In April, Burgundy is blessed with the emergence of spring. Days are sunny and not too hot. The air is filled with the fragrance of flowering plants and the melodies of songbirds. The crowds have yet to converge on this lovely region. You’ve heard that April in Paris can be wonderful? In Burgundy, April is divine.
I’m hosting two barge trips in April. The first trip has one cabin remaining (the second trip sold out). Join me to cruise from beautiful Besancon to Dijon. You’ll find more details on this page. If you’d like more info – or if you’d like to reserve space – complete the form on this page, and I will reach out to you. – Ralph Grizzle
From Besançon to Dijon, we’ll barge between the Doubs valley and Burgundy for spectacular scenery dotted with charming cities and villages. We’ll visit the Saline Royale of Arc-et-Senans, Dole and Saint Jean-de-Losne, first river port of France and home to the Musée de la Batellerie (highly recommended). Should you choose to do both trips we’ll repeat only one city, Saint Jean-de-Losne, which works out well as there is much to see and experience there.
After you submit, I will reach out to you via email with more information. You are under no obligation to purchase.
April 5 | Check In Hôtel Le Sauvage (optional)
DAY 1 | April 6 | BESANCON
We board at 6 p.m. After settling into our cabins, we’ll meet our crew at a welcome cocktail before dinner.
DAY 2 | April 7 | BESANCON – RANCHOT
We’ll depart by coach to Arc-et-Senans for the tour of the Saline-Royale(the Royal Saltworks). Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this royal factory was built between 1775 and 1779 at the wish of King Louis XV. We’ll return on board after our tour and cruise towards Ranchot.
DAY 3 | April 8 | RANCHOT – DOLE
This morning we’ll cruise towards Dole. In the afternoon, join us for an original and unique tour, following the “trail of the Perched Cat”. This trail refers the famous tales of a Perched Cat, written be Marcel Aymé who lived in Dole as a child.
DAY 4 | April 9 | DOLE – SAINT-JEAN-DE-LOSNE
We’ll spend this morning cruising towards Saint-Jean-de-Losne. In the afternoon, join us for a guided tour of the city and the Battellerie Museum which recounts the history of navigation, followed by a tasting*of local products.
DAY 5 | April 10 | SAINT-JEAN-DE-LOSNE – PETIT-OUGES
We’ll spend the day cruising towards Petit-Ouges, reaching it in the afternoon. Upon arrival in Petit-Ouges, enjoy time at leisure to discover the “circuit of the three washhouses” This is an easy 4 kilometer hike for those who wish to participate.
DAY 6 | April 11 | PETIT-OUGES – DIJON
This morning will be spent cruising towards Dijon. In the afternoon, join us for an excursion along the Grands Crus Wine Route. The touristic Grands Crus Wine Route passes through the finest and most prestigious of the Burgundy vineyards. Free time to discover the Cité de la Gastronomie. Tonight’s our gala evening and dinner.
DAY 7 | April 12 | DIJON
Enjoy one last buffet breakfast on board before disembarking at 9 a.m. Check in five-star Grand Hotel La Cloche Dijon MGallery for an optional overnight.
One of the highlights of barging is life on board the barge. Ten cozy staterooms are one deck below the main deck. Check out the stateroom in the video below. Another stateroom (good for those who are mobility challenged), lounge area, bar and dining room are on the main deck as is an outdoor space with chairs and tables and a Jacuzzi. Stairs lead to the sundeck.
Step off the barge to pedal a bicycle or walk along the tow paths that flank the canals. Step back on board for a Cremant (think champagne) or relax in the Jacuzzi. Enjoy gourmet, authentic French dining, which some on our April trip said was better than the Michelin-starred restaurants where they dined before boarding. I’m 6’5″ so I make the bikes look small! We had a bit of fun one day opening one of the manual locks ourselves on the Canal du Burgundy (photo below).
Check La Compagnie for $2,300 roundtrip business class air from Newark airport. Note that La Compagnie services Orly airport in Paris. My suggestion would be to stay a night or two in Paris, then travel by train from Paris Gare de Lyon to Besançon or Dijon, depending on which trip you are doing. Also see Airfare Hacks: Using Google Flights For Cheap(er) Business Class | Snagging $600 Business Class
There are river cruises, then there are barge cruises. The two are worlds apart, or at least waterways apart. River cruises take place on Europe’s major waterways on vessels that typically carry from 100 to 200 guests. By contrast, barge cruises operate on small canals (you could skip a stone across many of them) and typically carry no more than two dozen guests. To say that the experiences are similar would be quite a stretch. Sure, they both operate on water, but they are markedly different modes of transport. How so? In this post, we’ll take a look at 10 reasons to choose a barge cruise.