ABOVE: Adrienne is one of five hotel barges in the French Country Waterways fleet.
First-rate food is a basic component of any luxury barge cruise, but French Country Waterways Ltd. has upped the culinary ante with a unique twist: Each of the company's itineraries in Burgundy, the Upper Loire, Champagne and Alsace-Lorraine includes dinner at a Michelin-starred restaurant on shore.
If you're cruising on Adrienne or Espirit, you'll be taken to Maison Lameloise in Chagny for modern interpretations of Burgundian cuisine in a converted 15th Century coach house.
Horizon II guests are treated to dinner at L'Auberge des Templiers, a hotel-restaurant set amid parkland near the Châteaux of the Loire and Sologne.
Nenuphar passengers dine at Le Relais Bernard Loiseau in Saulieu, Burgundy.
Other things to know about French Country Waterways:
- The barges are small and intimate, carrying only eight to 18 passengers each.
- Each barge has an onboard chef who prepares meals from fresh, locally-purchased ingredients. (Lunch and dinner are accompanied by carefully-selected French wines and cheeses.)
- The cruising pace is leisurely, with plenty of time to enjoy nature, walk or bike along towpaths, and experience the pleasures of negotiating historic canals with locks that are just big enough for a traditional cargo or passenger barge.
We haven't cruised with French Country Waterways, but we have been on several barge cruises, and we can't think of a more relaxing way to cruise. If you like the idea of a slow-paced vacation with friendly companions, great food and wine, and an intimate view of rural France, we suggest visiting the French Country Waterways Web site at:
Photo: French Country Waterways