Backwaters launches Eco-Friendly Cruise-Tour Holidays to the Heart Of France, From £950pp for Seven Nights

New specialist operator introduces leisurely way to explore France’s network of hidden inland waterways with high comfort day-boat cruising, excursions and overnight hotel stays

Specialist cruise-tour operator, Backwaters ( 01303 263 422) has launched a programme of “day cruise” holiday itineraries to the authentic heartland of France. The cruises are aboard the company’s own new-build hybrid-engined vessel designed to serve as an observation lounge on the vast French inland waterways network.

Holidays start from £950 per person, with no single supplement, for a week’s all-inclusive cruise exploring the scenic and secluded Canal du Nivernais in the rural heartland of Burgundy. Departing Folkestone on Sunday 26th August, the Cruising the Northern Nivernais tour includes all travel and transfers, excursions, full board and six nights’ accommodation at the family owned two-star Logis St François in the village of Vermenton.

Covering 70km and with a total cruise time of 21 hours, the tour starts in Vermenton and finishes in the medieval town of Clamecy. Itinerary highlights include the viewpoints of Mailly-le-Chateau and Irancy, wine tasting in Chablis, a jazz night at the Cistercian Abbaye de Reigny, guided visit to UNESCO-listed Basilica of St Mary Magdalen at Vezelay and to the prehistoric underground Caves d’Arcy. There’s also a free afternoon in the fine city of Auxerre, and a trip on a local train following the Upper Yonne valley.

Ideal for holidaymakers with an environmental conscience, Backwaters offers strong green credentials. Its specially commissioned vessel is hybrid-engined, charging overnight from shore supply, and its saloon roof is fitted with solar panels to support the boat’s air conditioning system. A strict waste-avoidance policy is also adopted with single-use plastics excluded, a strict recycling code in place and ‘normal’ multi-use crockery, cutlery and glassware used on board.

The proof-of-concept boat is the ‘Natalia’, an architecturally designed purpose built cruiser that Backwaters describes as a “floating lounge”. The 38m long 4.85m wide boat is scaled to conform to the size of the Freycinet-scale locks, which allow access to the great canal network from Loiret in the West through Burgundy and across Alsace and Champagne region and into Picardy, Flanders and the Ardennes.

“Natalia” accommodates a maximum of 45 passengers, has an outdoor seating area at the front, and an air-conditioned saloon with comfortable lounge-standard seating as well as expansive indoor viewing windows, which make for the “observation lounge” experience that the company is aiming for. Such is the gentle pace of travel there are plenty of opportunities to stroll or cycle the towpaths too.

In September the Joys of the Yonne features an eight-day itinerary which follows a westward course on the Canal de Bourgogne and on to the River Yonne via Joigny and Villeneuve-sur-Yonne to the splendid cathedral city of Sens.

The annual programme concludes in October with two spectacular autumnal cruises – the 15-day A Waterways Odyssey starting in Sancerre that weaves its way through Montargis and Moret-sur-Loing through five of the loveliest French Departments – Yonne, Nièvre, Cher, Loiret and Seine et Marne before cruising the Seine itself into central Paris.

And finally, the 11-day A Royal River Cruise departs from Paris, travelling under the Place de la Bastille on the Canal St Martin before following the Seine downstream to Coflans, thence along the River Oise to conclude in Compiègne for a visit to the Armistice memorial at Réthondes ahead of the centenary taking place in November.

For bookings and more information on Backwaters and its 2018/19 programme visit: or call: 01303 263 422.

About Backwaters

A sister company of Buzzlines Travel, Backwaters was established in 2017 to develop a new genre of integrated cruise/coach tour/hotel stay holidays on the European inland waterways network. It is owned and operated by Lynn Woods, a former RAF Squadron Leader, who in 1994 co-founded Adastra Software, which developed the core system used by the NHS 111 service. Having spent ten years discovering the delights of the canals and smaller rivers of France in his own barge he decided to develop a model of cruise-and-tour that would enable people to enjoy the French waterways at a leisurely pace for an affordable price.