Archives : Burgundy barge cruise

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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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.

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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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Step on Board Papillon, a Gem among Barge Cruises in Burgundy and the Canal du Midi

November 12th, 2013

The anticipation I feel when visiting barges as a barge cruise specialist is hopeful that my first impression will be the same delight my clients feel when they step on board. So when my husband, Jack, and I stepped on board Papillon, a 6 passenger deluxe barge moored in the peaceful port of Dijon, I sighed with pleasure at the immaculate deck scattered with chic and comfortable chairs bordered by planters of lush greens and flowers. The friendly welcome by Owner Bill Higgs, Captain Cedric and Hostess Barbara set the tone for our time together aboard this exquisite gem of a floating country inn.

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France Barge trips with gourmet dining

Every inch of Papillon exudes not only charm from the tasteful fabrics and décor but quality in design and timeless woodwork. From the spacious deck, a few stairs down lead to the airy salon with sink in sofas and inviting open bar. Fresh flowers and plants along with a library of books and music created a homey, lived in atmosphere. The traditional dining room lined with designer fabric and warm oak furniture provides an intimate space for gourmet dining. Chef Ollie was not on board, but her reputation as an excellent chef is renowned in the barging world. Hostess Barbara proudly showed us the cabins which she keeps spotlessly clean.

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Cabins on a Barge Cruise are well planned

Down a few steps from the salon, the cabins are cozy and beautifully planned for unpacking and storing luggage. The newly renovated colorful Provencal tile bathrooms with shower and wc are top quality and pleasing to the eye. The largest of the cabins has twin beds end to end with a sink and vanity separating them. It has the feel of a large cabin even though it is quite narrow. Guests who enjoy unique, comfortable accommodations in small, elegant spaces will love Papillon’s cabins.

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Papillon’s crew consists of the captain, chef, hostess and tour guide who take care of guests’ every need and desire. Accommodate special dietary needs? Absolutely! Stock your favorite liquors? Yes! Customize the activities around your interests? You bet! After a very satisfying visit on board Papillon and very positive feedback from recent clients, I recommend Papillon without reservation.

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For more information and to book this exquisite barge cruise which cruises in southern Burgundy and the Canal du Midi, please contact us.

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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Barge Cruise Reviews for L’Impressionniste in southern Burgundy, France

June 20th, 2013

Gosh, I love my job when I receive glowing reports from clients who return from their barge cruises.

The 12 passenger deluxe barge, L’Impressionniste, continues to get rave reviews for its cruise through the Valley of the Ouche in Southern Burgundy. Take a look at these unedited reviews:

The lower Burgundy Canal

Summer arrives on the Burgundy Canal near Dijon.

July 2013
“I’m sure no one ever celebrated a 55th wedding anniversary in a more beautiful, caring, environment. The staff became a part of “our family” for the week, and the sun smiled happily down on all our activities.”
Kathy S.

June 2013
“We returned from Paris yesterday and I wanted to send along a big “thank you” for a truly wonderful barge cruise.

I’m not sure where to begin — everything was top notch. The food was fabulous — a feast for the eyes and the appetite. The wine was excellent — well-paired with the food and spectacular. The crew was so friendly, knowledgeable and accommodating.  Our fellow passengers were all delightful and we truly enjoyed our time with them. Our conversations were so lively and engaging that sometimes dinner lasted for 3 – 4 hours! The scenery, the boat, the excursions, and our accommodations on the boat all exceeded our expectations.  This was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The only slight downside was that we were having so much fun that we did not leave the cruise as well-rested as we anticipated — but even that is good! All in all, it was a fabulous trip. Thanks again for all of your help in this.  Even though I said this was a once-in-a-lifetime trip, I hope we can do another barge cruise at some point in the future.” Nancy G.
The 12 passenger deluxe barge L'Impressionniste

L’Impressionniste floats through idyllic countryside and pretty villages in southern Burgundy

 

May 2013

“Beth – we just got back to the Westminster and have had a joyous barge trip! The crew and passengers were outstanding. Fine food, fine wine, fine service and fine people. We couldn’t have asked for better…oops! Weather could have been better. We had cold and rain but it didn’t slow anyone down. Fantastic time! Thank you!” J and D

 

October 2012
“Barging through the Burgundy valley has always been on my bucket list. Thanks to all involved, from Beth who helped us with our reservations to the barge crew for making the experience a wonderful and memorable one for me and my wife.” Ken N.

“The service was excellent. I swear they washed the windows and port holes daily. When we asked for a napkin folding demo, they jumped at the opportunity and were always accommodating to each passenger’s needs. Unbelievably beautiful French countryside and smaller towns/winery visited.” Alice N.

A beautiful dining table on L'Impressionniste

Dining on L’Impressionniste gets consistently good reviews for excellence in taste and presentation.

 

May 2012
“The barge cruise and vacation were absolutely superb, wine and food were on a par with a 5 star hotel and so was the Hotel Westminster. We met wonderful people and we are going to get together with two couples in July who live nearby! As a conclusion, everything was super and all the connections worked smoothly. Thank you so much for organizing this trip for us !” P and P

Contact us today to book your cabin or charter on L’Impressionniste.

Beth Hanson
Barge Cruise Specialist since 1988
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