New and Enhanced Wine Tours Get Travelers Into the Spirit of Luxury Hotel Barge Cruising With European Waterways
When it comes to wine, few countries can compete in quality and popularity with the wines of France. Guests on European Waterways’ luxury hotel barge cruises quickly discover why.
Every cruise includes at least one excursion to some of the most prestigious vineyards in the world, while every gastronomic meal aboard the hotel barges is paired with carefully selected local vintages. For guests, the excursions are always a top highlight in itineraries already filled with guided tours that reveal the cultural, historical, and culinary traditions of the regions.
“In France, it’s not only about enjoying wine with every meal, but also about sharing the moment at the table with the people around you,” noted Derek Banks, managing director of European Waterways. “We’re continuously enhancing our wine excursions because they are one of the best ways for our guests to understand the ‘spirit’ of the French people and their passion for the grape.”
A Fine Romance
European Waterways’ ultra-deluxe eight-passenger luxury hotel barge Finesse is one of the company’s most contemporary in style and most spacious vessels. Cruising the River Saône and Canal du Centre in Southern Burgundy, it features panoramic windows, a large sun deck that’s perfect for alfresco dining, and a spa pool. It also offers a demonstration galley where guests can watch the master chef prepare their daily gourmet meals.
The Finesse features two wine excursions during its six-night cruise. Its newest excursion is also to one of Burgundy’s oldest wine companies, Maison Champy, which was established more three centuries ago. Guests drive through the UNESCO-listed Cote de Beaune vineyards to the namesake town itself, the capital of Burgundy’s wine country. Maison Champy is known for its award-winning wines, with its Grand Crus among its most prestigious. Guests enjoy a private tour of its cellars and learn from an expert about the production of the region’s finest Premier and Grand Cru wines. Afterward, they indulge in a private lunch in the winery’s most unique room – a huge wooden wine vat or “cuve” that has been converted for dining.
The Finesse also features a tour and private tasting at the Domaine Chanzy. Founded nearly a century ago, it is one of Burgundy’s largest wine estates with 80 hectares of wine growing over three hillsides.
Reviving the Spirit
The spacious eight-passenger hotel barge Renaissance cruises the Canal de Briare, France’s oldest canal. It connects the valleys of the Seine and the Loire as it weaves through a landscape of elegant chateaux, picturesque villages and vineyards. It also crosses the River Loire on the longest steel canal aqueduct in France, built by Gustave Eiffel. New for 2022 is a wine excursion to the Domaine de la Perrière in Sancerre, which includes a tasting of its best vintages. It also includes a private tour of its impressive underground cellars, which are set in huge natural caves estimated to have been formed some 200 million years ago.
One of the first to join European Waterways’ extensive fleet, the eight-passenger hotel barge Anjodi has been cruising the Canal du Midi for more than 35 years. Its new wine excursion takes guest to the Château Pech-Celeyran to enjoy a Languedoc wine tasting and a tour of its 145-hectare plot. The vineyard has been owned by the Saint-Exupéry family for five generations, during which time they have earned a reputation for producing an exceptional variety of vintages. Other highlights include cruising through the world’s oldest canal tunnel at Malpas and a tour of Carcassonne – the most complete medieval fortified city in existence.
Living the Life
Cruising the Canal du Nivernais in Burgundy, European Waterways’ eight-passenger L’Art de Vivre is one of the company’s oldest barges, whose “life” began as a supply barge to Allied troops in World War One. Today it is a luxurious “floating boutique hotel” with wood and brass trimmings and all the modern conveniences. Guests visit the renowned village of Chablis and enjoy a private wine tasting at the prestigious Domain Laroche. This is followed by a tour of the 1000-year-old Obediencerie, where the wines are aged. Once part of the monastery of St. Martin, this is the site where the monks developed the craft of winemaking in the Middle Ages. Lunch is served by a private chef in the Domaine’s dining hall.
“Wine excursions are a highlight of our European Waterways hotel barge cruises, and we are always working to ensure they are of the highest quality,” said Banks. “They are essential parts of the luxury hotel barging experience that reveal the spirit, passions and traditions of the cruise region.”