Category : Northern Burgundy

Nivernais Barge Cruises Include the Fascinating Château de Bazoches

January 18th, 2016

Home to One of the Great Military Engineers of All Time

Built in the 1700s, the 175-kilometer long Canal du Nivernais is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful French canals for Northern Burgundy barge cruises. Just a short drive from the canal is the fascinating Château de Bazoches tucked on a hill with expansive views of the surrounding fields and villages. It is a beautiful, 12th Century residence that once housed the lords of the land including one of the best military architects of all time, Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban, named a Maréchal of France.

Born in Burgundy during the early 1600s, Vauban started out as a minor noble but eventually became a poverty-stricken orphan and then a soldier in the Condé regiment. During his time with the regiment, he was taken prisoner and met Cardinal Jules Raymond Mazarin who became the Chief Minister of France in 1642. It was through his relationship with Mazarin that Vauban’s military career began to flourish and he became a loyal servant to King Louis XIV.

Outlining the Borders of France, the Fortifications of Vauban are UNESCO World Heritage Sites

As Vauban progressed through his career, he became well-known for his engineering talents and such inventions as the bayonet and iron barreled cannon. He used his engineering skills to help the French rulers build critical fortifications throughout the region which outlined the borders of France. Among them are the Fortifications of Vauban, a dozen buildings designated as UNESCO World Heritage sites.

With the funds earned in appreciation of his immense contributions to the defense of France, he purchased the Château de Bazoches and used the residence as a place to perfect his military strategies and subsequently write about them.

Today, the home has returned to the original de Sigalas family who have restored this stately home and opened it to the public to enjoy the rich period furnishings and fascinating history. It includes memorabilia connected to Maréchal de Vauban as well as items associated with other owners, such as Jean de Bazoches. To visit the Château de Bazoches and partake of a cruise on the Canal du Nivernais aboard the Luciole, L’Art de Vivre or Randle, please contact us for more information.

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Discover the Taste of Chablis Wine in Northern Burgundy
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Beth Hanson
Barge Cruise Specialist since 1988
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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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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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Float Through Burgundian History on an all-inclusive Barge Cruise

July 30th, 2013

Did you ever think about the history of the canals that meander through the French countryside? Created by human labor, these channels were produced through human perseverance and ingenuity in days when traversing wilder countryside was possible only by rugged pathways or old Roman roads. A good day’s travel was measured in tens of miles, not hundreds, as it is today. The waterways we view from the decks of a Burgundy canal barge, with the eyes of a tourist or pleasure cruiser, were historically created for the critical purposes of commerce and communication.

L'Art de Vivre on the Nivernais Canal

The Nivernais Canal in Northern Burgundy, Photo courtesy L’Art de Vivre

Take, for example, the Canal du Nivernais, or Nivernais Canal, in northern Burgundy. It was begun in 1784 in order to aid in the floating of lumber from the Morvan National Park to Paris. There are 110 locks and three tunnels along its 180 kilometer (110 mile) route – which makes it a fascinating waterway to traverse from a touristic perspective, but must have been extremely difficult to design and build with the limited technologies available more than two centuries ago. Over the years, the Nivernais Canal contributed significantly to the economic development of the valleys of the Yonne River through which it flows.

Light plays on the Nivernais Canal

Thank you to Luciole passenger, Evan Cohen, for this gorgeous photo of the Nivernais Canal

Today, you can enjoy both the fascinating history and scenic beauty of this area from the upper deck of two barges, the Luciole or L’Art de Vivre.

L'Art de Vivre, an 8 passenger first class barge

The inviting deck and hot tub of the 8 passenger first class barge, L’Art de Vivre

Between Auxerre and Clamecy, you float through lush countryside, with daily excursions to northern Burgundy’s highlights including:

Luciole, a 14 passenger barge cruising on the Nivernais Canal

The popular 14 passenger barge Luciole has been cruising on the Nivernais Canal for over 30 years.

From your vantage point on the barge or when walking and biking the towpaths, you will see curved stone bridges, vineyard vistas and bucolic pastures. Pretty villages dot the landscape inviting you to explore.

The important mercantile history of the Nivernais Canal with its heritage and beauty adds to the charm of a barge cruise along this remarkable canal. Ready for an historic adventure?

Contact us today to book your cruise on the Nivernais Canal.

Beth Hanson
Barge Cruise Specialist since 1988
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