For 2019, French Country Waterways will offer all-inclusive, six-night sailings April through October, traversing the wine regions of Burgundy, the Upper Loire, Champagne and Alsace-Lorraine. Fares start at $4,195 per person, double.
The five barges, carrying eight to 18 passengers, are designed for travelers who want to become acquainted with provincial France away from crowds and the pressures of modern life. Onboard chefs blend classic cooking techniques with lighter, healthier cuisine and offer up more than two dozen wines (more than half bear Grand and Premier Cru labels) and French cheeses, as service is given by a crew fluent in English.
Exclusive private tours and wine tastings, Michelin-starred dinners where guests can have a meal and leave with a chef-signed copy of the menu, private motor coaches, independent walks or bicycle explorations along the canal-side tow path—all of which contribute to the atmosphere.
The 12-passenger Adrienne and the 18-passenger Esprit follow the narrow 18th-century Canal du Centre and tree-lined Canal de Bourgogne as it makes its way through the Burgundy’s scenic Côte d'Or wine-growing region. Daily sightseeing excursions include an owner’s tour of the Château de Rully – family-owned and occupied since the 12th century; a tasting of wines hosted by a local vintner in Chassagne-Montrachet; tours of Beaune, the wine capital of Burgundy; the medieval abbey of Clos de Vougeot, headquarters of Chevaliers du Tastevin, whose special label is awarded annually to the finest Côte-d’Or wines; and Dijon, capital of the Dukes of Burgundy. In Chagny, guests experience Michelin three-star rated Lameloise.
The former private barge of shipping magnate Daniel K. Ludwig, the eight-passenger Princess, spends the full season in Alsace-Lorraine. This barge offers two grand king suites and two king suites, all with private bathrooms and double closets. Guests are met in Strasbourg and transported to the ship’s mooring. Highlights along the route include a city tour of Nancy and Place Stanislas, one of France’s squares; dinner at the Michelin two-star Villa René Lalique; visits to Baccarat’s Crystal Museum and showrooms; the 13th-century Chapel of the Cordeliers in Sarrebourg, illuminated by a Marc Chagall stained glass window; a wine tour and tasting of crisp, fruity varietals in Traenheim.
The 12-passenger Nenuphar explores the region of Champagne, sailing between Courcy and Château-Thierry. In addition to dining at the Michelin-starred Les Crayères, guests take a guided tour of Notre-Dame de Reims – the Gothic Cathedral that once hosted the coronations of French kings; experience a private tour of the 16th-century Château de Condé; tour the American Cemetery and World War I battlefields at Belleau Wood; and visit vineyards for private tours and tastings.
The eight-passenger Horizon II journeys through the Upper Loire Valley, once the playground of kings, with its pastoral landscape dotted with royal chateaux, vineyards and medieval villages. Highlights include learning how French faience is produced during a private factory tour in Gien; touring the chateau of St. Fargeau, dating back more than 1,000 years and once the home of Louis XIV’s cousin, Anne-Marie-Louise d’ Orleans; experiencing a praline tasting at world-renowned Mazet de Montargis; cruising on the Briare aqueduct, designed by Gustave Eiffel; and dining ashore at the Michelin-starred Côté Jardin in Gien.
For more information, visit http://www.fcwl.com/