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About Us

Initiated by Sonia Jones of France Vacations, Barge Vacations first originated as a passion for France. At the age of ten, Sonia lived in Versailles for 2 years with her family and thanks to this experience she also developed her language skills in French. With 33 years of experience as a bespoke travel consultant, the demand for more sophisticated travel, led Sonia to develop a new program specialising in France as a destination, namely ‘France Vacations’.

 

Sonia started her barging interest after attending Southern France Hotel Barge Show where she experienced first hand, the exquisite journey along the Canal du Midi, aboard barges, “Tango” and “Fandango”. This luxurious experience involved sampling top regional wines, gourmet cuisine and the breathtaking beauty of the surrounding villages, chateaux and the friendly people of the south of France.

Sonia & Brielle JonesFrom this point, she got a true taste of barging and saw the potential for Australian travellers to indulge in this boutique market and thus created Barge Vacations.  She then cruised, “Le Phénicien” on the tranquil waterways of the Camargue and the Rhone River, then continued onto the boutique “Papillon”, “Après Tout” and the stunning “C’est la Vie” barges on the Burgundy Canal. Le Canal du Midi then saw Sonia witness first-hand yet another magnificent week onboard “Athos”.

For the last 7 years Sonia, has taken it upon herself to inspect nearly every luxury hotel barge in France, not to mention self barge companies, and is also putting barging on the Australian agenda in countries like Germany, The Netherlands, Great Britain and Italy.

Annually, Sonia also attends ‘Rendez-Vous’ in France, which is an exclusive French Travel Show hosted by ATOUT France (French Tourist Office – ex Maison de la France), allowing direct contact with over 650 travel suppliers who represent almost every region in France; from tour operators, hoteliers, walking/cycling companies to French language schools and cooking courses, just to name a few.  After the workshop she then meets with both her preferred and prospective suppliers, further allowing her to hand pick boutique properties, hotels, restaurants and experience first hand aspects like transportation and general knowledge of the area to assist with your barging vacation.

Sonia Jones © Barge VacationsThis French journey also introduced Sonia and her family to Montpellier in the Languedoc Roussillon region. Invited by the Office de Tourisme de Montpellier, she visited this beautiful historical city for 3 days. The rest was history and after falling in love with Montpellier she has since purchased a 3 bedroom apartment in the ecusson (old walled city).  This apartment, located at 4 Rue Poitevine, offers clients the opportunity of weekly rental, which in turn enables them to live and breathe the French life within a true French city.


Sonia brings a wealth of knowledge to this barging venture and is assisted by her daughter, Brielle Jones, who has in fact crewed several of these luxury French barges, knows many operators personally, has lived in France and also speaks French. With this dynamic French duo working alongside the expertise of the staff at Hawthorn Travel, plus the local knowledge of France Vacations, you as the client can benefit from a full travel service.

 

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