Parties of four seeking a private cruise experience will feel right at home on Le Papillon!
This intimate Dutch-built vessel has been plying the canals since her introduction as a cargo barge in 1902, and was converted to a passenger barge in the early 1980s. Her most recent owners are devoted to conserving her classic lines while updating décor and amenities to a modern standard. The two cabins and salon feature plush textiles that have been selected with refined elegance in mind. Four lucky guests will feel comfortable and cosseted on Le Papillon, whose ambiance reflects the eternal charm of the passing French countryside.
Supervising the crew, cuisine, and sightseeing are two of barging’s most experienced and creative living legends. Overseeing the barge’s operation is the charismatic Captain Leigh Wootton, who fell in love with the French canals over 40 years ago. Captain Wootton has cruised all over France and knows how to create the a magical onboard experience to showcase the highlights of each Le Papillon route. Planning the daily guided excursions is the province of William Altman, who started in barging and then segued into an on-land guiding career that took him all over France and the rest of Europe.
On Le Papillon, cuisine is creative and sumptuous. Chef creates menus based on locally-sourced ingredients from markets, producers, and even lock-keepers who may supply eggs, cheese, or a basket of ‘trompette’ mushrooms! The splendid wines of Burgundy, the Cote du Rhone, or the Maconnais accompany each meal, often with selections from local vintners. Of course, when you think of wine, what about cheese…? Guests will sample 18 different artisanal cheeses during their week on Le Papillon.
The Nivernais is known as one of the most idyllically beautiful canals in France, with a well-groomed towpath which bicyclists and walkers will love. Excursions include winetasting at Chablis and gorgeous drives through the vineyards; Auxerre, with its magnificent cathedral and delightful streets on which to stroll and shop; and a local outdoor market at Noyers-sur-Surein, one of the prettiest villages in France.