Next year French Country Waterways will celebrate its 30th year of service. Its four barges follow five itineraries throughout the French countryside on routes selected to highlight stretches of canals, including those in Burgundy’s Côte d’Or, Central Burgundy, Champagne, Alsace-Lorraine and the Upper Loire Valley. Each barge hosts only eight or 12 passengers at a time. With that in mind, French Country Waterways is releasing its 2014 brochure now so that potential guests can plan ahead and select the itinerary that best suits their interests. Six-night trips depart on Sundays, April through October; rates for the 2014 season start at $5,495 per person, double.
Each day includes excursions that highlight the culture of the region. Guests on the Central Burgundy tour aboard the 12-passenger Nenuphar get a private tour and sampling at a vineyard in Chablis; a walking tour of the St. Etienne Cathedral and the town of Auxerre; a visit to the 16th-century chateau of Ancy-le-Franc; and a tour of the Abbaye de Fontenay, a UNESCO World Heritage site that was founded by St. Bernard in 1118. Each itinerary also includes a dinner at a Michelin-starred restaurant, and the Central Burgundy tour includes the cuisine of three-star Le Relais Beranard Loiseau in Saulieu.
But the Michelin-starred restaurant isn’t the only place where French Country Waterways’ passengers experience the finest in French cuisine. Among the six-person crew on each barge is a classically trained chef. Passengers enjoy continental breakfasts, buffet lunches and four-course, candle-lit dinners, all in the comfort of the barge. Each day there is a selection of breads and buttery croissants that are brought onboard from the villages the barge passes. The other staple of French dining is, of course, wine, and during the cruise, passengers are offered more than two dozen different wines, many with well-known labels from Grand Cru or Premier Cru vineyards.
Each of French Country Waterways’ barges is available for individual bookings and for charter groups of up to 12 guests.
For more information, visit www.fcwl.com.