French Odyssey epitomises dream for barge travel

What better way to explore the countryside than on a barge, which urges holiday-makers to slow down.
What better way to explore the countryside than on a barge, which urges holiday-makers to slow down. Contributed

I BLAME it on Rick Stein. He started my longing for barge travel through the serene waterways of France.

Anyone who saw his Rick Stein's French Odyssey series, where he sailed on a barge from Bordeaux to Marseille over 59 sumptuous days, eating, cooking and romping in the glorious French countryside, would have felt a yearning to follow in his footsteps.

I can think of no better way to unwind than to sit on the deck of a barge while it glides at snail pace along serene canals flanked by leafy plane trees, watching the locals bicycle along the tow paths, looking out to lush vine-covered countryside, gazing to fields of sunflowers, with perhaps the occasional sighting of a grand chateau before sailing through cool tunnels and under low-hung bridges until gliding elegantly into beguiling small villages.

Just the dream has made me slow down already.

Let me embroider the fantasy by joining the locals at the vibrant markets to hand pick (the way French people do) tomatoes, cucumbers and olives, to chat to the cheese man about which of the myriad varieties would suit a picnic lunch, to step into the boulangerie for a just-baked baguette to tuck under the arm (a baguette under the arm is mandatory in this French fantasy).

For more fantasy embellishment, the next day tied up by another village of infinite French loveliness, I will lunch on the barge decks on a salad nicoise or graze slowly on a charcuterie plate with a bottle of chilled pale pink wine close to hand.

Oh, stop it. I've made myself ill with envy at my own delicious fantasy.

I visit France every year and know the seduction of pretty, small villages with colourful markets. I know the ripeness of the countryside when the apricot and cherry trees are heavy with fruit and the grape vines full with promise of a good harvest to come.

But I haven't known France (yet) from the deck of a slow-moving barge, and now this glorious deal from European Waterways has me salivating with longing, yearning for a lazy week gliding through the boundless charms of France.

European Waterways has itineraries to take you all over France on its fleet of barges whether you want big, small, budget or all-out luxury.

Particularly appealing is the deal from European Waterways for new Champagne cruises (see opposite).

Imagine gliding into Epernay where some of the world's most renowned Champagne Houses live and are waiting there just to pop a cork for you.

Let's pack our bags.

Cruise away

EUROPEAN Waterways, has added four new Champagne region cruises in June to its French itineraries for the European summer this year.

Aboard Panache, the 12-passenger hotel barge, the new departure dates are June 7, 14, 21 and 28.

One of the great agriculture regions of Europe, the waterways of Champagne are just to the east of Paris.

The region starts about 120km from Paris, around the city of Meaux and stretches along the beautiful River Marne to the city of Epernay.

For the convenience of travellers in Paris there are minibus transfers to and from the hotel barge.

Highlights of the Champagne route include:

Cruising the delightful River Marne and the Canal Lateral a la Marne

Private tastings at three select champagne houses, including in Epernay  

  •   Visit to the Chateau Thierry WW1 battlefield and the moving cemetery at Belleau Wood  
  •   Tour of Reims, the magnificent 800-year-old Gothic cathedral and a tasting at a renowned "fromagier"  
  •   Visit to the hilltop village of Hautvillers, where Dom Perignon discovered the "methode champenoise"  
  •   Transfers to and from Paris in air-conditioned minibuses  

The fully-crewed, six-night cruise includes all gourmet meals prepared by the on-board chef, fine wines, an open bar, daily escorted excursions, admissions and local transfers for $7150 per person.

For people wishing to have Panache exclusively in Champagne, European Waterways will take $14,500 off the 12-passenger charter price, reducing the cost to $5300 per person.

More on:

Topics:  ann rickard travel

Date nights under $50

ACCORDING to The Bachelor falling in love involves helicopter rides, private jets, shopping trips, and we mustn’t forget the hot tubs.

Brisbane's arts and culture events centre stage

You loved the film, now you're about to love the musical. Don't miss The Bodyguard The Musical in Brisbane this July.

THE arts and culture events you don't want to miss.

Homewares stores to fulfil your Instagram dreams

No Caption

You too can become an Insta-star with these fab stores.

Top 10 Brisbane experiences to cross off your bucket list

Do yourself a favour and get amongst the food truck scene. Eat Street is a great place to start.

A GOOD bucket list doesn’t have to span continents or cost millions.

Six mega sporting events you need to be at this year

Don't miss all the action trackside this season.

IF THERE is one thing Brisbane does damn well, it’s play host.

Six reasons to get to Brisbane this Autumn

The Brisbane Powerhouse has free comedy on Friday nights.

AUTUMN has to be up there with one of the best seasons of the year.

The best things to do in Brisbane are FREE. Yes, FREE

Mt Coot-tha is a seriously gorgeous way to start your day.

HEADING to the big smoke doesn’t have to come with a big price tag.

Huge jets coming to Rocky Airport as passenger numbers rise

Cr Neil Fisher at Rockhampton Airport. Photo Allan Reinikka / The Morning Bulletin

Airport passenger numbers continue to grow

Motorist's shock as rider 'tumbles' after he's hit by Lexus

ACCIDENT: A cyclists was clipped by a car on a busy Rocky road, a witness says.

BIKE rider hit by a car at 'full throttle' on a busy Rocky road.

Cowboy tells of terrifying moment bull tore liver

The moment Rohan is stomped by a bull during the PBR.

“When I started dry reaching in the arena I knew it was bad.”

Local Partners

Support given to DV victims

The Isaac Regional Charity Fund (IRCF) is supporting grassroots community organisations to deliver care packs to domestic violence victims in the region.

Win a $1000

Learn More

What to expect at Birds of Tokyo's Ipswich gig

The band will perform at the Racehorse Hotel on Friday.

BAND member Glen Sarangapany talks music, pub grub and doing shoeys

Bouldy Bush Ballad Bash a country treat

GREAT WEEKEND EVENT: Keith Jamieson at the Bouldy Bush Ballad Bash.

Country music festival to feature Jeff Brown

Revving up for Classics next weekend

Classics by the Coast, Bell Park, Emu Park

Engines set to roar at Emu Park family day out next weekend

Rebel Wilson says she didn’t have to lie to make it

I’M not glamorous, but that doesn’t make me a liar: that’s the message from Rebel Wilson on her second day in the witness box.

All bets on Judah to win battle to become the Voice

Judah Kelly from The Voice.

Judah Kelly is the clear favourite to win the competition.

Kim Kardashian slammed over Manchester tribute

Kim Kardashian's tribute to Manchester didn't go down well

Top Gun 2 movie is happening, Tom Cruise confirms

Tom Cruise in a scene from the movie Top Gun.

TOM Cruise delights fans with announcement on Sunrise.

The first Baywatch movie reviews are in

From left, Jon Bass, Alex Daddario, Zac Efron, Dwayne Johnson, Kelly Rohrbach, and Ilfenesh Hadera in a scene from the movie Baywatch.

Critics were less than impressed.

Boyfriend loses it over sex lie

Stacey Louise’s sex lie destroys her relationship.

SEVEN Year Switch’s Stacey told a fib about her sex life.

Why Crowe’s thankful for those ‘bulls**t’ rumours

Russell Crowe and Terri Irwin in 2007.

Crowe and Terri Irwin have been dodging dating rumours for years now

How Toowoomba house prices compare in Australia

For sale sign in front of home.

Here's what $700,000 will buy you in Toowoomba, Brisbane and Sydney

One of Maryborough's most historic homes is still for sale

FULL OF HISTORY: Trisha Moulds is owner of the historic Tinana state known as Rosehill. The beautiful home is currently for sale.

It has been the scene of both joy and tragedies over the years.

The face of the Sunshine Coast's overpriced rental crisis

Alyx Wilson had to rent a $385 unit in Currimundi because the market was too competitive for cheaper rental housing. She is now renting a room from friends who own a house in Currimundi, and says its much more affordable.

Young people feel the strain in competitive, expensive rental market

WATCH: Take a tour of a tradie's dream home

5a Bruce Hiskens Court, Norman Gardens, going for $720,000. INSET: Lea Taylor.

Huge block with potential for anything

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!