Barging Thru Burgundy We've done several drive-it-yourself canal barge trips in France and absolutely loved every second. We've done the Burgundy area a couple of times (on the Nivernais and Yonne Rivers) and we did the Midi Canal from the Med across to the Atlantic. Each is different: Burgundy is lush and green, with small villages (each with a free quay for you to stop), meadows, chateaus in the distance and great beauty. The Midi is drier, with rows of plane trees lining the canal edge. You'll encounter tons of yachts on the Midi, passing one way or the other so they don't have to sail around Gibralter. Canal cruising, as some said with a hint of sarcasm, is exactly that: going slowly and getting nowhere. At the end of a week of barging, we'd gone less than a 100 miles, but every inch was new. We'd take our bicycles in the mornings and ride along the tow path to the nearest village to buy fresh chocolate croissants, we'd stop mid-day to shop in street markets for veggies and meat, and, at night, we'd stop anywhere we wanted. If we weren't at a village, which provides quays to encourage your visit, we would simply drive spikes into the bank for our mooring lines, put the gangplank to shore, and we were set. I highly recommend two barge companies: LeBoat is a sister to The Moorings and Sunsail bareboat charter companies and they have a new electrically powered barge with bow thruster and a very pleasant interior. We've always used Locaboat, which has classic peniche-styled canal barges, and they are spotlessly clean and very comfy. Though there are only two couples, we get their 50-footer with four staterooms, which gives us space for luggage and camera gear, and we're never crowded. Easy to handle, and fun going thru the locks. Every lockkeeper, knowing you're his captive for twenty minutes, is an entrepreneur: some sell watercolors, some sell veggies, some sell pottery, but they all sell wine. We rarely spent more than two euros a bottle and I would say that 90% of it was superb (and I'm someone who knows a Sassacaia from a Red Mountain!). We laughed that we would have spent a 30-40 bucks a bottle for most of our wines in a wine shop in the U.S. Canal barging isn't bareboating the Caribbean with sandy beaches and palms, but it's entirely wonderful. And, if you have someone who gets a little queasy at the sight of bathtub ripples, this is the ideal boating holiday: you get your boat on a millpond. Great fun. Don't miss out. Here are some pix.