Burgundy – Franche Comté :: Hotel Barge Canal and River Cruises
The ancient Dukedom of Burgundy is home to possibly the most concentrated essence of the best of France and what is French. With its capital at Dijon, Burgundy is rightly regarded as one of the most attractive yet diverse waterway regions.
West of Dijon, the Burgundy Canal follows the impossibly pretty Ouche Valley, heading towards Paris. In the east, the Rhone-Rhine Canal threads itself through Franche Comté, past Besancon, alongside and into the River Doubs, bound for Basle and the Rhine. And South, the Canal du Centre breaks away from the Loire valley, looping around to Chalon and finally, bisecting the region north to south, is the ample River Saone gently flowing south to join the Rhone at Lyon.
The unique attractions of the region are world-famous. The many charming historic towns, a legacy from the Duchy’s former golden age, will provide an opportunity to stop, explore and marvel. Romanesque monuments, castles and abbeys are complemented by cities of culture, crammed with art treasures and historic relics. Historic Dijon, home to mustard and brightly coloured tiled roofscapes, Michelin restaurants, Coq au Vin, Bœuf Bourguignon, Charolais cattle and Bresse poultry. Not forgetting the wine-waiter’s dream team – Beaune, Macon, Nuits-St-George, Beaujolais, Chablis and Cote d’Or.
Download our free Guide to Burgundy.
Barge Cruising – The Ouche Valley and Dijon
Canal de Bourgogne (South-East)
The construction of the Canal de Bourgogne in eastern central France was completed in 1832 and follows the course of first the River Armancon and then the River Ouche. Located close to its summit, the pretty rural village of Vandenesse-en-Auxois marks the start of the southern reaches of one of France’s loveliest waterways, gliding through perhaps the most highly-regarded winemaking region in the country. The celebrated Burgundy Route des Vins offers arguably the best of French reds from the Cotes de Nuits to the Cote de Beaune and all stops in between.
The fairytale Chateau de Longecourt has a romantic moat and dreaming spires to enchant the eye, but it is the Ducal Palace in Dijon that provides the historical and architectural highlights of the area. Once the official residence of the Dukes of Burgundy, it now houses the Musee des Beaux Arts, one of the largest museums in France, which features masterpieces by the likes of Titian, Veronese, Brueghel, Rubens, the list goes on…In the 17th century Dijon was granted exclusive rights to produce mustard, a skill that locals have honed down the years and nowadays the famous Dijon mustard adds a piquant note to the cuisine for which the Burgundy region is so well known.
Look out for the distinctive glazed tiles that colour the roofscapes of so many of the region’s towns and villages: from the 12th century onwards these richly coloured tiles, arranged in intricate patterns, were intended to confer status on the owners of the houses that they graced.
Hotel barges often collect and return guests to a pre-agreed Paris or Dijon hotel. The primary French international airport is at Paris-Charles de Gaulle and there is a European-flight airport at Dole. There are also TGV express train stations at Montbard, Dijon, near Dole and Le Cruesot (near Montchanin); and many other towns in the region have railway connections.
– [below] In the region: Vandenesse-en-Auxois, Canal de Bourgogne, Longecourt, Burgundy Route des Vins, Dijon –
Barge Cruising – The Saone and South Burgundy
River Saone – Canal du Centre – Doubs/Canal Rhone-Rhine
The Saone is one of the most attractive rivers in France: wide, sleepy and unhurried, it wends its way from the mountains of the Vosges to the Rhone, linking up with the Burgundy Canal, the River Doubs and the Rhone au Rhine Canal and passing through delightful countryside replete with wildlife – herons, kites and the pale Charolais cattle that come down to the waterside to drink. Macon offers an ideal base for discovering the Beaujolais – a rolling crest of hills famous for the production of light red wine, or if you prefer fuller Burgundy reds then a rendezvous at Clos Vougeot will provide ample opportunity for tasting. Beaune is another major centre for viticulture and the town’s ancient hospital with its dazzling glazed tiled roof is an unmissable attraction.
Formerly an outpost on the border between the historic kingdoms of France and Burgundy, Verdun sur le Doubs is now better known for the delicious stew made from locally caught river fish – Pochouse. Also on the River Doubs, Dole retains much of its medieval character and Besancon, with its spectacular citadel designed by the French military architect Vaubun, is worth the journey further upstream.
Fans of photography will be keen to visit Chalon-sur-Saone, the home of Nicéphore Niepce and thus regarded as the birthplace of this popular art form: the colourful Sunday market offers perfect opportunities for taking vivid holiday snaps.
Hotel barges often collect and return guests to a pre-agreed Paris or Dijon hotel. The primary French international airport is at Paris-Charles de Gaulle and there are European-flight airports at Dole and Lyon. There are also TGV express train stations at Dijon, near Dole, Macon, Le Cruesot (near Montchanin) and Lyon; and many other towns in the region have railway connections.
– [below] In the region: Besancon, Dole, Verdun sur le Doubs, Chalon-sur-Saone, Macon, Clos Vougeot, Beaune, Germolles –
Grand CruOwner Operated
Although cruising deep within Burgundy’s lush landscapes and ancient canals, Grand Cru’s modern design provides the clean lines and open... Read more
Timeless cruising on tree-lined canals...wine-tasting in the Cote d'Or....an idyllically beautiful route aboard one of the finest hotel barges in... Read more
Belmond Amaryllis is luxury personified - a delightful combination of traditional decor and contemporary comfort to cosset 8 lucky guests in true... Read more
Fleur de Lys Belmond
Elegant, graceful, superbly appointed and super-spacious, the Belmond Fleur de Lys cruises the classic Burgundy route through France's Cote d'Or -... Read more
FinesseE W Fleet
Finesse: the name says it all. She is the perfect vessel on which to meander through the lush undulating countryside of southern Burgundy. Enjoy... Read more
Après ToutOwner Operated
An exceptionally smart and elegant barge offering the very best of luxury cruising for the discerning traveller in central Burgundy. With two... Read more
L’ImpressionnisteE W Fleet
A beautiful barge for up to 12 guests cruising in glorious southern Burgundy. She is richly decorated, with a wood-panelled saloon, comfy leather... Read more
The Belmond Hirondelle offers elegance and luxury whilst cruising the most beautiful parts of central France. Simply sit back and infuse the... Read more
Hotel Barge Rendez-Vous offers high quality accommodation and cruising on the famous Burgundy canal. With fresh and tidy decor she provides 6 guests... Read more
Grand VictoriaOwner Operated
Grand Victoria (formerly Hemingway) has been superbly refurbished to carry six guests on a luxuriously relaxing cruise through the Burgundy... Read more
Wine & WaterOwner Operated
A superb cruise, especially if you are a wine enthusiast, in glorious southern Burgundy, the heart of the world renowned wine-making country. Wine... Read more
Saroche is a classic barge with those graceful lines that make hotel barge cruising superbly elegant and stylish. As one on the largest hotel... Read more
Savoir VivreOwner Operated
The clue is in the name - Savoir Vivre knows how to live; how to provide 8 guests with a wonderful vacation that's 'chic, relaxed, fun, authentic... Read more
Discover the richness of Burgundy and its unique landscapes along the meandering canal of Burgundy and its picturesque Ouche valley. Choose from... Read more
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 red 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.
– we also have expert colleagues in North America and Australia –