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Cruise Destinations

-France, Southern Burgundy on Barge Magnolia-

Cruise Details:

  • Up to 6 guests
  • 131 Ft. Long
  • Rating: Boutique Class
  • Charter Only
  • Hosts: Magali and Nicolas Rancelot
  • English Speaking Crew of 4
  • 6 Bicycles
  • Air Conditioned
  • Last Visited 2015

Cruise Rate Includes:

6 nights/7 days in a cabin with a private bath, chauffeured transfers from Dijon to the barge & return, all meals from dinner the first night to breakfast the last morning, except three dinners and one lunch which will be taken off the barge at your expense (restaurants for dinner will be arranged), all wines with lunch & dinner, open bar, transportation to and from onshore restaurants, daily escorted excursions and use of onboard bicycles.

Cruise Rate Does NOT Include

Airfare to and from France, transportation to the cruise route (we will assist you with this), three dinners and one lunch which will be taken off the barge at your expense (restaurants for dinner will be arranged), cancellation insurance and crew gratuity (suggested minimum amount is 5% of the cruise price)


Magnolia

Magnolia is the inspired creation of French owners Nicolas and Magali Rancelot, who both have extensive backgrounds and experience in the barging industry. Nicolas has an innate passion for boats, having spent time on his uncle’s barge as a child, and then buying his first boat at age 23. In 2001, he decided to make a career and lifestyle change to work full time as a crew member on hotel barges in France, and has never looked back. Fate would bring Nicolas and Magali together, as they met while working on the same barge on 2004. Magali, who had been a crew member since 1997, also has an established reputation in barging as a polished professional.

It came as no surprise that this experienced and charming couple bought a barge, implementing their own ideas that they had gleaned from the last 15-plus years. The Rancelots rely on a unique philosophy to incorporate as much local interaction as possible. Nicolas explains, “The experience we want to share with our guests is based on authenticity. We promote local products, we want our passengers to experience French lifestyle through for example the ‘home hosted’. We think offering half-board cruises contributes to this authenticity as people have more local contact when they get to eat in French restaurants, rather than having all their meals on board.” Their thoughtful approach can be felt throughout the barge design as well – the open kitchen and guest-accessible wheelhouse encourages interaction between the crew and passengers.

Magali sums it up perfectly: “I’m a girl of the ‘cru’ as we say in Burgundy. I love to share my knowledge about this region, its traditions , its gastronomy, its rich history, and great wines. Interaction with guests is very important for me, especially making them feel like they are part of our family.”

The Magnolia was lucky enough to have TWO Barge Lady visits in 2015 -- twice as nice! Barge Lady Stephanie stopped by in May of 2015, and Barge Lady Kelly spent several nights aboard the Magnolia in September of 2015. Here is Kelly's report:

"I had the honor of boarding the Magnolia for 4 day 3 night cruise - and experiencing some of the top highlights of this fresh and exciting itinerary! I was greeted warmly by owners Magali and Nicolas Rancelot, who welcomed me on board and gave me the grand tour.

Upon boarding Magnolia, I wholeheartedly agreed with Stephanie’s initial assessment of ‘casual, chic, and comfortable’. I descended through the open stairwell/skylight into the spacious porthole-lined salon and dining room which exuded an airy ambiance, and immediately slipped into a state of relaxation. Plush white cushioned, tan wicker furniture extends a light, contemporary feel. Other features include TV, DVD, library, Ipod dock, and internet access.

Magnolia has three cabins, Pink, Green, and the slightly larger Blue suite. Cabins are comfortable, utilizing space wisely with plenty of storage, and boast nicely sized bathrooms and showers (all three were actually larger than the bathroom in my Paris hotel). Color coordinated towels, bathrobes, products – and even the bathroom tissue - are a fun detail! Magali’s father is an artist and his beautiful oil paintings of idyllic Burgundian scenes adorn the cabins, adding a warm personal touch.

Magali guided me up to the front deck (with direct access from the cabins), where a hot tub suggests the perfect post for sipping a vintage as the French countryside unfolds before you. The large, furnished main deck offers shaded seating as well as space for those who prefer to soak up the sun. However, my absolute favorite feature is Magnolia’s unique outdoor ‘a la plancha’ kitchen! Later in the week, we enjoyed chatting and watching as our lunch was prepared right on the deck, see picture above. Magnolia’s itinerary includes a visit with the Chef to the famed morning market in Dijon for a shopping session – then back on board watch as he prepares a luncheon barbecue. I definitely foresee this being a guest favorite!

Back on the main deck, Nicolas poured Kir Royales. As we sipped the royal drink of Burgundy and nibbled on canapes, Magali explained that the name Magnolia is a combination of Magali and Nicolas – especially fitting as you can truly see Magnolia is a combination of Nicolas and Magali’s talents, expertise, and passions!

With every excursion and experience, I became more enamored with Magnolia. We visited the truffle chateau “l’Or des Valois” and set off on the hunt behind truffle dog, Elf, whose expert nose sniffed out several of the treasured earthy delights. Afterwards we were rewarded with a delicious tasting – including a profiterole with truffle ice cream – yum!

The home hosted dinner was a first for me – and an experience you will only find on Magnolia! As an added treat, our dinner was at Magali’s parent’s house – with her talented mother’s delicious French home cooking.

Our last dinner was equally unique and fabulous! Lock 34 is an authentic canal side lockhouse that has been converted into a charming petite restaurant. The setting was picturesque and the cuisine divine!

Summing up my experience on Magnolia, something that resonated is the feeling I was staying and visiting with my own family and friends in France. Magali and Nicolas’ warmth and their relationships with the personalities of Burgundy made me feeling almost as if I was an expat returning home for a visit that ended much too soon."

Stephanie says:

“I was thrilled to be one the first in barging to see this new boat! The attention to detail, especially in the open chef’s kitchen and lovely, light-filled salon, were evident from the moment I stepped on the barge. With its soft color schemes, cheerful wicker furniture and darling nautical touches, this boat has a real feel of youth, warmth, and welcome. Owners Magali, seen with me in the picture above, and Nicolas Rancelot have announced their signature programming, which includes dinner at a private French home and a grill for al fresco BBQs on the deck! Dinners off the barge are at area auberges and small bistros, in keeping with the Magnolia’s concept of the authentic French lifestyle. Magali and Nicolas have established good relationships with many cafes and restaurants in the area, and can make recommendations for memorable meals. I adored the Magnolia, and I know our guests will, as well.”


Floor Plan:

Barge Cruise
2017 Season Demi Pensione Rates (4 meals, a combination of lunches and dinners, are taken on shore at the guest's expense.)

Whole-Boat Charter for up to 2: $11,450
Whole-Boat Charter for up to 4: $14,800
Whole-Boat Charter for up to 6: $18,400

2017 dates
April 1 - 7 May 27 - June 2 July 22 - 28 September 9 - 15
April 8 - 14 June 3 - 9 July 29 - August 4 September 16 - 22
April 15 - 21 June 10 - 16 August 5 - 11 September 23 - 29
April 22 - 28 June 17 - 23 August 12 - 18 September 30 -October 6
April 29 - May 5 June 24 - 30 August 19 - 25 October 7 - 13
May 6 - 12 July 1 - 7 August 26 - September 1 October 14 - 20
May 13 - 19 July 8 - 14 September 2 - 8 October 21 - 27
May 20 - 26 July 15 - 21    
Barge Cruise

Magnolia Accommodations and Amenities

  • 131 Feet Long
  • Three cabins each with ensuite bathroom/shower
  • Cabin 1 - 130 sq ft, Queen bed
  • Cabin 2 - 130 sq ft, Queen bed
  • Cabin 3 - 160 sq ft, One queen or two twin beds
  • Also in each cabin
  • Individually controlled AC
  • Two bathrobes and hair dryer
  • Safe in the closet
  • Opening portholes
  • Light blocking covers for portholes
  • Original painting of regional scenes
  • In the Public Areas
  • Open Salon and Dining room
  • WIFI with select availability
  • PC with limited internet access
  • Writing desk
  • Dvd player
  • Ipod dock
  • 2 Sun Decks
  • Hot tub on front sun deck 
  • Main sun deck with canopy
  • Chef’s herb garden
  • "La Plancha" Barbecue
  • 6 bicycles, 21-gears









 

 

 

 

 

Magnolia Sample Half-Board Cruise Itinerary

Dijon to Escommes on the canal de bourgogne

Saturday: Dijon to Plombières
Welcome Aboard with a Cocktail Cruise!
Guests are met at the Dijon train station at 3:00 pm and transferred via Magnolia’s private van to the barge moored in Dijon. (The cost of transfers to/from Dijon is in addition to the cruise fare and must be booked separately.) Once aboard, your crew will welcome you with a Champagne reception to kick off your cruise week, along with an introduction of your crew and barge. Enjoy a “Cocktail Cruise” to Plombières les Dijon which reveals just a hint of the marvelous sights and scenery along the canals. Tonight you will be served your first gourmet dinner on board.

Sunday: Plombières to Fleurey sur Ouche
Wine Tasting at a Family Owned Domaine in Vosne Romanee!
A relaxing morning cruise to Fleurey sur Ouche offers active guests wonderful cycling or walking opportunities on the paved towpath through the unhurried Valley of the Ouche. After a homemade brunch on board featuring fresh and local ingredients, you will have an afternoon visit to Clos de Vougeot, where wine was produced by Cistercian monks from the 12th century on. Examine the ancient wine presses and learn more wine-making and life in that long ago era. Then it’s back to present day pleasures with a wine tasting in Vosne-Romanée at the family domaine Armelle Rion. End the day with a dinner at a local auberge in Fleurey sur Ouche, at your expense.

Monday: Fleurey sur Ouche to Lock 34
Truffle Hunting by Day, Dine at an Authentic Lock House by Night!
The day begins with a lovely morning cruise to Gissey-sur-Ouche, where you will dine that evening at the local bistro called “Lock 34”. After lunch on board, you will visit a truffle chateau, “l’Or des Valois”, where guests will experience truffle hunting with dogs -- and of course have the chance to taste the product! Tonight’s dinner is at Lock 34, an authentic lock house converted into a charming dining venue, where guests will indulge in the owner’s creative cuisine. Dinner is at your expense. Dine with the locals, like a local!

Tuesday: Lock 34 to La Bussière
Shop with the Chef at Market
After breakfast, we drive to Dijon to explore the capital of the Dukes. A special treat for epicureans, foodies, and Francophiles awaits at “Les Halles”, Dijon’s lively year-round market and mingle with the locals. Here is the chance to shop with Magnolia’s chef, choosing fresh produce and specialty ingredients for lunch -- and then prepare it on board “ à la plancha” in Magnolia’s outdoor kitchen! After your al fresco lunch, enjoy an afternoon cruise to La Bussière sur Ouche and soak in the idyllic scenery. This afternoon we moor in the beautiful village of La Bussière sur-Ouche, where can explore the subtle charms before being taken to tonight's dinner at Abbaye de la Bussière, at your expense. This venue was a former Cistercian Abbaye built in the 12th century which has been converted into an elegant canal side hotel.

Wednesday: La Bussière to Pont d’Ouche
Visit Beaune - Later Enjoy a Hosted Dinner at a Local French Family Home!
The morning’s cruise to Pont d’Ouche boasts scenic countryside and peaceful villages, and is the perfect time to enjoy a scenery-filled stroll or leisurely bike ride. After lunch on board, you will visit Beaune, the wine capital of Burgundy, and the home to the Hotel Dieu, or Hospice de Beaune. This medieval hospital has been immaculately preserved and is also famous for its world-famous wine auction. After that tour, wander around Beaune and explore the charming shops, cafes, and cobblestone streets. Tonight’s dinner is one of the highlights of the Magnolia’s dining program, as guests will be treated to an authentic “home hosted” feast in the charming French country home of Magali's parents, Alain and Joelle.

Thursday: Pont d’Ouche to Escommes
Cruise, Bicycle and Visit a 12th Century Castle
Your enchanting morning cruise to Escommes provides a wonderful opportunity to bicycle along the tow path, or simply relax on deck and enjoy the lazy countryside. After lunch on shore in a canal side village at your expense, we visit the lovely medieval village and chateau of Chateauneuf-en-Auxois perched high on a hill overlooking the canal. Explore the small hillside village on cobblestoned streets, peek into private gardens, and then tour the haunting chateau. Its fascinating story spans centuries of European history, both ancient and modern. Return to the barge for cocktail hour and a final farewell dinner on board.

Friday: Escommes
A Sad Farewell
After breakfast, at 9:00 you will disembark and be transferred to the Dijon train station. Please do not book a departure train before 10:00 am. Your projected arrival back into Paris is noon. Please make all onward travel plans on the basis of this timing. We hope you to see you again on the Magnolia!

Please note: This cruise will be offered in the opposite direction on alternate weeks. Sightseeing and restaurant suggestions are based on availability and are subject to change. Your cruise fare does not include three dinners and one lunch taken on shore at your expense and travel to and from Dijon, the pickup/return city. There are several TGV trains (fast, non-stop service between the two cities in under two hours) daily from Paris. We can help to organize your train schedule and then pre-purchase tickets before your departure to France. Email The Barge Lady for reservations and more information about barging in Burgundy on the canals and waterways of France, or call us toll free at (800) 880-0071.

Dinner at Lock 34
Bruschetta of French Summer Vegetables
Kir Royale
* * *
Filet of Pork, Thinly Sliced with Capers,  Red Onions and a Tuna Caper Sauce
* * *
Smoked Salmon and Vegetable Lasagna with Prawns
Salad of Mixed Greens

Wine: Marsannay Rose, Domaine Charles Audoin, 2013
* * *
Cheeses
Camembert
Sainte-Maure
* * *
Drunken Burgundy Pear
Lemon, Mango, Chocolate and Coffee Ice Cream

* * * * *

Dinner
Homemade Gougeres
Kir Royale
* * *
Burgundy Escargot
* * *
Blanquette de Veau
Mushroom, Cream and White Wine Sauce

Wine: Les Dames Hugette

* * *
Cheeses
Comte
Epoisse
Delice de Bourgogne
* * *

Apple Tart Tatin
* * * * *

Picture a Cruise in Burgundy on Magnolia

Magnolia Guest Book

"We had a wonderful, wonderful trip. Easily one of our top five ever. The Magnolia is amazing -- what a beautiful, spacious barge. Thank you so much for recommending Magnolia to us. It was a perfect fit!"

- Terri Rutt, cruised September 2016

“As seasoned travelers to Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas, our time on the barge Magnolia will be remain one of the best ever trips we have even taken.

The crew was super. The Captain, Nicolas, was a great guy. From the time he picked us up (on time) to the last day, he provided us with a great trip. Helping us on and off, giving us bikes, telling us about his barge, taking us on an early morning trip to get baked goods, everything made our trip pleasurable. Magali, his wife, was the Tour Guide. She was a sweetheart. The excursions were well-planned and very informative without being too long or giving us too much information. The dinner at her parents home was very special and we are glad they added that feature.

The Hostess, Marie, was a real sweetheart. No one could have been nicer. She treated us like very important guests, not just customers. Joss, the Chef, was, in our opinion, a world class chef. We had some meals which were the best we have ever had. He also took us on a grocery shopping trip so we could see how he selected the ingredients for our meals! The Deckhand, Frederick, did his job well and endeared himself to us when he picked up a small cat and was kind to it. The barge dog, Gypsy, was an added bonus. It was fun to play with her, throwing toys she would fetch.

Our cabin was great. The bed was comfortable. The bathroom was very nice, and there were plenty of outlets to easy recharge all of our electronics. In fact, the cruise on the Magnolia was so enjoyable, the four of us are thinking about doing this again in the next few years. The Barge Ladies are to be commended for offering such a wonderful experience. Don't ever let go of this wonderful barge!"

- Steve Wing, cruised August, 2016

"The Magnolia and its crew were absolutely wonderful — we couldn’t have been more impressed or more satisfied with the entire trip. As you know already, you have a true 'gem' in Tour Guide Magali and Captain Nicolas. They and their entire crew — Marie, Joss, and Frederic — were great in every possible way.

Marie was the perfect Hostess — always ready to help us in any way and so very, very nice and friendly. We can’t say enough good things about her; she added immeasurably to our enjoyment of the trip. Joss was/is a fantastic Chef and a good guy to get to know as well. He was wonderful in showing us around the marketplace in Dijon and answering our cooking questions. Matelot Frederic was always courteous and professional with us. I enjoyed watching him work at the locks — he was so efficient and knowledgeable that we always knew we were in good hands with him and Captain Nicolas (and of course Jypsy, the barge's dog!).

Every meal prepared by Chef Joss was a feast for the senses and tastebuds. How can you improve on 'great' and 'sublime'! From the very first night's appetizer of the asparagus and quail egg and jambon, we knew we were at the right place. The steak he grilled for me during our deck BBQ will live in my memory as perhaps the best steak I’ve ever had. And then on top of that, there were the delicious escargots (and I wasn’t a fan of them previously) and the stuffed guinea fowl, just to mention a few highlights. The wines chosen by Magali were always a treat and went with the meals perfectly. The desserts were fantastic, especially Joss' lemon tart with meringue, pears poached in red wine with vanilla ice cream, and the amazing 'pièce montée' was such a wonderful and appropriate cap on the week’s celebration of our friends' 40th anniversary.

Having dinner with Magali’s Mom and Dad was an extra-special treat. The food and drink were wonderful (I loved being introduced to the Kir aperitif and the eau de vie de prune/plum liquor), but the best was just laughing and interacting with the family, even if some of the French conversation went over our heads. But it was lovely to see the pride and love between Magali and her parents and be allowed to glimpse family life in a small but beautiful Burgundian village. We also enjoyed the Captain’s dinner with Nicolas — having the opportunity just to sit down with him and learn more about his background and interests. We would have loved to do that (have a sit-down meal) with each and every member of the crew!

All the sightseeing excursions were enjoyable. I’d say the highlights, from my viewpoint, were the truffle hunting (and the wonderful meal afterwards) and the wine tasting with Bernard Rion, as well as the Fallot mustard factory tour. I also loved the Chateauneuf village and castle — Magali’s explanations were so interesting and knowledgeable. Joss’ tour of the marketplace and Magali’s walking tour of Dijon were excellent — both excursions were very important in our choice of the Magnolia. Having the two French singers/musicians come on board to serenade us was an amazing surprise and put the trip 'over the top' even more than it already was! Also, I’ll remember those peaceful moments of just enjoying the Burgundian countryside while relaxing on the deck of the Magnolia as much or more than any sites we saw.

The Barge Lady's pre-trip information was much appreciated. Your promotional material and information sheets were very helpful and thorough. And I appreciated your special attention on how to tip the crew and your advice on how to decide how much to tip. You all were very responsive to all the questions we raised — travel insurance, which Swiss cities serve Dijon by rail, best hotels in Dijon (we really enjoyed the Chapeau Rouge), and of course which boat best met our needs and desires. You highly recommended the Magnolia and you were 1,000% right!

I’ve been wanting to do a barge trip since 1995, when I first contacted The Barge Lady. So for me, it was literally a 'trip of a lifetime' and it was worth every second of waiting. I had high expectations for the trip, and you and the owners and crew of the Magnolia exceeded them in every aspect! We definitely will want to do more barge trips with you and with the crew of the Magnolia! There are many other regions of France we would like to explore, so if Magali and Nicolas ever relocate the Magnolia, please notify us immediately -- but we’d also consider another Burgundy canal cruise with them! We certainly will recommend your services to all of our friends and contacts!”

- Martin Heavner, cruised August, 2016

"We had a wonderful time during our cruise on the Magnolia. We really liked having the barge to ourselves, and the mix of meals both on board and ashore. Captain Nicolas and Tour Guide Magali were both very gracious and welcoming. The Hostess, Marie, was wonderful and attentive. Joss, the Chef, produced wonderful meals. And, the Matelot, Frederick, was a super nice guy. Everyone was both attentive and unobtrusive so that they were there when we needed them while giving us a lot of space.

The Magnolia's dining program is wonderful. First, we really liked the half-board plan in which we had three meals on our own at restaurants along the canal, and our other meals on the barge. Chef Joss crated fantastic meals. Our traveling companion casually mentioned 'Beef Burgundy' -- and Joss went out of his way to prepare it for our Captain's Dinner. Breakfasts were plentiful. All that fruit, and the fresh baked breads and pastries from local boulangeries!!!

Magali was a good Tour Guide. We loved the truffle hunting excursion, as well as the visit to the castle, and going to market in Djion. We also had fun walking and bicycling along the canal. The scenery was nice and the small villages very interesting. Cabins were larger than we expected, and the bathroom was really spacious for a boat. The decor was simple, but quite nice.

The Barge Lady's pre-trip information was great. We appreciated the guidance on what to wear, tipping, etc. We also appreciated the advice on Paris hotels. We definitely will do another barge trip in the future -- in another region of France or another country. Loved the slow travel vibe!"

- Sherry Knowlton, cruised August, 2016

"The barge experience on the Magnolia was an experience of a lifetime. Loved, loved, loved the crew. They were so friendly and attentive to our every need. I can't say enough good things about them! Cuisine was absolutely fabulous! I ate things I have never tried, and loved it all. Daily sightseeing was perfect. Very informative, and then give time by ourselves to explore. I loved our cabin. The amenities were perfect -- spacious bathrooms, blow dryers, and bottled water, to name a few. Barge Lady Stephanie responded to all my questions quickly -- and always with a smile. A wonderful experience!"

- Francie Green, cruised July, 2016

"This was the perfect holiday for all six of us. Relaxing, pampering, creative tour locations, friendly and professional crew, spotless cabins, every luxury imaginable. Can't say enough about the crew. So friendly and accommodating, but respectful of our privacy. I feel as though we had the best possible experience in the Burgundy region, thanks to Tour Guide Magali's careful planning and her knowledge of the history of the region, the vineyards, the truffles (!!!), the wineries, even a private dinner at her parents' house! We loved the remoteness of some of the sites, as if they were our own secret places that no one else knew about...it was as if it was all there just for us. Captain Nicolas...best Captain ever. The Chef, Joss, made every dish a work of art. Each meal was a masterpiece. All fresh ingredients -- which we helped him shop for at the open-air market in Dijon -- and creative combinations...words cannot describe. And our onshore meals were great 'local' experiences. Cabins went beyond all expectations. Large comfortable bed, ample closet space, huge bathroom, and quiet. Stellar service from the Barge Ladies. Everything was flawless. Seriously...you guys are awesome."

- Ibby Foster, cruised July, 2016

Magnolia Blog Posts, Recipes, Articles and Videos

Ask any Barge Lady, and she’ll tell you: when it comes to travel, more is better! Explore below for more of everything we love – videos, articles, blog posts, recipes and MORE!

 

Top 5 Fun Things to do on a Barge Cruise in France
Barge Lady guests know how to have a great time on the French canals. Take a look and see The Barge Lady's Top 5 Fun things to do on your barge cruise.

+ - Overview

Cruise Details:

  • Up to 6 guests
  • 131 Ft. Long
  • Rating: Boutique Class
  • Charter Only
  • Hosts: Magali and Nicolas Rancelot
  • English Speaking Crew of 4
  • 6 Bicycles
  • Air Conditioned
  • Last Visited 2015

Cruise Rate Includes:

6 nights/7 days in a cabin with a private bath, chauffeured transfers from Dijon to the barge & return, all meals from dinner the first night to breakfast the last morning, except three dinners and one lunch which will be taken off the barge at your expense (restaurants for dinner will be arranged), all wines with lunch & dinner, open bar, transportation to and from onshore restaurants, daily escorted excursions and use of onboard bicycles.

Cruise Rate Does NOT Include

Airfare to and from France, transportation to the cruise route (we will assist you with this), three dinners and one lunch which will be taken off the barge at your expense (restaurants for dinner will be arranged), cancellation insurance and crew gratuity (suggested minimum amount is 5% of the cruise price)


Magnolia

Magnolia is the inspired creation of French owners Nicolas and Magali Rancelot, who both have extensive backgrounds and experience in the barging industry. Nicolas has an innate passion for boats, having spent time on his uncle’s barge as a child, and then buying his first boat at age 23. In 2001, he decided to make a career and lifestyle change to work full time as a crew member on hotel barges in France, and has never looked back. Fate would bring Nicolas and Magali together, as they met while working on the same barge on 2004. Magali, who had been a crew member since 1997, also has an established reputation in barging as a polished professional.

It came as no surprise that this experienced and charming couple bought a barge, implementing their own ideas that they had gleaned from the last 15-plus years. The Rancelots rely on a unique philosophy to incorporate as much local interaction as possible. Nicolas explains, “The experience we want to share with our guests is based on authenticity. We promote local products, we want our passengers to experience French lifestyle through for example the ‘home hosted’. We think offering half-board cruises contributes to this authenticity as people have more local contact when they get to eat in French restaurants, rather than having all their meals on board.” Their thoughtful approach can be felt throughout the barge design as well – the open kitchen and guest-accessible wheelhouse encourages interaction between the crew and passengers.

Magali sums it up perfectly: “I’m a girl of the ‘cru’ as we say in Burgundy. I love to share my knowledge about this region, its traditions , its gastronomy, its rich history, and great wines. Interaction with guests is very important for me, especially making them feel like they are part of our family.”

The Magnolia was lucky enough to have TWO Barge Lady visits in 2015 -- twice as nice! Barge Lady Stephanie stopped by in May of 2015, and Barge Lady Kelly spent several nights aboard the Magnolia in September of 2015. Here is Kelly's report:

"I had the honor of boarding the Magnolia for 4 day 3 night cruise - and experiencing some of the top highlights of this fresh and exciting itinerary! I was greeted warmly by owners Magali and Nicolas Rancelot, who welcomed me on board and gave me the grand tour.

Upon boarding Magnolia, I wholeheartedly agreed with Stephanie’s initial assessment of ‘casual, chic, and comfortable’. I descended through the open stairwell/skylight into the spacious porthole-lined salon and dining room which exuded an airy ambiance, and immediately slipped into a state of relaxation. Plush white cushioned, tan wicker furniture extends a light, contemporary feel. Other features include TV, DVD, library, Ipod dock, and internet access.

Magnolia has three cabins, Pink, Green, and the slightly larger Blue suite. Cabins are comfortable, utilizing space wisely with plenty of storage, and boast nicely sized bathrooms and showers (all three were actually larger than the bathroom in my Paris hotel). Color coordinated towels, bathrobes, products – and even the bathroom tissue - are a fun detail! Magali’s father is an artist and his beautiful oil paintings of idyllic Burgundian scenes adorn the cabins, adding a warm personal touch.

Magali guided me up to the front deck (with direct access from the cabins), where a hot tub suggests the perfect post for sipping a vintage as the French countryside unfolds before you. The large, furnished main deck offers shaded seating as well as space for those who prefer to soak up the sun. However, my absolute favorite feature is Magnolia’s unique outdoor ‘a la plancha’ kitchen! Later in the week, we enjoyed chatting and watching as our lunch was prepared right on the deck, see picture above. Magnolia’s itinerary includes a visit with the Chef to the famed morning market in Dijon for a shopping session – then back on board watch as he prepares a luncheon barbecue. I definitely foresee this being a guest favorite!

Back on the main deck, Nicolas poured Kir Royales. As we sipped the royal drink of Burgundy and nibbled on canapes, Magali explained that the name Magnolia is a combination of Magali and Nicolas – especially fitting as you can truly see Magnolia is a combination of Nicolas and Magali’s talents, expertise, and passions!

With every excursion and experience, I became more enamored with Magnolia. We visited the truffle chateau “l’Or des Valois” and set off on the hunt behind truffle dog, Elf, whose expert nose sniffed out several of the treasured earthy delights. Afterwards we were rewarded with a delicious tasting – including a profiterole with truffle ice cream – yum!

The home hosted dinner was a first for me – and an experience you will only find on Magnolia! As an added treat, our dinner was at Magali’s parent’s house – with her talented mother’s delicious French home cooking.

Our last dinner was equally unique and fabulous! Lock 34 is an authentic canal side lockhouse that has been converted into a charming petite restaurant. The setting was picturesque and the cuisine divine!

Summing up my experience on Magnolia, something that resonated is the feeling I was staying and visiting with my own family and friends in France. Magali and Nicolas’ warmth and their relationships with the personalities of Burgundy made me feeling almost as if I was an expat returning home for a visit that ended much too soon."

Stephanie says:

“I was thrilled to be one the first in barging to see this new boat! The attention to detail, especially in the open chef’s kitchen and lovely, light-filled salon, were evident from the moment I stepped on the barge. With its soft color schemes, cheerful wicker furniture and darling nautical touches, this boat has a real feel of youth, warmth, and welcome. Owners Magali, seen with me in the picture above, and Nicolas Rancelot have announced their signature programming, which includes dinner at a private French home and a grill for al fresco BBQs on the deck! Dinners off the barge are at area auberges and small bistros, in keeping with the Magnolia’s concept of the authentic French lifestyle. Magali and Nicolas have established good relationships with many cafes and restaurants in the area, and can make recommendations for memorable meals. I adored the Magnolia, and I know our guests will, as well.”


Floor Plan:

Barge Cruise
2017 Season Demi Pensione Rates (4 meals, a combination of lunches and dinners, are taken on shore at the guest's expense.)

Whole-Boat Charter for up to 2: $11,450
Whole-Boat Charter for up to 4: $14,800
Whole-Boat Charter for up to 6: $18,400

2017 dates
April 1 - 7 May 27 - June 2 July 22 - 28 September 9 - 15
April 8 - 14 June 3 - 9 July 29 - August 4 September 16 - 22
April 15 - 21 June 10 - 16 August 5 - 11 September 23 - 29
April 22 - 28 June 17 - 23 August 12 - 18 September 30 -October 6
April 29 - May 5 June 24 - 30 August 19 - 25 October 7 - 13
May 6 - 12 July 1 - 7 August 26 - September 1 October 14 - 20
May 13 - 19 July 8 - 14 September 2 - 8 October 21 - 27
May 20 - 26 July 15 - 21    

Floor Plan:

Barge Cruise

Magnolia Accommodations and Amenities

  • 131 Feet Long
  • Three cabins each with ensuite bathroom/shower
  • Cabin 1 - 130 sq ft, Queen bed
  • Cabin 2 - 130 sq ft, Queen bed
  • Cabin 3 - 160 sq ft, One queen or two twin beds
  • Also in each cabin
  • Individually controlled AC
  • Two bathrobes and hair dryer
  • Safe in the closet
  • Opening portholes
  • Light blocking covers for portholes
  • Original painting of regional scenes
  • In the Public Areas
  • Open Salon and Dining room
  • WIFI with select availability
  • PC with limited internet access
  • Writing desk
  • Dvd player
  • Ipod dock
  • 2 Sun Decks
  • Hot tub on front sun deck 
  • Main sun deck with canopy
  • Chef’s herb garden
  • "La Plancha" Barbecue
  • 6 bicycles, 21-gears









 

 

 

 

 

Magnolia Sample Half-Board Cruise Itinerary

Dijon to Escommes on the canal de bourgogne

Saturday: Dijon to Plombières
Welcome Aboard with a Cocktail Cruise!
Guests are met at the Dijon train station at 3:00 pm and transferred via Magnolia’s private van to the barge moored in Dijon. (The cost of transfers to/from Dijon is in addition to the cruise fare and must be booked separately.) Once aboard, your crew will welcome you with a Champagne reception to kick off your cruise week, along with an introduction of your crew and barge. Enjoy a “Cocktail Cruise” to Plombières les Dijon which reveals just a hint of the marvelous sights and scenery along the canals. Tonight you will be served your first gourmet dinner on board.

Sunday: Plombières to Fleurey sur Ouche
Wine Tasting at a Family Owned Domaine in Vosne Romanee!
A relaxing morning cruise to Fleurey sur Ouche offers active guests wonderful cycling or walking opportunities on the paved towpath through the unhurried Valley of the Ouche. After a homemade brunch on board featuring fresh and local ingredients, you will have an afternoon visit to Clos de Vougeot, where wine was produced by Cistercian monks from the 12th century on. Examine the ancient wine presses and learn more wine-making and life in that long ago era. Then it’s back to present day pleasures with a wine tasting in Vosne-Romanée at the family domaine Armelle Rion. End the day with a dinner at a local auberge in Fleurey sur Ouche, at your expense.

Monday: Fleurey sur Ouche to Lock 34
Truffle Hunting by Day, Dine at an Authentic Lock House by Night!
The day begins with a lovely morning cruise to Gissey-sur-Ouche, where you will dine that evening at the local bistro called “Lock 34”. After lunch on board, you will visit a truffle chateau, “l’Or des Valois”, where guests will experience truffle hunting with dogs -- and of course have the chance to taste the product! Tonight’s dinner is at Lock 34, an authentic lock house converted into a charming dining venue, where guests will indulge in the owner’s creative cuisine. Dinner is at your expense. Dine with the locals, like a local!

Tuesday: Lock 34 to La Bussière
Shop with the Chef at Market
After breakfast, we drive to Dijon to explore the capital of the Dukes. A special treat for epicureans, foodies, and Francophiles awaits at “Les Halles”, Dijon’s lively year-round market and mingle with the locals. Here is the chance to shop with Magnolia’s chef, choosing fresh produce and specialty ingredients for lunch -- and then prepare it on board “ à la plancha” in Magnolia’s outdoor kitchen! After your al fresco lunch, enjoy an afternoon cruise to La Bussière sur Ouche and soak in the idyllic scenery. This afternoon we moor in the beautiful village of La Bussière sur-Ouche, where can explore the subtle charms before being taken to tonight's dinner at Abbaye de la Bussière, at your expense. This venue was a former Cistercian Abbaye built in the 12th century which has been converted into an elegant canal side hotel.

Wednesday: La Bussière to Pont d’Ouche
Visit Beaune - Later Enjoy a Hosted Dinner at a Local French Family Home!
The morning’s cruise to Pont d’Ouche boasts scenic countryside and peaceful villages, and is the perfect time to enjoy a scenery-filled stroll or leisurely bike ride. After lunch on board, you will visit Beaune, the wine capital of Burgundy, and the home to the Hotel Dieu, or Hospice de Beaune. This medieval hospital has been immaculately preserved and is also famous for its world-famous wine auction. After that tour, wander around Beaune and explore the charming shops, cafes, and cobblestone streets. Tonight’s dinner is one of the highlights of the Magnolia’s dining program, as guests will be treated to an authentic “home hosted” feast in the charming French country home of Magali's parents, Alain and Joelle.

Thursday: Pont d’Ouche to Escommes
Cruise, Bicycle and Visit a 12th Century Castle
Your enchanting morning cruise to Escommes provides a wonderful opportunity to bicycle along the tow path, or simply relax on deck and enjoy the lazy countryside. After lunch on shore in a canal side village at your expense, we visit the lovely medieval village and chateau of Chateauneuf-en-Auxois perched high on a hill overlooking the canal. Explore the small hillside village on cobblestoned streets, peek into private gardens, and then tour the haunting chateau. Its fascinating story spans centuries of European history, both ancient and modern. Return to the barge for cocktail hour and a final farewell dinner on board.

Friday: Escommes
A Sad Farewell
After breakfast, at 9:00 you will disembark and be transferred to the Dijon train station. Please do not book a departure train before 10:00 am. Your projected arrival back into Paris is noon. Please make all onward travel plans on the basis of this timing. We hope you to see you again on the Magnolia!

Please note: This cruise will be offered in the opposite direction on alternate weeks. Sightseeing and restaurant suggestions are based on availability and are subject to change. Your cruise fare does not include three dinners and one lunch taken on shore at your expense and travel to and from Dijon, the pickup/return city. There are several TGV trains (fast, non-stop service between the two cities in under two hours) daily from Paris. We can help to organize your train schedule and then pre-purchase tickets before your departure to France. Email The Barge Lady for reservations and more information about barging in Burgundy on the canals and waterways of France, or call us toll free at (800) 880-0071.

+ - Menu

Dinner at Lock 34
Bruschetta of French Summer Vegetables
Kir Royale
* * *
Filet of Pork, Thinly Sliced with Capers,  Red Onions and a Tuna Caper Sauce
* * *
Smoked Salmon and Vegetable Lasagna with Prawns
Salad of Mixed Greens

Wine: Marsannay Rose, Domaine Charles Audoin, 2013
* * *
Cheeses
Camembert
Sainte-Maure
* * *
Drunken Burgundy Pear
Lemon, Mango, Chocolate and Coffee Ice Cream

* * * * *

Dinner
Homemade Gougeres
Kir Royale
* * *
Burgundy Escargot
* * *
Blanquette de Veau
Mushroom, Cream and White Wine Sauce

Wine: Les Dames Hugette

* * *
Cheeses
Comte
Epoisse
Delice de Bourgogne
* * *

Apple Tart Tatin
* * * * *

Picture a Cruise in Burgundy on Magnolia

Magnolia Guest Book

"We had a wonderful, wonderful trip. Easily one of our top five ever. The Magnolia is amazing -- what a beautiful, spacious barge. Thank you so much for recommending Magnolia to us. It was a perfect fit!"

- Terri Rutt, cruised September 2016

“As seasoned travelers to Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas, our time on the barge Magnolia will be remain one of the best ever trips we have even taken.

The crew was super. The Captain, Nicolas, was a great guy. From the time he picked us up (on time) to the last day, he provided us with a great trip. Helping us on and off, giving us bikes, telling us about his barge, taking us on an early morning trip to get baked goods, everything made our trip pleasurable. Magali, his wife, was the Tour Guide. She was a sweetheart. The excursions were well-planned and very informative without being too long or giving us too much information. The dinner at her parents home was very special and we are glad they added that feature.

The Hostess, Marie, was a real sweetheart. No one could have been nicer. She treated us like very important guests, not just customers. Joss, the Chef, was, in our opinion, a world class chef. We had some meals which were the best we have ever had. He also took us on a grocery shopping trip so we could see how he selected the ingredients for our meals! The Deckhand, Frederick, did his job well and endeared himself to us when he picked up a small cat and was kind to it. The barge dog, Gypsy, was an added bonus. It was fun to play with her, throwing toys she would fetch.

Our cabin was great. The bed was comfortable. The bathroom was very nice, and there were plenty of outlets to easy recharge all of our electronics. In fact, the cruise on the Magnolia was so enjoyable, the four of us are thinking about doing this again in the next few years. The Barge Ladies are to be commended for offering such a wonderful experience. Don't ever let go of this wonderful barge!"

- Steve Wing, cruised August, 2016

"The Magnolia and its crew were absolutely wonderful — we couldn’t have been more impressed or more satisfied with the entire trip. As you know already, you have a true 'gem' in Tour Guide Magali and Captain Nicolas. They and their entire crew — Marie, Joss, and Frederic — were great in every possible way.

Marie was the perfect Hostess — always ready to help us in any way and so very, very nice and friendly. We can’t say enough good things about her; she added immeasurably to our enjoyment of the trip. Joss was/is a fantastic Chef and a good guy to get to know as well. He was wonderful in showing us around the marketplace in Dijon and answering our cooking questions. Matelot Frederic was always courteous and professional with us. I enjoyed watching him work at the locks — he was so efficient and knowledgeable that we always knew we were in good hands with him and Captain Nicolas (and of course Jypsy, the barge's dog!).

Every meal prepared by Chef Joss was a feast for the senses and tastebuds. How can you improve on 'great' and 'sublime'! From the very first night's appetizer of the asparagus and quail egg and jambon, we knew we were at the right place. The steak he grilled for me during our deck BBQ will live in my memory as perhaps the best steak I’ve ever had. And then on top of that, there were the delicious escargots (and I wasn’t a fan of them previously) and the stuffed guinea fowl, just to mention a few highlights. The wines chosen by Magali were always a treat and went with the meals perfectly. The desserts were fantastic, especially Joss' lemon tart with meringue, pears poached in red wine with vanilla ice cream, and the amazing 'pièce montée' was such a wonderful and appropriate cap on the week’s celebration of our friends' 40th anniversary.

Having dinner with Magali’s Mom and Dad was an extra-special treat. The food and drink were wonderful (I loved being introduced to the Kir aperitif and the eau de vie de prune/plum liquor), but the best was just laughing and interacting with the family, even if some of the French conversation went over our heads. But it was lovely to see the pride and love between Magali and her parents and be allowed to glimpse family life in a small but beautiful Burgundian village. We also enjoyed the Captain’s dinner with Nicolas — having the opportunity just to sit down with him and learn more about his background and interests. We would have loved to do that (have a sit-down meal) with each and every member of the crew!

All the sightseeing excursions were enjoyable. I’d say the highlights, from my viewpoint, were the truffle hunting (and the wonderful meal afterwards) and the wine tasting with Bernard Rion, as well as the Fallot mustard factory tour. I also loved the Chateauneuf village and castle — Magali’s explanations were so interesting and knowledgeable. Joss’ tour of the marketplace and Magali’s walking tour of Dijon were excellent — both excursions were very important in our choice of the Magnolia. Having the two French singers/musicians come on board to serenade us was an amazing surprise and put the trip 'over the top' even more than it already was! Also, I’ll remember those peaceful moments of just enjoying the Burgundian countryside while relaxing on the deck of the Magnolia as much or more than any sites we saw.

The Barge Lady's pre-trip information was much appreciated. Your promotional material and information sheets were very helpful and thorough. And I appreciated your special attention on how to tip the crew and your advice on how to decide how much to tip. You all were very responsive to all the questions we raised — travel insurance, which Swiss cities serve Dijon by rail, best hotels in Dijon (we really enjoyed the Chapeau Rouge), and of course which boat best met our needs and desires. You highly recommended the Magnolia and you were 1,000% right!

I’ve been wanting to do a barge trip since 1995, when I first contacted The Barge Lady. So for me, it was literally a 'trip of a lifetime' and it was worth every second of waiting. I had high expectations for the trip, and you and the owners and crew of the Magnolia exceeded them in every aspect! We definitely will want to do more barge trips with you and with the crew of the Magnolia! There are many other regions of France we would like to explore, so if Magali and Nicolas ever relocate the Magnolia, please notify us immediately -- but we’d also consider another Burgundy canal cruise with them! We certainly will recommend your services to all of our friends and contacts!”

- Martin Heavner, cruised August, 2016

"We had a wonderful time during our cruise on the Magnolia. We really liked having the barge to ourselves, and the mix of meals both on board and ashore. Captain Nicolas and Tour Guide Magali were both very gracious and welcoming. The Hostess, Marie, was wonderful and attentive. Joss, the Chef, produced wonderful meals. And, the Matelot, Frederick, was a super nice guy. Everyone was both attentive and unobtrusive so that they were there when we needed them while giving us a lot of space.

The Magnolia's dining program is wonderful. First, we really liked the half-board plan in which we had three meals on our own at restaurants along the canal, and our other meals on the barge. Chef Joss crated fantastic meals. Our traveling companion casually mentioned 'Beef Burgundy' -- and Joss went out of his way to prepare it for our Captain's Dinner. Breakfasts were plentiful. All that fruit, and the fresh baked breads and pastries from local boulangeries!!!

Magali was a good Tour Guide. We loved the truffle hunting excursion, as well as the visit to the castle, and going to market in Djion. We also had fun walking and bicycling along the canal. The scenery was nice and the small villages very interesting. Cabins were larger than we expected, and the bathroom was really spacious for a boat. The decor was simple, but quite nice.

The Barge Lady's pre-trip information was great. We appreciated the guidance on what to wear, tipping, etc. We also appreciated the advice on Paris hotels. We definitely will do another barge trip in the future -- in another region of France or another country. Loved the slow travel vibe!"

- Sherry Knowlton, cruised August, 2016

"The barge experience on the Magnolia was an experience of a lifetime. Loved, loved, loved the crew. They were so friendly and attentive to our every need. I can't say enough good things about them! Cuisine was absolutely fabulous! I ate things I have never tried, and loved it all. Daily sightseeing was perfect. Very informative, and then give time by ourselves to explore. I loved our cabin. The amenities were perfect -- spacious bathrooms, blow dryers, and bottled water, to name a few. Barge Lady Stephanie responded to all my questions quickly -- and always with a smile. A wonderful experience!"

- Francie Green, cruised July, 2016

"This was the perfect holiday for all six of us. Relaxing, pampering, creative tour locations, friendly and professional crew, spotless cabins, every luxury imaginable. Can't say enough about the crew. So friendly and accommodating, but respectful of our privacy. I feel as though we had the best possible experience in the Burgundy region, thanks to Tour Guide Magali's careful planning and her knowledge of the history of the region, the vineyards, the truffles (!!!), the wineries, even a private dinner at her parents' house! We loved the remoteness of some of the sites, as if they were our own secret places that no one else knew about...it was as if it was all there just for us. Captain Nicolas...best Captain ever. The Chef, Joss, made every dish a work of art. Each meal was a masterpiece. All fresh ingredients -- which we helped him shop for at the open-air market in Dijon -- and creative combinations...words cannot describe. And our onshore meals were great 'local' experiences. Cabins went beyond all expectations. Large comfortable bed, ample closet space, huge bathroom, and quiet. Stellar service from the Barge Ladies. Everything was flawless. Seriously...you guys are awesome."

- Ibby Foster, cruised July, 2016

+ - More!

Magnolia Blog Posts, Recipes, Articles and Videos

Ask any Barge Lady, and she’ll tell you: when it comes to travel, more is better! Explore below for more of everything we love – videos, articles, blog posts, recipes and MORE!

 

Top 5 Fun Things to do on a Barge Cruise in France
Barge Lady guests know how to have a great time on the French canals. Take a look and see The Barge Lady's Top 5 Fun things to do on your barge cruise.


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