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
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baked goat cheese
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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 01, 2022 to May 07, 2022 $4,950£0€0$0$0$4,950£0€0$0$0BOOK NOW
May 15, 2022 to May 21, 2022 $4,950£0€0$0$0$4,950£0€0$0$0BOOK NOW
May 22, 2022 to May 28, 2022 $5,800£0€0$0$0$5,800£0€0$0$0BOOK NOW
Jun 12, 2022 to Jun 18, 2022 $5,800£0€0$0$0$5,800£0€0$0$0BOOK NOW
Jul 03, 2022 to Jul 09, 2022 $5,800£0€0$0$0$5,800£0€0$0$0BOOK NOW
Jul 10, 2022 to Jul 16, 2022 $5,800£0€0$0$0$5,800£0€0$0$0BOOK NOW
Aug 07, 2022 to Aug 13, 2022 $4,950£0€0$0$0$4,950£0€0$0$0BOOK NOW
Aug 14, 2022 to Aug 20, 2022 $4,950£0€0$0$0$4,950£0€0$0$0BOOK NOW
Aug 21, 2022 to Aug 27, 2022 $4,950£0€0$0$0$4,950£0€0$0$0BOOK NOW
Aug 28, 2022 to Sep 03, 2022 $5,800£0€0$0$0$5,800£0€0$0$0BOOK NOW
Sep 04, 2022 to Sep 10, 2022 $5,800£0€0$0$0$5,800£0€0$0$0BOOK NOW
Sep 11, 2022 to Sep 17, 2022 $5,800£0€0$0$0$5,800£0€0$0$0BOOK NOW
Sep 18, 2022 to Sep 24, 2022 $5,800£0€0$0$0$5,800£0€0$0$0BOOK NOW
Sep 25, 2022 to Oct 01, 2022 $5,800£0€0$0$0$5,800£0€0$0$0BOOK NOW
Oct 02, 2022 to Oct 08, 2022 $4,950£0€0$0$0$4,950£0€0$0$0BOOK NOW
Oct 09, 2022 to Oct 15, 2022 $4,950£0€0$0$0$4,950£0€0$0$0BOOK NOW
Oct 16, 2022 to Oct 22, 2022 $4,950£0€0$0$0$4,950£0€0$0$0BOOK NOW
Oct 23, 2022 to Oct 29, 2022 $4,950£0€0$0$0$4,950£0€0$0$0BOOK NOW

Supplementary Information

Seasonal Prices for Individuals, Groups & Charters

24 April - 21 May, 2022

  • $4,950 per person
  • $4,950 single cabin (when available)
  • $57,500 12 person charter
  • $52,000 10 person charter
  • Theme charter - $2,000 supplement

22 May - 16 July, 2022

  • $5,800 per person
  • $5,800 single cabin (when available)
  • $64,500 12 person charter
  • $59,500 10 person charter
  • Theme charter - $2,000 supplement

17 July - 27 August, 2022

  • $4,950 per person
  • $4,950 single cabin (when available)
  • $57,500 12 person charter
  • $52,000 10 person charter
  • Theme charter - $2,000 supplement

28 August - 1 October, 2022

  • $5,800 per person
  • $5,800 single cabin (when available)
  • $64,500 12 person charter
  • $59,500 10 person charter
  • Theme charter - $2,000 supplement

2 October - 29 October, 2022

  • $4,950 per person
  • $4,950 single cabin (when available)
  • $57,500 12 person charter
  • $52,000 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.

Ship Details

With the capacity to accommodate up to 12 passengers in eight suites, the “Luciole" is a 114-foot (34.7-metre) barge that cruises the sun-drenched Nivernais Canal. Our itineraries combine leisurely journeys through the vineyard-blanketed landscapes of Burgundy with daily bus excursions to explore the region’s medieval market towns and chateaux. 

Featuring a flat base and straight sides, the “Luciole" is designed with eight ensuite cabins that are located on the lower deck while the upper deck features a salon with expansive windows. In addition, there is a raised sundeck that provides the perfect setting for sundowners while watching the majestic landscapes of France roll by. 

Cabins

There are three double cabins, two with twin beds and two designed to accommodate singles, all with plenty of storage and porthole windows that can be opened to allow the refreshing breezes in. Individually controlled air conditioning units mean you can have the temperature exactly as it suits you. In the bathroom, you’ll find a toilet and shower, as well as a hairdryer, safe, towels, and toiletries from Molten Brown. 

Salon

Our spacious salon is the perfect place to relax and mingle, with comfortable seating and a light-filled dining area where meals are served. Wall-to-wall picture windows offer sweeping views of the surrounding countryside, meaning you never miss a moment of the action. You can grab a drink from the well-stocked bar or take advantage of the library and music system, all while keeping in touch with family and friends back home thanks to the complimentary Wi-Fi. 

Sundeck

The raised sundeck is the ideal spot to enjoy your morning coffee or a sundowner while watching the centuries-old farms and lock houses pass by. If you want to cycle along the towpath and explore the charming villages along our route, you can take advantage of the bicycles and helmets that are stored just below on the front bow deck.

Barge Dimensions:

  • Length 114 ft (34.7 metres), Beam 17 ft (5.18 metres)

Throughout:

  • 220v electricity
  • Air conditioning & heating

Saloon:

  • Large picture windows, comfortable sofas & chairs, dining area, Wi-Fi, open and well stocked bar, library, sound system

Cabins:

  • 3 doubles (or twins), 3 twins, 2 singles that all include: port holes/windows, USB charging, ample storage, personal safe.

En-Suite Bathrooms:

  • Showers, heated towel rail, molton brown toiletries, towels, hair dryer

Exterior:

  • Large raised teak sundeck, table and chairs, bicycles and helmets

Staterooms

Ship Photos

common area inside french barge
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dining room inside french luxury barge
ensuite bathroom on luciole barge
seating area on luxury barge
luciole barge sundeck
breakfast served onboard barge in France
luciold luxury barge in French Canal
common area inside french barge
inside cabin on hotel barge
cabin on barge
dining room in barge
dining room inside french luxury barge
ensuite bathroom on luciole barge
seating area on luxury barge
luciole barge sundeck
breakfast served onboard barge in France
luciold luxury barge in French Canal

Deck Plans

deck plans for Luciole Barge

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FAQ & More

Are transfers to and from Paris included in the trip?

Yes! 

PARIS TRANSFERS
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.

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.

Arriving early?
A free left-luggage facility for Luciole passengers is provided at the Hotel Mansart for those arriving early and wishing to explore the area unencumbered. Breakfast at around 15 Euros is also available, which is particularly nice for passengers arriving very early to the hotel from overnight flights.

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.

Charter groups
For Charter Groups we are able to organise a group rendezvous and drop-off at a location of your choice in Paris or at an airport. Please do not hesitate to ask.

Independent travel
Passengers preferring to join the Luciole, without making their way to Paris, are welcome to arrive directly at the barge. When the Luciole is moored in Clamecy, at the southern end of our route, our bus can make a small detour on the way there from Paris to meet passengers in Auxerre. Private car parking can also be arranged in Auxerre.

For on-going car hire in the region, Auxerre is the most suitable location. At the end of each cruise we are able to drop passengers directly at the car hire office of their choosing.

Onward travel
We expect to arrive in Paris between mid-day and 1pm, under normal conditions, though this can not be guaranteed.
We strongly recommend that flights are booked after 5pm and Eurostar trains after 3pm.
With regret, the Luciole transfer service is unable to take responsibility for any missed travel departures.

Does the Luciole crew speak English

The majority of the barge crew are English and also speak French. The Captain however, is from Chile and speaks Spanish, as well as English and French.

Can you accommodate dietary requests?

We are easily able to accommodate dietary requests. It is always useful to know in advance, so our chef can prepare suitable alternatives. Once on board the Luciole, the crew will double check to ensure all is covered.

What about motion sickness while cruising?

There is very little motion that you would experience while cruising. The Luciole is a very stable boat. Although the Nivernais Canal combines river and canal sections, since the waterway is not deep there really is no rocking, she gently glides through the water and a flat hull means people are suprised by her very good stability.

Does the Luciole have air conditioning and heating?

The barge has air conditioning and heating throughout. Cabin temperatures can be individually controlled by our passengers.

Can I charter the barge?

The Luciole can be booked for family and friends charter weeks. During these weeks we are very happy to accommodate children and our chef is always able to cook meals for the young ones.

We can also change and adapt the tours if requested to include different interests and children based activities

Should I purchase travel insurance?

We highly recommend that you purchase travel and medical insurance for your trip at the time of paying your cruise deposit.

What is included in my cruise cost?

The cruise rate includes:

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.

Is there Wi-Fi onboard?

The Luciole has an WI-FI internet facility on board. However, due to the fact that it is a mobile connection and we are often cruising through remote areas, there is occasionally a slow download response. During the majority of our tours there is also access to internet cafes.

What should I wear?

Regarding attire, the Luciole has a relaxed ambiance: our crew do not wear a uniform and we hope everyone quickly feels at home. Casual comfortable clothes are the best to bring and in any of the seasons, be it late spring, summer or early autumn, layers of clothes are always the most useful to have with you.

For gentlemen during the day: trousers/shorts, shirt/T shirt and jumper. In the evening, occasionally, a jacket may be worn and even sometimes a tie, but we would certainly not say this is the norm, probably just a change of shirt for supper, should you wish.

For ladies during the day: trousers/shorts/skirt, blouse/T shirt and jumper with a change of top for the evening, possibly a change of trousers but not always.

For the last evening onboard, guests might wear something a little dressier, but again it is certainly not necessary. Low-heeled comfortable shoes are the most suitable for the boat and tours while a rainproof is a good idea too.

We do hope this helps you with your suitcase packing!

Are toiletries provided?

Molton Brown toiletries are provided in each cabin, consisting of: soap, shower gel, shampoo, body lotion and a useful travel kit.

Are hairdryers provided?

Yes, hairdryers are available - just ask when you arrive onboard.

Will our cabin be cleaned daily?

Yes, your cabin and bathroom are cleaned every day and fresh towels provided.

Is smoking permitted?

Smoking is strictly forbidden inside the Luciole. We request that passengers who do smoke on the deck or off board, do so with due consideration for fellow guests.

What is the electric voltage and what about plug sockets?

The Luciole has 220 volt electricity.

Are plug sockets are standard European fittings. So electrical equipment will require adaptors if travelling from outside the EU or UK and we recommend you pick an adaptor before you leave home or when passing through the airport, as we cannot provide then onboard.

Is there a luggage limit?

There is no luggage limit on the Luciole. However, we are always grateful when passengers pack compactly. Once unpacked, suitcases can be stored in the bow for the duration of the cruise.

What kind of entertainment can we expect on the Luciole?

The Luciole has a music system in the saloon, with a good collection of CDs. Alternatively passengers are welcome to plug in their own streaming devices.

There is a library on board with a good selection of reading and reference books. Cards and board games are also available and for charter groups with children, there are many other toys available upon request. 

What can of activity or exertion lever can we expect on the off boat activities?

Auxerre - a walking tour

The first part of the tour is up via Place St Nicholas to the Cathedral of St Etienne. This is a steep walk initially but flattens out at the cathedral and remains so for the 5 - 10 minutes into the town centre, part of which is over large flat cobbles. For passengers with walking difficulties, we are able to take them up to the cathedral in our bus and can easily bring them back down the hill again by bus if required.

Chablis - visit to the winery of Brocard and then into the vineyards

The winery of Servin has easy access for visitors, since there is very little walking and it is all on the flat. Chairs are readily available for those who find standing for too long a problem. The visit to the vineyards will be adapted accordingly to suit everyone.

Noyers sur Serein - walking tour of the market town

A lovely easy walking tour on the flat around the medieval town. For those not wanting to walk too far there are cafés where we can drop passengers at the beginning of the tour and meet up with them again 30 minutes later. Its very much a do as you wist visit with free time to wander and absorb the atmosphere - sit in a café to watch the world go by or of course do both!

Vézelay - visit to the Basilica of St Mary Magdalene on the Eternal Hill

Our tour is able to drive up the Eternal Hill where there is an optional short walk to the panoramic view from the ramparts, followed by a tour of the Basilica. After the tour passengers are able to stroll and browse the delightful shops down the hill or call into one of the many cafés. Passengers with difficulties, however, can enjoy the café at the top of the hill, near the Basilica.

Bazoches - tour of the chateau, home to the Marquis of Vauban

It has to be said that this is the trickiest of our tours. Access is through the gardens and via the imposing outside stairway to the ground floor of the chateau. There is a stone spiral staircase, with hand-rail to the first floor and towards the end of the tour a staircase down, followed of course by the descent back into the gardens. Our tour guide will do all he can to enable every passenger to see as much as possible but, should anyone find the ascent to the first floor too challenging, the ground floor armoury room and the chateau courtyard are delightful places to absorb the chateau atmosphere while the group proceeds through the remaining chateau rooms.

We sincerely hope this answers your queries and should you have further concerns, do speak to our Tours Guide, when you arrive on barge Luciole.

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