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WELCOME TO HIDDEN FRANCE

Constructed between 1775 and 1832, the ‘Canal de Bourgogne’ or Burgundy Canal was originally a watery super-highway connecting the rivers Yonne and Soane. Today, still beautifully preserved along its entire 150-mile length, it is a little-travelled backwater giving those who take passage a private view of its hidden history.

 

There is no better way to get an insider’s view of this perfectly hidden aspect of France than a cruise on board Le Papillon, a lovingly conserved 115-year-old Dutch barge. Le Papillon translates as ‘the butterfly’. Really, she should be called L’Escargot as this really is France at a snail’s pace, chugging slowly from lock to lock between tiny ports and historic moorings. The only way you can see it faster is to borrow one of the bicycles we keep on board and pedal on ahead along the towpath.

FOOD AND DRINK

Read the itinerary and you’ll soon realise just how important fine food and fine wine is to the Burgundian way of life. We have a gourmet chef on board Le Papillon who oversees the menu and the incredible cheese board. Our cellar is renowned along the length and breadth of the canal – every meal is accompanied by the finest wines – and you’ll never have the same one twice during your cruise.

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SIX-NIGHT CLASSIC BURGUNDY

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Burgundy Cruise map

Day 1:
All great French adventures start with a ‘coup de champagne’ and this trip is no exception. You join Le Papillon somewhere around Dijon to meet the crew and share a gourmet meal that will be the first of many.

Day 2:
Time to get to grips with Burgundy’s most famous export – fine wine. We cruise along the Burgundy canal before mooring at Gissey-sur-Ouche for lunch. Then we disembark and drive down the ‘Routes de Grand Crus’ at the very heart of the legendary Côte du Nuit. Our first destination is the Château of Clos de Vouget to discover the history of the region, then it’s on for a private tasting courtesy of one of our favourite vintners.

Day 3:
We’ve learned about the wine so today is all about the food – these Burgundians really know how to live! This morning our chef visits the incredible market in Dijon to meet our meat, fish and vegetable suppliers and you’re cordially invited along for coffee. Then it’s more cruising and a sunset cordial of Dijon’s world-famous aperitif Kir Royale – a mixture of Crème de Cassis and champagne.

Papillon hidden France

Day 4:
Today sees the high spot of the cruise for wine lovers as, after mooring in the quaint little port of Pont d’Ouche, we drive through the glorious vineyards of the Côte d’Or to Beaune. After a restaurant lunch we’ll visit one of the world’s medieval ‘must sees’ – the fabulous Hospice built in 1443. All this culture is thirst-making but we’re right next door to the spectacular cellars of the Marché aux Vins for a ‘must taste’ moment or several, trying some of the most famous wines in the world.

Day 5:
You’ll have been delighted with the food and wine so far but today is a feast for the eyes as we visit Chateauneuf-en-Auxois. Rated as one of the most beautiful places in France the stunningly restored village offers some wonderful vistas. Once back on board we climb a flight of locks to the summit of the canal then, after lunch, there is the option to visit the Château of Commarin or the amazing Grand Basilica at Vézelay. Before dinner we cruise through one of the wonders of the French waterways – the two-mile long tunnel leading to Pouilly-en-Auxois.

Day 6:
A laid-back morning cruising to sleepy Pont Royal, where we moor-up for lunch. Then we take to the road to visit the village of Flavigny (where the movie Chocolat was filmed), the UNESCO World Heritage Cistercian abbey at Fontenay and the little-known medieval town of Semur-en-Auxois. You’ll have an appetite for your final fabulous dinner!

Day 7:
After breakfast we say our ‘au revoirs’ to Le Papillon and then transfer you back to either Dijon railway station, your hotel in Paris or your Paris airport.

Papillon ballooning

HOT AIR BALLOONING IN BURGUNDY

The skies in Burgundy burn brilliant blue all summer long and, in the cool of the mornings and evenings, are perfect for hot air ballooning. We have established a great rapport with ‘France Mongolfiers’ who have become our very own balloon buddies and most weeks he has a slot reserved for our guests. It’s one of the highlights of the vacation and a completely different perspective on this land we love.

Papillon cruising and cycling

LE PAPILLON

Le Papillon sleeps only six, in three cabins – one double and two twins. Each cabin has en-suite facilities with air conditioning and central heating. Every one of the large portholes can be opened so your floating home is always light and airy.

The living quarters are spacious and well appointed. Her traditional dining room provides the perfect ambience to sample all the essential flavours of Burgundy from the chef’s galley. The comfortable saloon is complete with an eclectic library and stereo system. Naturally the bar is stocked with the finest vintage wines the Burgundian vineyards have to offer.

Your crew provide an impeccable and attentive service and will make your stay aboard Le Papillon the trip of a lifetime. Together, they are a wealth of information about France and are passionate about sharing its culture, cuisine and wine.

If you’re looking for a luxury Burgundy canal vacation Le Papillon really is the only way to travel.

Papillon Deck Plan

Six-night Classic Burgundy 2018 Tariffs

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On all June, July and August 2018 Burgundy canal Cruises

Whole Boat Charter
$31,500
6 passengers
$5,250 per person
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Whole Boat Charter
$28,400
5 passengers
$5,680 per person
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Whole Boat Charter
$27,000
4 passengers
$6,750 per person
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One Cabin only
$10,700
2 passengers
$5,350 per person
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