Sample some of France’s best known wines on this relaxing cruise down the Loire Valley

Relax and sample some of the Burgoyne’s famous wine and cheese as you cruise down the scenic waterways of the Loire Valley. Known as the ‘Garden of France’ this region is celebrated for its wines and agriculture. As you guide the canal boat down the Loire River, you can take your time and choose your pace and stops however a must do are the towns of Pouilly Fume and Sancerre, famous for its Sauvignon Blanc grapes. With an expert local guide, specialised in the Upper Loire wines, you learn about the regions viticulture and why this part of France has been known for its wines since Roman times. When not cruising the river or canals you can cycle through the vineyards or visit the famers markets in the picturesque towns and villages along the way. At the end of each days cruising you can watch the sun go down from the sundeck while enjoying the mandatory glass or Sauv Blanc. This relaxed trip is the perfect way to sample the Burgundy region of France.

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Terms & Conditions

Start
Decize, France
Finish
Chatillon sur Loire, France
Country
France
Style
Original
Theme
Sailing
Code
ASSD
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 3, Max 8

Why we love this trip

  • Visit one of Frances most famous wine making regions and discover what makes this region so fertile for growing grapes and the history of wine making in the region

  • Enjoy a full day touring local vineyards and chateaux’s with an expert guide specialising in wines from the Upper Loire Valley (Sancerre, Pouilly-Fume, Menetou Salon), learning all about the process of wine making before relishing a tasting of the locally made wines

  • Delight in a relaxing bike ride through the scenic countryside, visiting vineyards, cellar doors and local farmers markets, picking up delicacies to be enjoyed for the evening meal on the sundeck of your boat

  • Discover the history and importance of the Burgoyne region, from Roman times, through the middle ages to the early and late 20th century

  • The best way to enjoy your wine is to match it with the Loire’s culinary delights, such Crottin de Chavignol, duck rillettes, or anguilles in a beurre blanc sauce

Is this trip right for you?

  • Although we don't ask travellers to complete a Physical Participation Form for this trip, we do ask that you read through the trip notes carefully to ensure that this trip is right for you. You’ll need to feel comfortable with moving about the boat and leaving and re-boarding the vessel when you make landings, which can involve walking a gangplank. The cabins and communal areas of the boat are spread over two decks, and the steps between the decks are steep. Please keep this in mind when choosing this trip.

  • While on the water and exploring the surrounding countryside, you may be exposed to the sun for large parts of the day. It’s important to use sun protection and drink plenty of water.

  • While the itinerary features visits to wineries, cellar doors and a cheese factory, the rest of the trip is designed to be flexible. The group will be in charge of setting the pace and deciding where to stop from a selection of quaint villages and historic towns. You'll even have the opportunity to steer the boat yourself, with your leader always at hand. A sense of humour and flexibility will ensure you have a fun, relaxing trip through this beautiful part of the world.

  • Although quite an important wine growing region in France, there is still a sense of calm around the many towns and villages you'll visit. This trip is meant for those who want a slower and relaxed pace. The boat will ease down the canal at walking pace, as this is the law, which offers an opportunity to really slow down and immerse yourself in the Burgoyne way of life.

  • We want you to have fun and enjoy this trip, but please show respect for your fellow travellers by not smoking on-board and try not to overindulge in too much of the local wines. Remember your fellow travellers and more importantly the Leader will need to rise early to prepare the day’s activities so they may not appreciate being woken at 3am by a chorus of La vie en Rose.

Itinerary

Welcome to canal boating - Intrepid style. Our new Waterways of Burgundy trip provides a hassle free way to enjoy the towns and more importantly wines of the Loire Valley. This trip offers by the berth options, so whether you're within a group or an individual this is the perfect trip for you. Although we’ll have a tour leader accompanying you on this trip, half the fun of river/canal boating is donning the captains hat and taking control of the wheel. Don’t worry if you don’t have any experience, before we set off you will be given a hands on demonstration on how to navigate and operate the boat – it’s not hard the only options are forward, reverse, thrusters for side movement and mooring, all at a top cruising speed of 8km’s an hour! Itineraries operate from
While some activities are included, you will also have plenty of opportunity to participate in optional activities or go off on your own for a couple of hours. Your leader will be on hand to facilitate visits to the towns and villages that you’ll pass along the way and lead optional bike tours through the vineyards with cellar door visits (bicycle hire is included as part of your trip). This region of Burgundy is called the ‘Garden of France’, with locally grown fruit and vegetables, beef, cheese and snails just as well-known as its wines, so be prepared to loosen your belt a notch or two by trip end.
The trip commences promptly at 4 pm on Day 1. On arrival at the base you will meet your leader and fellow travellers, before receiving a briefing from the base manager on how to operate the boat before heading out onto the water for a hands-on cruising demonstration. You'll be shown how to drive the boat safely and responsibly, how to navigate through the waterways, canals and locks and where possible, how to manoeuvre the boat for mooring. It’s vital that you feel confident before setting off, but please be reassured that your leader will be with you at all times.
Tonight you will spend the night moored at the base. A starter pack will be delivered this evening and it includes bottled water, soft drinks, wine, beer, crackers, a baguette, jam, peanuts and biscuits. You can choose to visit a local supermarket with the leader to purchase some pate, cheese and cold meats or head out to a local restaurant for dinner where you can experience a local speciality and a drop or two of the local wine. Don’t over indulge too much as the wineries of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fume beckon tomorrow.
Accommodation
  • Overnight boat (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Your boat comes fully equipped with bed linen (including bath towels), crockery and cutlery, as well as bicycles, Wi-Fi access and a BBQ and lantern for the top deck. We’ve also included a food starter pack as part of your trip. This should see you through a few breakfasts, and morning and afternoon teas (for a full list of provisions, please refer to ‘meal descriptions’ in the trip notes below). 
Over the next 5 days you’ll be visiting the below mentioned towns. Aside from the full day winery tour from Sancerre, none of the days or activities are locked in. As a group, with guidance from the leader you can decide what towns to visit and for how long. This flexibility will allow you to make this trip your own.
Breakfasts are usually comprised of fresh croissants and baguettes from the local boulangerie (bakery), coffee & tea (included in the starter pack), cheese, cold meats and perseveres. As a group you can walk or cycle to the local market or supermarket or if there’s an early riser in the group they can head off first thing in morning while the rest of the group have a lazy sleep in. The leader will have a comprehensive guide to the local amenities and restaurants so you don’t have to worry about looking up where your next meal will come from.
Your boat, the Grand Classique, comes equipped with a fully operational kitchen, there is a gas stove top, an oven, pots, pans, utensils, a coffee plunger and tea pot. There is a large dining table, which can easily seat the group, as well as an outside dining table on the sundeck, with shade cloth and cushions for comfort. One of the best experiences we’ve found is visiting a local market to stock up on local produce then heading back to the boat for a dinner cooked by you, the travellers, and enjoyed on the sundeck while watching the sun go down – of course washed down by a glass or two of sauvignon blanc.
Decize
Situated at the junction of the Canal du Nivernais and the Canal Latéral à la Loire, and at the confluence of the Rivers Loire and the Aron, Decize is an interesting town to visit, and is full of history. Walk along the charming winding streets and discover the old fortified walls and the ruins of the Castle Decize. Visit the beautiful church Saint-Aré and marvel at the view over the Loire from the huge old bridge. For dinner tonight your leader can suggest and book a restaurant so you can treat yourself to the delights of this amazing region.
Plagny
A quiet harbour surrounded by nature. It's a perfect place to stop and take a walk or cycle along the paths in the sunshine and enjoy a picnic. With produce picked up in Decize this is the perfect location for a group cooked dinner enjoyed on the sun deck. No doubt there will be a few bottles of wine on hand to enjoy as the sun goes down.
Nevers
One of the biggest cities in the area, there are plenty of sights to see and history to discover. You may want to visit the medieval Porte du Croux, the huge Cathedral Saint-Cyr, or the impressive Palais des Ducs. This is the perfect place to discover a part of France's history and heritage.
Marseilles-les-Aubigny
A lovely, tranquil town Marseilles-les-Aubigny is perfect for discovering on foot and the perfect place for people watching. Have lunch in one of the local cafes and watch as the locals go about their day
La Charité sur Loire
La-Charité-su-Loire is a wonderful city with many ancient buildings. You can cycle or walk into town and visit the impressive Church Notre-Dame-de-la-Charité-sur-Loire as well as the well-preserved battlements on the outskirts of town. In the centre, enjoy the unique view over the Loire on the Old Bridge
Sancerre & Pouilly-Fume
You’ve probably tasted Sancerre’s greatest export without even knowing it – Sauvignon Blanc. What makes the Sancerre perfect for viticulture (agriculture in general) is the outcrop of chalk it sits on that runs from the White Cliffs of Dover, through Champagne and Chablis. The valleys surrounding Sancerre, and across the river in Pouilly-Fume, have their own micro climate, allowing enough sunlight and warmth, even in the colder months, to fully ripen the grapes. Your full day wine tour will explore origins of winemaking, explanations about the soil, grape varieties, the history of the wine villages and how vineyards work. You’ll be afforded beautiful views across the valleys, visits to 2 different appellations (Sancerre & Pouilly-Fume), a visit to 2 castles (chateauxs), wine tasting and a visit to a goat cheese farm. Here you see the goats, learn the process of making the cheese and of course get to taste the finished product.
There is also an option of a leader lead bike or walking tour through the vineyards with stops at cellar doors to sample or buy a couple of bottles for lunch, dinner or to ship home. We encourage sensible drinking and cycling!
As this will be the last night, you might as well make the most of it and head out for a memorable dinner washed down with a couple of glasses, or even bottles, of wine!
Accommodation
  • Overnight boat (6 nights)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Sadly your trip comes to an end today at 9am, which we hope isn’t too early for you as we figure there may be a few foggy heads this morning. If you need a taxi to the train station the base can organise this for you.
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
If you’re wondering which itinerary you should book, Châtillon-sur-Loire to Decize or Decize to Châtillon-sur-Loire, each has its advantages. If you start in Châtillon-sur-Loire you’ll be able to purchase the required wine (to get through the trip) at the very start. Alternatively if you start in Decize you’ll be able to finish off your trip in the heart of the Sauvignon Blanc region.

Meals

No meals are included on this tour

Transport

Grand Classique (canal boat), bicycle, private vehicle

Accommodation

Overnight boat (7 nights)

Dates & availability

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Essential trip information

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