Sunday, Day 1 Venarey-les-Laumes
Guests are met at the designated meeting point in Paris and transferred by private air-conditioned minibus to La Belle Epoque. A full crew welcome aboard with champagne and canapés during which we hear about the week’s itinerary, its walks and activities. After time to settle into your cabin we gather for our first dinner on board – a wonderful introduction to Burgundy’s excellent cuisine.
Monday, day 2 Venarey-les-Laumes to Montbard
After a short cruise, we climb out of the valley as our first walk takes us past fields of Charolais cattle and through the hamlet of Benoisey. En route we have the best views of the week with stunning vistas across the valley of the Brenne and the Canal de Bourgogne, before we descend to meet the barge for lunch. Later, we enjoy either a stroll around the hilltop village of Flavigny-sur-Ozerain, where the film ‘Chocolat’ was set, or a tour of the medieval town of Semur-en-Auxois. On the way from the summit of Mount Auxois, we also look at Alesia, where the last battle between the Gauls and Romans took place in 52 B.C. and visit the impressive museum. Dinner on board.
Tuesday, Day 3 Montbard to Ravières
Our walk this morning takes us through the ancient town of Montbard, passing by the Parc de Buffon, to enjoy the beauty of the forest. Then we escort you to the exquisite UNESCO World Heritage Site of Abbaye de Fontenay founded by St Bernard in 1118. Representing a distinctive example of early Cistercian architecture and virtually intact, Fontenay allows an exceptional glimpse of Cistercian life and industry with its peaceful gardens, ponds and fascinating cloisters, dormitories and scriptorium. We have our lunch back on board the barge then continue our cruise. In the late afternoon, there is the option to take a walk through a medley of woodland, rolling fields and forest to a ruined castle perched on a hilltop. Dinner on board.
Wednesday, Day 4 Ravières to Ancy-le-Franc
A truly unique day lies ahead. Following breakfast aboard we head to Les Riceys, the only wine growing area of the Champagne region to have 3 Appellation d’Origine Contrôlées. Here we visit Maison Taisne Riocour, viewing the vineyards and winery before tasting some of their champagnes. We then head to Château de Ricey-Bas; with its 12th century vaulted cellars and thousand’s year history it’s the ideal location to appreciate the rolling vineyards and enjoy a glimpse of family life in a rural château. Here we will be greeted for a Champagne aperitif and a gourmet lunch with the Baroness herself, which we take in either the private salon or the atmospheric vaulted 13th century kitchen. We will spend the remainder of the afternoon strolling the beautiful gardens or exploring the regal chateau interiors. We return to the barge and begin our cruise to Ancy-le-Franc, with plenty of opportunity to walk or cycle along the towpath… or sit on deck with another glass of bubbly. Dinner on board. Dinner on board.
Thursday, Day 5 Ancy-le-Franc to Lezinnes
This morning we visit Château d’Ancy-le-Franc. This beautifully symmetrical, 16th century masterpiece contains France’s biggest collection of Renaissance murals and is set in magnificent gardens and parkland. In the afternoon, a gentle cruise as your hotel barge continues along the Burgundy Canal and descends through the picturesque locks to moor at Lezinnes. Dinner on board.
Friday, Day 6 Lezinnes to Tanlay
This morning our final walk takes us through pastoral, wooded landscapes and we return by minibus to the barge for lunch. For those wishing to stay on board, our cruise is through forests and landscapes ablaze with the gold, yellow and orange colours of Autumn, to our final mooring at Tanlay. In the afternoon we tour the vineyards and town of Chablis, dating back to Roman times and enjoy a private wine tasting at a renowned winemaker such as the family-run Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard, which makes the most of the region’s wonderful local terroir to produce high quality wines. Captain’s Farewell Dinner on board.
Saturday, Day 7 Tanlay
After breakfast, disembark La Belle Epoque and transfer to the designated drop off point in Paris.
*Walking themed cruises are charter only. This sample itinerary and is subject to change. On alternate weeks the cruise is in the reverse direction. **Various pick up and drop off points are avaiable for charter groups.