Join us as we explore the quiet canals which link Picardy and Champagne, with a gourmet evening dining experience as we include an a la carte service of evening meals at our 4* hotel, with drinks, allowing guests to dine freely rather than as a group.Book Now
Our week takes us southwards from Chauny via the network of local canals as we transfer between the great river valleys of the Oise, Aisne and Marne. We stay the week at the delightful 4* lakeside hotel at Lac d'Ailette, and in addition to the wonderful rural setting of our canal journey, we visit Reims, Laon and St Omer, the fortress ruins at Coucy-le-Château, and the fascinating school museum at Chevregny.
This holiday will operate by coach from Kent, with pick-up points including Ashford and Folkestone. For travellers from further afield Buzzlines will arrange hotel accommodation close to a pick-up point as required. Independent travellers can join the holiday at destination if they wish.
Depart Folkestone on a morning Eurotunnel crossing, then a journey of under three hours to Chamouille, south of Laon. We then have a free afternoon to relax in the lakeside setting of the Hotel Lac d'Ailette, where we stay for the whole week.D
We depart the hotel at 09:00 for a scenic 45-minute journey via Laon and Crépy to the town of Chauny where our boat awaits. We set off initially on the Canal Lateral de L'Oise before soon branching off on to the picturesque canal which links the valleys of the Oise and the Aisne. Today is an all-day cruise, passing through a pleasant mix of wooded country and farmland with the occasional small village. After lunch on board, we will pause the cruise in the village of Guny and use the coach to visit the 13th Century fortress at Coucy-le-Château before we continue cruising to Anizy-le-Château where we conclude for the day.B, L, D
We rejoin the boat at Anizy-le-Château and enjoy another full day of cruising. The morning will take us as far as Pargny-Filain, where we pause to visit the fascinating School Museum at Chevregny, just a few minutes away by coach. We then return to cruising up to the summit pound of the canal, where we pass through the 2.3km Braye Tunnel. Now on the Aisne side of the summit pound, we drop down through a succession of locks to the junction of the canal with the Canal Lateral de L'Aisne at Bourg-et-Comin.
Our cruise continues along a 20km stretch of the Canal Lateral à L'Aisne, heading eastwards to another canal junction, at Berry-au-Bac, a famous old barge town also notable for its proximity to the local French sector of the First World War Western Front, known as the Chemin des Dames. After lunch the coach will offer an excursion into the hilltop citadel of Laon to enjoy its attractions which include magnificent views and the chance to ride on the SNCF funicular which links the old town on top of the hill with the sprawling modern development below.
Reboarding at Berry-au-Bac, we switch for our final day of cruising to the canal which links the valleys of the Aisne and the Marne. The boat is timed to arrive in Reims by 15:00 to allow some free time in the city before we return to the hotel, but for anyone wanting longer in Reims you can if you wish leave the boat after lunch and go ahead by coach, which should allow you another two hours to sightsee in Reims, whose highlight of course is the great UNESCO-listed Cathedral.
We depart for home but with time on our side we will schedule a prolonged lunchtime visit to St Omer before a late afternoon return crossing.B
B=Breakfast Included, L=Lunch Included, D =Dinner Included
Executive Coach Travel
Assistance with booking taxi connections and/or hotel stay pre-departure
Eurotunnel or ferry crossings
Free time in Laon, Reims and St Omer
Visits to Coucy-le-Château Auffrique, Chevregny for its Schools Museum
Hotel stay at the 4* Hotel Lac d'Ailette including breakfast and a la carte dinner
Daily cruise itinerary with on-board lunch
Drinks from the bar throughout cruising
Coach Excursion programme as detailed
The 4*Qualys-Hotel at Lac d'Ailette is located in a rural lakeside setting with extensive woodland nearby. The spacious 26 sq m rooms all have balconies and overlook the lake. Rooms are equipped with TV, safe, hairdryer and welcome tray. All 1st and 2nd floor rooms are accessible by lift. There are also rooms equipped for mobility-impaired guests.
Our tour package includes all meals with the sole exception of lunch on our travel days outbound and homebound. The flexible arrangement for evening dining in the hotel is for all guests to have a 45-Euro voucher issued by the hotel for a la carte dining. The voucher arrangement will particularly suit those who would value exercising their own menu choices rather than the limited options when dining as a large group; or for those who like to dine later in the evening.
Guests will be charged for any expenditure in excess of voucher value for settlement at check-out.
And vouchers can be used at the bar as well as in the restaurant!
On cruise days an on-board lunch is included and a free bar operates throughout. As well as teas, coffees and soft drinks, the bar stocks bottled beers and a range of wines including local Chablis, Bourgogne Aligoté and Irancy rouge, Crémant de Bourgogne, and a Provence rosé.
On Board Facilities:
Our boat has been designed to comfortably accommodate a coachload of passengers in lounge-standard seating and there is additional seating outside for those wanting to take in the views and fresh air. There are 3 bikes on board free of charge for anyone who would like to ride the towpath. The boats has two WC/washrooms and a galley serving beers and wines. There is no smoking on board.
Our boat is hybrid-engined and normally charges overnight from shore supply. Its diesel engines are only used if battery power is exhausted, so most of the time you can look forward to silent cruising. The saloon roof is bedecked with solar panels which reinforce battery endurance and support the boat's air conditioning system.
We also operate to a strict waste-avoidance policy. We try to completely avoid the use of single-use plastics and we operate to a responsible recycling code. All meals and drinks on board are served using normal crockery, cutlery and glassware. Our crew also has a brief to support the recovery from rivers and canals of floating litter whenever this is practicable.
Departure from Kent:
Anyone from further afield please feel welcome to join us on this or any other Buzzlines tour. We are happy to arrange parking for you here in Kent, or we can pick you up from Ashford International Station only 37 minutes by HS1 from London St Pancras and help you to find overnight hotel or B&B stops.
If you are an international visitor and you would like to book a cruise/tour with Backwaters whilst you are already in France, you are welcome to make your own way to the hotel and join the tour there.
Below is a list of pick-up points available on this tour.
Below is a list of pick-up points available on this tour.
|Ashford International Htl|| Ashford International Hotel |
|Folkestone|| Bus Station Bay E, Folkestone |
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