No.2 -Great Canals Of Northern France
As this is a U-shaped cruising route we stay at a hotel in Arras which means we are no more than half-an-hour from our embarkation and disembarkation points. If tunnels are your passion this is another interesting cruise as we pass through the remarkable 4.3km Souterrain de Royaulcourt on the Canal du Nord.
This economical 4-day break will offer a good opportunity for those interested to try our tour-and-cruise model. At low-season rates it should make for a reasonably-priced short-break, and whilst at the beginning of March we shouldn't count on being entirely free of winter weather the days are longer and we can at least relax knowing we can experience these fascinating waterways from the comfort and shelter of our air-conditioned saloon.
PLEASE NOTE: Price is per person and based on two people sharing a twin/double room. Single room supplements and upgrades are not included.
On our outward travel day we aim to leave Folkestone via Eurotunnel mid morning to arrive at our hotel in Arras by around lunchtime. Having checked in we are then free to find somewhere for a spot of lunch. In the afternoon the choice will be to stay in Arras and explore at leisure, or take the coach to visit the Canadian memorial at nearby Vimy Ridge (no extra charge).
On Saturday we rejoin the coach for the short journey via the straight-line D939 to Cambrai, only about 30km away. From here we initially cruise northwards on the Canal de St Quentin to Paillencourt, where we turn westwards to follow the Canal de la Sensée. This great arterial waterway was built in 1820 and extended in 1968 as part of a major development to support European gauge barge traffic and although it is by no means congested it gives us a fascinating glimpse of heavy barge movements of aggregate, grain and containers travelling between the Meuse et Sambre, Brussels, Antwerp and Dunkerque ports and southwards via the Canal du Nord and River Oise to the Seine and Paris. We conclude our first day's journey at the strategic junction of the Sensée and the Canal du Nord at Arleux, having travelled around 30km on the day and passed through 3 locks.
Next day we return to Arleux, where we now turn southwards on the Canal du Nord, passing by the villages of Marquion (where we will have crossed the canal the previous day on our way to Cambrai), Inchy-en-Artois and Hermies before we come to Royaulcourt Tunnel. We then continue as far as Moislans, just north of Peronne, where we conclude having cruised 32km on the day with a further 7 locks. On the way back to Arras we will travel via the D1017 and pause at Rancourt, site of the great French National Cemetery and Chapel of Remembrance. With Commonwealth and German cemeteries close by, this is an especially appropriate place for us to remember those of all nations lost in that terrible conflict of a century ago.
On Monday we return to Kent, but as we have plenty of time we will enjoy a late breakfast and plan to get to the Cite Europe complex in Calais in time for lunch and shopping before a late afternoon return crossing.This is a full-board cruise-tour including beers and wines on board the boat (but not at the hotel where you should please pay your own bar bill!)lose
Executive Coach Travel
Assistance with booking taxi connections and/or hotel stay pre-departure (in Ashford)
Eurotunnel or ferry crossings
Two full days of cruising
Stay at a 3* hotel in Arras, with breakfast and dinner
On Board lunch on both cruise days
Tea and coffee, soft drinks, wines and beers throughout cruising
Excursion to Vimy Ridge Memorial and preserved trenches
Visit to Rancourt French Cemetery
Free time in Arras
The 3* Campanile in Arras is located in the quiet suburb of St-Nicolas a few minutes north of the city centre. The hotel has 42 rooms with double beds or two single beds, top-of-the-range bedding and cosy duvets. Rooms feature a flat-screen HD television with digital channels, a desk, direct-dial telephone and free Wi-Fi. There is also an en-suite bathroom with bath and hair-dryer or magnifying mirror. There are tea and coffee-making facilities and biscuits in each room.
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.