At four miles an hour, Go-Barging in Burgundy allows the body to relax into the rhythms of the French countryside while gliding past medieval villages and dark forests.
Hotel Barging along the waterways of Europe is one of life’s great pleasures and GoBarging.com has a number of boats that operate in France, Italy, England, Ireland, Scotland, Holland, and Belgium.
AREAS COVERED BY THE BARGES
For many people, a trip through rural France with the chance to sample some of the great regional wines and cheeses that are not available elsewhere, has to be a winner. The areas of the Loire Valley, Burgundy, Provence, Camargue, and the Canal du Midi have 14 barges of the company European Waterways cruising their waterways, moving from one peaceful mooring to another, the slow pace of the journey allowing time to explore medieval villages and the surrounding countryside.
BARGING IN FRANCE – WHAT TO DO
Cycles are carried on board – enough for all passengers – and getting off at lock keepers’ cottages along the way and cycling to the next stopping place is an easy way to exercise – that or walking. For first timers, however, it is hard to tear oneself away from watching the captain maneuver his large vessel though small locks and under low bridges and the fascinating life on the tow-path.
EXCURSIONS AND WINE TASTINGS WHILE BARGING IN BURGUNDY
Daily excursions are organized on one of the fleet’s comfortable minibuses, another part of the European Waterways experience, which is unique to this type of holiday. Wine tastings at famous wine houses like Laroche, makers of some of the finest wines in Chablis, allows not only the pleasure of the wine tasting but a walk through this well-preserved little town.
Burgundy Cruises on the barge La Belle Époque, which cruises the lower Nivernais Canal and the River Yonne, are among the most popular. The dense green velvety forests of the Morvan, the white Charolais cattle cooling off in the waters of the Yonne or grazing the green fields, and Medieval villages set in landscapes unchanged for centuries, enchant painters and photographers.
MEDIEVAL TOWNS AND VILLAGES TO VISIT WHEN BARGING IN FRANCE
From the little town of Auxerre with its half-timbered buildings to the medieval town of Noyers (said to be the third prettiest town in France), Clemancy, which suffered so much in both world wars and which has the only concrete church in France, to Vézelay where the views over the surrounding countryside are stunning, the trip introduces visitors to the very heart of France.
THE GOURMET EXPERIENCE WITH GOBARGING.COM
Although not billed as a wine-tasting cruise, the captain, chef, and crew make sure that the very best of Burgundy’s wines alongside the distinctive cheeses of the region are part of the gourmet experience. Each day at lunch and dinner at least six wines from the regions through which the barge passes are sampled. The wines can range from a Pouille-Fuisse from the Mâconais to a Crozes Hermitage from the Rhone Valley and a Cremant de Bourgogne Blanc de Noirs to that jewel in the Côte de Nuit’s crown, a Vosne-Romanée.
Complementing these wines at each meal will be at least 3 regional cheeses, among them the Chaumes from the Champagne region, a soft and creamy cheese hand washed with Champagne.
The predominantly British crew consists of captain, chef, and three to four stewards all of whom work well together to ensure the smooth running of the barge. Smartly turned out, the female crew are attentive to the guests’ needs at all times, talking through the menus, explaining the wines and cheeses, and acting as driver-guides on the short trips into the countryside to visit chateaus and castles.
ACCOMMODATION ON BOARD A BARGE
Cabins are surprisingly spacious (two with double beds) and there is a sundeck with Jacuzzi, a very comfortable saloon with small library on board, and an eclectic collection of CDs. Dinner has been called a gastronomic adventure – a dining experience by candlelight in which food and wines harmonize – and there is an open bar all day for those who just can’t resist the lure of the exceptional wines carried on board.
Cruising on large ships, dropping anchor, and dashing off in coaches to the local mall to shop, may have a purpose, but for a truly relaxing experience, the best way to travel on the water is with a barge cruise through Burgundy, and no one does it better than European Waterways.
For more details and prices, call +44 (0) 1784 482439 or visit www.gobarging.com .