Luxury train and cruise operator, Orient-Express is launching two brand new and exclusive six-night cruises in 2012 for art enthusiasts and wine lovers aboard its Afloat in France fleet of luxury barges. These new cruises, offered alongside the existing schedule, will give guests an added insight into the world of French art and wine. The barges offer the most luxurious way to travel and completely immerse in the local culture along each varied route. Whether guests wish to add to their existing knowledge or start from scratch, these new tours will cater for everyone.
There are two different art tours being launched and will be held on two of the fleet, Napoléon and Fleur de Lys, with the esteemed painter, David Napp. David will guide guests through various painting techniques using the many beautiful landscapes such as the Rhône Vallée and the town of Beaune as inspiration.
During the Artistic Impressions Week aboard Fleur de Lys departing on the 20th May, guests will cruise along the Burgundy Canal towards Dijon taking in the picturesque sites of Château de Pommard and the city of Beaune, which is the capital of the Burgundy wine region and home to its many of ‘Les Grand Crus’ vineyards; all stunning locations to create a wonderful Burgundy scene on canvas. Prices start from £4,850 per person based on sharing a double cabin for up to six guests.
The Picture Perfect Week aboard Napoléon, for up to twelve guests, will depart Tain in the Rhône Vallée and head towards Arles in the region of Provence. Highlights of the trip include the Lock of Bollene, one of the largest drops in Europe, a visit to Châteauneuf du Pape and time to discover Arles. Van Gogh painted his famous ‘Starry Night’ in this picturesque town and David will encourage guests to create their own masterpiece in the same spot. The journey will depart St Leger on 29th July and prices cost from £3,800 per person based on sharing a double cabin.
Also new for 2012 and aboard Napoléon, departing on 1st and 8th July, is the Wine Discovery cruise will take guests on an insightful journey to the magnificent vineyards situated between Tain L’Hermitage and Chalon-sur-Saône in the Rhône Vallée. Those with a love of great wine will be introduced in depth to the variations of this region, the home to Côtes du Rhône, Beaujolais and Pouilly Fuisse, to name a few. Whilst onboard and admiring the incredible views en route, guests will be joined by local wine experts who will work with the chef and pair fine wines to the gourmet delicacies. On the final evening, there will be an exclusive visit to the Drouhun-Laroze estate in Gevery Chambertin where a traditional Burgundy feast will be prepared and served in the family cellar, following a private tour and introduction to the wines. Prices start from £3, 880 per person based on two sharing a cabin.
Back by popular demand, and for the third year, La Semaine Des Grands Crus is an unmissable opportunity for wine lovers to taste the 33 Grand Crus of Burgundy. This special trip is hosted on board the Amaryllis barge, which sleeps up to eight people, and departs from St Léger on 15th July and costs £5,800 per person.
The French waterways are home to all five of the Afloat in France fleet, Fleur de Lys, Amaryllis, Hirondelle, Alouette and Napoléon, offering a unique and tranquil cruise experience into the heart of rural France including Burgundy, Provence, the Rhône Vallée and Languedoc-Roussillon. Each barge accommodates between four and twelve passengers and itineraries are usually six nights, on a fully inclusive basis with a complete crew including a chef, hostess, captain and tour guide.
Each barge is individual in design and lavishly appointed making them the most luxurious fleet on the French waterways. Napoléon is the largest in the fleet and sleeps up to 12 guests, it boasts a large top deck with a Jacuzzi and Fleur de Lys accommodates up to six guests and along with Amaryllis, are the only two barges in French inland waterways to offer a heated outdoor pool.
Each of the Afloat in France fleet can be hired on a private charter basis, Napoléon and Hirondelle are also available on a per cabin basis. Prices start from £13,700 for a six night charter for two people all inclusive, also including private transfers by car from Paris to the boat.