France: Life in the slow lane on barge tour of Marne-Rhine Canal

River tours of Europe continue to be the rage, but there's another way to hit the water on a smaller, more intimate vessel: barge cruises. They're super small -- 12 cabins accommodating 24 passengers -- and go at a more leisurely pace than river cruises.

CroisiEurope offers a seven-day cruise on the Madeleine along the Marne-Rhine Canal in eastern France. The trip begins in Strasbourg and ends in the Moselle region, traveling past the fields of the Zorn Valley and villages on the way to Saverne.

The canal winds through the Vosges Mountains to Lutzelbourg and through what's called the Artzviller Incline plane, a kind of boat elevator that takes the place of navigating through 17 locks on the canal, the company's website says. During the days, passengers can cycle (bikes are on the barge) along the canal and tour at their own pace. The trip ends with stops in Xouaxange and Lagarde before returning to Strasbourg on the last day via coach.

Date: Trips begin June 6, July 4 and Aug. 29.

Price: $2,306 per person, double occupancy, if booked by Dec. 1. It includes barge cruise, meals and drinks (beer and wine) and tours. International travel to and from Strasbourg is extra.

Contact: CroisiEurope, (800) 768-7232
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