Montargis to Châtillon-sur-Loire
7 days/6 nights
The waterways of France are tranquil, peaceful and the surrounding countryside is a magical mix of old-world charm and postcard perfect scenery that has attracted famed artists for centuries. Glide along the Canal de Briare enjoying the ambience and beauty of the country’s oldest canal. This 7 day/6 night itinerary combines elegant chateaux and small country villages with scenic wonders and the famed wine-growing region of Sancerre. Visit the UNESCO World Heritage listed Château de Fontainebleau, explore the pretty village of Rogny-les-Sept-Ecluses and the namesake 350-year-old lock, enjoy a tasting at a renowned winery in Sancerre and cruise across the impressive Briare aqueduct.
Today you will be met and transferred by private chauffeured minibus to the spacious Renaissance, where a champagne welcome with canapés awaits. Meet the Captain and crew and fellow guests before settling in. There may be time for a walking tour of the pretty village of Montargis, before dinner on board.
Embark on your first cruise this morning through the Loire countryside before mooring at Montbouy. There are great walking and cycling opportunities along the towpath today. After lunch visit the splendid Château de Fontainebleau, a national museum and UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is the only royal and imperial château to have been continuously inhabited for seven centuries, and every French royal family has added its own architectural style and features when in residence. Enjoy a private tour through the rooms and galleries not usually on public view, including Napoleon III’s Imperial Theatre, the Stag Gallery and the Column Room. Return to the barge for dinner.
This morning visit the privately-owned Château de La Bussière, known as the ‘fishermen’s castle’, with its wonderful ornamental and vegetable gardens. Here, you will enjoy a cooking demonstration with the barge chef using seasonal produce from the gardens. In the afternoon, cruise to tonights mooring spot at the pretty village of Rogny-les-Sept-Ecluses, near its 350-year-old, 7 lock-flight, now disused and a national monument, from which it takes its name. Take a short stroll to the locks before dinner on board.
Today, be immersed in the world of Impressionist art. Start your day with a short walking tour of Moret-sur-Loing, famous for its association with the Impressionist painter Alfred Sisley and see several of his most famous scenes. Afterward, continue to the Chateau home of Rosa Bonheur, who was a celebrated female artist of the 19th Century, and a pioneer in a man’s world. Bonheur’s best-known paintings are of animal scenes including one of Buffalo Bill on horseback. Enjoy lunch in the chateau’s private salon, before joining the present owner for a tour, to view some of her works and to learn more about her history. Later, cruise past the Rogny lock flight to La Gazonne, a beautiful rural mooring surrounded by lakes and ponds. Dinner on board.
This morning sit out on the deck as the vessel heads to tonights mooring location at the little town of Briare, the site of Gustave Eiffel’s magical aqueduct across the River Loire. Today also offers some excellent opportunities for walking and cycling.
Preview Friday’s crossing of this amazing 10,000 ton, 662 metre Pont Canal which was completed in September 1896.
In the afternoon, visit a renowned winery in Sancerre (such as Domaine Henri Bourgeois in Chavignol) for a tour and private tasting. This beautiful, medieval hilltop village overlooks a vibrant region that has been practicing viticulture since Roman times. Enjoy dinner on board this evening.
Your first stop today is a visit to the market in Briare to explore its food and fashion stalls. Return to the barge for lunch. The barge will set off once more and cruise across the Briare aqueduct, with its ornate iron lampposts and railings, spanning the wide River Loire below.
This afternoon, tour the delightful Château de Ratilly and its rather unusual selection of turreted towers, construction of which began in 1270. In the castle’s workshops, witness traditional pottery being hand thrown and have the chance to try this artisanal craft for yourself. Return to the barge for the Captain’s Farewell Dinner.
After breakfast, you will be transferred by private chauffeured minibus to Paris. Tour ends.
Please note: This is a sample itinerary and is subject to change. On alternate weeks, the cruise will be in the reverse direction.