French Country Waterways has announced special pricing on two of its popular itineraries – the Upper Loire Valley and Central Burgundy. The six-night, October 9 and 23, 2011 sailings are priced at $4,547 and $4,687 (suites) per person, double, aboard the eight-passenger deluxe barge Princess, and $3,847 on the 12-passenger, all-suite Horizon II, respectively. This amounts to savings of 40% off the Horizon II’s regular season fare of $6,495 when combining the 30% special with the $1,000 per person seasonal discount, and 30% off Princess’s fares of $6,495/$6,695. Other October special savings dates are also available.
Formerly the private barge of shipping magnate Daniel K. Ludwig, the eight-passenger Princess has returned to the water in 2011 with an itinerary in the Upper Loire Valley, where a network of canals link Paris to the fertile Loire River. Highlights on 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.
The eight-passenger Horizon II explores picturesque Central Burgundy as it cruises the Canal de Bourgogne on the route between Tanlay and Veneray-les-Laumes. Guests visit Auxerre’s St. Etienne Cathedral and historic quarter; the Abbaye de Fontenay, one of the best-preserved Cistercian monasteries; and the splendid Renaissance château of Ancy-le-Franc; as well as enjoy a private wine tasting in the vineyards of Chablis. At the Forges de Buffon, founded by 18th-century naturalist Georges-Louis de Buffon, the guests enjoy a tour before sharing a glass of wine with the current owner, with dinner at the Michelin-starred Le Relais Bernard Loiseau offering a special ending to the day.
The very attentive and friendly crew, numbering one crewmember to 2 passengers, are fluent in English and French and happily pass on their extensive knowledge of the wines, cheeses and history of the regions. Signature characteristics of the cruises are a dinner at a Michelin-starred restaurant; creative cuisine prepared by talented young chefs, who blend classic cooking techniques with the trend to lighter cuisine; four-course candlelit dinners accompanied by Grand Cru and Premier Cru wines; daily sightseeing excursions to nearby medieval towns and churches, châteaux and famous vineyards; time for relaxing on the sun deck, walking or bicycling along canal towpaths and shopping in nearby villages; escorted, private roundtrip transfers between Paris and the barge; and no smoking inside the barges and coaches. Hot-air ballooning is an option.