There are about 60 boutique hotel barges that cruise along the peaceful and beautiful canals and rivers of France. They vary in size, comfort level and price – and they can be found in all the most attractive regions of France. Some can be booked by cabin (room) others are chartered complete by groups and families. Whatever the details of any particular barge, they all come complete with captain and crew who look after navigation; and professional chef and hostess to care for guests.
People often say that they feel they have been treated ‘like royalty’ and this is a very unique experience. Here is just one example of what that fabulous luxury hotel barge cruise in France is like:
Hotel Barge Saroche
Saroche has four itineraries:
Champagne region – Vandieres to Beaumont-sur-Vesle: May to Mid -uly
Bubbles & Burgundy – Langres to Maxilly Sur Saône
Heart of Burgundy – Maxilly Sur Saône to Gissey Sur Ouche: Mid July to early August
Burgundy region – Escommes to Gissey sur Ouche: mid-August to October
With a wealth of barging and hotelier experience behind them, owner operators Jason Ashcroft and Dawn Coles have a certain savoire faire when it comes to providing the holiday of a lifetime afloat in central France. Their stunning barge Saroche is one of the largest in the region and offers exceptionally spacious accommodation for up to six guests in three en-suite staterooms of 190 square feet each, decorated with elegant simplicity. The communal spaces for socializing and dining in are comfortably appointed and there is even a wood burning stove in case there is a chill in the air during the evenings. On deck there are sun loungers and a spa pool to complete your enjoyment of life on board.
The drowsy beauty of the landscape surrounding the Marne has inspired artists from Cezanne to Corot and from Dufy to Pissaro. The river is the longest in France and meanders through golden fields of grain before it reaches the undulating vineyards of the most famous wine growing region in the world – Champagne, and part of the pleasure of the journey is to spot the names of famous producers on marker posts at the end of every row of vines.
A vacation aboard Saroche allows you to experience the very best of French gastronomy epitomised by two of its iconic regions, Burgundy and Champagne. Each meal is prepared using only the choicest, locally sourced, fresh ingredients and specially selected fine wines provide an excellent accompaniment. The gourmet chef is happy to prepare vegetarian, pescatarian, vegan and non-allergenic dishes if notice is given at the time of booking.
Saroche’s Bubbles to Burgundy cruise begins appropriately enough with – bubbles: a champagne reception to welcome you on board. Highlights along this unspoiled canal include the citadel of Langres, which offers spectacular views, ancient cobbled streets and is renowned for fine soft cheese; a visit to a craft cassis maker to learn the art of preparing the liquor that forms the basis of Kir Royal; an excursion to the beautiful old town of Beaune which is the wine capital of the Côte d’Or and home to the breathtaking medieval charity hospital the Hôtel Dieu; a tour of the Renaissance château at Fontaine Française conducted by the owner and last but not least, a visit to the regional capital of Burgundy: Dijon. Here you can explore the imposing Ducal Palace which is now a world class art gallery, or visit the covered market designed by Gustave Eiffel to sample some of the mustard for which the city is famous. All these wonderful diversions provide a counterpoint to your time on board Saroche floating gently through the countryside, and the Captain’s Farewell Gala Dinner on your final evening gives you the perfect opportunity to share your experiences and reflections with the crew and your friends.
These lazy days on Saroche, drifting through some of the most languidly beautiful landscapes and offset with just the right amount of cultural stimulation, will surely work their magic and leave you feeling renewed and replenished. The countryside, the culture and the cuisine really are the stuff of which dreams are made and when you surface at the end of a memorable week, you will probably find yourself wanting to dream again.
► Make an enquiry to get a firm quotation for this or any other hotel barge for the time of year that interests you.
Barge Cruising – Champagne and Marne
– [below] In the region: Paris, Reims, Epernay, La Ferte-sous-Jouarre, Meaux, the Marne –
Hotel barges usually collect and return guests to a pre-agreed Paris hotel. The primary French international airport is at Paris-Charles de Gaulle. There are also TGV express train stations at Champagne-Ardenne (near Reims) and Chalons; and many other towns in the region have railway connections.
Barge Cruising – The Ouche Valley and Dijon
– [below] In the region: Vandenesse-en-Auxois, Canal de Bourgogne, Longecourt, Burgundy Route des Vins, Dijon –
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.