Barge Meanderer cruising on the Canal de Briare
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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Barge Cruises Under $4,000 For 2017 and 2018

The 2018 hotel barge cruising season has officially launched! And there are still some remaining openings for the 2017 season.  The owners and crew are eager to welcome you on board.  If you are in the planning stages for this year's vacation, there are still some great options for you to consider. Here is a comprehensive list of all barge cruises under $4,000 per person in France and Europe for individual, double occupancy cabins or charter groups.

Most cruises are for 7 days/6 nights but there are a few barges listed below that offer a short week cruise.  All offer you an opportunity to relax and rejuvenate your body and mind, as your personal crew tends to your every need and your personal chef creates exquisite cuisine. Most cruises offer full board meal plans with all meals included, while a few offer half or three quarter board options.
Regardless of which barge or route you choose, every region in France offers a beauty all its own, with exquisitely preserved medieval villages, ancient castles, abundant vineyards and magnificent landscapes.  While cruising the serene canals and rivers of the historic French countryside, you are immersed in regional culture, wine and cuisine.  Most barge cruises are in France, but there are also a few unique and wonderful cruises in Venice, Italy, the Scottish Highlands, Ireland, England, Holland and Belgium and Germany.
Take advantage of some of these great values currently being offered, or visit our Special Offers page periodically to keep up with different barges throughout the season offering sale prices.
Cabin bookings under $4,000 per person in France and the rest of Europe, all quoted and payable in US Dollars:
  •  The 8-passenger First Class barge Savoir Vivre, cruising on the Burgundy Canal, is the only barge in France that includes in its price breakfasts and lunches aboard the barge as well as dinners off the barge at select local restaurants. Individual cabin bookings for "regular season" cruises (mid-April to mid-October) are priced at $3,750 per person (based on double occupancy).  Early April and late October "value season" individual cabin rates are $3,500 per person, double occupancy. Charter rates for 8 passengers is $30,000 "regular season," and $28,000 "value season.
  • The 18-passenger Deluxe barge Phenicien cruising in Provence along the Rhone River and Canal du Rhone a Sete, offers both cabin and charter bookings. The owners are currently offering cabin bookings during its value season for $3,640 per person (double occupancy required and minimum of 6 passengers required to cruise).  Charter rates for 12-18 passengers range from $3,275 to $3,930 per person.
  • The 24-passenger First Class barge Mirabelle cruising in the famed Bordeaux region in southwestern France on the Garonne and Dordogne Rivers and the Gironde Estuary, also offers both individual cabin and charter bookings.  "Low season" cabin bookings are priced at $3,750 per person (double occupancy with a minimum of 12 passengers to cruise), and "high season" bookings are $4,100 per person.
 In other countries:
  • The 20-passenger First Class barge La Bella Vita, cruising on the Venetian Lagoons, Po River, and Bianco Canal in Italy, offers both cabin and charter bookings. Value season pricing for individual bookings (stateroom) are $3,890 per person (double occupancy required with a minimum of 7 passengers to cruise).
Charter bookings under $4,000 per person in France:
  • The 6-passenger First Class barge Caroline, cruising the picturesque Canal du Midi in Southern France is offering six night three quarter board charter rate for 6 passengers of $23,940 ($3,990 each). Four night half board charters for 6 passengers are very competitively priced at $15,960 ($2,660 each). 
  • The 6-passenger Deluxe Magnolia on the Burgundy Canal offers both half and full board charters at very competitive rates.  In 2017, half-board charter for 6-passengers are $18,400 or $3,066.67 per person and full board charters for 6-passengers are $23,650 or $3,941.66 per person.  In 2018, prices are slightly higher: half-board charter for 6-passengers are $19,850 or $3,308.33 per person and full board charters for 6-passengers are $24,850 or $4,141.66 per person.  This makes the Magnolia an exceptional value!
  • Also the 4-passenger First Class barge Louisa on the Canal du Midi offers full board charter cruises for 4 passenger for 3 nights at $6,960 or $1,740 per person.  A 4 night cruise at $9,280 or $2,320/person based on 4 passengers.  The Louisa is perfect for travelers who want to experience the luxury of a barge cruise but have a limited time schedule.
NOTE: All individual cabin booking prices are quoted per person and are based on double occupancy. All prices are quoted and payable in US Dollars. For all half-board or three-quarter-board cruises, barge crews will be happy to provide you with recommendations for restaurants ashore, and also provide transportation to and from the restaurants.

Please Contact us at Special Places Travel, with any questions you may have regarding the best choices for a barge cruise that fits your vacation needs and interests in France or the rest of Europe.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Half Board & Three Quarter Board Charters Offer Meals At Local Restaurants

Why Choose Half -Board vs Full Board Options On Your Barge Cruise?

The great thing about a barge cruise is that your per person cost includes everything for your week long vacation, except your airfare and a suggested 5% gratuity. A few barges offer the option of a half board or three quarter board vs the standard full board option. This means that some of your meals will be enjoyed ashore at your own expense. Although the meals aboard all of the barges are exceptional, choosing these other options is a great way to lower your up front cost, and also have the opportunity to experience the flavor and essence of the local cuisine.  

A unique opportunity is available aboard the 8-passenger barge SAVOIR VIVRE, currently cruising in Burgundy. The barge is considered a full board barge, but passengers enjoy one meal ashore each evening at a pre-planned destination. This is a great way to experience some of the area's favorite restaurants, and the best part about it is that this cost is included in the per person price.

For the 2017 and 2018 season, prices for a Full-Board Charter for 8 aboard the Savoir Vivre are $28,000 for VALUE season ($3,500 per person) and $30,000 for REGULAR season, ($3,750 per person).  Individual cabins may also be booked at $3,750 per person in REGULAR season, or $3,500 per person in VALUE season, based on double occupancy, with a minimum booking of two cabins.  If you have any questions about this wonderful opportunity, feel free to Contact us

The barges listed below offer Half Board or Three Quarter Board Charters for the 2017/2018 seasons: 
  • 6-passenger CAROLINE -- Canal du Midi, Three Quarter Board Charter for 6 $23,940 ($3,990 per person)
  • 4-passenger COLIBRI -- Upper Loire (Half-Board Charter for 4 for $21,000 = $5,250 per person) ... only available in 2018, as 2017 season is sold out.
  • 6-passenger EMMA -- Canal du Midi (Half-Board Charter for 6 for $27,000 = $4,500 per person).
  • 4-passenger SARAPHINA -- Canal du Midi (Half-Board Charter for up to 4 for $14,500 = $3,625 per person).
  • 6-passenger MAGNOLIA -- Southern Burgundy (Half-Board Charter for 6 for $18,400 in 2017 ($3,066.66 per person), or $19,850 in 2018 ($3,308.33 per person).
NOTE: All prices quoted in the blog and on our website are in US Dollars and apply to the 2017/2018 cruise season, as applicable. All rates are subject to change based on the discretion of each individual barge.

Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions you may have, so that we may help you select the best option for your barge cruise in France and the rest of Europe.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Tulip Cruises in Spring 2018

Tulip Cruise in the Springtime

If you are interested in experiencing the natural beauty of Holland, you may be interested in a Tulip Cruise in the early spring.The excursions on the Tulip Cruise center around several charming cities and towns of Holland that are full of history. Some of the excursions will include a visit to the famous Keukenhof Gardens, a 70 acre showcase for the Dutch floral industry. Please keep in mind that the gardens close by mid-May. Other excursions may stop at the world's largest flower auction in Aalsmeer, where some 10 billion flowers are sold every year, or may include a trip to the reconstructed historic village of Zaanse Schans with its working windmills, clog makers, cheese farm and mustard mill. You may also stop in Gouda, made famous by its well known cheese, pipes and candles or the town of Delft, famous for its pottery. If you are into classical music, a visit to St. Bavo's Cathedral, where both Mozart and Handel played on the magnificent Muller organ in the main square, is a must.

Make sure to review the different itineraries for both of the barges currently offering Tulip Cruises, so that you can choose the one that is right for you.

These barges offer Tulip Cruises for the Spring of 2018:
NOTE: In addition to the 7 day/6 night Tulip Cruises, all three of these barges offer cruises from Holland through Belgium and into France at the end of the Tulip Cruise season.  
Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions you may have, so that we may help you select the best option for your barge cruise in Holland, or France and the rest of Europe.

Friday, June 16, 2017

For The Ultimate in a Barge Cruise...Go Ultra Deluxe

Dining salon aboard La Nouvelle Etoile

Passenger cabin aboard La Nouvelle Etoile

Demonstration kitchen aboard Prosperite
If you want to travel in luxury on one of the top barges in France, we suggest an Ultra Deluxe barge.
These days, barges are generally categorized into First Class, Deluxe and Ultra Deluxe accommodations. The most obvious difference aboard ultra deluxe barges are the size of the cabins and the amenities provided. Traveling in spacious quarters provides greater comfort and sitting areas, ultra deluxe barges also offer larger, roomier bathrooms with double sinks and some even have bathtubs.

Ultra deluxe barges cruise through different parts of Europe, and offer many itineraries, so it really depends on your interests. Some barges are charter only, which means that you must reserve the entire barge for your cruise, and others offer both individual booking and charter options. Chartering provides greater privacy for your group and allows you to have more input into the meals prepared for you by your own personal chef, and the itinerary of planned excursions along the route. The elaborate menus aboard ultra deluxe barges are beautifully presented on formal table settings and paired with carefully selected wines. 

Other amenities that are typically offered aboard Ultra Deluxe barges are:
  • Beautiful and relaxing sundecks with parasols or canopies that create some shade from the summer sun.
  • On some barges, a relaxing jacuzzi or a plunge pool on deck where you can take a dip to cool off at any time.
  • Indoor and outdoor dining and lounging areas that can be set up for you at a moment's notice so that you can enjoy alfresco dining on pleasant evenings.
  • Your own crew who will attend to your every need with high degree of efficiency and professionalism.
  • Your own personal chef who will create fresh, memorable and delicious meals using local and regional specialties that are purchased on a daily basis at local markets along the route.
  • On some barges, an open kitchen is available where you can watch the chef prepare your meals or even give a cooking class.
  • Top quality wines, sometimes even including Grand Cru and Premier Cru, are paired with each course.
  • A fully stocked bar with all of your favorite beverages.
  • The Prosperite has a 24/7 snack refrigerator that is always full of delicious treats and your favorite drinks, so you always have a snack available if you get hungry between meals.
  • La Nouvelle Etoile is wheelchair accessible and has an elevator for those with physical limitations.
  • La Nouvelle Etoile has a washer and dryer for passengers use, as well as satellite TV and internet in your own room with computers for passenger use in each cabin.
  • WiFi is now available on many barges for those who want to stay connected.
  • Public areas may also have CD/DVD's, library with reading material, writing desks and modern entertainment systems to keep you informed and entertained.
  • On board bicycles offer the opportunity to get some exercise on towpaths that follow along the canal route.
A relaxed elegance defines the ambiance and level of hospitality aboard these luxury vessels, and the experience is one that you will not forget. If you are interested in an Ultra Deluxe barge cruise experience, make sure to read more about these beautiful barges on the links provided below. Information about the barge, cruise routes, pricing, menu ideas and the many photographs will definitely convince, and entice you.

Ultra Deluxe Barge Accommodations
The 4-Passenger barge Alouette (CHARTER ONLY) cruises in the south of France (Southern Burgundy to Provence in early April, then moves to the Canal du Midi for the summer then back to Burgundy in late October.
The 6-Passenger barge Fleur de Lys cruises in the heart of Burgundy on the Canal de Bourgogne, the Saone River and the Canal du Centre.
The 6-Passenger barge Roi Soleil (CHARTER ONLY) cruises on the Canal du Midi in 2013
The 8-Passenger barge Amaryllis (CHARTER ONLY) cruise in the heart of Burgundy on the Canal de Bourgogne, the Saone River and the Canal du Centre.
The 8-Passenger barge C'est La Vie cruises on the Burgundy Canal in Northern Burgundy.
The 8-Passenger barge Enchante cruises on the Canal du Midi in the south of France.
The 8-Passenger barge Finesse cruises on the Burgundy Canal in Southern Burgundy.
The 8-Passenger barge La Nouvelle Etoile cruises in Holland, Belgium, Germany and France (Burgundy, Champagne and Alsace).
The 8-Passenger barge Prosperite (CHARTER ONLY) cruises on the Canal de Bourgogne in Southern Burgundy.
The 8-Passenger barge Renaissance cruises on the Canal de Briare in the Upper Loire.
The 12-Passenger barge Napoleon cruises between Southern Burgundy and Provence on the Rhone River.

Please do not hesitate to contact us  with any questions you may have. With thousands of satisfied  customers, we can help you select the best option for your barge cruise in France or the rest of Europe.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Grand Cru "Wine Academy" Cruise For The Wine Connoisseur

Clos de Vougeot, home to one of the 33 Grand Cru's of Burgundy

Dining room aboard the Amaryllis,
host of the Grand Cru "Wine Academy" Cruise

The 8-passenger Ultra Deluxe Barge Amaryllis
Unlike larger ocean liners with thousands of tourists, or river cruises with hundreds of passengers, intimate barge cruises with 12 or fewer guests allow for a more relaxed experience. Cruise through rural and historic villages along the French countryside for an up close and personal travel experience that most clients describe as the most relaxing, rejuvenating and pampered week of their lives.

A barge cruise can be anything you want it to be, and many people join other like minded travelers for a week of pure rest and relaxation as you visit and learn about quaint and historic towns, or focus on  specific itineraries that more closely reflect your interests.

European barges offer guests exceptional cuisine and wines that display the creativity and artistry of the on board master chef and the best of local markets and growers – all for the delight of just a handful of guests. The chef introduces his or her creations to the guests at dinners aboard, and can handily accommodate special dietary requirements. The experience is personal and intimate, just like the excursions and the special attention that guests receive. 

The Grand Cru "Wine Academy" Cruise aboard the 8-passenger Ultra Deluxe barge Amaryllis, is just that – unique, informative, relaxing and intimate for a handful of guests who are true wine aficionados. This is one of the few times that the Amaryllis has been available for individual cabin bookings rather than a charter. The 2018 rate is
€11,192 per person, double occupancy, which includes all meals, wines and excursions, as well as round trip transfers from Paris.  

This once in a lifetime opportunity involves a full week of daily classes, lectures and vintner visits hosted by an on board resident expert, vineyard host or vintner.

Amaryllis cruises on some of the most picturesque waterways in France, including the Canal de Bourgogne, the River Saone and the Canal du Centre, as it travels through the heart of Burgundy. It is one of the most luxurious barges afloat, and offers the perfect venue for a cruise of this kind.

The itinerary will include informative excursions to historic sites and visits to specially selected Chateaux and vineyards in the region. Your personal chef will create a special menu designed around  the Grand Cru selections that have been chosen for you, and your personal crew of 6 will ensure that your every need is met. Below is the sample itinerary, which you can also see at:

Burgundy: Canal du Centre, Saone River
St Leger sur Dheune to Dijon
Wine Academy Cruise, 
July 8 thru July 14, 2018 

The Wine Academy includes an immersive program of talks to inspire the exploration of Burgundy and its most precious asset.  Wine master and resident expert, Pascal Wagner, leads the Wine Academy and is often referred to as a walking encyclopedia of oenology. Pascal has over 30 years of experience and grew up footsteps from the special Grand Cru vines of the region. The Wine Academy is available for charters or for a minimum of 4 passengers. 

Sunday - Arrival St. Leger sur Dheune - Welcome  
Board the barge at St Leger sur Dheune for the beginning of your cruise through the heart of Burgundy. A champagne reception welcomes you on board and gives you a chance to meet your crew for the week ahead. Your dedicated local wine expert Pascal Wagner will give an introductory overview of Burgundy wines and associated appellations.  Later, enjoy your first dining experience on board.

Monday - Cruise to Chagny. Grand Cru Lunch Puligny Montrachet & Vineyard tour 
A leisurely cruise on the Canal du Centre gives you a chance to savor the beauty of the French countryside, with plenty of opportunities at the many locks to get off the barge and walk or cycle along the dedicated tow path. Late morning Pascal will accompany you for a 'Cote de Beaune Grand Cru tasting' & lunch in the King of white wine villages - Puligny Montrachet. After lunch enjoy a cellar tour and visit into the surrounding vineyards with Pascal.

Tuesday - Cruise to Fragnes. Visit Chateau de Pommard & Degustation 
After breakfast, Pascal will accompany you to the magnificent Chateau de Pommard and surrounding domaine – one of the largest privately-owned estates in Burgundy. There will be a special Oenological presentation based on 'senses and aromas' followed of course by a tasting of the Domaine's prestigious wines. This afternoon, relax on board while the barge cruises the final section of the Canal du Centre towards the delightful village of Fragnes. Early evening Pascal will unveil the secrets of the local Cremant de Bourgogne & Champagne with a private tasting held on board. 

Wednesday - Cruise to St Jean de Losne. Visit Beaune
A somewhat different cruising experience today, through the lovely valley of the River Saone to the town of Seurre. After lunch on board we visit the charming old town of Beaune to see the famous cafes, a magnificent 15th century charity hospital, followed by a private cellar tour & wine tasting. There is time to stroll through the old town taking in the wonderful architecture and fine shopping. Tonight's mooring is at St Jean de Losne, the barging capital of France.  Take some time to stroll around the ports and see the many working barges and house boats that are moored here.

Thursday - Cruise to Longecourt. 'Grand Cru' Lunch Gevrey Chambertin & Visit to Clos de Vougeot 
This morning the barge leaves the river and enters the Burgundy Canal. Enjoy the chance to walk or cycle along the tow path. Late morning your guide will take you on a picturesque drive towards the world renowned village of Gevrey Chambertin, home of the great Reds. Enjoy a 'Cote de Nuits Grand Cru' tasting & lunch at one of the reputed local Domaine's. After lunch drive through the Cote and visit the historic Clos de Vougeot where the Cistercian monks first began making wine in the 12th century. The ancient chateau is now the headquarters of the celebrated Burgundian wine society the Confrerie des Chevaliers de Tastevin, and contains the ancient cellar and wine presses from medieval times. Return to the barge at Longecourt, your overnight mooring.

Friday - Cruise to Dijon. Visit Dijon
Today your guide takes you on a walking tour of historic Dijon, capital of the great dukes of Burgundy, to visit the market, Ducal Palace, the Grey Poupon mustard shop and enjoy some shopping at the covered food market. Tonight, the barge moors in the port of Dijon. As the chef prepares for your Farewell gala dinner on board, perhaps try a Kir aperitif, a cocktail which mixes the locally produced Cassis blackcurrant liqueur with the area's Aligote white wine.

Saturday - Dijon
After breakfast the crew bids a sad farewell before you disembark the barge for your onward travel arrangements.

Note: This is a sample itinerary and is subject to change.

Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions you may have. With thousands of satisfied customers, we can help you select the best option for your barge cruise in France or the rest of Europe.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Theme Cruises Offer Unique Vacation Options

Imagine Yourself Taking An Adventure Cruise

Whether you choose a barge cruise to experience a unique adventure as an individual, couple or a charter for your group of family and friends, you may want to consider a specialized theme cruise that focuses on some of the more popular interests, such as cuisine, walking, hiking or other more adventurous activities.

If you are interested in an active walking cruise, the 12-passenger La Belle Epoque, the 8-passenger L'Art de Vivre, and the 8-passenger Magna Carta, all have organized walking tours with a professional guide for charter groups. La Belle Epoque also offers walking cruises for individual passengers on selected dates at no extra cost. Uncover the beauty of each city as you visit and learn about the quaint, historic villages, local castles and vineyards that dot the country. Other theme cruise possibilities on these and other barges include golf, tennis and special wine appreciation charters. Please contact us
for sample itineraries for these cruises or make sure to visit our Specials page.

The 14-passenger Luciole offers an Activity Cruise for those interested in chartering a barge with more fun activities like tree walking, horse back riding, cave climbing and kayaking. Any and all barges can arrange for a charter geared towards children's activities, if you like. For the more adventurous individual, hot air balloon rides are also an option on many of the barges, but come at an additional cost.

If you are an avid golfer, then the 10-passenger Shannon Princess in Ireland offers a special golf charter that includes a chance for you to play at three of Europe's best golf courses: The K Club in Kildare, the Adare Manor Golf Course in Limerick and the world famous Lahinch Golf Course, as well as a local course.

Whether you choose to get out and explore the world on a theme barge cruise, or simply choose to participate in a more conventional cruise for rest and relaxation, both options will offer you a cultural, historical and gastronomic feast!

The Specials page of our website offers additional information on all of the theme cruises we currently offer. Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions you may have, so that we may help you select the best option for your barge cruise in France and the rest of Europe.

Friday, February 3, 2017

New Hotel Barges for 2017!

New Hotel Barges in France and Scotland for 2017!

Cruise the Cote d'Or wine region of Southern Burgundy! 
6-passenger Deluxe GRAND VICTORIA
The 6-passenger Deluxe Grand Victoria6-passenger Grand Victoria, cruising on the Canal de Bourgogne. which started cruising in June 2016, was previously an 8-passenger barge, the Absoluut2. It has been completely refitted and designed with stunning modern decor throughout. There are three 180 sq ft staterooms with luxurious bedding, and an elegant salon and dining area with large picture windows plus a large demonstration kitchen where passengers can hone their culinary skills and engage with the chef. We have met the new owners, Edward and Cindy, who are enthusiastic and passionate about offering a unique personalized experience on board. We will see the barge again in early April at the Burgundy Boat Show.

For more information, see:

Explore the Languedoc Region with a Cruise on the Historic Canal du Midi! 
4-passenger First Class SARAPHINA
The SARAPHINA cruising on the beautiful Canal du Midi,4-passenger Saraphina, cruising on the Canal du Midi. in the south of France, will be offering half or full board charters for 3 to 6 nights in 2017. Breakfasts and dinners are served onboard and lunches are enjoyed ashore at local restaurants. Unique in design, with "shabby chic" decor and vintage furnishings, it has two cabins with ensuite bathrooms, one 183 sq ft and one 140 sq ft. The Saraphina offers outstanding service, cuisine and wines with a health conscious approach, complete with optional yoga instructions. We've known the owner Finnegan for many years, and enjoyed working with him when he was the captain and manager of the ultra-deluxe barge Roi Soleil. He will now be your host on the Saraphina along with his wife Emily, also a barge crew veteran. We look forward to seeing them and the Saraphina again in April at the Canal du Midi Boat Show.

For more information see:

Experience the Magnificent Scottish Highlands! 
12-passenger Deluxe SPIRIT OF SCOTLAND
Scheduled to be launched this June is the Spirit of Scotland 12-passenger Spirit of Scotland, cruising on the Caledonian Canal. cruising on the same route as the Scottish Highlander in the Scottish Highlands near Inverness. The barge has six 130 sq ft cabins with ensuite bathrooms, a large salon and dining area plus separate bar, covered deck and spa pool plus rooftop sundeck. We knew this barge many years ago when it was cruising primarily in Germany under the name Serenite. We will have our website for this barge ready soon.

8-Night Cruise and Chateau Package in the South of France! 

Also new for 2017 is a special 4-night cruise being offered by the 6-passenger EMMA 6-passenger Emma, cruising on the Canal du Midi. on the Canal du Midi followed by 4 nights at La Tour du Chateau, a beautiful chateau on the banks of the canal -- an all inclusive package with all meals, accommodations and daily excursions, along with a cooking class and winery tour.

For more information see:

La Tour du Chateau 
6-passenger Emma, cruising on the Canal du Midi.
La Cité de Carcassonne 
6-passenger Emma, cruising on the Canal du Midi.
La Joie de Vivre 
6-passenger Emma, cruising on the Canal du Midi.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

New Hotel Barges in France

New Hotel Barges in France
Last fall, Don and Sally Dillin, two of the owners of Special Places Travel, took their annual trek to France where they were greeted by the gracious owners of some wonderful new barges. After their visits, we are pleased to announce that we have added some terrific barges to the outstanding fleet of barges we offer. These owners and crew will warmly welcome you on board and share their extensive knowledge of the region and its traditions, with daily visits to historic sites, cuisine that is locally sourced and exquisitely prepared and then carefully paired with up to 20 different wines during the week, often wines unique to the region.

Cruise the Cote d'Or wine region of Southern Burgundy! 
8-passenger Ultra Deluxe FINESSE
Launched in May 2016, the luxurious Finesse6-passenger Finesse, cruising a lovely stretch of the Canal de Bourgogne. is the second barge built and managed by the Roger and Louisa Gronow, the owners of the successful Ultra Deluxe barge Enchante on the Canal du Midi. Like the Enchante, it has a modern salon with comfortable sofas, dining area and open demonstration kitchen. There are four large twin or queen-bedded suites on the lower deck, all with an ensuite bathroom. Outside there is a spacious sun deck with a spa pool, dining table and comfortable seating. The Finesse cruises on a unique route on the Canal du Centre and Saone River in Southern Burgundy and includes excursions to Dijon and Beaune as well as a private wine tasting and lunch at a top winery. The barge accepts both individual cabin bookings as well as charters. One meal on shore plus transfers from Lyon to the barge and return are included.

For more information, see:

6-passenger Deluxe MAGNOLIA
The Magnolia is operated by its French owners6-passenger Magnolia, cruising through the southern Burgundy region. Magali and Nicolas Rancelot, barging veterans of over 15 years, who offer full board or half board charter cruises on the Burgundy Canal between Dijon and Escommes. For half board cruises five meals are at passenger's expense at selected local restaurants and at a private home. When we were on board the owners took us to one of these restaurants for dinner, a converted canal lockhouse that now has a small restaurant. The barge has two double-bedded cabins plus a suite with twin beds or a queen bed, each with an ensuite bathroom, as well as a large salon with sofas, arm chairs and a dining area. On deck is a spa pool, lounge chairs and an outdoor kitchen for al fresco meals. The tour guide provides a daily excursion to some of the most famous sites in the area. Transfers from Dijon to the barge and return are included.

For more information see:

6-passenger Deluxe RENDEZ-VOUS
The brand new Rendez-Vous was launched6-passenger Rendez-vous, cruising through the southern Burgundy region. in the summer of 2015. The owners also own the very successful Ultra Deluxe 8-passenger barge Prosperite. The Rendez-Vous offers full board charter cruises for up to 6 passengers on the Burgundy Canal south of Dijon. The barge has an open concept salon with a comfortable sofa and arm chair, dining area and demonstration kitchen. There are three cabins with a queen bed or twin beds, each with an ensuite bathroom. On deck there is a hot tub, lounge chairs, dining table and two loveseats with large umbrellas. Excursions with the barge tour guide include visits to Dijon and Beaune as well as winetasting at nearby vineyards. Two lunches on shore and transfers from Paris to the barge and return are included.

For more information see:

Cruise on the historic Canal du Midi! 
6-passenger Deluxe MIRAGE
The Mirage is offering full board cruises6-passenger Mirage, cruising on the Canal du Midi. for three or six nights for charters of 2-6 passengers as well as individual cabin bookings on the Canal du Midi, between Carcassonne and Castelnaudary. The barge is owned and operated by a delightful French couple, Pascal and Mimi Chauvin. A unique feature of this cruise is that Pascal will offer charter passengers an optional flight in his classic Comet biplane over Carcassonne. They have decorated the salon in the style of a 1940's aviator lounge, with comfortable seating, TV, dining area and an open galley. The barge has two cabins with a queen bed or two twins and one cabin with a fixed queen bed, each with an ensuite bathroom. On deck is a spa pool, dining table and lounger chairs. Breakfast and dinner are served on board while lunch is taken at some of the owners' favorite local restaurants. When we were aboard last September the owners took us to one of these restaurants in the old city of Carcassonne, Daily excursions include visits to Carcassonne and Narbonne as well as wine tasting. Transfers from Narbonne, Carcassonne or Toulouse airport to the barge and return are included.

For more information see:

4-passenger First Class LOUISA
The British owners of the Louisa,4-passenger Louisa, cruising on the Canal du Midi. David and Jenny Tremain, offer 3 or 4-night full board charter cruises on the Canal du Midi in the Carcassonne area. Their cruises are perfect for those who want to experience a barge cruise but don't have time for a 6-night cruise. David is the pilot as well as tour guide for your daily excursion while Jenny is the chef. There is one cabin with king bed and one with twin beds, both including an ensuite bathroom . The open plan salon has comfortable seating, a dining area, TV and open galley. All meals are on board, usually on deck, weather permitting. Transfers from Carcassonne or Toulouse to the barge and return are included.

For more information see:

Explore the vineyards of the world renowned Bordeaux Region! 
24-passenger First Class MIRABELLE
The Mirabelle is the only barge24-passenger Mirabelle, cruising through the Bordeaux region. we offer that cruises in the Bordeaux wine region. It offers both individual cabin bookings ( for a minimum of 12 passengers) and private charters. All meals, wines and open bar are included on board, along with a daily excursion to each of the five wine regions guided by their wine expert. When we were on board last September we enjoyed a wonderful dinner with accompanying wines prepared by their French chef. There are 11 twin-bedded cabins and one cabin with double bed, each with an ensuite bathroom. There is a deck at the bow with tables and chairs plus a large upper deck with lounge chairs. Transfers from Bordeaux to the barge and return are included.

For more information see:

Champagne Cruises in the Spring, and Southern Burgundy in the Summer and Fall! 
6-passenger Deluxe SAROCHE
The Saroche is not a new barge for us6-passenger Saroche, cruising through the Champagne & Burgundy regions. but has new owners for 2016, Jason Ashcroft and Dawn Coles, who previously owned and operated the popular 6-passenger Who Knows in Burgundy and Champagne. Jason and Dawn are offering full board cruises on the Saroche for both individual cabin bookings and charters in Champagne on the Marne River and a nearby canal until July and then on the southern Burgundy Canal for the rest of the season. Jason will lead the daily excursions which include a day in Reims while in Champagne and a day in Beaune while in Burgundy. The Saroche has three large cabins with queen bed or two twins and ensuite bathrooms. There is a split level salon/dining room with wood burning fireplace and a large sundeck with hot tub, dining table, lounge chairs and an awning over part of the deck. One meal on shore and transfers from Paris to the barge and return are included.

For more information see:

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Exploring cave paintings in Dordogne, pre- or post-cruise on Canal du Midi

Before a Canal du Midi cruise ....
Cave painting in the cave at Lascaux, in the Dordogne region of southern FranceIf you have several days to a week to explore France before embarking on a cruise on the Canal du Midi in the South of France, one of the highlights of the region are the caves of Dordogne, to the west of the Canal du Midi.

Many of these caves contain pre-historic cave paintings and are fascinating. We've visited Lascaux II, in Montignac, which is a reproduction of the original neighboring Lascaux cave with its extensive cave paintings. The original Lascaux cave is not open to the public, not only to protect it, but also because they are attempting to resolve serious problems with moisture in the cave which threatens the integrity of the cave paintings. Lascaux II itself is still worth a visit, as it provides a good deal of background and education on cave paintings, cave exploration, and the challenges of preserving cave paintings for future generations. The story of how the reproduction was made is, in itself, a fascinating story, and one of the interesting components of the visit to Lascaux II. (For more information about Lascaux, see

Other caves in this region where you are seeing "the real thing" do require reservations and the number of visitors per day is usually tightly controlled, to reduce the potentially damaging effects of visitors to the caves. Flash photography is strictly forbidden in all caves. Cave paintings are usually illuminated with low-level tungsten light, which allows reasonable viewing of the paintings to the eye. If a cave allows photography at all (some do not), probably the best way to capture it without flash is to use a smart phone with the flash turned off.

For a good listing of caves, and discussion, see:

We suggest going to the websites of each cave you'd like to visit to make reservations, or telephoning the contact directly to determine the best way to ensure a visit while you are in the area. Watch especially the operating times, as your best chance is to visit the most desirable caves is to arrive before opening time, and be the first ones in the public visit that day.

Driving through the hilly Dordogne region is quite a treat, but also keep in mind that the small roads through the hilly terrain do make driving time from one location to another longer than you might expect. Still, the whole region has quite a lot of charm, and the cave visits are the icing on the cake!

Then, after your drive through Dordogne, enjoy another lifetime memory -- a cruise aboard a barge on the Canal du Midi! Contact us for more information.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Many Reasons To Consider A Barge Cruise

If you are reading this article, then you belong to the category of individuals who are looking for a unique vacation experience. Cruising is not a new concept to any of us, and many of us have either experienced one firsthand, or know someone who has. When you think of cruising, the first thing that may come to mind is a trip on a large ocean liner with thousands of other people, or on a river cruise with a hundred or more other people. A barge cruise, on the other hand, is a very different experience.

Just imagine a charming, week-long opportunity where you can travel as an individual, a couple or a larger group with family and friends, through the quaint, historic villages of Europe. Nowadays, you can enjoy this type of experience in many countries, including Ireland, Scotland, England, Holland, Belgium, France, and Germany, with most barges centered in France. A barge cruise allows you to experience the country and its people by cruising through the countryside, enjoying intimate excursions that will take you to interesting sights in the area, and sampling the delicious foods and wines of that region prepared by your own exceptionally talented on-board chef

A bit of history … In the 1600's, France began to develop a canal system as a means to transport grain and to reduce food shortages. Some of the earliest were the Canal de Briare completed in 1642, the Canal du Midi was completed in 1681 and the Canal de Bourgogne in 1832. By the 18th century, more than 500 wine barges were in use on the canals of France, towed by men or horses. By the mid-1900's, the use of barges for transport of grain, coal, and other goods was eventually abandoned in favor of other means of transportation.

In the late 1960's, with hundred of barges no longer in use, a few creative, entrepreneurial individuals saw the potential in their lingering beauty and were inspired to convert these historical gems into luxury, floating hotels, with lengths ranging from 80 to 128 feet.

Today's accommodation options aboard barges fall into either First Class, Deluxe or Ultra Deluxe accommodations. The difference is primarily in cabin size and amenities provided, which offers you some flexibility in the cost.

All of the barges offer top level cuisine, wines and exceptional service, and all have cabins with private, en-suite bathrooms. The number of cabins aboard each barge ranges from 2 to 11 cabins with passenger capacity of 4 to 21 people. Most of the cabins are double occupancy; however a few offer single cabins for those traveling alone. In the event that the barge you are interested in does not offer a single cabin, it usually offers a single supplement which is added to the cost of your cruise, and is essentially a pro-rated cost for a single person booking a double cabin.

Some barges are exclusively available on a chartered basis, which means that you have the entire barge to yourself and your friends or family, but others may offer both individual and charter bookings. Charters offer an ideal alternative for companies looking for a unique meeting place to discuss business projects, or for families or groups of friends celebrating milestones in their lives who want to share these milestones in an especially memorable way on their private charter. Those couples or individuals who prefer the opportunity to book individual cabins will meet and enjoy the company of passengers from the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, and sometimes from other countries, as well.

The true beauty of these floating country homes is that they have been completely restored and transformed by talented craftsmen. The interiors may reflect upgraded wood flooring and décor that includes modern portholes or the installation of large, beautiful windows that allow you to enjoy the passing vistas. Comfortable cabins, bathrooms and public areas have been adorned with handmade tiles, unique wall coverings, fabrics and lovely furnishings. Many barges are owner-operated which means that the owners are on board with you during the cruise. Owners usually function as the captain aboard the vessel, so they can oversee the day-to-day events. All of the barges are lovingly maintained, but there is something extra special about an owner-operated barge which is evident when you come aboard.

On many of the barges, the common areas offer relaxing sundecks with parasols or canopies that help create some shade from the summer sun. Upgraded galleys offer modernized areas where your private chef will create fresh, memorable and delicious meals using local and regional specialties. You may also find: a jacuzzi (or plunge pool) where you can cool off at any time during the cruise, dining and lounging areas both inside and out, a fully stocked bar, a 24/7 snack refrigerator so that you are never without something delicious to eat, and one barge even has an elevator for those who have physical limitations. Make sure to review the information provided for each barge prior to booking, so that you are well informed about the amenities provided, along with the layout of the barge itself.

Wines and cheeses from the area accompany each meal, and beautiful breads, croissants and pastries are purchased and enjoyed daily. The chef purchases fresh fish and produce at local markets along the way as the barge makes its daily stops at the different locations along the route. Ask the chef if you can come along with him or her if you wish to experience this for yourself!

Except as otherwise indicated, the total cost of the cruise includes your cabin, your meals and wines, an open bar, excursions and transfers from Paris and back to the barge for most barges in the Burgundy region and on routes near Paris, or between the barge and a convenient transportation center for barges cruising in other regions.

If you are the type of person who wants to experience more of the restaurant scene in each local town, some barges also offer half-board options. This means that you can enjoy some meals ashore at your leisure and at your expense. This is a great way to reduce your cruise cost, especially if you would like to focus more on other activities.

Most barges cruise on local canals and some cruise on larger rivers. On a canal cruise, the barge is raised or lowered at the many different locks along your route, and you can easily step off the barge to do a little exploring, either on foot or on one of the bicycles provided on board. You can step off the barge to get some exercise on the canal towpath and meet up with the rest of the group at the next lock. A river cruise offers interesting excursions, but walking or biking is usually only possible when the barge is moored at the beginning or the end of each day.

Barge cruises are usually a seven day/six night adventure – anything less will make you feel rushed. However, if that is all that time allows, there are four day cruises available on some barges.

There are many different barge routes that cruise throughout Europe, but the most popular are offered in France. Imagine yourself cruising through the heart of the Burgundy wine region, or in Brittany near the northwest coast, or east of Bordeaux, or exploring the more central Upper Loire Valley that borders Burgundy, or the areas of Champagne and Chablis. Or visit Alsace-Lorraine in the northeast that borders Germany or the warmer Languedoc-Rousillon or Provence regions in the southeast of France.

Whatever your reason for considering a barge cruise, remember this – it's a very addictive experience. There is something inherently comforting about about having all of your needs taken care of for an entire week by your own personal staff. Before you know it, you will be joining the ranks of the many satisfied barge cruisers who have come before you and continue to come back year after year. For many, barge cruising has become a way of life and a favorite vacation option, and the large choice of barge routes and destinations available continue to offer that magic formula for rest and relaxation that will keep loyal travelers happily entertained for years to come.

If you are considering a barge cruise in France or anywhere in Europe, please feel free to contact uswith any questions you may have. With thousands of satisfied customers, we can help you select the best option for your barge cruise vacation in France or the rest of Europe.

Monday, December 19, 2011

New Hotel Barges and Updates: Burgundy, Holland, Alsace!

An Introduction To Some Of Our New Friends
We are pleased to introduce you to several terrific barges, and some new friends, newly added to our roster of barge cruises.

8-passenger APRES TOUT
Cruise the Cote d'Or wine region of Burgundy! 
Having formerly managed an entire fleet of 6-passenger Apres Tout, cruising a lovely stretch of the Canal de Bourgogne. deluxe and ultra deluxe barges, the new owners of the Apres Tout are experts in the world of barging. The Apres Tout is a classic French barge which has been renovated to offer the most luxurious accommodation for six passengers, for a glorious week of cruising in the southern Burgundy area. Cruising between St Jean de Losne and Pont d'Ouche passengers enjoy visits to Beaune, the wine capital of Burgundy, Dijon, the Clos de Vougeot, and Chateauneuf en Auxois. Apres Tout offers a cruise to delight the wine connossieur and the history buff, as well as those with an appreciation for fine food and relaxation. The Apres Tout will also escort you to the famed Michelin starred restaurant, the Abbaye de la Bussiere, for one of your cruise's evening meals, included in the cruise fare. Relax with a glass of wine in the hot tub on deck as you cruise through the beautiful Cote d'Or wine region, or bike ahead on the towpath along the lovely Canal de Bourgogne.

For more information, see:

12-passenger PANACHE
Tulip Cruises in Holland ... then on to Alsace! 
Formerly known as the Marjorie II, 12-passenger Panache, cruising through the Alsace region. the Panache made its new debut in Holland in the 2012 tulip season, and is cruising in Holland again in 2013. Cruising along the Haarlem-Leiden Canal and the Amstel River, the deluxe barge Panache takes in the splendor of tulip season in Holland from the 1st of April through the 3rd week of May, before moving to France to cruise the rest of the season in the Alsace region. While in Alsace, passengers are treated to a fabulous cruise between Strasbourg and Mittersheim, on the Canal de la Marne au Rhin and the beautiful Canal des Houillères de la Sarre, a canal threaded through a series of large tranquil lakes and quiet forests. Enjoy some delicious Riesling wines on a tour of a vineyard in the Vosges mountains, and traverse the stunning inclined plane of Arzviller boat lift, a true marvel of engineering.

For more information see:

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Special Places Travel Tours France

Cruising aboard the MeandererThis past May, June and July members of the Special Places Travel team spent time in France, touring the countryside visiting with barges and their crews. After driving approximately 1,100 miles, and stopping to see 33 barges, Special Places Travel is up to date with all of the details of these beautiful canal and river barges. We toured northern and southern Burgundy, enjoying hospitality and graciousness at every barge that we visited. We were treated to a great dinner and breakfast, while being hosted by George and Susan aboard the Meanderer. We would like to offer a special thanks to Phil and Hannah, former owners of the Maria, for a wonderful birthday meal and celebration, and we wish them continued success with their new endeavor Congratulations!

Cruising aboard the Bonheur in BurgundyOn this trip we were happy to have met Paul and Annie Roberts, a charming young couple, and owners and operators of the lovely barge Bonheur. Bonheur is a 4-passenger First-Class barge, which offers a half board cruising experience. Guests will enjoy breakfasts, lunches and three dinners aboard the barge, as well as three meals ashore at local restaurants (taken at their own expense). The Bonheur is a lovely boat, with a spacious salon with comfortable sofas and a wood burning stove. The cabins are well appointed, with queen sized beds or two twins. We were very impressed with the love and care that the Roberts have put into their barge, and the charm and friendliness that they expressed at our meeting. We are pleased and excited to offer the Bonheur for charters up to four passengers.

Cruising aboard the Savoir Vivre in BurgundyAlso on our tour of Burgundy, we were fortunate to befriend James, the owner of the sprite new barge, the Savoir Vivre. This newly built barge is sleek, and mindful of contemporary style and comfort, with an attention to design and efficiency. the Savoir Vivre's cabins excel in comfort. Along with captain Francois and his partner June, who are operating the Savoir Vivre, we dined at La Ferme de Rolle, a very intriguing restaurant, in the highlands overlooking the Ouche valley. Popular with the locals, La Ferme de Rolle is a real treat, with its rustic charm and delicious fare, this restaurant is a true glimpse into the cuisine and character of life in Burgundy. La Ferme de Rolle is also one of the restaurants that passengers visit while on a cruise aboard the Savoir Vivre and their unique dining out itinerary.

Dinner and conversation aboard Le Phenicien in ProvenceFrom Burgundy, where we left a few clouds behind, we drove to Provence, and our sun soaked rendezvous with the Le Phenicien in Arles. Welcomed aboard by owner Bertrand, and his crew Michel, Nicola, and their super talented chef Thierrey, we joined a group of passengers cruising on the Rhone River. Le Phenicien can host up to 18 passengers and cruises between Avignon and Aigues Mortes on the Rhone River and the Canal du Rhone a Sete. The meals served aboard Le Phenicien are truly an epicurian delight.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Top barges in France: Ultra Deluxe ...

Top barges in France: Ultra Deluxe ...When all-out elegance and spaciousness is on your agenda, the ultra-deluxe barges in France will certainly deliver. These 12 hotel barges offer the largest cabin sizes along with top wines, cuisine, service and amenities. All can be chartered for a customized cruise week and many also offer individual cabin bookings:

  • 4-passenger ALOUETTE -- Canal du Midi (charter only).
  • 8-passenger AMARYLLIS -- Burgundy (charter only).
  • 8-passenger ENCHANTE -- Canal du Midi or Provence
  • 6-passenger FLEUR DE LYS -- Burgundy (charter only).
  • 8-passenger LA NOUVELLE ETOILE -- Holland, Belgium, Burgundy, Champagne, Alsace and Germany
  • 12-passenger NAPOLEON -- Burgundy and Provence
  • 8-passenger PROSPERITE -- Burgundy (charter only).
  • 8-passenger RENAISSANCE -- Upper Loire
  • 6-passenger ROI SOLEIL -- Canal du Midi and Provence (charter only).

Contact us to answer any questions you may have, or for individual consultation on your best choice for barge cruises in France and the rest of Europe.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Cuisine Aboard Barges: Chef Hazel Shares A Recipe For A Great Winter Warmer

Hazel Young, owner and chef of the barge, Aboard the barge Fandango: ingredients for French winter squash soup.Fandango, and author of the cookbook, "A Week On The Water", has suggested that we share a recipe of hers with our friends. Hazel writes,

"As I love 'terroir' regional cuisine and have a barge recipe book with dishes that are easy for passengers to recreate, I had the idea to send you a couple of snaps of what I'm making in my galley at this time of year, I also make this for the passengers in the Autumn and early Spring when one can buy French winter squash."

"You can not go out to a gourmet restaurant in Burgundy at this time of year without being served as the first dish, or 'amuse bouche', a variation of creamed French winter squash soup. Depending on how fancy the restaurant, the smaller the glass or bowl is!"

Aboard the barge Fandango: preparations for creating French winter squash soup Ingredients:
2 lbs Potimaron Squash, or Butternut Squash
2 Leeks
7 Cups Water
1 Bay Leaf
1 Tbls Vegetable Stock Paste
Several Cloves of Garlic (to taste)
Salt and Pepper (to taste)
2 Tbls Creme Fraiche
Olive Oil

My version of cooking this seasonal delicacy is a little more time consuming but really delicious as it brings out the full potential of sweetness in the vegetables. Perhaps in the U.S. you may find butternut squash more easily than this sweet 'chestnut' flavoured 'potimarron' squash. It looks like a small pumpkin and is common in France, although it is twice the price of ordinary pumpkin.

Slice the squash, and remove seeds (use a whole one if not exceeding 2lbs ) cut off the tough outer skin, which can be dangerous if using a sharp knife, or roast with the skin on and it will easily peel when cooked, my preferred method.

Put chunks in a roasting dish wtih several cloves of garlic, according to taste, and drizzle with olive oil. Bake in a medium heated oven for an hour until caramelized.

In a cast iron or soup pot, pour in one quarter of a cup of olive oil and over a very low heat, roast two well washed and thinly sliced leeks until caramelized , this will take at least 15 to twenty minutes but can be done while the squash is roasting.

Add the caramelized squash and garlic to the leeks, pour in 8 cups of water, add a tablespoon of dried vegetable stock, salt and pepper to season, a bay leaf and bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for twenty minutes.

Remove bay leaf, use electric hand held mixer if you have one, blend until smooth. Add three tablespoons of cream before serving or heat the cream separately and use as a decoration when the soup is served in bowls. If the soup has become too thick for your liking you can add milk or water, and of course adjust the salt and pepper."

We here at Special Places Travel thought it would be a great way to warm up after an east coast snow storm, so we gave Hazel's recipe a try. A very delicious, velvety smooth soup, with an earthy sweetness. The only thing missing was the the view of the Canal du Midi off the deck of the Fandango.

Thanks, Hazel!

Bowl of butternut squash soup, created from Hazel Young's recipe!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Enjoy A Cruise Aboard The Clair de Lune!

Enjoy the scenery of the Canal du Midi aboard the peniche hotel barge, Clair de Lune. Take a tour of the salon and cabins, and get a glimpse of some of the vineyards and medieval castles that await you along France's oldest canal.

For more information about the 6-passenger Clair de Lune, cruising on the Canal du Midi in the south of France, see: or contact us.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Here's What Clients Wrote About Their Cruise

Here are a few of the many comments we received from our passengers during the last cruise season:

8 passenger barge C'Est la Vie at a mooring in Burgundy.C'est la Vie was welcoming, top class, comfortable, excellent food, excellent wine, wonderful conversation with a personable, knowledgeable crew. Service was friendly, attentive, top class. Our meals and wines without question were the BEST.. wonderfully matched. Our excursions were well chosen ... with an incredible tour guide who spoke fluent French and had a photographic memory for detail.... again the BEST. We would do this again in a heart beat!

Thank you.

-- Vanessa H., Vermont. Aboard C'est la Vie August 2011

For more information about the 8-passenger C'EST LA VIE, cruising in Burgundy, see: or contact us.

Cruising aboard the Emma on the Canal du Midi in the south of FranceEmma is magnificent. Service could not have been better. Meals and wines were EXCELLENT. Emma was an extremely peaceful journey on a finely maintained canal. This ranks at the top of any of our 61 ship experiences, no hassles and plenty of "frills". The warmth of our hosts was a high point! Emma spoiled us for the next two weeks which we spent in a car travelling in Italy. The cruise is peaceful, and yet invigorating, complete enjoyment of God's creation, warm fellowship.
-- LaVerne and Blaine B., California. Aboard the Emma, September 2011

It was absolutely wonderful! Over the years, we have had some really fantastic trips, much more dramatic, etc. but never have we spent a more enjoyable week than this gentle 65-mile cruise with our friends and a crew that could not do enough for us. The scenery, the food, ah....
-- A&J V, aboard Emma, on Canal du Midi

For more information about the 6-passenger EMMA, cruising on the Canal du Midi in the south of France, see: or contact us.

Cruising aboard the Hirondelle in BurgundyThe barge trip was phenomenal. What we experienced was so much more than what we expected. The barge was impeccable, clean, well decorated, easy to move around in. The staff were fun, attentive and knowledgeable. The food could have come from a 5 star restaurant.
-- M&J D, aboard Hirondelle, in Burgundy

For more information about the 8-passenger HIRONDELLE, cruising in southern Burgundy and the Upper Loire region of France, see: or contact us.

Cruising aboard the Athos on the Canal du Midi in the south of FranceRanked in the top 3 of trips taken in Dick's (74-year) lifetime. Just a wonderfully memorable voyage. The accommodations on the barge were great, the crew was very attentive to our needs and the food was like dining in one of the finer French restaurants every night (thank you, Travis!). The cruise met or exceeded all expectations of what a barge cruise should be. This was our first barge cruise and we hope it won't be the last.

The service? Unbelievable. Much attention was given to meet our every need and you can't ask for or expect more than that on a vacation trip.

The meals and wines were better than any vacation we've ever been on. The crew described the wines before serving and Travis (the chef) described meal preparation, ingredients and what to expect at each meal. All in all, wine and meals were expected to be and were fantastic!

The excursions were very interesting and informative. Lydia's narratives were wonderful and she had a nice sense of humor to add to them. Thoroughly enjoyed all excursions and one of the reasons I selected this particular cruise (the cruise was a surprise to D. until the van pulled up to the Athos on 10/11) was the fact that Chrysler air-conditioned vans followed the barge which facilitated greatly our getting to the various sites for our excursions comfortably and efficiently. Carcassonne was a highlight of the excursion choices.

We liked the barge route very much. As we traveled in mid-Oct. it was important that we chose a cruise in the south of France. We had blue skies every day (no rain) and the only weather problem was a few days with wind that chilled the air unseasonably but that is a small disappointment. It was very interesting to see the lock operations and to see the barge cross a river on a bridge was really unusual and unexpected.

High points of the cruise? Food, scenery, wine, service, excursions - Carcassonne a particular highlight, and the stress-free nature of this cruise.
-- D.K. & D.P, aboard Athos, on Canal du Midi

For more information about the 10-passenger ATHOS, cruising on the Canal du Midi in the south of France, see: or contact us.

12-passenger Savoir Faire, cruising in Burgundy.
The service on Savoir Faire was excellent, the staff was very attentive to our needs. Most importantly, everyone was friendly and knowledgeable. We had amazing meals and wines!!! And don't forget the cheeses. The food was easily the best of all the cruises I have been on. We found our excursions very interesting and educational. A photographer's dream. The cruise route was exactly what we had asked for. We enjoyed ourselves very much. The barge, the food, the tours, the staff--everything was wonderful, thank you!
-- Linda R., Washington. Aboard Savoir Faire, May 2011

For more information about the 12-passenger SAVOIR FAIRE, cruising in Holland during the Spring Tulip Season and in France the rest of the year -- including Burgundy and the Champagne region -- see: or contact us.

6-passenger LE PAPILLON, about to enter a lock to allow passengers off for a bike ride during its cruise in Burgundy.We really enjoyed the barge route, everything was perfect. We loved just relaxing on the deck. I highly recommend this trip for anyone who would like to experience France in a slow relaxed way. You will enjoy the food and wine as well as see many of the smaller villages along the canal. The best week we have had in a very long time!
-- Bob and Lisa D., Texas. Aboard Papillon, September 2011

For more information about the 6-passenger LE PAPILLON, cruising in Burgundy, see: or contact us.

4-passenger Alegria, moored in a shady spot on the 300-year-old Canal du Midi in the south of France.Our cruise on Alegria was a trip of a lifetime. Olivier and the crew did everything possible to make it a memorable experience. We would recommend it to anyone. Everyday was an adventure! The barge, the cabins, it all more than met our expectations. Gladys was a fabulous cook!
-- Christine M., California. Aboard Alegria, October 2011

For more information about the 4-passenger ALEGRIA, cruising on the Canal du Midi in southern France, see: or contact us.