Born and raised in Paris and now living in Western Burgundy, captain Hadrien Famy from our flagship Renaissance shares stories from his years cruising the River Loire.
Meet Renaissance Captain, Hadrien Famy
How long have you worked for EW?
I started to work for EW in 2013 as a Deckhand on hotel barge, L’Impressioniste
Is it how you expected it to be?
I was expecting it to be physically demanding, requiring a lot of care for the boat itself and of course our passengers. Knowing that it was a brand-new environment for me, I was absorbing the most I could every day. It became a really enriching experience!
What was your very first job?
My first job was in international trade business
What inspired you to become a barge captain?
It’s actually ‘who’ in this case! Without a doubt, it was my first Captain with EW, Rudy. He was the first one that gave me the wheel, and he trained me to become a future captain. I think he saw in me my enthusiasm and dedication to keep learning, and get the most out of this new experience. I saw in him all the qualities that being a Captain required:
- Professionalism by getting the best out of each crew member in order to make the best holidays possible for our guests
- Adaptation skills: to change the itinerary, for example, or requests of our guests, social bonding with crew etc…
- The qualities of a Captain goes on and we even discover new ones season after season!
How did you get started in this line of work?
In 2011, I returned to France after spending two years in Australia with my partner Hannah (Chef on Renaissance). I didn’t really want to return to my previous industry, and my experiences in Australia made me realise I wanted to discover a new path with my partner. Hannah applied for a barge job offer when we returned to Europe, and I hadn’t realised the sheer number of hotel barges cruising along the French waterways! This certainly sparked a new passion for me – and the rest, they say, was history…
What are you most proud of about working for EW?
It makes me proud to work for a company that has been going for over 45 years, and that they hold on to their family spirit
5 daily tasks / duties?
- Getting the barge ready in the morning, making sure she looks her best – with nature surrounding, and guests slowly waking to the smell of freshly-baked pastries
- I used to be a Tour Guide for EW, so taking the guests on excursions by sharing my knowledge, and spending time with them on outings, helps get to know them better
- Creating our daily schedules with the crew, in order to make sure everything runs as smooth as possible onboard
- Piloting Renaissance through the narrow Briare Aqueduct with the Loire River below
- Anticipating guests’ needs, and surprising them constantly throughout the week is a great achievement
What do you like about being Captain?
What I really like is the time I get to spend with guests and the effort I will always make to help them fully discover this lovely country the way they deserve: local experiences, traditional games, hidden places of interests and my passion for wine!
Being able to switch from ‘work mode’ to ‘home mode’, especially because I work with my partner. But more than this, as crew we all live together for a full season. We don’t go home at the end of a working day, so this constant challenge of making a team work efficiently together and making sure they can all live together is a joy. My first Captain, Rudy, always told me that one of the Captain’s biggest achievement is to keep his crew for a full season. Now that I have done it after 6 years as a Captain I can confirm that is one the hardest achievement to fulfil
Favourite region to cruise in?
I would pick the Loire, but not just because I work there, I now live there too. Even if it is not as popular as Burgundy can be, it is definitely one of the regions in France that still has those untouched places where nature rules.
We cruise next to the Loire River which is the wildest river in Europe, with more than 80% of it left at its natural state because it is not navigable. We see wildlife and beautiful birds every day when we cruise and still go through astonishing manmade monuments like the aqueduct of Briare by Gustave Eiffel
Favourite memory onboard?
It was the last week of the season 2017 with a family charter that had a tradition back home of organizing water balloon fights. I decided with the crew to surprise them and organize, with another barge cruising on the same canal as us, a ‘Pirate Battle’ as we called it, in between the two barges when they were crossing each other on the narrow waterway!
Water balloons, pirates hats, confetti, even the music of Pirates of the Caribbean was playing, for a friendly battle in-between the guests and crew of the two barges. According to a lock keeper that even joined in, he hasn’t seen such a great atmosphere on the canal for the past 30 years! It was great fun for the family onboard and the crew, but not so fun to clean up, which was left to me and my deckhand…
What surprises guests each time they come aboard?
Definitely the size and space that Renaissance provides. They love the spacious cabins as well as the immense lounge area, combined with a charming and relaxing outside wooden deck
First and last thing you do onboard?
I always go straight to the wheelhouse (my office). When I first come aboard, I fix my wheel back on and am often surprised to see how large the barge is, and wonder how I managed to fit her through those narrow locks. And, this is where I always thank her for the great season that passed and tell her goodbye for the winter refit, by taking off my wheel and safely store it for the winter months ahead…
Where did you grow up?
Born and raised in Paris
Outside of the season, do you live on a boat?
No! We recently bought a lovely 19th century house with my partner in the Loire Valley, that works as a holiday rental as well
Do you miss any home comforts?
My own bed and the pleasure of taking a bath
How do you spend your time when you’re not working?
Traveling around the world as much as possible and now spending more time renovating our house
What would you do if you weren't a barge Captain?
Run a B&B or small hotel with my partner
Meet Hadrien on luxury barge, Renaissance
Discover Western Burgundy and the Loire River aboard our luxury flagship barge, Renaissance with Captain Hadrien and his dedicated crew at the helm.
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