Barging In France – The PERFECT family holiday

Barging In France - By Jonathan S of Delaware

It’s a challenge faced by numerous families: How do you choose a vacation destination that offers lots of things to see and do, yet are appealing to everyone? The biggest challenge isn’t so with the adults, but rather the younger generation! After all, what child could possibly want to go to Europe and spend all of their time in cold museums and drafty cathedrals? But a trip to Europe can open up a whole new world to your kids as you cruise in your boat on the canals of Europe! And this was what we found when our group of five adults and three tweens (10, 11, 13 years old) cruised the Canal du Midi.

So how do you entice your children and grandchildren into believing that there is a really fun way to experience centuries of European culture with a bunch of adults instead of going to a non-descript beach or amusement park? It could be the notion of pretending to be a knight climbing through centuries-old castle that they have only dreamed of since the fairy tales of old! It might be that there are so many areas in rural France where kids can safely go off biking like we did when we were kids. Or perhaps it is that while barging on the Canal, you are amidst a community of others in their boats where your kids can make friends from around the world. Whatever the reason, you’ll find that spending a week on a barge is an excellent way to trick your children and grandchildren into having fun with the rest of the family.

Barging In France - By Jonathan S of Delaware

Your kids will find themselves getting into the swing of things the second they step aboard their boat. It’s a simple process, really! Just work up a team scenario where everyone has their responsibilities, as though you were on a sea-going vessel. Even a seven-year old can play a role with helping the boat as you maneuver through the locks! It might be as seemingly insignificant as being responsible for the hammer used to pound metal rods into the bank to tie the boat to (we named ours Mjölnir after Thor’s hammer in the movies), but the kids will soon realize that as they work the ropes, they are playing just as important a role in the docking process as any of the adults! And it is great fun!

As kids reach their tweens, they start yearning for that thing that we, as adults, are less and less inclined to give them – freedom (especially when overseas in another country). But barging on the canals of France in the beautiful rural areas offers an opportunity to do that! When setting up your holiday, be sure to include bikes (ideally, at least one for each child or teen). You’ll know how far your own kids can be trusted, but there are tow paths that run for miles along the canals that are the perfect biking escape for smaller ones looking to get away from the old people! In our case, we allowed our kids to go off exploring as far as they could hear the horn on our boat. In most cases, they were happy to ride a mile or so ahead, cross over a medieval bridge, and then ride back to us, but no matter how short the distance was, it meant freedom for our tweens.

Barging In France - By Jonathan S of Delaware

Experiencing the Canal du Midi is something well beyond going to an amusement park. It is REAL! The medieval castle at Carcassonne is a step back in time where they can pretend to be knights. The towns are safe enough that you can send the kids out in the morning with just a few words in French to the local market for your breakfast of fresh baguettes and croissants. And they’ll be overwhelmed by the smells and flavors of the local markets where they all but beg you to try their wares! It is something that they will remember for years to come, but more importantly, it is a trip with the FAMILY that they will remember for years to come. And meanwhile, the adults can relax on the top deck with a glass of local wine as the centuries of French countryside peacefully slides by.