Archives : 2014 : November

Discover the Taste of Chablis Wine on Northern Burgundy Canal Cruises

November 30th, 2014

Nestled in Northern Burgundy’s Valley of the River Serein (the French word for “serene”) is the town of Chablis, a favorite excursion on French canal cruises. It is part of France’s Yonne Department and is known for its monastic history and viticulture. Legend has it that the monks of the Abbey of Pontigny, a Cistercian monastery on one of the pilgrim routes to Santiago de Compostela, were the first inhabitants to make a conscientious effort to grow grapes for wine making. The abbey is the largest standing abbey of its kind in Europe and celebrated its 900th birthday in 2014.

The wine town and vineyards of Chablis

The wine town of Chablis nestled in the vineyards

The origin of Chablis wine

The Chardonnay grapes planted on the abbey’s pastoral grounds are well suited to the micro-climate and soil of the Chablis wine region. They thrived and soon the monk’s highly acidic, flinty wines were quite popular with the local populations. Consequently, centuries later, Chablis wines produced in the area now hold four appellation d’origine controlee (AOC) designations.

PIcking grapes in Chablis. Photo by Barge Randle

Grapes are mostly picked by hand in Chablis

The Chablis, Grand Cru, Petit Chablis and Premier Cru appellations

Wine tasting in Chablis

A private wine tasting is included on all Northern Burgundy barge cruises

Interestingly enough, each appellation has its own levels of classification as well. They are traditionally based on two key factors. The first factor has to do with the soil composition and the second focuses on the slope where the grapevines are located. Passions run high as to which one is best and whether one should consume a bottle of Chablis from a vineyard that’s rife with Kimmeridgean soil and located close to the mouth of the Yonne River or one that’s tucked away in the outlying areas, where Portlandian soil is prominent. Personally, we think that most travelers aboard French canal cruises will find something nice to say about them all.

Barges such as the ultra-deluxe C’est La Vie, the deluxe La Belle Epoque and the first class Elisabeth include visits to Chablis and the surrounding vineyards.

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Float Through Burgundian History on an All-Inclusive Barge Cruise
Wine Lovers Taste the Flavors of France on Canal Cruises

To learn more about Northern Burgundy canal cruises, please contact us today.

A votre sante,

Beth Hanson
Barge Cruise Specialist since 1988
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Happy Client’s Barge Cruise Review on Luciole

November 25th, 2014
Gail and Nancy sipping wine on Luciole's deck

Gail and Nancy sipping wine on Luciole’s deck

“The whole trip on the barge Luciole was wonderful, and we were blessed with beautiful weather.

We were met in Paris – how convenient!

Anna met us with the van at the Hotel Mansart at the appointed hour and we left for Clamecy, stopping on the way to pick up a family of 3 in Auxerre. There were 11 passengers total, a wonderful mix of people, all well-traveled and all Americans, except for the couple and their older daughter from Australia. Too bad I didn’t get to practice my not-very-good French, but we did that in Paris. As it turns out, the owner, John Liley, was on board for a few days – he said he liked to captain the boat, and also give Francisco, the captain, a break. It was great to meet him and learn a little about the history of the Luciole and barging in France in general.

“I can’t say enough about the crew.”

Captain Francisco is friendly and engaging, Anna is a charming and knowledgeable tour guide, George and Susie, our hosts, are fun loving and always there to help, Mark is an amazing chef and Tom, the matelot (deck hand) is very cute and friendly. I miss them all. Mark prepared wonderful meals – everything was delicious and beautifully presented. I’m slowly withdrawing from enjoying all the wines and cheeses we had. It was an added bonus to learn a little bit about all the food and wine we were served. The set-up is nice – buffet breakfast and lunch, with passengers seated at 3 individual tables, and dinner all together at one long table. Susie always did something intricate folding the napkins :). The Captain’s dinner, with Francisco and Anna, on our last night was wonderful.

“The Nivernais Canal is lovely.”

Luciole on the Nivernais Canal in Northern Burgundy

Luciole on the Nivernais Canal in Northern Burgundy

We enjoyed walking along the path and meeting some of the lock tenders. (I got to steer the barge! It’s hard work!) The flowers were still beautiful, though the sunflower fields (there are so many!) were about done. The days flowed smoothly, with time to enjoy visiting/reading/just relaxing on the sun deck, walking the paths by the side of the barge, the leisurely meals and the interesting tours at all our afternoon/overnight stops.

“The accommodations are well thought out.”

“The beds and linens are very comfortable. The space is very well organized and my friend Gail and I had room for all our things. The bathroom, though small, was clean with plenty of big towels and nice amenities. The cabins and bathrooms were cleaned and made up every morning. One of the couples experienced plumbing problems with their bathroom, and John and the whole crew worked hard to repair it, without disrupting the rest of the passengers’ enjoyment. The couple were temporarily moved to another cabin. That was the only glitch in the trip (that I know of, at least.)

New Friends and Memories

Luciole in Auxerre

Luciole in Auxerre where the Nivernais Canal joins the Yonne River

“The passengers all exchanged email addresses at the end of the trip, and one of them has already shared some pictures. Gail and I ended this memorable vacation with 4 days in Paris. We both agree this was a nice way to finish the trip and “come down” from our Luciole experience.

“Thank you, Beth, for recommending this wonderful experience and for all your help and guidance in planning and organizing it. I am having fun sharing all this with friends and family, and will happily recommend any interested friends to contact you. Now it is time to get back to the “real world.”

Best wishes,
Nancy W – August 2014

Beth’s note: Thank you, Nancy, for taking the time to share your experience on board Luciole. We wish you and Gail many more happy travels with lovely people and special memories.

Related Articles

Float Through Burgundian History on the Nivernais Canal

Would you like to go barging on Luciole? Whenever you’re ready, I’m here to make the process easy and enjoyable from booking to boarding.

Happy travels,

Beth Hanson
Barge Cruise Specialist since 1988
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