègne, you cross the forest of the same name "Forêt de Compiègne ". This was a popular hunting ground of the French kings. At the longer Tour is even longer in the woods on the way and also visits the city of Pierrefond, which offers a fantastic view of the imposing castle. Compiègne owes its architectural wealth close to Paris. The green areas of the castle Compiègne are certainly worth a visit.
Day 6: Compiègne – Pont l’Évêque, approx. 41 km
Today you leave the Oise to continue your journey on the canal system, which connects France and Belgium. In the morning you cycle through the northernmost part of the forest of Compiègne. The first stop is l’Armistice de la Clairière, an important city in the first World War, in which the end of the war was signed. After the river Aisne Crossing, you drive directly through the forest of Ourscamp. In the afternoon you spend some time in Noyon, where you can visit one of the oldest cathedrals in the country. After this tour you will cycle back to the canal at Pont l’Évêque, where the boat is already waiting for you.
Day 7: Pont l’Évêque – Haudival Haudival – Péronne, approx. 44 or 54 km
Today you continue your journey on and along the Canals du Nord. The construction of this canal was already planned in 1903, but only in 1966 the work could be completed. He should be the old one Replace Canal de St. Quentin to better transport coal from the mines to the north. The old canal was built in 1801 on behalf of Napoleon. During breakfast the boat drives to Haudival where the next bike ride starts. It leads through a gentle sweeping open terrain over the Art Deco town Ham and further along the Somme with its picturesque villages to Péronne. The Zwaantje is outside of this charming little town with its secluded market square, the church, a fort and the captivating Musée de Grande Guerre.
Day 8: Péronne
Today the Zwaantje remains in Péronne. You have time to visit the museum strolling through the village or doing some shopping. Dinner in a restaurant of your choice (not incl., restaurant recommendations available on board).
Day 9: Péronne – Ytres Ytres – Moeuvres, approx. 19 or 45 km
The first part of your tour takes you through the Somme river valley. We continue cycling on the Somme along through a sparsely populated, open hills to reach Ruyaulcourt. The Canal du Nord has two tunnels through which the ship has to pass. Of the Tunnel of Ruyalcourt is the larger tunnel with 4350 m length. Once everyone is on board, the Zwaantje drives through this tunnel. Above this tunnel is the watershed between the rivers Escaut (Scheldt) and Somme. From there, the ship will sail again downhill towards Arleux. Mooring in the outskirts of Moeuvres.
Day 10: Moeuvres – Cambrai – Arleux, approx. 35 or 51 km
Today we will visit Cambrai, a lively provincial town with historic monuments and a beautiful park to picnic in and then past the marshlands of Chantraine on to rural Arleux.
Day 11: Arleux – Doornik (Tournai), approx. 57 km
Today, the Zwaantje follows the Canal du Grand Gabarit for a few hours, passing the former industrial region of Northern France. Old coal mines and steelworks line the canal. Today’s bike tour starts in Arleux. It leads you through over wide agricultural areas through small mining towns to Lewarde, where you can visit a mining museum.
Arriving in Belgium, you drive through the so-called "white land". The charming little one Fortress town Antoing is located in the heart of this region, in limestone since Roman times was dismantled. Today’s destination is Doornik (French: Tournai), one of the oldest Cities of Belgium. You are now in Wallonia, the French-speaking part of Belgium, in which all places have both a Flemish and a French name. Until the beginning of the 17th century, Doornik was ruled by France. Here reached the Carpet weaving has become increasingly important, while the textile industry has lost its influence. In the City there are several museums that show beautiful examples from this period. 1940 became the city center was completely destroyed by a German air raid and became afterwards again constructed with great care. Here is especially the Notre Dame Cathedral (12th -13th century) worth a visit, as well as the Belfort, which was built around 1200.
Day 12: Doornik (Tournai) - Oudenaarde, approx. 41 or 47 km
The ship travels downstream over the Scheldt, where you cross the language border to reach Flanders region. From here on Flemish is spoken. Your today’s destination is called Oudenaarde. In earlier times, this small town was on the border between the French and German Empire and was thereby repeatedly drawn into wars. Since it was exactly in the line of fire, there was a permanent lookout. The figure of most famous watch post, "Hanske de Krijger", stands on the dome of the magnificent town hall. In the first half of the 16th century this counts with sandstone in later Brabant gothic Built building among the most beautiful town halls in Flanders. Oudenaarde was also called a city the carpet weaving known. The carpets were world famous.
Day 13: Oudenaare - Gent, approx. 41 km
Shortly after you leave for your next tour in Oudenaarde, you can take one short stop at the ruins of the old abbey Ename, which lay on the Scheldt. You continue towards Ghent, your destination today. Ghent is a living one University city with a rich history. Originally Roman, and at the confluence Ghent and Leie, Ghent was rich in the late 13th and early 14th centuries Commercial and textile town; of which the Lakenhal, the cathedral and the town hall bear witness. In the Lakenhalle (1425) substances were traded. The most significant church is the St. Baafs Cathedral, which was built in several centuries and different architectural styles. In the Cathedral are some masterpieces of medieval artists to visit. The most famous Painting is probably "The Adoration of the Lamb of God" by Jan van Eyck. Possibility to take a tour to the city center or visit the old castle Gravensteen.
Day 14: Gent - Alterbrug - Bruges, approx. 30 or 40 km
During breakfast the MS Zwaantje will take us to Aalterbrug where we will get on our bikes and cycle through wooded areas and fields, past quiet villages and castles to the Hertsberge estate, where there is an interesting agricultural museum to visit. Timely arrival in Bruges, the most picturesque city in Flanders and from the 14th to the 16th Century renowned as one of Europe’s most important centers of banking and art, and during the romantic period rediscovered for time travel in the Middle Ages.
Day 15: Bruges
After breakfast you will leave the ship. Disembarkation till 09.30.
Day 1: Bruges
Arrival and embarkation in Bruges between 1 pm and 2 pm. After the welcome with the Crew is the bike distribution with a subsequent short test drive. After the dinner the tour guide offers a city tour through the old town.
In order to do justice to Bruges, we recommend that you arrive a day or two before so that you have enough time to explore this interesting city. This city will also be called " the pearl flanders" and is considered one of the most beautiful cities in Flanders. Your medieval Downtown has remained virtually untouched. Bruges was once a cosmopolitan city and also a trading city Art Center, which can still be seen in many monuments.
Day 2: Bruges – Aalterburg - Ghent, approx. 37 or 45 km
During breakfast departure from Bruges. We cross magical forest areas and Pastures. Halfway up the canal, between Bruges and Ghent, the ship already awaits you. When all are on board, the anchor is caught and the journey continues to Ghent. In the evening, you can explore historic downtown Ghent with a wonderful canal tour...Ghent is a lively university city, again one with a rich past. The city has its origins in Roman Times, at the place where the rivers Leie and Scheldt converge. This favorable situation brought a great deal of prosperity over the years, which had its peak late 13th, early 14th century. Textile industry brought great wealth. In the city center many old patrician houses have been preserved. In the Cloth makers’ Hall (1425) textile merchants used to meet. Major church is St. Baafs’ Cathedral, raised in various ages and in various styles. In the cathedral you can admire a number of masterpieces of mediaeval painting, of which the ‘Adoration of the Lamb’ by Jan van Eyck is the most famous.
Day 3: Gent – Oudenaarde, approx. 41 km
This morning you can once again visit the city of Ghent by bike to experience this vibrant and beautiful city. Later in the morning, continue your bike ride towards Oudenaarde. This small town was formerly on the border of the French and German Empire, and was often hit by wars. The most famous guard stands still today on top of the magnificent city hall: "Hanske the warrior". The town hall was built in the first half of the 16th century, it is one of the most beautiful in Flanders.
The style is Brabant late gothic, the material used is sandstone. Furthermore is Oudenaarde known as Carpet-Webercity. The tapestries are known throughout the world. Before we arrive in Oudenaarde, we visit an interesting archaeological site, the old abbey Ename, on the east side of the river Scheldt.
Day 4: Oudenaarde – Doornik (Tournai), approx. 41 or 47 km
Before we leave Oudenaarde, we have a guided visit to the beautiful own hall. After that we follow the river Scheldt upstream and cross the linguistic frontier, thus arriving in the Walloon region. From now on people speak French and villages, towns and cities have a French name. Final destination of today is Doornik or Tournai, one of the oldest towns of Belgium. Doornik fell under French government until early in the 17th century. Just as in Oudenaarde, after the decline of textile industry, tapestry became important here. In 1940 the entire town center was destroyed in a German air raid but renovation of the town has been very successful. Especially the Notre Dame cathedral (12th and 13th century) is worth seeing. But also the Belfort, built around 1200, is definitely worth a visit.
Day 5: Doornik (Tournai) – Bleharies - Arleux, approx. 47 km
During breakfast the barge cruises into the direction of the Belgian-French border, through the so called “white land”, where (white) limestone has been quarried since Roman times. Around the village of Bleharies at the border, you will start today’s bicycle ride. The tour goes through open farm land, through little mining towns towards Lewarde, where a mining museum can be visited. You will spend the night in Arleux.
Day 6: Arleux – Ruyalcourt, approx. 35 or 51 km
The barge leaves the large canal and will from now on follow the Canal du Nord. The construction of this canal was already planned in 1903, but it took until 1966 to finish the works. It was constructed to replace the older and smaller Canal de St. Quentin, constructed by Napoleon in 1801, to transport coal from the mines to the north. Your cycling tours leads to the city of Cambrai, once a Roman provincial capital and an important destination for pilgrims. Worth seeing are the impressive restored buildings of the city fortress, built under King Charles V. Later you will cycle through the marshlands of Chantraine to rural Ruyaulcourt.
Day 7: Ruyalcourt - Péronne, approx. 19 or 45 km
The Canal du Nord has 2 tunnels, where the barge has to sail through. The longest one is the tunnel of Ruyalcourt, which is 4,350 meters (2.7 miles) long. Today Zwaantje will sail through this tunnel. Above the tunnel is the watershed between rivers Escaut (Scheldt) and Somme. From here the barge therefore goes downhill again into the direction of Péronne. After passing the tunnel you will continue cycling through the valley of the river Somme through sparsely populated open and rolling landscape. At the end of World War 1, this area was the frontline of the battle around the Somme. You will continue cycling to Péronne.
Day 8: Péronne
Today the barge will stay in Péronne. The Zwaantje will be moored just outside this charming town with its intimate square and church as well as a castle and the fascinating Grande Guerre museum. Today there is no dinner planned on board. You can select one of the many restaurants of Péronne.
Day 9: Péronne – Épénancourt – Noyon – Pont l’Évêque, approx. 40 or 50 km
During breakfast the Zwaantje will bring you to the little village of Épénancourt. There you have to get on the bicycles in time for a long ride through gently rolling, open countryside to the art-deco town of Ham and along the river Somme and other picturesque villages. Destination is Noyon with its imposing cathedral.
Day 10: Pont l’Évêque – Compiègne, approx. 33 or 57 km
From Pont l’Évêque you will set course for Compiègne. You will ride through the forest of Ourscamp and cross the river Aisne where the forest of Compiègne begins. Here, at “Clairière de l’Armistice”, French and German generals signed a Treaty to end World War I. You can visit the small but interesting museum that tells the story. Soon you will arrive at Compiègne. The town owes its magnificent buildings to the proximity of Paris and the great woods, where the French kings loved to stay and hunt. The gardens of the Chateau de Compiègne are definitely worth a visit.
Day 11: Compiègne – Creil, approx. 45 - 60 km
Today we cycle first through the forest south of Compiègne after which we follow the valley of the Oise further downstream into the direction of Creil. Right before Pont-ste-Maxence we pass by the abbey of Moncel, founded in 1309 by King Philip the Fair. Pont-Ste-Maxence owes its name to the fact that very early on there was a bridge across the Oise. Pont-Ste-Maxence became a place to spend the night for merchants and kings, who were on their way to Flanders. Our final destination of today, Creil, was in the 19th century known for its fine pottery.
Day 12: Creil – Beaumont - Auvers-sur-l’Oise, approx. 42 or 57 km
You leave the bustling city of Creil by bike and drive to the enchanting Chantilly its famous for the castle, which is also famous for its racecourse and royal stables. After this visit, you continue the tour through a beautiful forest area to reach a little further the abbey of Royaumont. For the shorter tour, go to Beaumont back on the ship. On the longer tour we cross the river Oise in the direction of Auvers-sur- Oise, where Vincent van Gogh spent his last days. Here is also his grave, which you can visit in the evening. This area was very popular with many Impressionist artists.
Day 13: Auvers-sur-l’Oise – Paris (Bougival), approx. 39 km
After arriving late at Auvers yesterday, now you have some time to get in Auvers to follow in the footsteps of Vincent van Gogh. Then we approach by bike and with many impressionistic impressions in their luggage, the capital of light. Lunch in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, where the Oise and the Seine converge. Since the 19th Century Conflans is an important shipping center in northern France. At noon we continue to St.Germain-en-Laye to the palace, where we have a nice view over Paris. We continue by bike along the river to Bougival where we stay.
Day 14: Paris (Bougival) – Paris
Today the barge finally cruises the Seine, upstream to Paris. It is not far in a straight line, but the Seine makes a number of large curves here. Mooring place of the Zwaantje is in the center of the city. You can spend the rest of the day as you like. You can explore the city by subway, or by a bus that takes you along all the sights.
Day 15: Paris
After breakfast you will leave the ship. Disembarkation till 09.30.