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.
81ft long x 14ft wide (24.6m x 4.26m)
2 or 3 Crew
2 twin cabins
1 twin/double cabin
Air conditioned / Centrally heated
WiFi (subject to local availability)
6 Touring bikes
Air conditioned minibus
- Former purpose: Ex freight barge carrying beer
- Year of construction: 1921
- Dimensions: 81ft (24.6m) x 14ft (4.26m)
- Generators: 1 x 220 volt Hawker Siddely generator
- Main Engine: 125 HP DAF (2012)
- Maximum Speed: 12km per hour
- Water capacity: 4,940 litres
- Fuel capacity: 3 tons
Your Crew On Board
- Crew of 2-3: Captain, Tour Guide & Chef/Housekeeper
- Nationality of Crew: Our crew are mostly British and speak both English and French
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.
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.
- Cabin height: 6ft 3" (1.9m)
- Size of beds: Double : 6ft 4" x 5ft (1.9 x 1.5). Twin: 6ft 4" x 2ft 9" (1.8m x 85cm)
- Windows: 5 opening portholes: 4 in cabin of 30cm diameter; 1 in bathroom of 20cm diameter
Chambord (Mid): 75ft² (7m²) including bathroom.
- Cabin height: 6ft 3" (1.9m)
- Size of beds: 2 singles: 6ft 3" x 3ft (1.9m x 90cm)
- Windows: Opening portholes: 70cm x 45cm & 50cm x 25cm. Also 4 opening ports of 20cm diameter
Cheverny (Mid): 65ft² (6m²) including bathroom. There is a large step to enter the cabin.
- Cabin height: 6ft 3" (1.9m)
- Size of beds: 2 singles: 6ft 3" x 3ft (1.9m x 90cm)
- Windows: 2 opening portholes: 80cm x 40cm & 50cm x 25cm
Bathrooms: Each cabin has an ensuite bathroom with shower, sink, and WC. All are supplied with hand soap, shampoo, hair dryer, and towels.
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
- 6 Bicycles (See Cycling & Walking, above)
- Bluetooth speaker - guests are able to connect and play music from their iPads / pods
- TV screen for use to display digital photos. No TV connection.
- A small library of books, maps and a collection of board games
- Fishing rods available on request
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:
- Light clothing including shorts and T-shirts. A sweater or lightweight jacket is recommended for evenings and the air-conditioned interiors.
- During autumn, you may need medium weight clothing. A lightweight raincoat for showery times would be advisable.
- In summer, a sun hat can be useful.
- Comfortable walking shoes with textured non-slip soles are recommended.
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.
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.
Biking, Walking, and Wine Appreciation cruise itineraries are available for charter groups, please ask Paradise Connections for more details.
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 follow the instructions of the Captain and crew at all times.
- Remember that decks can be slippery. Please wear non-slip shoes and do not run or jump whilst on board.
- Do not walk on the side or rear decks or outside the guard rails.
- Passengers are not permitted in the engine rooms, technical areas or crew accommodation at any time, or in the galley or wheelhouse unless accompanied by a crew member.
- Do not embark or disembark the barge unless the gangplank and handrail are in place or the crew have advised that it is safe to do so. Never do so when the barge is moving.
- Be careful when the vessel is being moored up with the barge ropes. In particular do not step into a loop in the rope or try to release the mooring rope from a bollard.
- Keep clear of any overhead obstructions and remain seated if on deck whilst the barge passes under bridges with restricted headroom.
- Do not attempt to touch the sides of any lock or bridge.
- Do not open lower deck portholes whilst the barge is moving.
- Life jacket preservers are located in designated lockers in your cabin or in designated deck lockers. Once on board, please take the time to identify their location and read the instructions.
- For fire safety reasons, smoking is not permitted anywhere inside the barge.
- The barge’s equipment such as bicycles must only be used following preparation by the crew. Use of the bicycles is at your own risk.
- There is an open bar policy on board. However, excessive alcohol consumption can be dangerous, particularly in a warm climate and in proximity to deep water and the Captain has the discretion to withhold alcohol if safety to passengers or crew is at risk.
In an emergency:
- Keep calm. Do not return to your cabin to recover your possessions.
- If you discover a fire on board, sound the fire alarm and notify a crew member immediately. If possible, close doors behind you to confine the fire. Please take the time to identify the location of fire alarms and fire extinguishers.
- If the alarm sounds or you hear repeated continuous blasts on the barge horn, you must, if possible, assemble on the sundeck for further instructions.
- If you discover water below deck, notify a crew member immediately and go to the sundeck to await further instructions
- If you are in your cabin and the way to the sundeck is obstructed, follow the signs to the alternative fire exit. Please take the time to identify all fire exits.
- The emergency number for fire, police or medical assistance on all public phone networks is 112
Please ask a member of the crew on board if you require any further safety advice
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