In response to the growing popularity of electric bicycles worldwide, European Waterways has added e-bike rentals as an option on most itineraries in France for 2020.
E-bikes supplement the traditional bicycles available on all barges for guests’ use. The company has also upgraded its tailored biking maps to provide more detailed and easier-to-follow route information that includes historical context for self-guided bike tours through the towns and attractions along the barging routes. The maps are available in printed form and can be downloaded to mobile phones.
E-bikes can be pre-ordered for charter and cabin bookings for $580 for the first bike and $290 for each additional bike. They are an excellent option for couples who wish to explore the countryside in a more leisurely manner, while still enjoying the benefits of gentle physical exercise. Among the hotel barges offering this option are La Belle Époque, L’Art de Vivre, and L’Impressionniste in Burgundy, Renaissance in the Upper Loire and Western Burgundy, Anjodi in the Canal du Midi, and Panache in Alsace.
“E-bikes are an absolute pleasure to ride,” said Derek Banks, managing director of European Waterways. “Technology allows them to offer riders just the right amount of assistance to handle slopes on surrounding terrain with greater ease. Riders can concentrate on the view and soak in the natural beauty of the French countryside, rather than tackling that ‘daunting’ little hill or the final mile on extended treks.”
Every vessel on European Waterways’ fleet carries bicycles and helmets as part of the many amenities available free to guests. With advance notice, the company can also provide children’s bicycles for family groups and even tandems for those who want to “share the load.”
“Barging and Biking” charters are available for the casual enthusiasts and biking groups that may desire more upgraded bikes and the opportunity to roam longer distances. They can include guided, half-day itineraries with a picnic in the countryside and are customizable to meet every level of interest, from rugged Highland routes that will test the endurance to level towpath circuits that can be taken at a leisurely pace.
“Biking Plus” options allow guests to follow carefully researched bike routes on their own during the cruise and return to the barge where they left it or a little farther up the canal. Itineraries are arranged around guests’ biking schedules to ensure they don’t miss any planned activities or organized excursions.
For all cruises, crew members can off-load bicycles at any point for use along the tow paths and in the surrounding countryside. Since barges cruise at a speed just barely above a brisk walking pace, guests can easily explore the region for an extended period and meet up with the vessel as desired farther up the canal. A crew member is always ready to respond to any guest who may become lost or require assistance.
“With more flexible biking options, our guests are free to roam near and far, whether on the gentle towpaths alongside our barges or the moderate and sometimes challenging slopes of the charming French countryside,” said Banks.