We traveled on the barge La Belle Epoque owned by European Waterways from August 8th through August 14th. On this trip we travel from Tanly to Venary-Les-Laumes. From the time we were picked up in Paris on Sunday morning at about 1300 until we were dropped back off in Paris on Saturday afternoon the whole trip was absolutely fantastic. We were met in Paris by our tour guide Mathias who drove the eight of us to the La Belle Epoque where we were greeted with a warm welcome by the whole crew and served an excellent French champagne and shown to our cabin. While the barge could accommodate 12 passengers there where only eight of us on this cruise which was very nice. The cabins where fairly small but very adequate and our cabin, the Nuit St-Georges had a wonderful well sized bathroom with beautiful tile work and a fairly large shower. Dinner was served around 7:30 nightly and the food was out of this world. The chef Arnis cooked wonderful meals, and each was paired with an excellent French white and red wine which were different each day. There were two vegans on our trip and chef Arnis prepared similar meals for the vegan taste and they also looked wonderful. Also, each day one of the two hostesses, Diana or Mariana would serve the meals and present the wines to us. Perhaps we were lucky but all eight of us seemed to be very compatible and enjoyed each other’s company. It was not uncommon to still be sitting at the dinner table at 10:30 or 11:00 in the evening just talking and having a good time along with an after-dinner drink.
Our daily excursions were very interesting and enjoyable. Most of them took place in the afternoon after cruising on the canal in the morning. Some of the other guests took time in the morning to walk along the tow path while we cruised on the canal through beautiful farmland and some small villages. Probably the highlight of the tours was Wednesday which was champagne day. On that day we visited a beautiful champagne winery followed by a wonderful seven course lunch with a Baron and Baroness at the Chateau. On the last evening after while moored a four-piece Dixieland band came on and played for us for about and hour while we drank champagne on the foredeck.
If you are interested in a very relaxing six days filled with wonderful food and wine accompanied by interesting excursions, we could not recommend the La Belle Epoque more highly. On a scale of 1-5 I would rate this trip a 6 for us and we have traveled and cruised extensively.