Serenity itself; luxury cruising in peaceful Aquitaine
Hotel barge Saint Louis provides a luxury cruise along the beautiful, calm waterways in the historic lands of Aquitaine and Gascony in south-west France. Her style is ‘casual luxury’, providing perfect accommodation for up to six guests in three stateroom suites.
Aboard Saint Louis with her graceful lines you’ll cruise in peace and tranquillity through lush countryside, pretty villages and memorable towns in this relatively unknown corner of France. She’s a floating hotel haven of comfort and style amidst the culinary and historic delights of this fruit growing region and fascinating ‘Bastide’ area.
Style: The 'nature' of the hotel barge. Outline subjective guidance as to the quality or comfort level that might be expected on board.
Price Band: Per person. Outline guidance only, on a relative or comparative basis. The bands do not represent accurate low or high season rates.
Hotel Barge Saint Louis :: Key Features
- Excellence class (4*)
- Canal de Garonne, Aquitaine, south-west France
- Charter, and cabin bookings on selected weeks, 6 nights, 7 days, May to October
- Three double or twin ensuite cabins
- Spacious living and dining area
- Full board dining
- Themed cruises: Wine, Golf, Custom
- Huge sundeck with dining area, partial shade and loungers
- Bicycles for exploring
Hotel Barge Saint Louis: Cruise Highlights
- Excursion to St Emilion, explore the town and a private wine-tasting
- Explore the village of Serignac with its unusual church spire
- Excursion to Le Temple-sur-Lot and the water-lily gardens that inspired Monet
- Visit to a barrel maker and a local Armagnac distillery for a tasting
- Private Grand Crus wine tasting tours
- Walk and cycle the excellent towpath
Peter and Wendy own and operate Saint Louis from their base on the Montauban embranchement. From a highly successful catering background, they are now providing the luxury market with delightful cruising in this major fruit and wine growing region of France.
Crew members for 2019 are June, hostess, and Sandy and Tim, the tour guides. They make up the perfect team for Saint Louis’ luxury guests.
Included in your cruise:
6 nights/7 days accommodation, transfers to and from the barge, all meals and wines on board; daily excursions, fees, tour guide and associated transport.
Air fares and travel to and from the meeting point before and after cruise; travel, medical and cancellation insurance; personal expenses; crew gratuities (5-10% suggested)
Hotel Barge Saint Louis: Guest Comments
“Our favourite vacation,a truly heavenly week, we look forward to returning for another voyage with our new friends, Peter, Wendy, Minnis and James”
Kathy & Brian, USA
Saint Louis offers cruise routes between Castets en Dorthe and Lacourt St Pierre on the Canal de Garonne.
Bordeaux cruise itinerary: Castets en Dorthe to Serignac sur Garonne (or reverse direction)
Pick-up: at Bordeaux city or airport (Merignac) at 15:30
Departure: leave the boat at 10:00 for Agen train station or Toulouse or Bordeaux (airports or city locations)
Day 1,Saturday – Arrival
Collection from agreed pick-up point 15.30hrs to arrive at barge around 16.30hrs for a champagne reception. Then, a visit to the impressive double lock on the canal at Castets en Dorthe before it joins the mighty Garonne river on its way to Bordeaux, on foot or by car. The river is spanned at this point by a bridge designed by Eiffel.
Day 2, Sunday – Castets to Meilhan
A morning cruise and then a visit to the famed town of St Émilion and its vineyards. This world heritage site is in the heart of the Bordeaux wine region and offers private wine tastings with negoçiant, Patrick, and a 1st Grand Crus Chateaux visit.
Return to meet the barge and a further cruise into Meilhan Port for the evening and dinner on board. There should be time to go for a 5 minute walk up steps to the superb view point above the port which provides a fantastic vista out over the Garonne river and the canal below.
For wine lovers, Saint Louis can also organise a full wine experience day with Patrick – see Special Options
Day 3, Monday – Meilhan to Forques
Morning cruise followed by lunch on board. After lunch, a private visit to Chateau d’Arche, one of the top Grand Crus Sauternes Chateaux. The visit includes a guided tour of the production process, their cave and tastings. Return to the barge which will have moved to the evening mooring near Forques.
Alternatively, Saint Louis offers a guided tour of Chateau d’Yquem, the number one Sauterne Chateaux with a global reputation. The tour lasts approx. 80 mins, costs 100 EUR per person and must be booked in advance by Saint Louis.
Day 4, Tuesday – Forques to Lafaloote
Morning cruise through to La Mas d’Agenais and visit the centre of this quaint 12th Century town and see the original Rembrandt painting of Christ on the Cross inside its church. Lunch on board, then continue cruising to the evening’s mooring at Lafalotte; visit the privately owned semi-precious gem museum for a guided tour through their unique collection of fossils, minerals and semi-precious gems from around the world – a thought-provoking visit for those who enjoy natural history.
Day 5, Wednesday – Lafalotte to Buzet
Enjoy a morning cruise through to Buzet Port and lunch on board. Afterwards visit a 4th generation Armagnac producer to learn about and taste this traditional local spirit. Armagnac pre-dates Cognac by approx. 200 years and is still produced in the time honoured way. During the visit guests can choose a meaningful date, select a bottle size and watch as the armagnac being drawn, their bottle corked and the wax seal applied. Back on board guests will learn the secrets of the Saint Louis Sundowner from hostess Julia, a cocktail featuring Armagnac from their visit.
There may also be time to visit the 11th Century town of Nérac, which includes the Château Henry IV (built around 15th Century), home to the King Henry and Queen Margot between 1577 and 1582. Explore this ancient town and learn about the development of this region. Also visit the medieval Bastide town of Vianne: Bastide towns were built across southern France during the 13th and 14th centuries to provide security and safety and to develop trade.
In July and August, a visit to the night market at Damazan can be arranged. This very small local village lies about 25 mins drive from the mooring and offers is a taste of rural France in full swing. The night market is entirely geared to locals: it features live music, food and craft stalls. Visit after the dinner main course on board and then return for dessert!
Day 6, Thursday – Buzet to Serignac
Morning cruise followed by lunch and afterwards a visit to The Latour-Marliac Lily Gardens at Temple sur Lot and the Agen aqueduct. The garden inspired and provided Monet with the lilies for his paintings in his own gardens at Giverny, near Paris. Dating from 1875 the Latour-Marliac gardens are a delight to visit and explore.
Return to the barge now moored at Serignac for the evening, stopping en route to see the Aqueduct, the second largest aqueduct in France which opened in 1849. It carries the canal over the Garonne river and is an engineering marvel. Captain’s dinner on board.
Day 7, Friday – Departure
Guests will be transferred to agreed drop-off locations, leaving the barge around 10 am.
Gascony cruise itinerary – Lacourt St Pièrre (Montauban) to Boé, Canal de Garonne, southwest France (or reverse)
Day 1 Saturday – Arrival
Pick up at 15:00 from Toulouse, Bordeaux or Agen, depending on the cruise direction. Guests will have chauffeured transfer by private executive minibus to Saint Louis, moored at her home port in Lacourt St Pièrre. Enjoy a champagne reception on board and meet the crew. Settle in, and then a visit to the local Artisan Distillerie (aqua vita and liqueurs), or a stroll around the neighbouring town of Montech. Dinner on board.
Day 2 Sunday – Montauban to Castelsarrasin
Excursion to Montauban, its monuments and cobbled streets leading to the gorgeous central square with covered arcades and street cafes, the 13th century Pont Vieux (Old Bridge) spanning the Tarn river. Lunch on board and then cruise to Montech to view the Water Slope, a unique engineering marvel. Continue through the fruit growing countryside to the mooring at Castelsarrasin. Dinner on board.
Day 3 Monday – Castelsarrasin to Moissac
Continue towards the nights mooring at Moissac, crossing the River Tarn by aqueduct, 30 meters above the river. Lunch on board and then a tour of Moissac Abbey, the oldest in Europe with its famous Cloisters. There are numerous art shops, a glass blower and street cafes to sample in this fine Provincial French town. As an option, Saint Louis can leave the canal at Moissac, for a short cruise on the River Tarn and the River Garonne. Dinner on board.
Day 4 Tuesday – Moissac to Pommevic
Leave Moissac, heading west,into lovely countryside of hills and orchards. Lunch at Pommevic, alongside the pilgrims to Santiago di Compostella, still 1200km away at this point. Then an excursion to Auvillar, listed as one of the most beautiful villages in France and who’s history includes the manufacture and export of china and quills. Dinner on board.
Day 5 Wednesday – Pommevic to Lamagistere
Cruise on through Valence and moor for lunch at Lamagistere, once a hugely important trading town on the Garonne river. Then, an excursion to nearby Donzac to the museum dedicated to the ancient trades of this corner of France – a world class display. Drive on to the ancient Bastide village of Dunes, with half-timbered houses and wall-plaques that detail some astounding events in the history of this small village. Dinner on board.
Day 6 Thursday – Lamagistere to Agen
Excursion to Clermont-Soubiran, with views over the whole Valley of the Garonne, and see the Chateau. Then, cruise down towards the provincial city of Agen to moor at Boë. Lunch on board then a choice of excursions; a visit to the Musée des Beaux Arts in Agen or the first water-lily nursery in Europe, where Monet gained his inspiration at Le Temple sur Lot. Evening drinks and Captain’s dinner on board.
Day 7 Friday – Departure
After breakfast, chauffeured transfer to the agreed drop off point for onward travel.
This is a sample itinerary and is subject to change.
The St Emilion and Bordeaux Wine Experience
If you’re keen to develop your knowledge and understanding of fine wine and vinification, Saint Louis’ week-long St Emilion and Bordeaux Wine Experience Cruise could be just what you’re looking for as a themed option.
Your week includes a day in St Emilion to learn about, and taste, the Grand Vins de Bordeaux. Dining on board also features some of the finest wines from Bordeaux and the South West of France. This exceptional trip is available to Charter groups of 4 or 6 cruising on the Agen to Castets leg of Saint Louis’ route and is a feast for the eyes and the taste buds.
The highlight of the cruise will be the day at St Emilion. Your adventure will start after breakfast at around 08:00 with a scenic drive through the countryside to St Emilion. After a coffee break at a local cafe, a professional Tour Guide will escort you through the famous underground church of St Emilion, one of the stunning UNESCO world heritage sites – not to be missed.
Afterwards, you will be introduced to Patrick Marchal, the resident wine expert at one of the most respected and influential distributors in St Emilion. Patrick will be your guide for the day and will start by giving you a short briefing on Bordeaux wines in their petit salon. In this session you will learn about terroir and how it affects wine, the classification of Bordeaux wines and the technique of tasting wine. In addition, you’ll enjoy a delicious tasting of younger ‘Boutique wines’.
Lunch will be taken at one of the Michelin Starred restaurants of Hostellerie de Plaisance, the Logis de La Cadene or Chateau Troplong Mondot. During lunch, Patrick will help you to experience and understand the secret of fine food and wine pairing.
Unique Chateau Visit
In the afternoon, Saint Louis offers a private visit to Chateau Beau-Séjour Duffaut Lagarosse, one of only 18 chateaux in the whole of France that is classified as Premier Grand Cru Classé. This Chateau is closed to the general public so this treat is a genuine exclusive; you will learn about the wine-making process and more about the local terroir and its influences on wine production. You will discover underground cellars dating back to the 13th century and see the vintages currently laid down, some of which are over 50 years old.
This private visit will be followed by a superb driving tour – around the vineyards of Saint-Emilion and Pomerol to discover famous names such as Petrus, Cheval Blanc and Angelus.
Then you will return to the distributors for a special tasting of Bordeaux vintages from the 1970’s, 80’s and 90’s. This tour and tasting will cover the subject of vintages and the ageing process, a key part of wine-making that has made the Grands Vins de Bordeaux famous worldwide.
Later, there will be free time to explore the town of St Emilion itself, to do some shopping and sightseeing if you wish, and still return to the barge in plenty of time for dinner on board.
Cost: 500 EUR per person for a fabulous day.
Cooking with the Chefs
Pick up some great tips and techniques whilst cruising with Saint Louis.
Based around the preparation of, say, fish, oysters or a stuffed filet mignon, the chef will guide you towards selecting the right cut of meat for a specific dish, how to cook different meats and how to present them to best advantage.
Guests can learn how to pair wine with food, what to look out for and how achieve it successfully without having an encyclopaedic knowledge of wines.
Cost: 200 EUR per person
If you’d like this session to be part of your itinerary please ask well in advance of your cruise.
Barge Cruising – Aquitaine
Canal de Garonne – Canal de Montech-Montauban
Aquitaine, in the far southwest corner of France, belonged to the English Crown during the middle ages and British wine lovers today may mourn the fact that it passed back to the French. The regional capital is Bordeaux, which is a stately presence on the estuary of the Garonne river and a name that is ineffably associated with fine wines, and claret in particular. The Maison du Vin in the city centre offers a broad-based introduction to many sought after vintages, but a visit to some of the prestigious vineyards themselves is hard to beat. St Emilion it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and this beautiful town and its environs has been known for its vineyards since Roman times.
Helping to link Bordeaux to Toulouse, the Canal de Garonne has sometimes been overshadowed by its older sibling the Canal du Midi, which has had the benefit of leaving it largely unspoiled. It shadows a popular pilgrimage route to Compostella and one of its outstanding attractions is the town of Moissac, with its world famous Romanesque abbey cloister. There are a number of exquisite country villages to discover, including Serignac, whose church has a distinctive twisted spire, and Duras which is famed not just for its chateau, but as the birthplace of the French writer Marguerite Duras.
As you travel inland from the Atlantic and the vineyards peter out, they are replaced by orchards growing apples, pears and particularly Ente plums. The town of Agen has become synonymous with prunes and the Pruneau d’Agen is so fine that it has earned itself a Protected Geographical Indication, which governs the location and means of its production.
Hotel barges often collect and return guests to a pre-agreed Bordfeaux or Toulouse hotel. French international airports are at Toulouse, Bordeaux – and Paris-Charles de Gaulle. There are also European-flight airports at Bergerac and Carcassonne. TGV express train stations are located at Bordeaux, Montauban and Toulouse; and many other towns in the region have railway connections.
– [below] In the region: Bordeaux, Duras, Moissac, St Emilion, Bordeaux Wine, Canal de Garonne, Serignac, Agen –
Hotel Barge Saint Louis: Details and Facilities
- Dimensions: 96ft (29m) long
- Cabins: 3 x queen-size double or twin-bedded, two windows, 127 sq ft including bathroom
- Ensuite bathrooms have one window, shower, toilet and basin with toiletries
- All cabins have hairdryer, full length mirror and dressing table
- All cabins have individually controlled heating and air conditioning
- Professional English-speaking crew of 4 – captain, hostess, deckhand and chef
Other items on board:
- Library of books and games
- TV/DVD/CD: CD, Sound System
- Laptop for guest use with WIFI (limited availability in some area)
- Large deck with loungers, parasols, dining table & chairs
- Central heating and air conditioning throughout
- Air-conditioned minivan for excursions and transfers
- 6 bicycles and helmets
- Numerous family games, cards, books, DVDs
South-west France is full of delicious, locally grown produce, cuisine and great wine and the French food tradition of Aquitaine and Gascony (so much praised by master chef Rick Stein in his French Odyssey) is an integral part of the barging experience. Whether enjoying your meal in the salon or alfresco on the sun deck, the cuisine will remind you that you are in a part of the world where food is treated lovingly and seriously.
The superb food on board is largely based on traditional recipes from Aquitaine and Gascony, and ingredients come fresh from local suppliers on a daily basis. Beautifully prepared by our resident chef, duck, foie gras and seafood are thus among the basics of the cuisine. Dietary preferences, vegetarian and special dietary needs are easily and cheerfully accommodated (but please tell us in advance).
Charter bookings, a few weeks for cabin bookings
Saturday to Friday
Regular rate weeks:
May 11 (possible per cabin week)
May 18, 25
June 1, 8, 15, 22, 29
July 6, 13, 20
July 27 (possible per cabin week)
August 3 (possible per cabin week)
August 10, 17, 24, 31
September 7, 14, 21, 28
October 5 (possible per cabin week)
2 guest charter: 25,000 USD
3 guest charter: 28,500 USD
4 guest charter: 28,500 USD
5 guest charter: 32,400 USD
6 guest charter: 32,400 USD
Per Cabin bookings
Double Cabin: 13,000 USD per cabin
All rates and prices will be confirmed at time of booking. Special Offers are available from time to time – contact us
We feature information about 50 wonderful hotel barges, of various sizes and price/style levels, more than 100 individual cruises to choose from every week of the season, in 8 regions across France. Some book flexibly by the cabin, others exclusively charter the entire hotel barge. Quite a choice!
Every one of our hotel barge information pages has been carefully crafted and written by us, from our own unique first hand-hand experience – but we also understand that there’s nothing like speaking to a friendly expert to help see the wood for the trees and make the best possible decision about the vacation cruise of a lifetime.
So please, send us a Booking Enquiry form (click on the orange tab above) or just pick up the phone and give us a call.
We love France, we love the rivers and canals of France, we love hotel barging – and we love talking about all three!
+33 609 740 064 -or- +44 7590 287 178
We have been cruising and exploring France
aboard our own river boat since 2003.