Spotlight on Finesse: Modern Luxury and French Charm

Spotlight on Finesse: Modern Luxury and French Charm

If you love modern comfort and the attraction of rural French landscapes, then a cruise aboard the 8-passenger hotel barge Finesse is perfect for you. Cruising along the meandering waterways of Southern Burgundy, the barge travels past vineyards, châteaux and charming canalside villages. With opportunities to discover beautiful towns like Autun, Beaune, and Dijon, you’ll fall in love with the wine, the landscapes, and the cuisine when you travel on the Ultra-Deluxe Finesse.

A Short History of Finesse

Originally built in Northern France in 1950, Finesse was first christened ‘Nivea’. She was constructed at the Louis-Mory shipyard and initially carried cargo, but her life was transformed when she was purchased by the Chéron family. Then, in the 1960s, she enjoyed life as a private vessel, navigating the inland waterways of northern Europe under the name, ‘Chilosa’.

After the last member of the Chéron family passed away, Finesse was purchased and transformed into the luxury hotel barge you can experience today. Chilosa was renamed Finesse and in 2015, rebuilt to new designs at the Meuse and Sambre Shipyard in Namur, Belgium. Since 2016, Finesse has formed part of the European Waterways fleet.

Chilosa Barge

Hotel Barge Finesse Today

Painted in the iconic European Waterways blue livery, it’s easy to single out hotel barge Finesse cruising along the Canal du Centre. With the capacity for eight passengers, she’s an elegant ultra-deluxe barge with two decks – cabins on the lower deck and saloon and sun deck above. Designed to be modern, spacious, and comfortable inside, her communal areas include a saloon with stunning contemporary furnishings. Lined with panoramic windows on either side, no matter the weather, you’ll be able to enjoy the passing scenery of rural France and make the most of the bright, natural light on summer days.

Finesse is the perfect balance between social and private barge. Fitted with four luxury double bedroom cabins, each room can be arranged with either double or twin beds. The suites have their own en suite bathrooms with walk in showers and double basins, and comprise approximately 265 square feet of floor space each – that’s enough for two large suitcases and two people doing the tango! You’ll see that there’s no such thing as ‘cabin fever’ aboard hotel barge Finesse!

Finesse saloon
Finesse Suite

Out on the sun deck you’ll find reclining loungers and a spa pool to sink into with a refreshing drink. You may also choose to enjoy a glass beneath the stars with your fellow passengers, or take your dinner al-fresco on a balmy summers evening . In the daytime, feel the fresh breeze on your skin as Finesse glides gently along the canal past vineyards and waterside meadows.

With five crew members on hand to attend to your every need, you’ll never have to worry about having an empty glass. What’s more, Finesse’s wheelhouse observation area allows guests to sit behind the captain, spectating with a glass of wine in hand. Watch as your captain expertly navigates the locks and bridges and answers all your burning questions about the barge. Maybe you’ll even learn how your captain came to life on the canals!

A unique feature of Finesse is the demonstration galley, where you can watch your accomplished chef preparing gourmet meals. What could be better than watching someone cook you up exquisite gourmet dishes and learning their techniques? Getting to eat the food afterwards, of course!

Enjoying the spa pool on hotel barge Finesse
Enjoying the spa pool on hotel barge Finesse
spa pool

Finesse on the Map - Cruise Region & Waterway

Imagine floating down a picturesque waterway in rural France, looking out grand cru vineyards and rolling hills on every side of your barge. Popular with wine lovers from all over the world, Burgundy is a sanctuary for vineyards, nature, and gourmet food. With its interlocking maze of wine estates covering the landscape, Burgundy will immerse you in its pleasant scenery and people.

Stepping aboard Finesse, you’ll experience the most tranquil of Burgundy’s canals. Cruising the Canal du Centre, you’ll start your journey approximately four hours south of Paris. Winding across Central France, Finesse follows the Canal du Centre from the Côte Chalonnaise, through the historic Côte de Beaune to the Côte d’Or and eventually joins the River Saone near Chalon. Idyllic and calming, this peaceful waterway is the perfect way to experience Burgundy.

Finesse barge canal du centre drone

A six-night luxury hotel barge cruise gives you the opportunity to slow-travel through this beautiful region and take in all the best bits. At only 73 miles long, the Canal du Centre is one of the shortest canals in Burgundy, having a total of just 61 locks along its course. Descend through the Dheune valley and enjoy the advantage of stepping onto the towpath at any point of the journey. Originally created for barge horses, these peaceful paths are now a haven for nature. Borrow a bike from Finesse or walk alongside the barge on foot to fully admire the scenery without the hum of traffic.

Stopping to moor overnight in six different locations along the waterways, you’ll have an opportunity to see off-the-beaten-track locations and visit historical places. However, you won’t need to worry about unpacking and re-packing every day as your floating hotel and its accompanying minibus will take you everywhere you need to go! Take a trip to the beautiful town of Beaune, experience the Roman city of Autun, and see the home of the masters of Burgundy wine, the Chevaliers du Tastevin at Clos de Vougeot. All this and mooring at Remigny, Chalon-sur-Saône and passing by Château de Germolles, to see its treasures.

Itinerary highlights

As your barge cruises gently along the canal for only half of the day, there’s plenty of time to explore the surrounding area on daily excursions! Be chauffeured over a short distance to your destinations in an air-conditioned van to enjoy your daily dose of culture and visit historic places like Château de Germolles, Autun and the Hôtel-Dieu Hospice de Beaune.

Enjoy medieval splendour at the residence of the Dukes of Burgundy, the Château de Germolles. Touring the chateau will reveal fourteenth century masterpieces that include wall paintings, ornate furniture and a decadently decorated ducal chapel. Take a turn in the exquisitely laid out romantic gardens afterwards, before heading back to the barge to relax.

More medieval mastery is revealed on a visit to the town of Beaune. Visitors can explore the centre and gain access to the stunning Hôtel-Dieu Hospice, which was formerly used to care for the poor of the region until as recently as the twentieth century. With its original brightly coloured roof tiles and half-timbered windows, the beautiful architecture surrounds a central courtyard where you can take photographs and admire the exterior. With its nineteenth century sick beds still lining the main hall, visitors will get a real feel for what the hospice was like in times gone by.

Château du Clos de Vougeot
Clos de Vougeot produces high-quality wines, which are highly sought after around the world © Serge Chapuis

If you prefer the history of ancient civilisations than you’ll revel in the splendour of the Roman era when you visit Autun. See its ancient gates, an ancient Roman temple, and a huge amphitheatre.

We couldn’t take you on a barge cruise to Burgundy without revealing some of the region’s best vineyards and châteaux. Take lunch inside a gigantic wine vat at Maison Champy and enjoy a private tour of the wine cellars with a sommelier. Also on the itinerary is a stop at Clos de Vougeot, home of the prestigious winemakers fraternity known as the ‘Chevaliers du Tastevin’. When your time on Finesse is up, you’ll feel like an expert in the finest grand crus of the region!

Roman Gates in Autun
Roman Gates in Autun

Media Reviews

Don’t just take our word for it; our guests love to travel aboard hotel barge Finesse, too! In 2023, travel bloggers Justin and Lauren experienced the ultra-deluxe elegance of Finesse. For Lauren, the best parts of the trip were floating down the canals of Burgundy, passing quaint villages and indulging in delicious dishes.

Lauren spoke highly of the half-days of barge cruising and the time spent onboard, sitting in the saloon, with its panoramic views, saying:

You can watch the world pass by from the dining area or the comfortable couches and chairs. This is the perfect place to enjoy conversation or stay cozy reading a book while sipping a coffee, tea or cocktail!

Justin and Lauren also enjoyed the countryside that Burgundy had to offer and took some stunning photographs of their trip.

We admired beautiful fields of yellow canola flowers in bloom during our cruise in mid-April. There’s no shortage of picturesque villages or the occasional grouping of cute farm animals, too.

Lauren described the bed like “sleeping on a cloud” and was complimentary of the spacious cabin, with all its many amenities! She was impressed by the finishing touches, including the tiny bowl of mints on the dresser and the chocolate on her pillow, not forgetting the merchandise she and Justin received, which included a European Waterways reusable water bottle, baseball cap and tote bag.

The kitchen and chef’s galley was open to the saloon and Lauren said she enjoyed watching chef Gio cook.

One day for lunch, Gio was making fresh ravioli and invited me to give it a try. It was really fun and special to have my own mini cooking class right on board!

Finesse Chef

She said that meals were four courses, with starters, a main, a cheese course and a dessert. The crew were always on hand to pour red or white wines – whichever guests prefer! Lauren commented that cocktails and appetisers were never in short supply after morning or afternoon excursions, to make sure guests were never hungry or in need of a drink.

Sometimes experiencing a limited menu because she’s vegan, Lauren was complimentary about the food she ate onboard Finesse, saying that:

Chef Gio put so much dedication, skill and heart into our breakfast, lunch, and dinner… Gio created artful and delightful plant-based dishes that often mirrored what the other guests were receiving. I loved how much thought was put into each meal. I was able to taste the specialties of the region with a vegan twist.

The 17,000 seat Roman Ampitheatre in Autun made an impact on Lauren and she also enjoyed having free time to explore the towpaths by bike. Another highlight of her trip was dining inside an enormous wine vat at Maison Champy! She wrote:

After a private tour of the cellars and a wine tasting, we were surprised with a unique dining experience in a one-of-a-kind venue, a historic wooden wine vat (also known as a ‘cuve’).

Maison Champy restaurant in converted wine vat
Maison Champy

After enjoying excursions throughout the week to the pretty little towns of Chalon-sur-Saône and historic Beaune, Justin and Lauren were surprised by a performance on their final night on Finesse. She wrote:

We were treated to a surprise – a quartet came on board to serenade us with some traditional and modern tunes… we dined with the Captain and chatted about our wonderful week on this Burgundy barge cruise.

Lauren and Justin have now barged with European Waterways a total of three times! Many of our guests return for more hotel barging experiences in different regions and try out other Europeans Waterways barges. If you’d like to read Lauren’s full guide to barging on Finesse then head over to her blog for another perspective.

Finesse is Perfect for:


Cruise through the famous Burgundy vineyards and experience dozens of hectares of vines stretching as far as the eye can see throughout the Côte de Beaune. You’ll have opportunities to try different wines from the region aboard hotel barge Finesse and to travel to locations that are on any oenophile’s list of must-visit wine-centric destinations. From a stop at Maison Champy, the oldest winemakers in Burgundy, to a delightful tasting and tour of the 80-hectare estate at Domaine Chanzy. Even whilst you rest on board, the barge will cruise through famous wine villages like Santenay where you can almost touch the vines as you drift by. For wine lovers, a Wine Appreciation Cruise aboard hotel barge Finesse will allow you to see, taste and experience all the many flavours of the finest Côte d‘Or vintages.


It may not be the first activity on your list when you think of a hotel barge cruise through the countryside of Burgundy, but a Golf Cruise is extremely rewarding for devotees of the game. Finesse can arrange rounds at several challenging golf courses on the tour. Depending on the direction of your cruise, our first stop is the Chailly golf course, which was designed by French golfing champion, Géry Watine. Mid-week we stop at Golf de Beaune Levernois with its 9 lakes, white sand bunkers and forested areas and lastly, there’s a round at the Golf Blue Green Quetigny Grand Dijon next to the River Mirande. With plenty of opportunities to taste the wines of Burgundy when you’re not on the golf course, the Golf Cruise is an excellent way to while away your time.


If you’d love to charter a barge for the whole family, then Finesse is available with a flexible, family-friendly itinerary. Our barge chef can cater to your every need if your children are particular about meals and are crew will ensure that they’re entertained with bike rides and tailored experiences. Perhaps your youngest wants to captain a boat when they grow up? Well, from the safety of Finesse on the calm Canal du Centre, they can try their hand under the watchful eye of the crew. Pick from activities such as Diverti’Parc, which has a petting zoo, maze and play area. Summer cruisers will have a chance to go to the lakeside beaches of Beaune and see the Aquaparc at Dole. With go-karting, zip-lining and hot air ballooning all available too, you’ll see the Burgundy countryside from a completely different perspective on a family cruise aboard Finesse.

Finesse - Cruising on the Canal du Centre

Ready to Cruise Aboard Finesse

If you’re looking for the ultimate luxury barge cruise experience in the picturesque countryside of Southern Burgundy, the 8-passenger hotel barge Finesse is the perfect choice. With its modern comfort and elegant design, Finesse offers a unique way to explore the region’s vineyards, châteaux, and cultural landmarks. From the spacious cabins to the gourmet meals prepared by the talented chef, every aspect of the Finesse cruise is designed to delight and pamper guests. Don’t miss the chance to relax on the sun deck, take in the stunning views, and indulge in the finest wines of Burgundy. Book your trip on the Finesse today and experience the beauty and luxury of a French barge cruise like never before.


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