Sunday – moored at Montargis
You are transferred by air-conditioned minivan from your meet up hotel in Paris and driven directly to your barge, moored in the center of Montargis, otherwise affectionately named the “Venice of the Gatinais” due to its 131 flower laden bridges that cross over the canals in town. After joining your captain and crew for our welcoming Champagne Reception, we shall start our cruise upwards through the flight of locks that pass through the center of town. A perfect moment to enjoy an aperitif or two, as we take a gentle evening cruise along the canal. Tonight your master chef will delight you with the first of many delicious meals. Welcome Dinner is onboard.
Monday – Montargis to Montbuoy
This morning we begin our leisurely cruise through what can only be described as idyllic French countryside. Villages cling to the canal banks as though they have risen from the earth itself. Our afternoon excursion is to the Chateau Guedelon, where we have a unique opportunity to witness the different stages of a Medieval castle’s construction. Using the same techniques and materials as in the Middle Ages, a team of 50 dedicated people started this monumental task in 1997 with a vision to finishing by 2022. Dinner is onboard.
Tuesday – Montbuoy to Rogny-les-Sept-Ecluses
After breakfast, we start our cruise surrounded by pastures and woodland. Birdsong serenades in the day and half sleepy Charolais cattle gaze nonchalantly as we quietly drift by. After lunch you tour guide offers you a choice of one of two excursions. One is to the impressive Chateau de Fontainebleau, steeped in French history and architecturally influenced by every French royal family when in residence. (This excursion is a 1hr 15 minutes drive each way). The second option is to the romantic 12th century Chateau de la Bussiere. (This excursion is a 15 minutes drive each way). Originally built as a fortress, it now houses an extensive collection of art illustrating the theme of fishing. Outside we find expansive vegetable and flower gardens nurtured by the resident Countess. Back onboard enjoy cocktails and canapés before a truly sumptuous dinner.
Wednesday – Rogny-les-Sept-Ecluses to Ouzouer sur Trezee
This morning we cruise past an impressive flight of locks, after which the town is named. This feat of engineering was built in 1648 on the Briare Canal to connect the Loire and the Seine. However, today they have been replaced with a more recent flight, which we gently ascend. After lunch we drive to the town of Gien, famous for its exquisite French tableware and pottery. Your tour guide accompanies you to the Gien factory, where you can observe artists painting the beautiful patterns that make this tableware so sought after. We have time to shop before a stroll around this authentic French town. Back onboard cocktails and dinner await you.
Thursday – Ouzouer sur Trezee to Beaulieu sur Loire
This morning we cruise across the River Loire via the much photographed and acclaimed Pont Canal de Briare. Constructed between 1890 and 1896, this metal canal bridge spans the Loire in a giant stride to connect the Canal Latéral à la Loire with the Canal de Briare. Bordered by 72 lamp posts and magnificent pillars adorned with coats of arms at either end, the bridge encapsulates the aptitude of man’s skill with iron and stone without sacrificing aesthetics. After lunch we visit the 17th century Renaissance Chateau of Saint Fargeau. This extraordinary chateau was originally constructed in 1453 and demolished in the 17th century after a great fire. Since being rebuilt it has undergone many additions and restorations over the centuries and now boasts 6 towers and the shape of a pentagon. Back onboard to enjoy cocktails and canapés before another delicious dinner.
Friday – Beaulieu sur Loire to Sancerre
After a leisurely breakfast we set off on our cruise to the home of one of the most well known white wine labels in the world – Sancerre. A gentle stroll or bike ride along the towpath, as your barge drifts gently by, sets off the morning for what promises to be a memorable day. This afternoon we visit the medieval town of Sancerre, once a fortress perched high above the vineyards of the Loire. We’ve arranged a private wine tasting to sample some of the local fare and to learn about the finer points of this wonderful wine. We return later to the barge to prepare for our Captain’s Dinner. Sparkle and decoration adorn the table alongside of laughter, great cuisine and many a good sea dog tale! What a great conclusion to a great cruise!
Saturday – (Departure 9.30am)
After a hearty breakfast, our chauffeurs will drive you to your hotel or airport in Paris. Arrival usually around 12.30pm
Please note: this is a sample itinerary which may be subject to change depending on local conditions.