No.19 -The Quiet Waters, A 'Just Cruise Programme'
This 9-day holiday is centred on 6 full days of cruising, and for those whose first passion is to cruise and enjoy the relaxation and scenery, there is no need to plan anything else. We do however pass close to some of the great historic attractions along the waterway, so on most days there will be the option to break away from the cruise for a few hours to visit these highlights. There's no extra charge for the excursions, you are just asked to pay your own entrance charges where they apply
PLEASE NOTE: Price is per person and based on two people sharing a twin/double room. Single room supplements and upgrades are not included.
Our coach departs Folkestone mid-morning with a planned lunch break in or near Reims. From here we continue to our hotel in Semur-en-Auxois, where we expect to arrive at around 18:00.
For our first day of cruising it's less than 30 minutes from our hotel to board the Natalia in the small town of Venarey-les-Laumes, a place of legend associated with the Roman conquest of the Gauls at the Battle of Alesia in 52 BC. With the pretty River Brienne alongside, we start the long descent towards the canal's junction with the River Yonne at Migennes - still 6 days away. Passing through pleasant dairy and arable farmland with hillside woodlands, we continue north-westwards as far as the town of Montbard. For today, our visit option is the UNESCO-listed Cistercian Abbaye de Fontenay. The abbey attracts a great many visitors and we choose to go in the morning when it is cool and quiet, returning to the boat in good time for lunch.
It's another short transfer from the hotel as we re-board in Montbard, and we cruise a full day along the 20km of picturesque waterway between Montbard and the village of Ravières, with no less than 12 locks to navigate. Montbard is a historical centre of metallurgy and is especially celebrated as the home of the great naturalist Buffon. The coach will offer the option of pausing here in the morning before again catching up with the boat in time for lunch on board. For those visiting Montbard there should also be time for a visit to the village of Buffon to see its acclaimed 18th century forges.
Returning to Ravières, we can inspect the old ramparts and tower before we continue cruising. Today is another full cruise itinerary with an especially winding route as the canal follows the meanders of its feeder river, the Armançon. After lunch, the break-out option for the day is one of the great renaissance châteaux of Burgundy at Ancy-le-Franc, whilst cruising concludes close-by at Lézinnes.
Today we check out of our hotel in Semur-en-Auxois as our waterway route is bringing us close to the great city of Auxerre where we will stay for the rest of our holiday. But there is no need to make straight to Auxerre - with luggage safely in the hold of the coach we return to Lézinnes, and the next leg of the cruise voyage takes us past a succession of small villages to the wine town of Tonnerre. Here we make a brief visit to the centre to see the Fosse Dionne, a remarkable Karst Spring deployed by the townspeople of centuries past as the local wash house. The break out option (again after lunch on board) is to visit the renaissance Château de Tanlay
Continuing westwards on the Canal de Bourgogne, today's destination is St-Florentin, dominated by its great 16th century church perched on the hill overlooking the town. Our optional excursion today is in the morning to the stunning Cistercian cathedral-abbey of Pontigny.
No cruising today as we all enjoy a free day to explore Auxerre. Boasting one of the most famous skylines in all of France, Auxerre is a delightful place to visit. Highlights may be the magnificent Cathedral St Etienne and Abbaye St Gervais (the latter with its own museum), but there are numerous other attractions both in the medieval centre with its pedestrianised shopping streets, and along the riverside where there is some lovely parkland walking and you can even set sail in your own pedaloe! The Natural History Museum is another option - it's just along the street from our hotel. We don't include lunch today so that guests can enjoy the change of being able to choose their own brasserie.
Our final day of cruising as we drop down from the Canal de Bourgogne through its intersection with the River Yonne at Migennes, and we now turn upstream to enjoy a day of river cruising, through the small towns of Gurgy and Monetau and concluding with the wonderful river perspective of Auxerre as the cruise reaches its close.
Coach departs for home, with a planned lunch stop in or near Laon.
Executive Coach Travel
Assistance with booking taxi connections and/or hotel stay pre-departure
Eurotunnel or ferry crossings
Hotel accommodation at the 3* Hostellerie d'Aussois in Semur-en-Auxois and 3* Hotel Normandie in Auxerre (4 nights at each hotel)
Evening Meals with wine
Cruise itinerary as described, with on-board lunch and including wine and a free bar
Optional visits to Abbaye de Fontenay, Châteaux de Tanlay, Ancy-le-Franc, Pontigny Abbey (entrance costs not included)
Free day in Auxerre
Optional free time in Montbard
The 3* Hostellerie d'Aussois is handily situated on the outskirts of the lovely village of Semur-en-Auxois and is within walking distance of the centre. This well-rated hotel offers all facilities normally expected of a mid-range establishment and includes free wifi and an outdoor pool. It regularly receives good reviews for cleanliness, quiet, and warmth of welcome, and it has a good restaurant.
The family-run Hotel Normandie in Auxerre is another well-rated 3* hotel situated only a few minutes walk from Auxerre's spectacular river frontage and its historic centre.
Our tour package includes all meals with the sole exception of lunch on our free day in Auxerre, and on our travel days, when it is planned to break the journey so that guests can lunch as they please in Reims or Laon.
On cruise days an on-board lunch is included and a free bar operates throughout. As well as teas, coffees and soft drinks, the bar stocks bottled beers and a range of wines including local Chablis, Bourgogne Aligoté and Irancy rouge, Crémant de Bourgogne, and a Provence rosé.
For our evening meals at our first hotel we will dine as a group with a 3-course, 3-choice menu with wine. For our stay at the Hotel Normandie we dine as a group on the final evening and for the 3 prior evenings we use restaurant vouchers to eat out a la carte..
On Board Facilities:
Our boat has been designed to comfortably accommodate a coachload of passengers in lounge-standard seating and there is additional seating outside for those wanting to take in the views and fresh air. There are 3 bikes on board free of charge for anyone who would like to ride the towpath. The boats has two WC/washrooms. There is no smoking on board.
Our boat is hybrid-engined and normally charges overnight from shore supply. Its diesel engines are only used if battery power is exhausted, so most of the time you can look forward to silent cruising. The saloon roof is bedecked with solar panels which reinforce battery endurance and support the boat's air conditioning system, and the hull design ensures that we create minimal wash, and therefore do not add to the problems of bank erosion.
We also operate to a strict waste-avoidance policy. We try to completely avoid the use of single-use plastics and we operate to a responsible recycling code. All meals and drinks on board are served using normal crockery, cutlery and glassware. Our crew also has a brief to support the recovery from rivers and canals of floating litter whenever this is practicable.