Gracious, glamourous, and gorgeous…you’re invited to an exclusive peek into the signature table settings aboard the barge Esperance!
A longtime Barge Lady favorite for Francophiles and foodies, the barge Esperance is celebrated not only for her quintessential Canal du Midi cruises, but for owner and Captain Mathias Gilles’ singular vision of elegant entertaining, which includes whimsical table settings, eye catching dishware, and handcrafted centerpieces.
On behalf of Captain Mathias and the Esperance, The Barge Ladies invite you to take a seat, pour a glass of rosé, and enjoy this intimate look into the elevated hospitality offered on this beautiful Premier, 6 guest vessel.
“As a kid I thought everyone had a grandma living in New York,” Mathias recalls. “I met her for the first time when I was eight years old, when she decided to come back from the US to live in France and spend time with her grandchildren.” As she lived nearby to his grade school, she would make him lunch every day, introducing him to the pleasures and treasures of the table.
“Each afternoon she would set a beautiful place for me, and each time the dishes and linens and flowers were all very different…I guess that’s how I got the bug!” he laughs.
Now, Mathias is delighted to extend this dazzling creativity to his own guests, warmly welcoming those cruising on the Esperance to lively al fresco luncheons and deliciously decadent dinner parties. Each meal’s tablescape is selected and set by the crew specifically to please the eye and whet the palate.
Augmenting the Esperance’s inviting aesthetics is the personal touch Mathias brings to the décor and design. During the barging season, Mathias relies on any number of inspirations both regional and seasonal to spark that day’s table settings.
“I first inquire about the menu, and then I have a look at the weather, then I select one item,” he explains. “It could be a flower, a candle, a statue, a string of pearls…and from there I create the table’s theme with color and texture.”
Mathias encourages his guests to embrace the approachable glamour of the Esperance at home. “From antique stores to flea markets to museum shops, you will find beautiful dishes, silverware sets, and unique pieces everywhere you go,” he says. “But be sure to look around you as well. There are so many items in your own house and in your garden you can use to bring the Esperance to your own table.”
Special thanks to Captain Mathias for so generously sharing his hospitality tips and decorating tricks!
For more information about the Esperance’s accommodations and amenities, click here.
For Barge Lady Stephanie’s blog about her birthday cruise on the Esperance, click here.
For a special cocktail recipe from the from barge Esperance, click here.