An Easter break with a real difference as we join our own inland waterways cruiser to follow the historic Canal de St Quentin over a course of 95km between Cambrai and Chauny, accompanied throughout by our Beer Sommelier and inspiration, Cheryl Cade.Book Now
As well as being delightful company, Cheryl is a Cicerone-Certified Beer Server (& trainer), a Beer Sommelier with the Beer & Cider Academy, an International Beer Judge and CAMRA Judge. Cheryl will support our cruise itinerary by introducing us along the way to beers of the region, with a supporting programme of visits in the coach to local breweries and presentations and tastings as we cruise.
The southern part of the Canal de St Quentin was dug in the 18th Century to provide a waterways link between the North of France and the Paris Basin via the River Oise. Work started on the canal in 1727 to link St Quentin with the navigable Oise to the south. Continuation of the canal northwards towards Flanders and Belgium was much more challenging because of the hills north of St Quentin, and various projects were proposed to extend the canal, some of them started before being abandoned. In the event the connection of the canal to the navigations further north was finally completed in 1810, and if tunnel engineering is your passion this is an especially interesting cruise as we pass through two of them in traversing the Canals summit pound. First comes the constructional wonder that is the 5.6km Grand Souterrain de Riqueval, where we pass through using a chain-tug. And this is followed by another tunnel, the 1.1km Tunnel of Tronquoy, north of St Quentin.
We stay for our cruise-tour throughout at the well-appointed Ibis Hotel in the centre of the St Quentin. This means we are perfectly situated on two accounts St Quentin is midway along our cruise route so we are never more than 30-40 minutes by coach between hotel and boat; and the hotel is right alongside St Quentin's historic centre and its wonderful basilica.
This is a full-board cruise-tour including beers and wines on board the boat plus all meals except lunches on the outbound and homebound travel days. The cost of all brewery visits, beer samplings and guide presentations are also included, but please budget to pay your own bar bill at the hotel!
On our outward travel day we aim to leave Folkestone via Eurotunnel mid-morning to arrive in Calais by noon local time, and we will then continue into St Omer where we give ourselves free time for lunch and a sampling of local beers. We will then continue to destination arriving by late-afternoon. St Quentin is only another 90 minutes or so onwards from St Omer so our first-day timing should provide the opportunity to see something of the Basilica and renowned fine arts museum, failing which there will be more opportunities during the week.D
Next morning, Wednesday 17th, we rejoin the coach for the short journey to Cambrai. We begin the day with some free time to explore the city, celebrated for its cathedral, St-Géry Church (with its "Entombment" Rubens painting), Fine Arts Museum and ancient city walls. Then at lunchtime we board the Natalia and begin our southwards cruise, passing through 7 locks as we follow the canal southwards for 11km as far as Masnières. At this point the canal is fed by the waters of the Escaut - better known to us as the Scheldt - which will be flowing opposite to our direction of travel as we start the ascent which presented the canal engineers with such a challenge nearly 3 centuries ago.B, L, D
On Thursday the coach takes us back to Masnières where we re-board to continue our cruise towards the summit pound of the canal. We cruise all day, passing through 10 locks and covering 14km until we conclude for the day in the village of Honnecourt-sur-Escaut.B, L, D
On to Good Friday, we early breakfast and leave the hotel at 08:00 sharp to return to the boat at Vendhuile by 08:30. Vendhuile is at the start of the 23km-long summit pound, where we quickly reach Riqueval Tunnel. Here the reason for our early start becomes apparent as we need to be ready for the 09:30 chain-tug - the next one is not until 5pm! The passage takes 1hr 45 min and is followed by some serene cruising as we continue to follow the summit pound, eventually reaching the shorter Souterrain de Tronquoy. This tunnel is controlled by lights so we go through under our own power. As we start our descent from the summit we pick up the course of the River Somme, which will feed the canal for the next 20km. We conclude for the day by dropping down through 5 more locks into St Quentin.B, L, D
Come Saturday we re-board in St Quentin and continue following the canal southwards along its twisting and tree-lined route, still with the River Somme alongside as we pass a succession of pretty villages until we reach the junction of the Canal St Quentin with the canalised River Somme, which tracks away eastwards. We stay with the St Quentin canal as it turns in the opposite direction and close for the day in the village of St-Simon, having travelled 17km on the day and descended 4 locks.B, L, D
On Easter Sunday the inland waterways in France are closed, and we will enjoy an easy day in the city with lunch out and some local beers.B, L, D
Then for our last day, Easter Monday, we check out of our hotel after breakfast and return to St-Simon to continue cruising through peaceful countryside to the railway town of Tergnier, where we conclude. From Tergnier it's a short hop to the A26 autoroute and about two hours back to Calais and our early evening return crossing.B
B=Breakfast Included, L=Lunch Included, D =Dinner Included
Executive Coach Travel Folkestone to St Quentin and daily connections between hotel and boat
Assistance with booking taxi connections and/or hotel stay pre-departure (in Ashford)
Eurotunnel or ferry crossings
Five days of cruising
Free time in St Quentin
Hotel stay at the 3* Ibis Hotel in the centre of St Quentin
On Board lunch on all cruise days
Restaurant (or brewery) lunch on Easter Sunday
Dinners either in hotel or at local restaurants, with beer or wine included
Tea and coffee, soft drinks, wines and beers throughout cruising
The 3* Ibis Hotel in the centre of St Quentin is perfectly situated adjacent to the citys magnificent basilica.
Our tour and cruise package includes all meals with the exception of lunch on our travel days outbound and homebound.
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. Tea, coffee, soft drinks, beers and wines are always available at no charge. 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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