Enjoy an all-inclusive barge cruise through the scenic Loire Valley.
About the Tour
Cruise serenely along the idyllic waterways of the Loire Valley and take in the historic towns and villages that have grown prosperous on the bounty of the region's world-class wine trade.
- 6 night cruise aboard the MS Deborah
- Standard Class rail travel onboard Eurostar
- 17 meals including 1 gala dinner
- All-inclusive selection of complimentary beers, wines and soft drinks
- Excursion to Briare including Château de Trousse-Barrière and Briare's Museum Conservatory
- Excursion to Sancerre including a cheese and wine tasting
- Excursion to Pouilly-sur-Loire including a traditional wine tasting
- Excursion to La Charité-sur-Loire and its priory
- Excursion to Fontmorigny Abbey and lantern lit tour of Nevers
- Exclusive meeting point at our dedicated Departure Office in St Pancras
- Transportation by deluxe motorcoach
- Services of a professional tour escort and knowledgeable local guides for touring
Day 1 – London to BriareMeet your group and Tour Manager at our dedicated Departure Office in London St Pancras before boarding the Eurostar service to Paris. From here, transfer to your barge, The Deborah, at Briare. After meeting the crew, enjoy dinner on board, cruising through the Briare Aqueduct.The aqueduct was once the longest navigable aqueduct in the world between 1896 and 2003 until the introduction of the Magdeburg Water Bridge. The Briare Aqueduct was originally designed to replace a river-level crossing, as it was too susceptible to flooding. Overnight ship. (D)
Day 2 – Briare to LéréToday, explore Briare, discovering the 19th-century Château de Trousse-Barrière, formerly an old farmhouse and bought by engineer Hugues Cosnier at the time of the construction of Briare's canal. Later make a visit to Briare's Museum Conservatory, dedicated to the Loire Valley and its canals. Become immersed in the traditions of this proud canal-faring region as you learn about the development of boating on the Loire and the navigational techniques that sailors used to utilize.Following time at the museum continue cruising to Léré, a small-town set amidst a popular farming area and by the banks of the Loire. Overnight ship. (B, L, D)
Day 3 - Léré to Ménétréol-sous-SancerreToday explore beautiful, medieval Sancerre, an attractive hilltop town that overlooks the undulating scenery of its surrounding region. Léré was formerly in the land of Gaul and settled by the Celtic Bituriges tribe, more recently Sancerre was a regional command center for the French Resistance in the Second World War, coordinating the destruction of many bridges in the region to hinder German movements. After time here, you are treated to a tasting of the region's famous aromatic Sauvignon Blanc, along with a selection of cheeses at a goat farm.Whilst Sancerre was once known for its Pinot vintages, a terrible case of phylloxera insects decimated the vineyards. During the replanting process, the formerly favorable Pinot grapes were replaced with Sauvignon Blanc crops, which it is famous for today. Overnight ship. (B, L, D)
Day 4 - Sancerre to Chapelle MontlinardToday enjoy a visit to Pouilly-sur-Loire, an idyllic town which is famous for its white wines. Take a tour of the vineyards and cellars where the Pouilly-Fumé grape is grown and the wine stocked. The grapes of this wine form a grey bloom coating at maturity, which is the color of smoke, hence the 'Fumé' name; however, Fumé also describes the celebrated 'gun smoke' bouquet of this particular wine. Indulge in a tasting that allows you to experience the famous flavors of this delightful wine firsthand. Fittingly, the wine cultivated in this area of France would be exclusively exported and delivered by barge, after the opening of the Canal de Briare in 1642. Afterwards, continue to Chapelle Montlinard, a rural village that comprises of farmland and a small collection of rustic hamlets. Overnight Ship. (B, L, D)
Day 5 - To Marseilles-lès-AubignyToday enjoy a tour of La Charité-sur-Loire, built around its priory - the original Cluniac priory in the area which has withstood much turmoil in its long history, including a great fire and the French Wars of Religion - during which it endured an 8-month siege by Catholic forces. During the French Revolution a road was planned to cut through the land on which the priory stood, but thankfully it was saved by a report by Prosper Merimée, the first inspector of monuments, who thought the priory was historically significant enough to be spared. Make a visit to the priory before heading to a nearby farm. After time to explore, return to the ship, where a Gala dinner is served tonight. Overnight ship. (B, L, D)
Day 6 – NeversExplore Fontmorigny Abbey today, a former Cistercian monastery that is now privately owned and has seen a resurgence of late, becoming one of the most popular monuments in the region. You then see the floral gardens of Apremont-sur-Allier, where there is free time to discover the delight of its gardens - considered some of the most beautiful in France - at your own pace. Tonight, enjoy a lantern-lit tour of Nevers. Overnight ship. (B, L, D)
Day 7 – Return homeAfter breakfast disembark in Nevers then transfer to Paris for the Eurostar service to London. (B)
The high-speed Eurostar trains link St Pancras International in London with Paris and Lille in France as well as Brussels in Belgium.
Eurostar's Standard Class coaches feature two seats on either side of the central aisle, most of which is arranged in an 'airline' seating configuration with drop down tray tables. There are two tables for four per carriage. Passengers traveling in Eurostar Standard Class coaches can take advantage of the Bar-Buffet which sells a range of snacks, meals, hot and cold drinks - including Champagne!
The MS Deborah
A sister ship to the Raymonde, the Deborah is a stylish river barge which offers the best in modern cruising. This intimate boat allows easy access to the canals of the Loire Valley, giving you an enviable window onto one of the most beautiful regions of rural France, as we cruise at a serene pace along these fabulous waterways.
Tour Dates & Prices
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Itinerary and accommodations may vary for 2021 departures. Please speak with a rail specialist for details.