Luxury hotel barge cruising specialist European Waterways says it is among companies in France set to benefit from an anticipated influx of 15 million visitors in mid-2024 to the country, fuelled by interest in the Paris Olympics from 26 July to 11 August.
Some of European Waterways’ most popular hotel barges cruise just hours from Paris, making them convenient for guests to catch the games and enjoy a cruise as part of their visits.
“We still have availability on cabins and charters in the weeks surrounding the Olympics,” said Derek Banks, European Waterways’ Managing Director. “But we’re advising travellers to secure their spaces as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.”
With free pick-up from Paris by private chauffeured minibus as part of their all-inclusive offerings, hotel barges Renaissance, L’Art de Vivre and La Belle Epoque – the three nearest to Paris – are seeing an especially strong uptick in inquiries.
European Waterways’ eight-passenger hotel barge Renaissance cruises France’s oldest canal, the Canal de Briare, in Western Burgundy. Its route passes such notable attractions as the seven-lock flight of Rogny-les-sept-Ecluses, which is a national historic monument. The vessel also crosses Gustave Eiffel’s unique aqueduct at Briare, which spans the River Loire.
Among its excursions is a private tour of the Château de La Bussière that includes a cooking demonstration using produce from the gardens, as well as a private tour of the 11th century château Montargis and the 12th century Church of the Madeleine. Guests also enjoy a private wine tasting at the Sancerre winery of La Perriere. Other highlights include a tour and private lunch at the studio home of Rosa Bonheur, a 19th century artist renowned for her exceptional animal paintings.
The eight-passenger L’Art de Vivre offers an immersive cruise through France’s historic region of Burgundy. Excursions include a visit to the wine village of Chablis and a private tasting at the prestigious Chablis house of Domaine Laroche. This is followed by a visit to its cellar and lunch, served by a private chef, in the Domaine’s dining hall.
L’Art de Vivre traces its origins to World War I, when it supplied Allied troops during the Battle of the Somme. It was fully transformed to a “life of luxury” with wood and brass décor, modern en suite facilities, and a saloon featuring contemporary leather and traditional furnishings. Among its varied excursions is a visit to the quarry of Aubigny, source of the stone for many of Paris’s iconic buildings, followed by a crémant wine tasting in the cellars of Bailly Lapierre. Guests also visit the pilgrimage village of Vezelay and its hilltop basilica and the 12th century Château de Bazoches.
The 12-passenger La Belle Epoque, which once carried logs from Burgundy to Paris, today offers a luxury experience that envelops guests in elegance and comfort, with a wood-paneled saloon, hand-built seating and a spacious sundeck with a spa pool. Treating guests to the best of Northern Burgundy, excursions include a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Abbaye de Fontenay, a private tasting of Chablis wines at the Domaine Laroche, and a visit to the Château de Commarin, where guests will meet the 26th resident owner, Count Bertrand de Vogue, before witnessing an exclusive falconry display. Other favorites include a private meal with a Baroness at the magnificent Château de Ricey-Bas.
All vessels offer themed charters such as biking, family, golf, and wine appreciation, among others.