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Barge Nilaya

Informal hotel barge cruises in 
France aboard a stunning
cargo barge built in 1922

Wonderfully Informal Hotel Barge Cruises in France

Rick Steves France 2019


Nilaya's been listed in the excellent Rick Steves 'France' guide book for over TEN YEARS and we often enjoy the company of his well travelled followers. Many sandwich a six night cruise between two Rick Steves organised tours or simply as a relaxing break within their own hectic travel plans.


Pulitzer prize winning cartoonist Tony Auth enjoyed a wonderful barge holiday exploring the French waterways aboard hotel Barge Nilaya and surprised us by making this wonderful moving cartoon.

We hope you enjoy it too.
Click the arrow to start the short movie.

Stunning scenery round every bend

Join Kevin and Isabelle on an informal six night hotel barge cruise through some of France's most beautiful waterways. They're relaxing, sociable, flexible and fun! Stunning scenery, flexible dining and being able to tell the captain 'where to go' are just a few of the ingredients ensuring your barge cruise of a lifetime. Soak up some seriously slow cruising, far from the madding crowd, aboard a classic 1922 luxemotor luxury hotel barge and our comfortable summer home, Barge Nilaya. Join her voyage of discovery through the river and canal navigations of France and enjoy riding aboard a beautiful, historic barge as it cruises through the extensive European waterways. 

Four lucky guests enjoy exclusive use of Nilaya

Just four lucky guests enjoy exclusive use of one of France's most gorgeous private charter barges, uncovering a hidden side of France that few get to see. Whether it's the champagne reception, substantial continental breakfasts, extensive light lunches or two gourmet home cooked dinners, you're sure to leave hotel Barge Nilaya with the most wonderful memories. Informal, fun, barge vacations are what it's all about and there will be loads of time to relax as well. You'll need to be reasonably agile, have an open mind and great sense of humour. If you arrive aboard Barge Nilaya with a positive mindset, you will quite simply have the time of your life.

One of France's most beautiful private hotel barges 

Once aboard, Isabelle and Kevin hope to indulge you in our passion for the French waterways, global travel, Belgian beer, local wine, tasty regional cuisine and soaking up the ever changing landscapes that glide ever so gently past french hotel Barge Nilaya. Nilaya offers most of the comforts of a home away from your home. Her two cosy cabins can be arranged as either twin or double and both have private en-suite shower rooms. She has a spacious saloon with panoramic windows offering great views, day or night, plus a spacious sun deck should you fancy doing the same outside.

Kevin and Isabelle are your happy hosts

Owning, maintaining and piloting a beautiful 1922 hotel barge in France takes great teamwork and a lot of laughter! There's never a shortage of lively banter aboard the good barge Nilaya and topical conversation blended with liberal dashes of typically British and Belgian humour are but one of the magical ingredients making Nilaya such an outstandingly happy ship. Kevin's background involves mostly travel! From his days in print watching millions of travel brochures flying off the end of presses, to spending tens of years traveling either privately or as a paid globe wide tour leader. Isabelle's a truly accomplished chef, having previously worked in both Belgium and France, honing her language and culinary skills. 

Food glorious home cooked food!

For owners Kevin & Isabelle, barging in France is about living the 'life less ordinary'. Experiencing the tranquility, ever changing scenery, colours and seasons while preparing, serving and enjoying the tastiest seasonal French cuisine from some of the finest local produce in the world. Add some gorgeous French cheese, wonderful French wine and water and lively conversation for a recipe you'll savour for many years to come.

Gorgeous sun deck and gardens

Since its conception, hotel Barge Nilaya's always had a garden! We pride ourselves on growing almost all the salad and herbs we use throughout our summer season. Izzy can often be seen harvesting some just before mealtimes, ensuring the freshest crunchiest salads arrive at our table just in time. Shrubs, edible nasturtiums and lots of bright red geraniums help make Barge Nilaya one of the most recognisable and beautiful barges on the canals of France. Nilaya also offers one of the most spacious sun decks of any similar sized barge, with a wonderful exterior dining area plus fully reclining lounge chairs for all that relaxation you're going to do! We even have a couple of benches at the bow so you can get up close and personal watching Isabelle work the front end of the barge through the countless locks.

Lots of fresh air and as much exercise as you like

Hotel Barge Nilaya accommodates up to four guests, so once you've booked, it's a little like having your own private barge. Payments from guests provide for day to day running and most importantly, the large maintenance fund keeping our nearly 100 year old barge afloat! She's our wonderful cruising summer home and we welcome you to her unreservedly. The regions of France we cruise are really beautiful and a world apart from the heavily touristed ones you see in the brochures (Canal du Midi and Burgundy canal for example). For the most part, we don't cruise where the big barge hotels do. We like the flexibility of 'making it up' as we go along. We carry four unisex road style bikes plus helmets, and can advise the best walks, rides and places to explore. After all the fresh air and excercise, you'll be amazed how well you'll sleep!

Experience a voyage of discovery

Barge Nilaya's rates are some of the most reasonable to be found on the French waterways, offering an unbeatable quality of food, accommodation and experience for the price. Testimonials from our previous guests back this up. If it's an unforgettable, unique and informal experience on the canals of France you're looking for, search no further. We welcome you to be a part of our journey! Isabelle, Kevin and hotel Barge Nilaya. New friends you've yet to meet!