Sweeping scenery. Cultural vibrancy. Culinary excellence. Superb service. All of this and more await the Barge Ladies on a luxury barge cruise!
The Barge Ladies are excited to share our daydreams, musings, and reveries about where we want to next go barging.
Join the Barge Ladies as we reveal our plans for the cruising, culture, and cuisine we cannot wait to experience again on the small ships plying Europe’s inland waterways!
Barge Lady Ellen — GRAND CRU
Finally! I’ve been dreaming about the day when I can board a plane in Chicago and eight hours later step out at Charles de Gaulle in PARIS! I’m back in France…so what’s next? On this landmark journey I’ll discover the 8-passenger Grand Cru, the most modern and luxurious vessel in our fleet. Come along with me to cruise the canals of Southern Burgundy on a barge which is designed to be a floating boutique hotel.
With six in crew aboard to take care of eight guests, this is pampering at its best. From enjoying true gourmet cuisine that Chef creates in the open kitchen to tasting the namesake Grand Cru wines which accompany each dinner – I’ll Diet Before Departure (DBD as it is known here at Barge Lady) and indulge onboard!
The outdoor markets, boutique vineyards, and the main attractions in Beaune and Dijon still beckon even though I’ve experienced them many times. There is no way to tire of the incredible scenery along the canal and on drives to sightseeing, plus I always count on a dedicated guide to delve into regional history and culture in a creative way.
Space and amenities on Grand Cru encourage relaxation, especially in the cabins which are among the most commodious in barging. As the sun sets, there will be cocktails on deck, while the evening ends after dinner with a dip under the stars in the hot tub. These wonderful times will capture the true romance of 6-star barging, fulfilling the dreaming and anticipation of a cruise aboard the Grand Cru.
Barge Lady Caroline — L’ART DE VIVRE
These days I am looking forward to some pampering in France, and the 8-passenger L’Art de Vivre’s scenic cruise route along the Canal de Nivernais in Northern Burgundy is calling me for some badly needed R & R! L’Art de Vivre’s “floating country inn” ambiance suits my mood, as does the tranquil beauty of the canal, known as one of the most idyllic in France.
Amenities on the L’Art de Vivre immediately appeal to my sybaritic side, especially the spacious deck and its welcoming hot tub. Hours of topside lounging while enjoying glasses of Burgundy’s best from the barge’s onboard wine cellar sounds like the most refreshing and relaxing of remedies! Of course, no barge cruise is complete without gastronomy, and the L’Art de Vivre’s sumptuous seasonal fare will complete my re-immersion into the soul-soothing barge experience.
One of the most energizing sights in Northern Burgundy are the sweet sunrises set against expansive vineyards and dense forests. I am most looking forward to rising early and taking a morning run along the towpath while the day’s first light shines through the brightening sky. Jogging next to the placid canal, exploring the beautifully manicured towpath, and reveling in the sunrise’s solitude sounds like the type of bliss that only the beauty of barging in Northern Burgundy can provide!
Upon returning to the L’Art de Vivre, I plan to indulge in the sumptuous breakfast buffet, and am especially looking forward to sampling the breads and baked goods fresh from the local boulangerie. Lazing on the spacious deck, savoring each decadent bite of a chocolate croissant, and sipping a cup of Earl Grey tea…this is the “Art of Living” I cannot wait to experience again!
Barge Lady Stephanie — SHANNON PRINCESS
With cruises in France, Holland, Scotland, and England already under my Barge Lady belt, I could not be more excited for a Transatlantic trip to immerse in the idylls of Ireland on the 10-passenger Shannon Princess. Offering hyperlocal experiences along the Shannon Waterway such as a whiskey tasting, a private musical performance, and lunch ashore at an authentic Guinness & Oyster Bar, I cannot think of a better introduction to the Emerald Isle!
Known for its warm onboard atmosphere and operated by seasoned owners Captain Ruairi, Chef Olivia, and Barge Manager Ross Gibbons, Shannon Princess offers a comprehensive cruise with a delightfully familial ambiance. I can almost taste the cup of coffee with a (generous, very generous) shot of Bailey’s which I plan to savor while lazing in the hot tub. Then, fresh flowers, crisp linens, and nightly turn-downs in the cozy and comfortable cabins are all calling out to me!
Chef Olivia’s modern interpretation of classic Irish recipes is another pleasure to which I am looking forward. Formally trained in “new Irish cuisine” at the prestigious Ballymaloe School of Cookery, her contemporary menus are crafted with garden fresh produce and regionally produced cheeses, augmented by her homemade breads and decadent desserts. Thankfully, calories do not count while cruising.
Finally, as the resident history buff among the Barge Ladies, I am super psyched to visit Clonmacniose, an ancient and atmospheric Monastic site founded in the 6th century. The ruins of a cathedral, seven churches, two round towers, three high crosses, and a large collection of Early Christian graves await my arrival! Sláinte to the Shannon Princess, and let’s do this, Ireland!
Barge Lady Lori — ROI SOLEIL
As a longtime Barge Lady, dreaming about my next barge cruise is one of the job perks, and thoughts of sipping a glass of chilled rose while savoring a slow sunset in the south of France leads me to the Canal du Midi. Even though I have visited the region often, it is the convivial ambiance and Mediterranean tempo along this ancient waterway that always proves irresistible.
When the time comes to travel to France again, I’d like to enjoy the 6-passenger Roi Soleil, one of our many beautiful barges on the Canal du Midi. Designed to recall a classic motor yacht of the 1920’s, Roi Soleil harkens back to a bygone era of glitz and glamour. Her dazzling white exterior, sleek Art Deco inspired décor, and choice of two decks on which to lounge make Roi Soleil the perfect choice for travelers looking to cruise in exceptional style.
As a proper foodie, I look forward to sampling the Roi Soleil’s refined culinary delights. The light and luscious lunches are often served al fresco, better to soak up the southern sun. Sharing cocktails and canapes with friends both old and new sets the expectations for a delicious dinner, crafted from market fresh ingredients in the Chef’s open galley. Of course, the fines wines of the Languedoc, hand selected from the barge’s onboard cellar, will pair perfectly with the cuisine.
No matter how many times I tour the region, excursions to Roman ruins and canal side vineyards are always enriching. An area highlight to which I am especially looking forward is browsing the stalls of the Narbonne covered market, each brimming with colorful spices and seasonal produce. Finally, after a day of discovery, what could be better than retiring to an elegant cabin swathed in gorgeous French fabrics? Gentle reader, my week on the Roi Soleil cannot get here soon enough!
Barge Lady Juana — LA NOUVELLE ETOILE
When travel to Europe re-opens, I dream of visiting Germany, the country where I grew up and where family and friends await. And having already cruised in France and Scotland, I also hope to experience barging in a new destination. How fortunate that a cruise on the 8-passenger La Nouvelle Etoile through Germany’s Mosel River Valley will fulfill both of those dreams!
The River Mosel, perhaps best described as the Rhine’s peaceful little sister, is an idyllic waterway where boutique vineyards and beer gardens line the shore while romantic castle ruins cling to soaring cliffs high above the river. For me, it will provide the perfect familiar homecoming to Germany, combined with an entirely new experience of seeing it from the perspective of the water.
Owned and operated by the congenial Captain Jan Meijer, who personally hosts the nightly cocktail hour, La Nouvelle Etoile is a 6-star vessel with exclusive amenities such as laundry facilities and workout room. Beautifully appointed cabins will ensure a week’s worth of quiet evenings and peaceful mornings. Gourmet fare, along with a hearty German specialty or two, is served onboard, and the elegant table settings with fresh flowers and fine china will certainly enhance the culinary discovery.
A sophisticated cultural program reflects the literate and luxurious nature of this cruise, and I am so excited to tour the astonishing Roman ruins in Trier and explore the preserved Medieval castle of Burg Eltz. Leisurely bicycle rides and brisk strolls along the riverside path, set against the region’s autumnal splendor of green, amber, and gold, round out La Nouvelle Etoile’s introduction to the local lifestyles. I cannot wait to shine like a new star in Germany on La Nouvelle Etoile!