Eiffel Tower - photo via Flickr:Daxis Belgian pralines! Photo via Wikimedia Commons:phot_co

Bruges to Paris or Paris to Bruges

Belgium, France Bike + Boat Tours

Cycling in Belgium and France!

This incredible Bruges to Paris bike tour (or v.v.) goes along rural country roads, towpaths, and paved forest trails and occasionally, a short distance on a cobblestone road.

You will bike in Belgium and France and curiously, through Holland too, as Belgium and the French part above the Somme River once belonged to Holland. This can be seen in the flags of the Belgian and French provinces that still carry the Dutch national symbol (the lion).

Picardie, as the northern province of France is called, was once the cradle of the Gothic period which can be seen in the various places you will visit. Picardie and especially the area around the Somme River carry the scars of the great war. In almost every little town you pass, there are memorials erected that commemorate the soldiers and civilians that died in the war. If you love history, you will have the oppurtunity to visit the war museum in Peronne where you will spend a whole day. You can also take a tour around the area and pass the big memorials erected in honor of the soldiers of France, Great Britian, Australia, America and South Africa.

Biking in Paris, you will enter through the 'banlieues' as the suburban cities are called. This part of the suburban area around Paris is very green and inhabited mostly by Parisians that can afford to flee the city and live on the slopes outside Paris. Cycling in Paris has been made easier throughout the years thanks to the efforts of cycling enthusiasts and the development of the many bike paths.

For a full list of options for cycling in France or cycling in Belgium, follow the links!

Tour Dates

Bruges to Paris
On the Comfort Plus boats:
Fleur: April 12, 2014
MPS Zwaantje: May 10, 2014

On the Standard Plus boat:
Feniks: May 10*, June 7, and August 23, 2014

Paris to Bruges
On the Comfort Plus boats:
Fleur: October 11, 2014
MPS Zwaantje: May 24, 2014 **Now being offered at a discount!**

​On the Standard Plus boat:
Feniks: April 26*, May 24*, July 19, October 4, 2014

*Being offered at a discount! Please see pricing.

Where You’ll Stay

On the Comfort Plus boats: Fleur or MSP Zwaantje or on the Standard Plus boat: Feniks

What’s Included

  • 14 nights’ accommodations on board
  • Breakfast buffets, packed lunches, and 3 course dinners (12 dinners on the Feniks and 13 dinners on the Fleur)
  • Coffee and tea on board
  • Tour guide (2 guides on the Fleur)
  • 21 speed hybrid bicycle
  • Helmet rental (Fleur)
  • Route information
  • Ferry fares en route
  • Bicycle protection ( Fleur and Feniks only)
  • Air-conditioned cabins (Fleur & Zwaantje only)

What’s Not Included

  • Beverages (incl. alcohol), available on board
  • 2 x dinner on the Feniks
  • Train ride to/from Paris to Bruges, if needed
  • Museum entrance fees
TourBike + Boat
TypeGuided
SkillEasy–Moderate
Length15 days
From1655 Rates
Print Tour

Skill Level

This is an easy to moderate, guided bike and boat tour with average daily distances of 26 miles. The route is mostly flat with some rolling hills - some days being slightly hillier than others. You may always choose to stay on board ship for a day if you do not want to bike.

Tour Boats

Day-To-Day Itinerary

Bruges to Paris or Paris to Bruges Map

On the Fleur:

Paris to Bruges

Day 1: Paris
Day 2: Paris - Auvers-sur-Oise, 29 mi. (48 km)
Day 3: Auvers-sur-Oise - Creil, 33 mi. (55 km)
Day 4: Creil - Compiègne, 33 mi. (55 km)
Day 5: Compiègne - Chauny, 36 mi. (60 km)
Day 6: Chauny - St. Quentin, 24 to 33 mi. (40 to 55 km)
Day 7: St. Quentin, rest day
Day 8: St. Quentin - tunnel of Riqueval - Honnecourt, 24 or 39 mi. (40 to 65 km)
Day 9: Honnecourt - Cambrai - Pont Malin, 21 or 36 mi. (35 to 60 km)
Day 10: Pont Malin - Doornik, 27 mi. (45 km)
Day 11: Doornik (Tournai) - Oudenaarde, 27 mi. (45 km)
Day 12: Oudenaarde - Ghent, 21 mi. (35 km)
Day 13: Ghent - Bruges, 15 or 30 mi. (25 to 50 km)
Day 14: Bruges, rest day
Day 15: Departure

All distances are approximate. The above planned itinerary is subject to change due to changing wind and weather conditions and other unforeseen circumstances having to do with mooring requirements, etc. 

Day 1: Arrival in Paris
On arrival day in Paris, the Fleur will be moored in Port d’Arsenal located in the middle of the city, next to the Place de la Bastille. On board you can enjoy a welcome drink, crew introduction, and a lovely dinner on board. Following dinner, there will be plenty of time for a city walk.

Day 2: Paris - Auvers-sur-Oise, 29 mi. (48 km)
During breakfast, the boat cruises across the center of Paris past many famous points of interest like the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay, and the Eiffel tower. The cycling tour begins shortly after breakfast to la Défense and St.Germain-en-Laye. There you climb to the palace and from the palace garden you have a splendid view over Paris. Later you pass Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, where the Oise and the Seine merge. Since the 19th century, Conflans has been an important center of navigation in Northern France. Today's final destination is Auvers-sur-Oise, where Vincent van Gogh spent the last days of his life and where he is buried in the local cemetery. This region was loved by many Impressionist painters. After dinner on board, enjoy an evening walk to the van Gogh cemetery.

Day 3: Auvers-sur-l'Oise - Creil, 33 mi. (55 km)
Starting at Auvers, you ollow the Oise upstream. On today's bike tour, you'll pass the abbey of Royaumont and then Chantilly, with its famous castle. The castle is also well known for the horse-racing circuit and royal stables. Today’s destination is Creil, a country town, which in the 19th century was famous for its fine pottery.

Day 4: Creil - Compiègne, 33 mi. (55 km)
During breakfast the barge cruises to Pont-st-Maxence, town of kings and merchants, where today's bike tour begins. Soon you pass the abbey of Moncel, which in 1309 was founded by King Philips de Schone. Before reaching Compiegne, today's destination, you cycle through the forest south of the city. This beautiful town owes its architectural wealth to the proximity of Paris and the enormous woods in which the French kings loved to wander. The Chateau de Compiè with its magnificient gardens is well worth a visit.

Day 5: Compiègne - Chauny, 36 mi. (60 km)
The river Oise is soon left behind to continue your trip by way of the canal system connecting France and Belgium. The cycling tour goes through the forest of Compiegne and the “Clairière de l’Armistice”, the place where the French and German generals signed for the end of WWI. Here you can visit the small but interesting museum. Later you cross the river Aisne and cycle through the forest of Ourscamp. You will meet the Fleur once again in Chaunygne, with its magnificent gardens that are well worth a visit.

Day 6: Chauny - St. Quentin, 24 to 33 mi. (40 to 55 km)
Today you continue the cruise on the old canal of St.-Quentin. Built in the Napoleonic era, the canal still breathes peace and quiet and is a reminder of a rich shipping history. The cycling route leads through the Somme-region, a quiet countryside with small villages. Today's destination is the ively provincial capital of the Aisne,St. Quentin, which rose in the 2nd century on a junction of Roman roads. Highlights here are the Gothic basilica and the 16th century Town Hall with its flamboyant Gothic   façade.

Day 7: St. Quentin, rest day
Today the Fleur stays in St.-Quentin. You can participate in a day excursion by bus to the battlefields of World War I in the Somme valley. It is also possible to use the day for exploring the city of St.Quentin.

Day 8: St. Quentin - tunnel of Riqueval - Honnecourt, 24 or 39 mi. (40 to 65 km)
The Canal de St.-Quentin was dug under the government of Napoleon. Because the differences in height were sometimes big, it was necessary to dig tunnels. The longest one is the tunnel of Riqueval, which is 5670 meters long. Today, the barge goes through this tunnel. Boats are still pulled through by an electrically driven towboat and it takes approximately two hours to pass through. Above the tunnel there is the watershed between rivers Escaut (Schelde) and Somme. Either just before or right after this tunnel the cyclists disembark. At the tunnel is a little museum. From there the route is downhill and ends in a little village called Honnecourt.

Day 9: Honnecourt - Cambrai - Pont Malin, 21 or 36 mi. (35 to 60 km)
After breakfast, you begin cycling to the ancient abbey of Vaucelles (which can be visited) and later continue to the city of Cambrai, once a roman provincial capital and an important destination for pilgrims. First in 1677, Cambrai became French. Worth seeing are the impressive and restored buildings of the city fortress, built under Charles V. The old city gate dates from 1300. In the afternoon, you leave the old canal de St. Quentin and continue on the Canal du Grand Gabarit to Pont Malin, where you spend the night.

Day 10: Pont Malin - Doornik, 27 mi. (45 km)
Today the barge follows the canal du Grand Gabarit for a few hours passing through a former industrial area of France. Old mines and steel sites border the canal. The bike ride follows the route to Santiago de Compostela. The Fleur crosses the French frontier in Mortagne and a little later, in Bleharies, it crosses into Belgium. We sail through the so-called ‘white land’. The charming little fortress town Antoing lies at the heart of this region and since the Roman days limestone has been mined here. Today’s destination is Doornik (in French: Tournai), one of the oldest cities of Belgium. Here we are in Wallonia, where all towns and villages have both a French and a Flemish name. Up until the beginning of the 17th century Doornik was ruled by the French. Here, tapestry weaving gained in importance, while the cloth industry became less important. In the various museums of the town, excellent examples can be seen. In 1940 the entire city center was destroyed after a German air-raid. However, the town has been renovated and rebuilt. The cathedral the Notre Dame (12th and 13th century) is worth seeing, as well as the Belfort, which was built at about 1200.

Day 11: Doornik (Tournai) - Oudenaarde, 27 mi. (45 km)
The barge cruises downstream on the Scheldt River and enters the Flemish region. Today's destination is Oudenaarde. In former days, this little town was situated on the border of the French and German Empires and as a result it was involved in wars frequently. In the first half of the 16th century, the city hall was built of sandstone in Brabantine late Gothic style and it is one of the most beautiful city halls in all of Flanders. Oudenaarde is also known as the town of the tapestry, whos weavers and their wares are know throughout the world. There may be time today to visit one of Belgium’s famous beer breweries called Liefmans.

Day 12: Oudenaarde - Ghent, 21 mi. (35 km)
The barge continues cruising on the Scheldt in the direction of Ghent, a lively university town with a rich history. The town developed on the spot where in Roman days, the rivers Leie and Schelde merged, a favorable location which meant prosperity in late 13th and early 14th century. The cloth industry was a source of great riches. In the city many patrician residences have been preserved. In the Lakenhalle (1425) the cloth traders gathered. The most important church is St. Baafs cathedral, which was constructed in different centuries and in different styles. In the cathedral several masterpieces of medieval painting are to be found. “The worship of the Lamb of God” by Jan van Eyck is the most famous of all. You might want to take a city tour by boat or visit the old castle

Day 13: Ghent - Bruges, 15 or 30 mi. (25 to 50 km)
Today your bike tour goes through the pleasant countryside of Western Flanders to Bruges.  Bruges, also called the Venice of the North, may be one of the most beautiful of all Flemish cities. Its old center, which dates from the Middle Ages, is almost completely preserved. 

Day 14: Bruges, rest day
The boat stays in Bruges giving you time to explore this lively city.

Day 15: Departure
Individual departure following breakfast.

Bruges to Paris

Day 1: Arrival in Bruges                      
Day 2: Bruges - Ghent, 15 or 24 mi. (25 to 40 km)    
Day 3: Ghent - Oudenaarde, 15 or 27 mi. (25 to 45 km)           
Day 4: Oudenaarde - Doornik (Tournai), 21 or 25 mi. (35 to 42 km)               
Day 5: Doornik (Tournai) - Pont Malin (Bouchain), 30 mi. (50 km)
Day 6: Pont Malin - Cambrai - Honnecourt, 17 or 36 mi. (28 to 60 km)
Day 7: Honnecourt - St. Quentin, 16 or 39 mi. (26 to 65 km)
Day 8: St. Quentin
Day 9: St. Quentin - Chauny, 19 or 29 mi. (32 to 48 km)
Day 10: Chauny- Compiègne, 21 or 30 mi. (35 to 50 km)
Day 11: Compiegne - Creil, 27 or 36 mi. (45 to 60 km)                 
Day 12: Creil - Auvers s Oise, 20 or 32 mi. (33 to 54 km)              
Day 13: Auvers - Conflans - Paris, 22 or 29 mi. (36 to 48 km)       
Day 14: Rest day, Paris                 
Day 15: Departure

On the MS Zwaantje:

Paris to Bruges

Day 1: Paris
Arrival beginning at 3 p.m. in Paris on the Zwaantje (Little Swan), your sailing home for the next two weeks The barge will be moored at the port of Quai de Bercy (metro station Bercy). There, you will be welcomed by the crew and your guide. You can make yourselves comfortable in your cabins, try out the bikes and, depending on arrival time, explore the city of light! Following dinner, there will be time to further explore Paris.                 

Day 2: Paris (Versailles) - Bouvigal, 19 mi. (30 km)
In the morning, the boat cruises across the center of Paris, past many famous points of interest, like Notre Dame, the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay, and the Eiffel Tower. Your first cycling tour begins on the western side of the city to Versailles.

The Palace of Versailles, built between 1631 and 1634, began as Louis XIII’s hunting lodge. His son, Louis XIV, the famous "Sun King", transformed and expanded it, moving the court and government to Versailles in 1682. Each of the three French kings who lived here until the French Revolution in 1789, added improvements making it more and more beautiful. The most famous room in the palace is the Hall of Mirrors with its seventeen mirrors facing the seventeen arches and windows open to the garden grounds. The stunning gardens and castle groups match the splendor of the palace! They have remained largely unchanged from the time of Louis XIV. A pleasurable visit can be spent simply perusing garden paths and admiring fountains and flowers without setting foot inside the palace. The scale and grandeur of the palace shows the power, glory, and the wealth of the French monarchy in that period. In later years, Napoleon Bonaparte often stayed in the elegant but intimate palace, and Charles de Gaulle converted its northern wing into an official presidential residence, which still hosts guests of France’s heads of state. The palace was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979. After visiting Versailles, cycle back to the ship in Bougival.

Day 3: Bougival - Conflans - Auvers, 24 mi. (40 km)
On bike paths through the forest, you cycle to the city of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, where the Oise and the Seine merge. Since the 19th century, Conflans has been an important center of navigation in Northern France. Next, cycle to Auvers where Vincent van Gogh spent the last days of his life and where he is buried in the local cemetery. This region was loved by many Impressionist painters. After dinner is an opportunity for an evening walk to the van Gogh cemetery.     

Day 4: Auvers-sur-l'Oise - Creil (55 km)
Your cycling day begins in Auvers, following the Oise upstream. Today you can visit the remains of the 13th century abbey of Royaumont. Later, pass by the famous racing grounds, stables, and castle of Chantilly. Partly through forested areas, arrive at your destination, Creil, a country town, which in the 19th century was famous for its fine pottery.

Day 5: Creil - Compiègne, 25-37 mi. (40-60 km)
During breakfast the barge cruises to Pont-St-Maxence where today's bike tour begins. This town owes its name to the fact that many years ago there was a bridge over the river Oise. As a result, Pont-St-Maxence became the place for kings and merchants to spend the night on their way to Flanders. Not far from here pass by the Abbey of Moncel, founded by King Philips de Schone (Philippe le Bel) in 1309. Before reaching Compiègne, cycle through the woods south of the city. Here the owners of the castle, Château de Compiègne, used to go hunting. The castle and its magnificient gardens are well worth a visit – an option for tomorrow.

Upon arrival in Compiègne, you may want to stay in town to relax, wander around, or do some shopping. However, there is the option of doing an extra 20 km loop to the ‘Clairière de L’Armistice’, the railway carriage in which the cease-fire between the Allied forces and Germany was signed at the end of World War I and also where as a revenge, Hitler made Pétain sign the cease-fire in 1940.

Day 6: Compiègne - Noyon, 25 mi. (40 km)
In the morning you can pay a visit to Compiègne's castle, once the royal residence of Louis XV and later restored by Napoleon. After the visit, the boat leaves the river Oise to continue by way of the canal system connecting France and Belgium, named Canal du Nord. The Canal du Nord is a 95-kilometer (60 mile) long canal in northern France. Your cycling tour continues through the Forest of Compiègne to Noyon, the city where John Calvin was born. His house was destroyed in WWI but was later rebuilt. This house can be visited. This charming town of 14,000 inhabitants also houses a cathedral which is a fine example of the transition from Romanesque to Gothic architecture. You can also enjoy a drink in town.

Day 7: Noyon - Péronne, 34 mi. (55 km)  
The day begins on the barge, continuing on the Canal du Nord and even cruising through a tunnel. Once on the other side, today's bike ride begins, and now clearly in another region, you no longer notice the influence of Paris. Instead, you'll find yourself in quiet, rolling landscapes, with little hamlets and towns scattered in between.

Day 8: Péronne, rest day       
Today is a day of relaxation, leaving the bikes untouched. In the morning, you can pay a visit to 'The Museum of the Great War'. Péronne is close to where the Battles of the Somme took place during World War I. The Museum of the Great War (known in French as the Historial de la Grande Guerre) is partly located in the remains of the old castle. In the afternoon, enjoy lunch on board while sailing further north on the Canal du Nord. Depending on water traffic, locks, and bridges, the captain will moor at one of the locks on the canal.

Day 9: Péronne - Arleaux, 28 mi. (45 km) 
This morning you first continue on the Zwaantje, passing through another tunnel With a length of three miles, it is even more impressive than the previous one. Well-lit and controlled by lights, there is a half-mile long passing place in the center. Once on the other side, your biking begins. Like yesterday, in peaceful, old countryside, with lots of agriculture. The northern part of France is often referred to as the Granary of France or even of Europe. You may come across ancient menhirs, so well-known by the French cartoon series of the little hero Asterix and his friend Obelix. The Arleux area is known for the cultivation of garlic. Roasted garlic is their specialty and every year a large garlic festival is held in the town, traditionally finished off with a garlic soup. Arleux itself is just a little town, with less than 3,000 inhabitants. 

Day 10: Arleux - Tournai, 34 mi. (55 km)
Today you are crossing the French-Belgian border. The cycling route takes us through the national park of the rivers Scarpe and Scheldt, a mosaic of rural countryside, national forests, and relics of mining activities. Water is an integral part of the landscape, in the form of rivers, canals and ponds. Belgium is a country with three official languages. Tournai is situated in Wallonia, the French-speaking part of the country. But as it is close to Flanders, where Flemish, a variety of Dutch, is spoken you will also come across the Dutch name of the city, Doornik. Tournai is one of the oldest cities of Belgium and was ruled by the French until the beginning of the 17th century. Badly damaged in 1940, it has since been carefully restored and is now considered to be one of the most important cultural sites in Belgium. The cathedral of Notre Dame and the belfry, the oldest in Belgium, have been designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Other places of interest are the 13th-century Scheldt bridge and the main square as well as several old city gates and a variety of museums.

Day 11: Tournai - Oudenaarde, 28 mi. (45 km)
Your first full day in Belgium takes us through the area known for the Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders), the Flemish cycling classic. The Flemish Ardennes are not higher than 150 m, yet there are some serious inclines. The forestry slopes and old valley farms form a beautiful scenery. From now on, Flemish is the spoken language. For centuries Oudenaarde was famous for its tapestries. In the 16th century, its golden years, more than half the population worked in the carpet industry. Oudenaarde’s verdures, green carpets with beautiful landscapes, were once extremely popular. A collection of these old tapestries is on show in the former cloth-hall. The city hall, located above the cloth hall and said to be the most beautiful of Belgium, houses a vast collection of 15th to 18th century silverware. Ardent cyclists, and others, should not miss the opportunity to visit the 'Tour of Flanders Center' in this city.

Day 12: Oudenaarde - Ghent, 22 mi. (35 km)
Today, you ride through the valley of the river Scheldt. This is where the former rich merchants of Ghent would build their summer homes. The cycling route planned for today is relatively short, allowing plenty of time to explore the city of Ghent. This magnificent city is a university town and once again shows its wealth of the late 13th and early 14th centuries. You may want to visit the 12th century castle (now housing a torture museum), climb the belfry for a view over the city, visit St. Baafs Cathedral with its world-famous 15th century painting 'The Mystic Lamb', go for a stroll, go shopping, have a real Belgian waffle, or do all of these! A boat ride through the city is another option. If you are interested in art, you may decide to stay on board the Zwaantje in order to visit the SMAK, the Municipal Museum of Contemporary Art and/or the MSK, the Museum of Fine Arts.

Day 13: Ghent - Bruges, 31-37 mi. (50-60 km)
Enjoy another pleasant bike ride, now through West Flanders' flat country. Cycle through open, agricultural land, with scattered towns and farmhouses. You may pass through the old town of Damme. Located some four miles north-east of Bruges Damme once was the port for Bruges. Today, it is a popular side trip for tourists who are visiting Bruges and is a popular venue for eating out. In Bruges we are moored near the city center, which makes it very easy to discover this lively, picturesque city.

Days 14: Rest day, Bruges  
The boat stays docked in Bruges. Along with a few other canal-based northern cities, such as Amsterdam, Bruges is sometimes referred to as 'Venice of the North'. It still has a significant economic importance thanks to its port. At one time, it was the 'chief commercial city' of the world. The historic center of Bruges has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000. Further information on the city will be given to you on board.

Day 15: Departure
Departure following breakfast by 9 a.m. at the latest. It is a 10 minute walk to the railway station. Of course, the crew on board would be happy to assist you in ordering a cab.

Bruges to Paris

Day 1: Arrival in Bruges                      
Day 2: Bruges - Ghent     
Day 3: Ghent - Oudenaarde             
Day 4: Oudenaarde - Tournai                    
Day 5: Tournai - Valenciennes
Day 6: Valenciennes - Péronne 
Day 7: Péronne (Marquion)
Day 8: Péronne - Pont léveque      
Day 9: Pont léveque - Compiegne      
Day 10: Compiegne - Creil                 
Day 11: Creil - Conflans                
Day 12: Conflans - Paris            
Day 13: Rest day, Paris                 
Day 14: Rest day, Paris                         
Day 15: Departure    

On the Feniks:

Paris to Bruges

Day 1: Paris
Day 2: Paris - Bougival/la Defense Paris
Day 3: Bougival/la Defense Paris - Conflans/Auvers sur l’Oise
Day 4: Conflans/Auvers sur l’Oise - Creil
Day 5: Creil - Compiègne
Day 6: Compiègne - Noyon
Day 7: Noyon- Peronne
Day 8: Peronne
Day 9: Peronne - Bouchain/Arleux
Day 10: Bouchain/Arleux - Tournai
Day 11: Tournai - Oudenaarde
Day 12: Oudenaarde - Ghent
Day 13: Ghent - Bruges
Day 14: Bruges
Day 15: Departure

Bruges to Paris

Day 1: Bruges
Day 2: Bruges - Ghent
Day 3: Ghent - Oudenaarde
Day 4: Oudenaarde - Tournai
Day 5: Tournai - Valenciennes
Day 6: Valenciennes - Perrone
Day 7: Peronne (Marquion)
Day 8: Peronne - Pont léveque
Day 9: Pont léveque - Compèigne
Day 10: Compiègne - Creil
Day 11: Creil - Auvers sur l’Oise/Conflans
Day 12: Auvers sur l’Oise/Conflans - Bougival
Day 13: Bougival/la Defense Paris - Paris
Day 14: Paris
​Day 15: Departure

*Average daily distance is 25 miles per day.

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Bruges to Paris or Paris to Bruges Boats + Barges

  • Feniks Photo

    Feniks Belgium, Netherlands, France Standard Plus Class Boat

  • Fleur Photo

    Fleur France Comfort Plus Class Boat The Fleur was first put into service in 2002. The owner, Jossie, had the beautifully-lined barge converted into a comfortable passenger ship, according to her own design. Her female touch is definitely recognizable by the tasteful interior and her sharp eye for detail. The whole barge radiates a homelike atmosphere.

  • Zwaantje Photo

    Zwaantje France Comfort Plus Class Boat

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