Archives : Nivernais Canal
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.
Barge Cruise Specialist since 1988
“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.”
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
“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.”
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.
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.
Barge Cruise Specialist since 1988