of travel information cross my desk every day. I find it impossible
to read everything. But when a package addressed to Journeywoman
arrived from The Barge Lady, you can be sure that I sat up and
took notice. This had all the makings of a potential female-friendly
encounter. A quick review of the material and, a phone call to
the gals at Barge Lady headquarters proved promising--Was I interested
in cruising the waterways of Burgundy? On a barge? Absolutely!
I could combine this rural relaxation with some running 'round
in Paris. A perfect combo.
and packing for a barge adventure is easy. Think informal. Think
layers, think comfort. Leave the fancy clothes at home. This is
not a CRUISE cruise where you dress for dinner. A clean T-shirt,
jeans or a skirt, and sneakers are just about as fancy as it gets
on board. Rule of thumb-- Carry only what will fit in a small
suitcase. Everything else is excess. Trust me!
rendez-vous with the barge is easy, too. As long as you can find
your way to The Regina Hotel, the centrally designated Paris pick-up
point, you're set. Eight of us were picked-up in a luxury mini-van
and driven to Burgundy country where our floating guest house,
the Luciole, was moored. (Actually, I arrived earlier than I needed
to, checked my bag at the hotel and popped across the street to
visit with the Mona Lisa at the Louvre). She definitely smiled
when I told her where I was going!
Luciole accommodates up to 14 passengers and two of its cabins
are designated for solo travellers. Pricing is definitely 'go-alone'
friendly with the single supplement only an additional $50 U.S.
are very nicely appointed with a toilet and shower en suite, they're
air-conditioned when it gets real hot and lots of luxuriously
thick towels lend a lovely pampering touch.
dining room cum lounge is small enough to be intimate, but large
enough to accommodate all guests with ease. When the weather's
not perfect, this space becomes a relaxing haven with books, music
and comfy corners to chat in. And, a peek behind the bar reveals
an array of bottles to suit every taste. Just help yourself! It's
on the house!
open deck is where outdoor relaxation takes place. Pull up a chair,
take the sun, feast your eyes on the passing scenery, enjoy a
glass of wine and get to know your co-bargers. Or if you're feeling
energetic, get off the barge at the first lock, then walk, jog
or bike along the water (No! You don't need to bring your own.
The barge carries bicycles for everyone). And, don't fret about
over-doing the exercise bit. You can get back on board at any
of the locks along the way.
the barge makes its way along the Nivernais route there are opportunities
for longer stops -- imagine tiny villages to explore, wineries
to visit and maybe a local market or two to enjoy. Van excursions
are available for those treats that are a bit farther afield.
There's the cathedral in Auxerre with its 13th century stained
glass, the vineyards of Chablis and the hill town of Vezeley.
This is definitely sightseeing with a difference!
Captain Peter Oldham and his pilot e, Michael Rubley are both
very knowledgeable, extremely competent at what they do and (please
pardon my sexism) very, very lovely to look at! How lovely? Think
ads for Italian jeans and you've got the picture! Watching them
was part of my relaxation.
on the Luciole are a gourmet's delight! While the dress code is
"very informal," the menu, the table settings, the wines and service
are a study in casual elegance. Jane, a certified Cordon Bleu
chef is in charge of the kitchen and ... my, how that girl can
cook! Whenever possible, local French specialties are presented.
Each dinner features the region's wine and cheeses and each breakfast
includes croissants and baguettes baked at the closest village
what fabulous dinner conversation! Try mixing a California space
engineer, a Canadian west coast prosecuting attorney, a gal who's
lived in Japan for umpteen years, a Journeywoman, and countless
bottles of fabulous Burgundian wine. I'd do it again in a minute!
further information about barging in Europe contact: The Barge
Lady, 101 West Grand Ave, Suite 200, Chicago, IL, 60610. Tel:
(800) 880-0071 or (312) 245-0900. Prices for six nights on the
Luciole start at $1800 U.S.