Following a successful return to the Upper Loire Valley in 2011, French Country Waterways’ luxury eight-passenger Princess is returning to the same route again in 2012.
The well-appointed barge, formerly the private barge of shipping magnate Daniel K. Ludwig, sails between Châtillon-sur-Loire and Montargis every Sunday from April 1 through Oct. 28. Highlights of the sailing include a private cellar tour and wine tasting in the charming village of Sancerre; dinner ashore at the Michelin-starred Auberge des Templiers in les Bezards; a visit to the medieval town of Gien, a leading center for French faience; and a day trip - including lunch - to the magnificent Chateau de Chambord, the largest of the Loire Valley chateaux. Guests are escorted via private motorcoach to and from Paris. Prices for the weekly Sunday departures, April through October, range from $5,495 to $6,695 per person, double.
The Princess accommodates up to eight guests in four suites, each with king-size beds, and is outfitted with a number of areas to dine and relax: a salon with large picture windows and a well-stocked bar, a formal dining room, a library, a powder room and a canopied sundeck for unwinding or enjoying al fresco meals. The six-night luxury sailings delve into French culture both on board and ashore with a bevy of upscale amenities that are standard on all of the French Country Waterways cruises: attentive service from a crew fluent in English and French, daily sightseeing excursions and private wine tastings, time to relax on the sundeck and walk or bicycle along canal towpaths and the option of hot-air ballooning.
All breakfasts, lunches and dinners are included, each a true French experience: pastries and breads, bought locally each morning, and freshly squeezed juices for breakfast; innovative cuisine prepared by talented chefs, who use fresh, seasonal ingredients to create classic French fare; and, of course, the Michelin-starred meal at Auberge des Templiers in les Bezards. Additionally, lunch and dinner are accompanied by a selection of Grand Cru and Premier Cru wines, chosen from a pre-season tasting of nearly 200 bottles, and three new cheeses at each meal, ranging from popular French varieties to small, locally-sourced cheeses.