As a Barge Lady, a question we are asked most often is, “Which is your favorite barge?” Now, the typical response we give is, “They are like our children, we love them all equally for different reasons.” As a love letter to our guest’s favorite barges, we are pleased to announce the official and inaugural Barge of the Month blog post! With years of glowing raves and gushing reviews, and Barge Lady Juana’s recent canal cruise, the 3-star, 8-passeneger Savoir Vivre was the obvious choice for our very first Barge of the Month feature. Enjoy!
From its petite size to its all-inclusive dining program, everything about the barge Savoir Vivre is accessible, adorable, and unique! Savoir Vivre and her three exceptional crew members consistently create a week’s worth of marvelous memories encompassing the cuisine, culture, and lifestyles so precious to the authentic Burgundian ideal.
Barge Lady Juana cruised on the Savoir Vivre in 2018, and was delighted by Burgundy’s appealing ambiance. She reflects, “What stood out to me the most was how peaceful and quiet the region was. The scenery along the way was breathtakingly beautiful and just felt completely organic. I took a few runs along the towpath and it seemed like I was entering miles of untouched nature.”
Within this idyllic French landscape, the cultural excursions offered to the guests on the Savoir Vivre are carefully curated to showcase Burgundy’s places and personalities, including a private room-by-room tour of an amazingly preserved Medieval castle, Chateauneuf; a visit to a small batch cheesemaker where you can pick out freshly made goat cheeses to serve back on the barge; and, best of all, a whole morning at the Dijon market, mingling with locals while browsing family-owned stalls filled with the region’s culinary bounty.
Juana enthuses, “Dijon is such a vibrant city, and immersing ourselves in the everyday life of the people of Dijon was a great experience,” As a foodie herself, she continues, “The covered food market was especially impressive with beautiful fresh produce, and a vast selection of seafood and meats.”
Of course, feasting on French cuisine is the cornerstone of the Savoir Vivre’s appeal. As the only barge in our fleet without a galley or a Chef, the dining program offers a tantalizing combination of breakfasts and lunches catered onboard and dinners taken ashore. Twice a day, gourmet meals are delivered to the barge, freshly crafted by the boutique kitchen of a local brasserie, ensuring a lovely sampling of regional specialties and seasonal goodies!
Juana fondly recalls, “Every day at luncheon there was a new quiche as well as a different main dish…salmon, lamb, duck, chicken… and did I mention the cheese course yet?” Second helpings are of course encouraged!
Dinners are then enjoyed ashore at a variety of auberges, cafes, and bistros, allowing for a Chef’s Tasting Tour of signature dishes and gastronomic treats. From Michelin-starred multi-course menus to a casual evening at a lively creperie, the dinners served to the guests on the Savoir Vivre are as delectable as they are varied! Barge Lady Juana reveals, “My favorite dinner of the week was at the Abbaye de la Bussiere, a remodeled 12th-century Cistercian monastery that is now a luxury hotel property. The beautifully appointed dining room and stellar service paired with four courses made for the perfect dinner.” Bon appetit, Juana!
Oenophiles are also encouraged to explore the “grape” opportunities for vineyard tours and wine samplings. With the wineries of the Cote d’Or within reach of the Savoir Vivre’s cruise route, the region’s celebrated viticulture is on full display with leisurely tours of the area’s breathtaking vineyards and generous pairings of both reds and whites offered at every lunch and dinner. An onboard wine collection highlights the region’s prized vintages from esteemed labels such as Chassange-Montrachet and Savingy-les-Beaune. Those who enjoy craft cocktails will adore sipping a Kir Royale made with cassis, a lovely spirit distilled from local blackcurrants. Cheers to the beverages onboard the Savoir Vivre!
Last, but certainly not least, the three crew members of the Savoir Vivre are three of the best people on the canals of France! Captain Richard Megret is known his professional acumen and personable style, combined with a hilarious sense of humor and inimitable charm. Bilingual in French and English, he ensures the Savoir Vivre is one of the most pleasurable barges to be on anywhere. Tour Guide Laura Aplin is British by birth, and approaches her excursions with an astonishing yet conversational recall or facts and figures, thanks to a background in history and wine. Of the barge’s Hostess, Justine Lappert, Barge Lady Juana says, “Justine could not have been more gracious and charming. Upon arrival to our initial mooring, she guided us on to the boat where a champagne welcome was waiting for us!”
A perfect barge for casual travelers for whom experience trumps amenities, the Savoir Vivre is one of our favorite 3-star options for those with special interests in culinary exploration, European history, and local lifestyles.