The essence of France reveals itself, not in great monuments or spectacular sights, but in the unspoilt beauty of its countryside–in fields of scarlet poppies, in glades of poplars throwing dappled light, in the Mediterranean sunlight filtering through vines.
The physical delight of its timeless landscapes is enriched by the enjoyment of life that is evident everywhere, from vineyards to villages, from château to gîte: a glass of Burgundy tasted at the winery, a meal in a traditional bistro, the clack of metal as farmers play pétanque.
Savour these pleasures as they are meant to be enjoyed–at leisure–on a cruise aboard a barge or, as it is known locally, a péniche-hôtel.
Wining and dining is a highlight of any cruise and the five-course candlelit dinners are a particular treat. A private minibus accompanies each barge to take guests to nearby châteaux, abbeys, monuments, antiques markets and scenic spots. Bicycles are also available on board. Pedalling through cornfields to a village for a pastis in a sunny square… now that’s what holidays are all about.