HOTEL BARGES / LUCIOLE
The rendezvous in Paris at the Hotel Mansart with the Luciole's representative is at 2.30 pm, followed by the journey to Auxerre in the barge's private bus. The Luciole will be moored on the impressive river frontage of the city, overlooked by the Cathedral, the 13 - 15th Century Abbey and Parish Church. A Champagne reception welcomes our guests on board
The cruise upriver leads us into beautiful pastoral countryside intermingled with sweeping reaches of the River Yonne . After lunch we arrive at the Crément making centre of Bailly . Here in 1972 local winemakers restored the fortunes of this ancient vineyard area with the production of sparkling Crémant de Bourgogne in what are now known as the Caves de Bailly . The picturesque villages of St Bris and Irancy, also devoted to wine, stand nearby.
Our excursion: in the afternoon is made to a wine cellar in the vicinity of Chablis, barely sixteen kilometres to the east of Auxerre. Chablis is one of the greatest names in wine, with production within a strictly-defined area. The most prestigious wines are produced from vineyards on the south of the town on 'Grand Cru Hill'.
The cruise in the morning along the canal takes you towards the River Cure on the ' Vermenton Arm' and the village of Accolay .
Our excursion: to historic Auxerre is in the afternoon. The city offers many historic features: the Cathedral of St Étienne , Abbey of St Germain , with the Romanesque crypt and attractive clock tower in the centre of the town, built in the 15th Century. The Church presides over one of the most attractive waterfronts in France, recently renovated and where the Luciole now has her own private mooring. Place St Nicholas, by the river, commemorates the patron saint of barge people. Nearby from the Place du Coche Eau, passengers once boarded packet-boats for Paris. Auxerre was originally a Roman camp and became a centre of learning and pilgrimage in the Middle Ages. It was declared a holy city by the Pope in the 11th Century. The town's strategic position ensured a rich trading history and also saw Joan of Arc stop twice to pray in the Cathedral of St Étienne . Napoleon famously stayed in Auxerre during the hundred days following his return from exile on Elba, before heading north to Waterloo in 1815. The afternoon provides a good opportunity to visit the shops and take time to enjoy French provincial life.
Our excursion: in the morning from Accolay , takes us to the delightful town of Noyers-sur-Serein . With its friendly market stalls, half timbered houses and turreted ramparts it is easy to see why Noyers is considered one of the most beautiful villages in France. Above the town, the reconstruction of the medieval castle progresses. Catholic Henry IV ordered the destruction of the Protestant-owned château in 1599. Look out for the orchids in May and June. One of our charter groups, with a passion for these rare wild flowers found 6 amongst the old grounds of the chateau, much to the great delight of Willem Adriaan de Bruyn , who leads the renovation of this gem of Burgundian heritage.
The cruise after lunch continues southwards to a night-time mooring beneath the walls of Mailly-le-Château. Here you can take the steep path from our mooring at Bourg den Bas, or Lower Town up to Mailly-le-Château where a terrace offers spectacular views of the Yonne Valley.
Our excursion: to Vézelay is in the morning, where the spectacular 11th Century Basilica dominates the steep sided hill town which has numerous shops and cafes. Vézelay was the historic starting point for two of the Crusades to the Holy Land, where Saint Bernard preached to the Crusaders in the presence of Louis VII and Eleanor of Aquitaine . Vézelay owed its position of influence and prestige since it holds the relics of Saint Mary Magdalene and a Papal declaration attesting to their authenticity. The town was a high point of Medieval pilgrimage and was a major gathering point for the Crusaders on the way to Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain. There is plenty of time to soak up the atmosphere of this hilltop town and a super chance to visit the numerous craft shops selling clothes and gifts. Another opportunity too, to stop at one of the local cafes and watch the world go by (very French cafe life!).
The cruise in the afternoon to an evening mooring at Lucy-sur-Yonne passes through a region where dramatic cliffs stand by the water's edge. Watch out for the delightful ducks and geese, who have made this canal bank their home. Along the cruise route the Rochers du Parc and those at Les Saussois are regularly used by climbers. Do take a look at our video for a true idea.
The cruise in the morning takes us to the delightful Medieval town of Clamecy , a worthy venue for the climax of our cruise. The town features the 12 -16th Century church of St Martin that stands up on the hill in the town centre . Beside the river, stands the church of Our Lady of Bethlehem, which was opened in 1927. It was dedicated to the 50 successive bishops of Bethlehem who, unable to preside in Bethlehem itself, were resident at Clamecy from 1225 until the French Revolution in the late 18th Century.
Our excursion: on the final afternoon is to the imposing Château of Bazoches . Set on a hillside amidst splendid rolling countryside, this was the 17th Century home of the Marquis de Vauban (1633-1707). Vauban was France's great military tactician and engineer, who was responsible for the creation of the first coherent network of fortifications surrounding the developing kingdom of France. He was also a prolific and at times visionary writer who remained steadfastly loyal to his roots in the Morvan region around Avallon and Vézelay and considered the Château of Bazoches as his true home.
After breakfast, the Luciole bus departs for Place Vendôme , central Paris where taxis are available for onward travel. Anticipated arrival is at 1pm . For guests wishing to travel elsewhere in France by train or hire car, a stop can always be made in Auxerre en-route to Paris
Please note: The cruising itinerary will be in the reverse direction, if the Luciole is moored in Clamecy at the start of the week. Our bus can make a small detour to collect passengers from Auxerre should they not wish to rendezvous with us in Paris