Cruising France's Nivernais Canal aboard the “Luciole”

Cruising between the city of Auxerre and the medieval town of Clamecy, this week-long itinerary aboard the “Luciole” takes in some of the most majestic scenery along the Nivernais Canal. It combines leisurely cruising with daily excursions to explore the centuries-old churches, chateaux, and wine cellars along the route. 

By day, your captain will expertly pilot the barge along the 18th-century waterway before mooring each evening alongside charming towns and villages. Our knowledgeable guides will immerse you in the region’s history and culture, with plenty of time for wine tasting and shopping along the way. In addition to delicious meals served by our culinary team, you will be treated to a shore-based lunch in a classic French restaurant. 

Please note that “Luciole’s” direction of travel alternates each week. If you have specific interests (wine tasting, biking, etc.), special itineraries can be arranged.

The Luciole Luxury Barge

The “Luciole" began her working life in 1926 as the “Ponctuel”, a mule-drawn freight vessel that transported coal along the French canals. Eventually, she was equipped with an engine and would carry cargo loads weighing up to 180 tonnes. 

An entrepreneur, Richard Parsons, purchased the vessel in 1966 and had her converted into the first hotel-barge in the French port of Dunkirk. Renamed “Palinurus”, she transported holidaymakers along the waterways of France, with guests including the American author Emily Kimbrough. During her 1968 trip, she conceived her novel “Floating Island”, which recounted her days spent cruising the Burgundy Canal. 

In 1985, the “Palinurus” was purchased by Inland Voyages Limited and renamed “Luciole” (“Firefly”) before undergoing a complete refit. Aside from doing away with the bunk-bed cabins and shared bathrooms, the vessel was redesigned with spacious ensuite cabins and the saloon roof was raised. However, vestiges of her cargo-carrying days have been retained, such as the curved cargo hatch cover on the front bow deck. 

Over the years, the “Luciole” has been continually upgraded, with a new engine and generators installed in 2000. Ten years later, she was “stretched” in a Parisian shipyard, which involved slicing the barge in two and adding an additional 17-foot section. While updates and improvements to the interior of the “Luciole” have been made, it’s a point of pride that the spirit of her early years as a cargo vessel and as a pioneer in the hotel barging industry are retained. 

Images & Videos

luxury barge in france
people on tour in France
building exterior in france
baked goat cheese
bikers in france
man in front of french shop
chef giving cooking demo to people
beef filet with wild mushrooms
barge sitting in canal
people walking along french canal
people on wine tasting tour
people on walking tour of french city
coffee and cream on table
hotel barge sitting in canal
barge sitting in front of french city at sunset
luxury barge in france
people on tour in France
building exterior in france
baked goat cheese
bikers in france
man in front of french shop
chef giving cooking demo to people
beef filet with wild mushrooms
barge sitting in canal
people walking along french canal
people on wine tasting tour
people on walking tour of french city
coffee and cream on table
hotel barge sitting in canal
barge sitting in front of french city at sunset

Itinerary

map of the barge luciole route
Collapse all days

Day 1

*View our weekly itinerary below, please be aware that the direction of travel alternates each week

Transport to Auxerre, Board the Luciole

Your journey begins at 2:15 pm at the Hotel Mansart in Paris where you will be welcomed by a representative of the “Luciole”. Aboard a private bus, you will be transported to the riverside city of Auxerre, which is roughly two hours away. Watched over by the Cathedral St. Etienne and the 13th-century Abbey of St Germain, you will get your first glimpse of the “Luciole”. A champagne reception featuring mouth-watering canapes awaits after you have settled into your cabin. 

ACCOMMODATION : Luciole
MEALS INCLUDED : Dinner

Day 2

Cruise Nivernais Canal, Wine Tour, Moor at Vincelles

This morning, we will cruise through the breathtaking countryside that lines the banks of the River Yonne and pass by the historic town of Bailly. In 1972, local winemakers began producing sparkling Crémant de Bourgogne in the region’s limestone caves and reignited interest in its ancient vineyards. Admire the charming villages of St Bris and Irancy before we moor on the banks of Vincelles. 

In the afternoon, we will visit a wine cellar in the vineyards of Chablis, which is located to the east of Auxerre. Only wines produced within a strictly defined area can be labeled “Chablis”, with some of the most prestigious grown in the vineyards of Grand Cru Hill. 

ACCOMMODATION : Luciole
MEALS INCLUDED : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3

Cruise to Accolay, Walking Tour

Our morning cruise will take us from Vincelles to the village of Accolay as we head towards the Vermenton Arm of the River Cure. It’s then time to stretch our legs with a walking tour of Auxerre to visit its magnificent cathedral and centuries-old abbey. Marvel at the 15th-century clock tower in the pedestrianized Old Town and photograph the iconic statue of “Cadet Rousselle". Originally a Roman camp, Auxelle became a pilgrimage center in the Middle Ages and was declared a holy city in the 11th century. Today, Auxelle boasts one of the most attractive river fronts in France and is the perfect place for soaking up the atmosphere of French provincial life. 

ACCOMMODATION : Luciole
MEALS INCLUDED : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4

Noyers-sur-Serein, Walking Tours

This morning, we will travel from Accolay to charming Noyers-sur-Serein, which is clustered with half-timbered houses and turreted ramparts. Watched over by a medieval castle, it is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful towns in France and is renowned for its friendly market stalls. In May and June, the town is particularly attractive when the orchids are in bloom. 

After lunch, we will continue cruising south to moor beneath the centuries-old walls of Mailly-le-Château. If the mood takes you, you can follow the steep path that leads from the Bourg d’en Bas to Mailly-le-Château’s terrace, which offers superb views across the Yonne Valley. 

ACCOMMODATION : Luciole
MEALS INCLUDED : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5

Vézelay Tour, Cruise from Mailly-le-Château to Chatel Censoir

We’ll begin the day with a visit to the steep-sided hill town of Vézelay, which is dominated by an 11th-century basilica. Once a gathering point for the Crusaders en route to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, it was here that Saint Bernard preached in the presence of Louis VII and Eleanor of Aquitaine. Vézelay is renowned for holding the relics of Saint Mary Magdalene and is clustered with local handicraft stores. After exploring the atmospheric streets, why not take some time out to watch the world go by from one of Vézelay’s charming cafes. 

In the afternoon, we will cruise from Mailly-le-Château to Chatel Censoir along a stretch of the canal that’s framed by dramatic cliffs. Ducks and geese have made their home along the banks while rock climbers challenge themselves on the famous Rocher du Parc.

ACCOMMODATION : Luciole
MEALS INCLUDED : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6

Clamecy, Tour Château of Bazoches

On our final morning of cruising, we will head to the medieval town of Clamecy, which centers around the 12th-century Church of St. Martin. Overlooking the river is the Church of Our Lady of Bethlehem, which is dedicated to the bishops who (unable to preside in Bethlehem) were resident in Clamecy between 1225 and the late 18th century. 

Also on the itinerary for today is a tour of the Château of Bazoches, an imposing castle that perches on a hillside surrounded by spectacular countryside. It was home to the famous French military engineer, Marquis de Vauban, in the 17th century and he was steadfastly loyal to his roots in the region. Aside from developing a network of fortifications to protect the kingdom of France, he was also a prolific writer. 

ACCOMMODATION : Luciole
MEALS INCLUDED : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7

Goodbye Breakfast, Retrun to Paris

After breakfast on board the “Luciole”, it’s time to say goodbye to your crew and board the bus for Paris’ Place Vendôme. Our expected arrival time is around 1:00 pm. Taxis will be available here for onward travel to your hotel of choice or Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport. If you want to travel elsewhere in France by train or to pick up a hire car, we can make an additional stop in Auxerre on our way to Paris.

MEALS INCLUDED : Breakfast

Dates & Rates

DatesAdult (USD)Child (USD)
May 05, 2024 to May 11, 2024
Lowest Tier Price
$6,700£0€0$0$0$6,700£0€0$0$0
May 19, 2024 to May 25, 2024
Lowest Tier Price
$6,700£0€0$0$0$6,700£0€0$0$0
Jun 02, 2024 to Jun 08, 2024
Lowest Tier Price
$6,700£0€0$0$0$6,700£0€0$0$0
Jun 09, 2024 to Jun 15, 2024
Lowest Tier Price
$6,700£0€0$0$0$6,700£0€0$0$0
Jun 16, 2024 to Jun 22, 2024
Lowest Tier Price
$6,700£0€0$0$0$6,700£0€0$0$0
Jun 23, 2024 to Jun 29, 2024
Lowest Tier Price
$6,700£0€0$0$0$6,700£0€0$0$0
Jun 30, 2024 to Jul 06, 2024
Lowest Tier Price
$6,700£0€0$0$0$6,700£0€0$0$0
Jul 07, 2024 to Jul 13, 2024
Lowest Tier Price
$6,700£0€0$0$0$6,700£0€0$0$0
Jul 14, 2024 to Jul 20, 2024
Lowest Tier Price
$6,700£0€0$0$0$6,700£0€0$0$0
Jul 21, 2024 to Jul 27, 2024
Lowest Tier Price
$6,700£0€0$0$0$6,700£0€0$0$0
Jul 28, 2024 to Aug 03, 2024
Lowest Tier Price
$6,700£0€0$0$0$6,700£0€0$0$0
Aug 11, 2024 to Aug 17, 2024
Lowest Tier Price
$5,750£0€0$0$0$5,750£0€0$0$0
Sep 08, 2024 to Sep 14, 2024
Lowest Tier Price
$6,700£0€0$0$0$6,700£0€0$0$0
Sep 15, 2024 to Sep 21, 2024
Lowest Tier Price
$6,700£0€0$0$0$6,700£0€0$0$0
Sep 29, 2024 to Oct 05, 2024
Lowest Tier Price
$6,700£0€0$0$0$6,700£0€0$0$0

Supplementary Information

Seasonal Prices for Individuals, Groups & Charters

*Please inquire for 2025 dates and rates.

5 May - 8 June, 2024

  • $6,700 per person
  • $6,700 single cabin (when available)
  • $75,000 12 person charter
  • $69,000 10 person charter
  • Theme charter - $2,000 supplement

9 June - 3 August, 2024

  • $6,700 per person
  • $6,700 single cabin (when available)
  • $67,500 12 person charter
  • $62,100 10 person charter
  • $56,000 8 person charter

4 August - 24 August, 2024

  • $5,750 per person
  • $5,750 single cabin (when available)
  • $67,000 12 person charter
  • $60,500 10 person charter
  • Theme charter - $2,000 supplement

25 August - 5 October, 2024

  • $6,700 per person
  • $6,700 single cabin (when available)
  • $75,000 12 person charter
  • Theme charter - $2,000 supplement

6 October - 26 October, 2024

  • $5,750 per person
  • $5,750 single cabin (when available)
  • $67,000 12 person charter
  • $60,500 10 person charter
  • Theme charter - $2,000 supplement

Included: 

  • Transfer from Paris to the Barge Luciole and return to Paris at the end of your cruise. Our crew greet you with Champagne and Canapes.
  • All meals commencing with sunday evening dinner through to saturday morning breakfast, including all wines, open bar with a wide range of spirits.
  • Lunch on shore, in a classic French restaurant.
  • All excursions off the Barge in our air conditioned Mini Bus. All entrance fees to tours.
  • The use of our on board bicycles.

Not Included: 

  • Airfare to and from France
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Tips for Luciole staff and crew

Important Paris Transfer Details: 

  • Free transfers between Paris and the Luciole are included in our cruise prices
  • We rendezvous on Sunday afternoons at the Hotel Mansart in central Paris
  • Left luggage facility provided for those arriving early

Pick up

  • Our Sunday rendezvous is at 2.15pm at the Hotel Mansart in central Paris, located one street away from the Place Vendôme and a stone’s throw from the Paris Opéra.

Drop off

  • At the end of each cruise, we provide a transfer service back to Paris, to the Place Vendôme, where taxis are available for onward travel. The estimated arrival time is at 1pm, allowing for a rest-stop along the route.
  • The hotel reception staff receive passenger names in advance and will direct our guests to the rendezvous point. We kindly request that passengers gather for the rendezvous no earlier than 1.30pm.
  • The Luciole Tour Guide, will meet and drive passengers in our bus to the barge, travelling in the region of 100 miles and arriving at the Luciole for a Kir Royal reception between 5 and 6pm. A rest-stop to stretch your legs will be made halfway along the route.

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