Belmond Afloat in FranceBelmond Afloat in France
A serene exploration of France's waterways
Relish every moment of your journey as you glide along on one of our seven luxurious barges
We make it a point of pride to ensure your every need is taken care of. Relax in stylish comfort and dine on sensational cuisine as you drift along picturesque riverbanks, then moor for tailor-made excursions. Our customised itineraries range from truffle hunting and go-karting to hot air ballooning and horse-riding.
Belmond Afloat in France is a group of five canal barges or peniche-hotels that are part of the Belmond collection of 46 international hotels, trains and river cruises.
The barges travel on canals and rivers in France’s Côte d’Or, Burgundy, Franche-Comté, Saône, Provence, Vallée du Rhone, Midi-Pyrénées and Camargue and carry from 4-12 passengers.
The five barges visit towns and cities including Dijon, Besançon, Carcassonne and Arles. There are stops at countryside sites of interest en route.
Belmond Fleur de Lys
Constructed as a freight vessel at Oostkamp in Belgium in 1941, Belmond Fleur de Lys once plied the waterways of Europe with a varied cargo. During World War II, she was commandeered by the German army and ordered to the island of Corsica. She underwent conversion into a passenger vessel, employing Belgian steelworkers and British joiners. She was initially registered as a British ship, but has sailed under the French flag since 1996. At 160 metric tons, she is the largest size of barge capable of navigating the network of older canals in France.
Belmond Amaryllis was designed in conjunction with La Fluviale, a boat company in Saint-Jean-de-Losne. She is a 40-metre barge built in 1962. She was converted for passengers in 2001 and made her first cruise in spring 2002.
Belmond Hirondelle, originally named Vios, was built in 1928 in the Netherlands as a 27-metre cargo barge with a 5.5 metre beam. She was later lengthened to 38.5 metres in order to increase her tonnage and her cargo capacity. This meant that she became the largest size of barge able to fit into canal locks. She was brought to France and was converted by Afloat in France to carry passengers in 1992.
Belmond Alouette was built in 1908 at Ouderkeek in the Netherlands. She began her working life as a cargo barge named ‘Cura’ and was later renamed ‘Mars’. In 1986-1987, she was converted and refurbished as a passenger-carrying barge. She was the first of the Belmond Afloat in France fleet.
Belmond Napoléon was converted from the hull of a commercial freight-carrying barge built in Belgium in 1963. She was one of the last commercial barges to have been built. The hull was purchased in Belgium and converted in a small shipyard in Bruges. The woodwork was carried out by British ships’ carpenters in Belgium. Belmond Napoléon was launched in May 1991 as a passenger vessel.
In 2004 the five barges were acquired by Orient-Express Hotels, which in 2014 changed its name to Belmond Ltd.
At this point the barges were renamed, with Belmond added in front of their original names.