Kate Gilliland from Oasis Travel in Holywood floats on a cloud of luxury in Burgundy with Kirker Holidays & European Waterways.
When two great names in travel come together in ‘entente cordiale’ you know there is something very special in the offing. Respected industry names, Kirker Holidays and European Waterways, have recently combined their expertise to offer a unique range of tailor-made holidays which include air travel, private transfers and stays on board superb ‘hotel barges’ and at carefully-selected hotels … the sort of holiday you might create for yourself, if only you had the time and the ‘savoir faire’!
My first taste of that marvellous mix was a short trip to Paris, followed by a little gentle cruising along the scenic Burgundy Canal. I started off with a memorable night in the Castille Hotel, Paris. Situated on the Rue Cambon, this wonderful 18th century building is now a 108 bedroom hotel, with interiors inspired by Coco Chanel whose first atelier, Maison Chanel is located next to the hotel. Maison Chanel and the Castille are both celebrity hot spots, but I tried very hard to maintain the appearance of someone well used to the celebrity lifestyle! The central location is great for sight-seeing as well as celebrity-spotting and I thoroughly enjoyed a guided walking tour of the city.
When it comes to ultimate culinary elegance, the French have a phrase for it. It’s ‘George Cinq’. We dined at the world-famous George V Hotel and I am still revelling in the tastes and ambiance of that amazing experience.
Having set the tone of the break, I was delighted, after a (surprisingly relaxing) four and a half hour road transfer to board ‘La Belle Epoque’, one of the largest in European Waterway’s fleet, yet accommodating just twelve guests in six delightful cabins. Although she originally carried logs from Burgundy to Paris, she was skilfully converted in the late 1990's into a seriously luxurious hotel barge, making this the perfect vessel for cruising the Burgundy Canal.
‘Barging’ on Europe’s historic rivers and canals on vessels of this standard, style and exclusivity can only be described as a truly unique experience. From the discreetly attentive crew and the wonderfully appointed cabins to the services of the Michelin Star chef on board, perfection is quite simply the order of the day.
Every aspect of the trip reflects exacting attention to detail, and great trips (not least to the region’s famous vineyards) are included. Within just a few days we managed to pack in a private viewing of the elegant Chateau-D’Ancy-Le-Franc; wine tasting with an expert sommelier in Chablis; an escorted visit to the quaint Hansel & Gretel town of Noyers and (extensive!) sampling some of the great gastronomic delights of the Burgundy region.
This is an area of France rich in history and attractions, many of which can be appreciated to the full at charmingly slow pace. I would recommend Burgundy barging to anyone and I can hardly wait to explore the other, equally elegant offerings from Kirker Holidays & European Waterways.
Contact me if you’d like to find out more about barging in Burgundy.