Imagine cruising in France, exploring the placid canals of the Loire in springtime as captain of your own canal boat. Pause along the way to enjoy local food, savour the wines of Burgundy, visit medieval villages and take in glorious scenery.
If that sounds pretty close to heaven, Cruise Traveller has the perfect holiday. ‘Moulin Rouge & Skipper My Cruise’ combines seven-nights in a self-contained, self-skippered boat with six nights in central Paris.
Complete with trains to take you between Paris and the Loire, plus return airfares from Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide or Perth to Paris on multi-award-winning, full-service airline Emirates, ‘Moulin Rouge & Skipper My Cruise’ costs from just A$4999 twin share per person. It departs Australia on 7 April 2016. Train travel in France is included too, along with a visit to the famed Moulin Rouge. There’s even Champagne!
Your boat is a lovely, traditional Pénichette 935W, very easy to pilot and perfect for couples or couples with one child. The boat carries two or three passengers for maximum comfort.
The boat is part of the Locaboat fleet, a firm active in the boating holiday industry since 1977. While you’ll be captain of your own boat, there’s a suggested itinerary, including enchanting waterways like the Canal du Nivernais, conceived by Henri IV and finally built between 1783 and 1842. Connecting the Seine to the Loire basins, it boasts some of the finest scenery on the French canals.
The holiday begins with a flight from Australia to Paris, where you’ll be transferred to a three-star hotel to rest and freshen up. Next day, after breakfast, catch the train from Paris Nord Station to Dompierre-sur-Besbre.
Here you’ll meet your boat, home for the next seven nights. All equipment, crockery, cutlery, bed-linen and towels is supplied, along with gas bottle and captain’s handbook. You’ll receive boat handling instructions and orientation on departure day; then, off you sail! Technical assistance is available seven days a week.
The suggested itinerary takes in Decize, at the crossroads of waterways in Burgundy, a town known for its wine, the Romanesque church of St-Aré and an old castle with underground galleries. Here the Canal Latéral meets the Loire, and river swimming is a delight in the warm sunshine. You can visit Cercy-la-Tour, where the river Alène joins the Aron, and the village of Chatillon-en-Bazois as you make your way through French countryside.
At the end of your boat journey, return to Dompierre-sur-Besbre, from where a train speeds you back to the French capital for a five-night stay at the Latin Quartier Hotel Paris, with daily breakfast. A Moulin Rouge First Show ticket with half bottle of Champagne is included.
Five nights in Paris give time to take in must-see icons like Notre Dame Cathedral, Louvre and Eiffel Tower. Stroll the Boulevard St-Michel, shop along Rue Mouffetard, sip Pernod on Place de la Sorbonne, enjoy cheerful cafés, bars and markets before winging your way back to Australia.