Hotel Barge NYMPHEA - Barging in France -

Cruising the Cher River in the Loire Valley, France

Facts About The French Barge Nymphea

Nymphea started her career as a freight barge carrying beer and was later converted to a 6-passenger French hotel barge. Nymphea's classic Dutch design with shallow draft makes her the ideal vessel for cruising the River Cher in the Loire Valley.

French Barge Nymphea - Cruising the Loire Valley, France

81ft long x 14ft wide (24.6m x 4.26m)
2 or 3 Crew
6 Guests
2 twin cabins
1 twin/double cabin
Air conditioned / Centrally heated
WiFi (subject to local availability)
6 Touring bikes
Air conditioned minibus

Barge Specifics

Your Crew On Board

Accommodation On Board

Maximum 6 passengers / 3 staterooms

One cabin (bow) can be configured as 2 twins or a double bed. Two cabins (mid-ship) are configured with twin beds only. All cabins have ensuite shower and WC.

Cabin Sizes

All measurements are approximate.

Chenonceau (Bow) 91ft² (8.5m²) including bathroom. This cabin is accessed separately by 7 steep steps from the outside Main Deck. The shower cubicle is positioned within the main cabin and there is a separate WC.

Chambord (Mid): 75ft² (7m²) including bathroom.

Cheverny (Mid): 65ft² (6m²) including bathroom. There is a large step to enter the cabin.

Bathrooms: Each cabin has an ensuite bathroom with shower, sink, and WC. All are supplied with hand soap, shampoo, hair dryer, and towels.

Climate Control

Reverse cycle air conditioning / heating in the Saloon and each cabin.

Computer and Telephone

Wi-Fi internet is available in the Saloon for e-mail use only and for guests bringing their own appliances. This facility is subject to availability in some remote locations.

Nymphea's cruise route on the River Cher has limited cellphone coverage and limited 4G internet connection.

There is no passenger telephone available on Nymphea.


The local currency in France is the Euro. Nymphea is unable to accept credit or debit cards on board.

Cycling & Walking

You are welcome to walk or cycle using the on board bicycles as often as you wish. Most guests choose to disembark the barge at a lock and visit local villages, returning to the canal and meeting the barge a little further along. The barge travels at a slow speed therefore catching up is not a problem.

There are 6 mountain bikes on-board (Dawes green model, unisex with a diagonal crossbar). Children’s bikes, helmets and child bike seats can be arranged if required on request. Please contact Paradise Connections at least 8 weeks prior to departure.

Dining Room & Saloon

The lower Saloon / Dining Room is 10ft x 20ft (3m x 6m) and the height is 6ft 7” (2m). It is located on the same level as the cabins; finished with mahogany panelling, a hardwood ceiling and brass light fittings. This quaint Saloon has built-in seating and a wooden coffee table. There is a fully stocked bar, cupboard with fridge and ice-machine. There is also a mahogany dining table which seats all passengers at single sittings.

The upper Saloon is 8ft x 6ft (2.5m x 1.8m) and the height is 6ft 2” (1.9m). There is comfortable seating and viewing windows.


Nymphea is wired for 220 volts. We recommend you bring an adapter for your particular appliance, which corresponds to the standard French 2-pin plugs. If you wish to use your electrical appliance on-board, please speak to a crew member on arrival to ensure it is suitable for the barge’s electrical system.

We cannot be held responsible for unforeseen voltage fluctuations which sometimes occur when swapping from one voltage system to another.


The Nymphea barge minibus is a 6-passenger, air conditioned, VW Caravelle which is used for transfers and excursions.

For charter bookings, the itinerary can be adapted to suit your group’s particular needs. If a destination or excursion is within a reasonable distance of the barge, we will do everything we can to arrange it. Please speak with Paradise Connections in advance of your cruise and we can pre-arrange with the Captain.

Any guests not wishing to participate in an excursion are welcome to remain on the barge.

Facilities On Board

Food & Drink

All meals on board are freshly prepared by your chef and most meals are a set-menu (there is no choice available). International and French cuisine is served.

We are able to arrange special meals, e.g. vegetarian / no fish / vegan etc, and we are able to cater for any preferences or allergies. However, it is most important that we are notified of any specific requirements at least 8 weeks prior to your departure date. Failure to notify Paradise Connections in advance of your cruise may result in disappointment on board.

There is no assigned seating for meals and the dining area on board Nymphea accommodates all guests at a single sitting

Breakfast: Your day on Nymphea starts with a Continental Breakfast with pastries, freshly-squeezed orange juice and hot beverages.

Lunch: Usually buffet style with colourful salads, patés and cold meats accompanied by hot soup or entrée, delicious deserts and a selection of regional cheeses accompanied by quality wines selected by the chef.

Dinner: Always a gastronomic adventure created by your talented chef. A taste of regional cuisine by candlelight, complemented by fine wines, followed by a selection of regional cheeses, coffee and liqueurs.

Captain's Farewell Dinner: Held on the last night of your cruise. Guests may choose to dress slightly more formal.

Drinks included in the cruise price: Non-alcoholic beverages and regular or decaffeinated tea and coffee, whole or low fat milk, are offered with all meals. The well-stocked bar is open 24 hours, which includes wines, spirits, beers & soft drinks. All wines are provided with meals and there is a Champagne welcome on arrival.

Drinks not included in the cruise price: Some brands of Champagne and special vintage wines, however these can be purchased in advance of your cruise at cost price, please inquire with Paradise Connections. We do not recommend specific beverage orders unless you are chartering the whole barge.

Hot Air Balooning

Once on board, the Captain can arrange this directly with the hot air balloon company. Flights last about 1 hour and are weather dependent. The cost is approximately 230 Euros per person and this should be paid directly to the balloon company on the day of the flight (they do accept credit cards).

The operating company is France Montgolfieres.


We recommend you bring sufficient clean clothing for your cruise as there are no laundry facilities on board. However, the crew may be able to assist in an emergency on a request basis.

Luggage / What To Pack

Please try and fit everything for your cruise into one reasonably sized suitcase per person. Soft bags are preferable as they are easier to store. There is only enough space on the barge for up to 6 suitcases and 6 pieces of hand luggage.

Practical comfort and casual clothing is the norm aboard Nymphea and for most excursions. The dress code for dinner is relaxed and informal. For the Captain’s Farewell Dinner on the final evening guests often dress-up, which is optional.

The weather in France is hottest in June, July, and August when temperatures can reach the mid 30s°C / top 80s°F.

Suggested things to pack:


Please let us know in advance of your cruise if you require frequent or ongoing medical attention.

The crew are unable to administer medicines but can accompany you to a pharmacy for you to purchase any necessary medicines. Due to your cruise often being in a rural location, we recommend you bring all necessary medication with you.

Doctors are usually not far away for an urgent consultation and the Emergency Services can be called if required.

Problem During Your Cruise

If you have a problem during your cruise, please give us the immediate opportunity to make things right. Please bring any concern to the private attention of your Captain who will often be able to solve any issue immediately.

Restricted Mobility

Please let us know in advance of your cruise if you have a physical disability and require any assistance.

Nymphea is unsuitable for wheelchair users or those who are unable to walk far or manage steps. Many excursions involve a fair amount of walking and the castle visits involve steps and staircases with pedestrian access only.

Nymphea is accessed via a gangplank with a handrail.

Chenonceau stateroom is accessed from the outside main-deck by 7 steps to the cabin below. There is a hand-rail.

There is another set of 7 steps from the main deck to the lower Saloon / dining area below. There are no steps between the lower Saloon and the 2 other cabins.

The crew will assist in every way they can if required and the stairways each have a handrail.

There are ropes all the way round the top deck.

Safety & Security

Once you are on board, your Captain will talk you through the Cruise Safety Procedures. Safety Instructions are detailed below.

Please note that we cannot be responsible for any valuables that you bring on board. We strongly recommend that you do not bring valuables with you unless required and that you ensure that all valuables are covered by your travel insurance. There are no safes in the cabins.

The cabin doors are not usually locked for safety reasons.


We have a strict non-smoking policy for safety reasons and for the comfort of your fellow passengers.

If you would like to smoke we request that you smoke outside or on the deck away from other guests.


The sundeck measures 10ft x 20ft (3m x 6m) with a hand rail around the deck. There are 6 reclining chairs and a table for al-fresco dining along with a parasol for shade.

Themed Cruises

Biking, Walking, and Wine Appreciation cruise itineraries are available for charter groups, please ask Paradise Connections for more details.

Special interest cruises often have a supplement, for details please visit Nymphea's Itinerary page and Rates page.


Gratuities are not included in the cruise fare. Tipping is entirely discretionary but is greatly appreciated by the crew if you are fully satisfied with the level of service on board. As a guideline, the average tip given by our guests from around the world is approximately 5% of the Cruise Fare.

The usual way to give the tip is to give the amount in cash as one lump sum to the Captain / Cruise Director on the last day of the cruise. They will distribute the amount equally amongst the crew.

Euros or Dollars are equally appreciated. ATMs are accessible for cash withdrawal on most itineraries during the cruise and the crew can advise where these are located.


For details of the Nymphea vehicle, please see “Excursions”, above. The approximate transfer duration to Nymphea is between 15 to 30 minutes.


The tap water on board Nymphea is potable and bottled water is available.

Safety Instructions On Board Nymphea

On arrival the Captain will talk you through the Cruise Safety Procedures on board.In addition, it is important that all passengers are familiar with the safety instructions detailed below.

Please ask a member of the crew on board if you require any further safety advice

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