This trip report covers our June 2015 week on the French Country Waterways’ “Nenuphar”. Our barge journey in Burgundy, France, became the most pleasurable and perfect vacation we have had in 54 years of marriage. There is limited, non-professional, documentation on barge cruising and I had planned to prepare a vacationer’s report that would cover, in depth, our travels and all the events on the barge. After less than one day of cruising, all thoughts of thorough documentation, writing a report on my computer, or the “real world” had disappeared.
Prior to the cruise, the staff at the U.S. home office of French Country Waterways (FCW) answered every possible question I presented. My questions ranged from the availability of soymilk in the morning, to what we should wear on board and when visiting the many towns of the Burgundy region. We departed home on Thursday, arrived on Friday, and went to the Hotel Regina in Paris. FCW had recommended this hotel for pre-cruise and handled all transportation and booking arrangements for us.
Sunday afternoon we went to the hotel bar, enjoyed drinks, and met our three fellow barge passengers. For this cruise, only three of the six cabins on the barge were booked. There was a total of five passengers… a couple from Canada, an artist living in both the U.S. and France, and my wife and me from the U.S. East Coast. Exactly on time, a gentleman who said; “I’m here to take you to the Nenuphar”, approached us. Everyone’s luggage was already in the van. This van would eventually follow the Nenuphar on her journey and serve as our daily transportation into the countryside.
We were welcomed at the barge by our crew: Matthew –captain and our daily guide, Loic – pilot, Sam – matelot, Louise and Jane – hostesses, and Tadec – chef. We were soon to learn that every member of the crew served in many different capacities. Our captain was a wine expert. Our hostesses were cheese experts. Loic and Sam would sometimes be lock keepers. And, Tadec would be responsible for adding almost six pounds to me (and my wife) in six days!
It was after enjoying these amazing hors d'oeuvres with several glasses of a local, fantastic, Chablis, and relaxing in this luxurious atmosphere that I knew my plans for an, in-depth, well documented, review of the week to come had been totally destroyed. I became totally incapable of taking daily notes or documenting each event in the manner required of a quality travel reporter.
Each day of the cruise was comprised of travel through the locks, visit to a local town/market/vineyard, enjoying the beauty of the countryside, classes in local cheeses and how to eat them, classes in the local wines and how to drink them, and a multi-course lunch and dinner.
There was Internet service every evening when we were stopped at a port. I am aware of the lack of web reviews on barge cruising, especially with French Country Waterways, and truly wanted to help others who are contemplating it. The crew of Nenuphar, the time spent enjoying the barge and all that FCW delivers, lulled me into a state of relaxation that I have not experienced for many, many years. I will end my short report with a personal comment that this cruise on the Nenuphar delivered everything promised and in a way that exceeded our wildest expectations.
Stand up shower. Luxurious appointments