(11 a.m. EDT) -- Looking to experience the French countryside by boat in an up-close and intimate way? It's hard to get smaller than a barge cruise. Barge (or canal) cruises are a niche market within cruising. With boats that carry between 22 to six people, these cruises travel slowly, often no faster than 4 miles per hour. Instead of the marquee cities that you find on river cruises, canal cruising is more about small towns and villages, often so small that you are the main attraction.