Alsace in the far north of France has spent a long and involved history being “swapped” between France and Germany – and as result, the culture and architecture are a fascinating mix. Some of France’s most beautiful towns and villages are in this region and the cruise route is particularly scenic, taking you away from the more frequented “touristy” areas. The cuisine is rich and varied and the cruises offer delicious wines from Alsace and nearby Burgundy. A stay in the city of Strasbourg with its colourful “Petite France” quarter is a highlight and the villages along the cruise route are particularly charming. And for the engineers, a “lift” on the Arzviller boat lift is a huge thrill! One of our favourite cruise regions and well worth a visit if you have “done” other parts of France!
This region in northern France boasts some of the richest French history and an ancient wine trade that has given rise to some of the best wines in the world. The Medieval Dukes of Burgundy left a wonderful legacy in the stunning architecture of their castles and palaces. There are many charming little villages, colourful markets and beautiful towns that made their fortune from the wine industry, such as Beaune and Dijon. If you are into wine, and the traditions and culture that grew in France as a result, this could be the region for you! The magnificent countryside is a highlight and there are unlimited opportunities for walking and riding along the towpath, which is not only a relaxing and peaceful way to see the scenery but also good for the waistline after all those beautiful meals!
The Canal du Midi is in the south of France and being so close to the Mediterranean means quite a different “feel” to that of the north of France – a warmer climate, bright sunshine, wonderful seafood and the countryside so beloved of the Impressionists. The Canal du Midi is a little busier that Burgundy’s more peaceful waterways, but also offers gorgeous little villages and sites long the route. The magical walled city of Carcassonne, one of France’s most famous historic sites, is on some of the cruise itineraries, along with the beautiful towns of Narbonne and Beziers. A different and delightful feature of the Canal is the route of “avenues” of plane trees that line the waterways – and there are plenty of beautiful stretches for walking and cycling!
Champagne has always been famous around the world for its wonderful sparkling wine, but it is also a fabulous region for cruising due to the magnificent countryside stretching all the way along the River Marne to the mecca of the Champagne industry, the city of Epernay. From the deck of your beautiful barge, either "Panache", or "La Nouvelle Etoile", you will enjoy a landscape of lush green vineyards stretching as far as the eye can see. The barge cruise itinerary in this gorgeous region, which Panache operates for a few weeks during June/July and La Nouvelle Etoile in July/August, includes the beautiful city of Reims with its stunning cathedral, visits to renowned Champagne houses, the American Cemetery at Belleau Wood, and enjoying delicious local produce such as Brie & Coulommiers cheese and Meaux mustards.
Gascony is in the south west of France and is the area closest to the famous wine making region of Bordeaux. Whilst the barge cruises do not actually cruise through Bordeaux, this is a sublime city to spend a few days in pre- and post-cruise. As is the stunning “pink city” of Toulouse! The cruise route itself is truly off the beaten track and encompasses lush forests, beautiful countryside, lovely villages, ancient abbeys, exciting cuisine and of course those wonderful Bordeaux wines! It’s the quintessential “La France Profonde”, as the French say – traditional agricultural France away from the tourist hordes!
This cruise through the Moselle region of Germany and into Luxembourg meanders through a valley surrounded by beautiful vineyards and fairy-tale castles, forests and half-timbered villages. You will love the visits to some of the most picturesque villages in the region and fabulous wine tastings in renowned cellars. Our Ultra-Deluxe barge "La Nouvelle Etoile" cruises through this region for the last five weeks of the season in September and October - perfect timing for the red-gold hues of the grape harvest.
We love "Magna Carta" on the River Thames in England, which cruises through beautiful English countryside from Hampton Court to Henley, passing stunning riverside mansions with exquisite gardens and pristine lawns sloping down to the river, and famous Windsor Castle. There are great walking and cycling opportunities, taking in the wildlife and birdlife along the route; and visits to traditional boat builders, art galleries and the "real" Downton Abbey, Highclere Castle, are just a few of the many highlights. A brilliant addition to a few days in London, this cruise offers an relaxing and unrivalled view of rural England from the deck of this luxurious barge.
Holland in Springtime is a glorious riot of colour, with the bulb fields in full bloom, the world-renowned Keukenhof Gardens at their magnificent best, and the amazing atmosphere of the world’s largest flower auction. These are the highlights of our Spring cruises on board "Panache" and "La Nouvelle Etoile", and bucket list items for keen horticulturalists, but in addition you will cruise past the traditional windmills and architecture of coastal Holland, be tempted by the beautiful pottery and art in Haarlem and Delft, and enjoy the picturesque harbour town of Enkhuizen. Stunning! Amsterdam is not far away, so a few days in the Dutch capital, combined with this superb cruise, is a fabulous way to experience the best of the Netherlands!
From the moment you are met in Dublin by the crew of the "Shannon Princess", you will be taken on a magical journey though lush green landscapes, fascinating folklore and traditional Irish customs and music that will leave you with indelible memories of this wonderful, warm and friendly country. Shannon Princess's chef is one of the best in the business and the fabulous food served on board is a highlight; don't forget to also try the excellent Irish Whiskey! Among many highlights along the Shannon River, you will visit the most haunted castle in Ireland, the colourful and vibrant city of Galway, enjoy sunset cruises and lovely lakeside villages, not to mention a pint or two in traditional Irish pubs. This cruise encompasses some of the most beautiful landscapes of the "Emerald Isle"!
Imagine boarding your river boat "La Bella Vita" in magnificent Venice and then cruising past the islands of the spectacular Venice lagoon to join the River Po, beginning a week long journey through the diverse landscapes, colourful villages and abundant bird and wildlife of northern Italy. As you cruise you will discover the architecture and romance of the region's captivating Roman, Etruscan and Byzantine history, as well as the Renaissance jewel that is the city of Mantua. Delicious seafood, Italian delicacies and fine wines are made even more enjoyable due to the exceptional service offered by the crew. This is a memorable cruise starting in one of the most magnificent cities in Italy and ending in a region that offers secret gems and unique experiences!
Our Loire Valley cruises operate in both the Upper River Loire, bordering western Burgundy, and the legendary Loire Valley with its famous chateaux and ancient villages. The River Cher has carried cargo and passengers for over 2000 years, and in Renaissance times the kings of France made the Valley their playground, building some of the most magnificent castles in the world along the Rivers Cher and Loire. It's very hard to choose between this itinerary, which encompasses the spectacular Chateaux of Chenonceau, Villandry, Valencay and Amboise; and that of the Upper Loire/Western Burgundy where you will experience highlights such as the famous Chateau de Fontainebleau, Gustave Eiffel's amazing Briare aqueduct across the River Loire, and villages that inspired the Impressionist painters. The lush pastures of the Loire region produce superb wines and fabulous local cuisine which you will enjoy on board, no matter which cruise you choose, while being pampered by the exceptional service of our wonderful crews.
The magnificent Scottish Highlands, with its spectacular scenery and mystical, magical atmosphere, are home to our two barges Spirit of Scotland and Scottish Highlander. Cruising between Fort William and Inverness, you will sail through the Great Glen on Loch Ness, Loch Oich and Loch Lochy, absorbing some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. Highlights include the cute village of Fort Augustus, tastings at whisky distilleries, the famous battlefield site of Culloden Moor, and iconic Eilean Donan and Urquhart Castles. The local cuisine served on board both barges is exceptional and you can choose from a wide range of fabulous whiskies; in fact we can offer a special Whisky Cruise itinerary! Scottish Highlander is an 8-passenger First Class barge that offers the atmosphere of a Scottish Country House, with tartan furnishings and landscape paintings, while Spirit of Scotland is a bigger 12-passenger Deluxe barge with a large viewing deck, reminiscent of the traditional steamers that plied the Scottish lochs in the 19th & 20th centuries. Have a look at both and try and choose between two extraordinarily memorable cruise itineraries!