by Tori Ward, ROX Travel, Cruise and Resort Specialist | Photography by Tori Ward
I hesitated when my husband suggested a food and wine canal trip through Burgundy. Then he added cheese.
He should have led with that.
We were a bit apprehensive because we certainly are not wine experts. However, we boarded a train in Paris with plenty of enthusiasm and, in less than 2 hours, were stepping aboard our four-suite hotel barge the Savoir Vivre.
Our captain and host Ricard welcomed us with flutes of icy Champagne and warm gougère. Second mate Axelle escorted us to our comfortable rooms equipped with adjustable beds and surprisingly large bathrooms.
We learned that our fellow passengers also were hoping to increase their knowledge of wine and none were experts.
Although there are other hotel barges, we chose this one because it was the only one offering a dine-around option. We enjoyed breakfast and lunch on board each day, however, our nightly meals included pre-selected and vetted restaurants with abundant wines served as part of the cruise package.
They ranged from elegant white linen service in restaurants built on the foundations of 11-century abbeys to more relaxed timbered ceiled bistros. One night our table was in the valley below the imposing castle of Chateauneuf en Auxois with its ghostly lights beckoning us to explore its ancient interiors.
Our limited knowledge of wine was never an obstacle as during each lunch and dinner we shared our observations and descriptions ranging from, “Smells of aged leather like the upholstery of a 1960 Cadillac,” to “As fruit forward as my grandma’s Jello mold with fresh strawberries.”
And although we had a morning of rain showers, by lunch our wine was, “As dry as the New Mexican desert during an episode of Breaking Bad.”
What we did take seriously were the beautiful fields full of golden buttercups, swaying lavender and the ivory-colored Charolais cattle snoozing in tall grass lining both sides of the canal. Our route started in Escommes and followed the canal to our final mooring just outside Dijon.
The mornings were spent strolling or biking along the tow paths lining the canal. The multiple locks that make the canal navigable provide an opportunity to quickly step off and on the boat with ease. Most of the lock-gates are opened by hand crank and the lock keepers travel from one lock to the next mostly by motorcycle.
Our afternoons were spent touring the various cultural or agricultural locations along our route. After our tour of Hótel-Dieu, a hospital dating to 1443, we strolled around the charming city of Beaune. On the way back to the boat, our tour guide stopped for a loaf of fresh bread dispensed at a roadside vending machine. Right beside it was one dispensing cheese.
Toward the end of the week we arrived in the Cote d´Or wine region where we visited the Chateau du Clos de Vougeot where Cistercian monks began producing wine in the 12th century.
If you would like more information about this trip and how to book an adventure of your own ROX Travel is open for business at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Speaking French is not necessary in this friendly region of France.
- The perfect time to visit is spring with its abundant flowers and baby animals. However, if you experience allergies make sure to pack your meds.
- Train service from Paris or London to Dijon is frequent, affordable.
- The dress code for this trip is comfortable and casual.
- As tempting as it is, fresh meat and cheese can’t be brought back to the U.S.
- Do bring back wine!