Luxury Barging in Holland, Belgium, and France ...
Tulip, Chablis, and Champagne cruises:

SAVOIR FAIRE
(formerly "ETOILE DE CHAMPAGNE")

The Hotel Barge Savoir Faire (formerly 'Etoile de Champagne'), here moored in Amsterdam, offers Tulip cruises in Holland in the Spring, with visits to the Keukenhof, then embarks on a three-country cruise from Amsterdam to Paris, followed by cruises in the Chablis and Champagne regions of France through mid-season, returning to Amsterdam and Bruges in the late fall.

12 Passengers
Seven Day/Six Night Cruises, and
Two-Week Three-Country Cruises

HISTORY ...
The Savoir Faire (formerly "Etoile de Champagne") dates back to 1932 when she was built as a transport barge in the Belgian estuaries. During World War II, her bow was replaced with a landing bow so she could sail up on the beaches. She was sunk during the war but later lifted from the river bottom and completely refurbished.

In 1979, the barge was brought to Holland where she underwent a total metamorphosis and was converted into the elegant three-decked hotel barge that she is today. Carrying just 12 passengers and built on the largest hull that can cruise the waterways, the former "Etoile de Champagne" was substantially refurbished the beginning of the 2005 season. For the 2006 season, her name changes to "Savoir Faire," continuing to maintain the very high standard of excellence in cuisine, accommodations and service that it became known for during the 2005 and previous seasons.

Through the years, she has received accolades from all those fortunate to have sailed aboard her, and many passengers have returned for repeat visits. As one of the few owner-operated luxury barges, the Savoir Faire prides itself in customizing your cruise week to your desires.

Owners Chris and Fran Bennett -- gracious hosts for the outstanding holiday of a lifetime. ABOUT YOUR HOSTS ...
Chris and Fran Bennett have been captain and owners since the end of 2004. Their extensive experience on the waterways of France has included operating a successful barge in Burgundy that received rave reviews from their passengers, setting the stage for their operations aboard the Savoir Faire.

Fine wines accompany lunches and dinners, complementing the superb cuisine.They are charming, attentive and knowledgable hosts assisted by a crew of four including a master chef.

In their first year of operation aboard the Etoile de Champagne -- the 2005 season -- they have received exceptional reviews from each charter and individual cabin cruise week, achieving some of the highest guest satisfaction levels of any of the barges in Europe.

GOURMET CUISINE and FINE WINES ...
Savoir Faire's master chef selects only the freshest ingredients to prepare the subtle sauces and the delicate pastries that are so much a part of exceptional French cuisine.

A grand selection of fine regional wines accompanies lunch and dinner, complementing the superb cuisine.

All meals are served in Savoir Faire's elegant mahogany panelled dining room with the finest crystal, Wedgewood china and Christofle silver.

ACCOMMODATIONS ...
Deck Plan, Savoir Faire The Savoir Faire features six staterooms. Each can be configured with two twin beds or with one queen bed. Staterooms 2 through 6 each have a separate toilet and shower. Stateroom 1 has a large bathroom with shower. All cabins offer good lighting, a large number of electrical outlets, and include 220v European standard and 110v U.S. standard power outlets.

In the public areas, the Savoir Faire is unique with five separate areas for passenger enjoyment -- whether for a personal retreat, a quiet conversation, a small group get-together, or for all passengers to enjoy together. The salon, dining area, and bar are finished in mahogany, teak and brass, decorated with antiques and paintings collected over the years, and with new original works of art introduced by Chris and Fran.
* The main lounge has a panoramic view, comfortable custom-made furniture, upright piano, game table, and library.
* Adjacent to the lounge is an elegant dining room, large enough to double as a dance floor on festive evenings, and a writing desk in its own quiet corner.
* To the aft is a cozy cocktail lounge, a favorite meeting place for aperitifs or quiet conversations, with stereo and CD player.
* Outside there are two spacious decks -- a fore deck that opens directly from the main lounge, and an elevated observation deck offering a magnificent view of the passing countryside.

Savoir Faire's Salon ...
The Savoir Faire's Salon

The Etoile de Champagne's Salon

Savoir Faire's Dining Room ... At Captain's Dinner
The Savoir Faire's Beautiful Dining Table

Set for the evening dinner ...

Savoir Faire's Classic Bar ...
The Savoir Faire's Classic Bar

Cabin Accommodations Aboard Savoir Faire ...
One of Savoir Faire's cabins.

All six cabins can be configured with two twins OR one queen bed
One of Savoir Faire's cabins.

Each cabin has a full height wardrobe cabinet, with shelves on the right
and a full height space on the left for hanging longer clothing ...
One of Savoir Faire's cabins.
... and a half-height wardrobe cabinet, with shelves on the right
and space on the left for hanging coats and shorter items of clothing.

Savoir Faire also adds a big plus:
both US-style 110V outlets and plenty of European-style 220V outlets are available in each cabin.

Savoir Faire moored in France ...
Savoir Faire, moored in France.

Relaxing on deck after Savoir Faire's afternoon excursion ...
Relaxing on deck after Savoir Faire's afternoon excursion ...

The top deck is one of two decks guests can enjoy a great view of the countryside.

Champagne-tasting and picnic in the vineyards of Champagne ...
Savoir Faire guests out for a champagne tasting in the fields of the Champagne region.

Savoir Faire's Cabin Configurations
All six cabins can be configured with two twins OR one queen bed.
Savoir Faire's Twin Cabin Configuration.
  • Six cabins: cabins #2 through #6 each have 116 sq. ft. of space; the forward cabin (#1) has 142 sq. ft. All cabins have an average ceiling height of 6 ft. 8 in.
  • All cabins have private bath. Five have separate toilet and shower, both with a sink; forward cabin (#1) has one large bathroom.
  • All cabins can be configured with two twin beds (31.5 in. wide by 75 in. long), OR with one queen bed (63 in. wide by 75 in. long).
  • Cabins feature dual wardrobes with ample hanging space and shelves, and a writing desk and chair.
Savoir Faire's Queen Cabin Configuration.
SAMPLE MENU

Savoir Faire's chef at work preparing luncheon Each day, the chef combines fresh ingredients drawn from local markets to create the most incredible cuisine you have ever experienced. The menus YOU will experience aboard will always be unique, and tailored to your specific needs. The following menu selections are typical, but cuisine aboard will be different -- and is sure to surprise and delight you!

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner typically includes an entree, main course, cheese course, dessert, and coffee, followed by aperitifs and chocolates served in the main salon.

Entrees

Plat principal Dessert
SAMPLE ITINERARY ...
HOLLAND CRUISE, Haarlem to Haarlem, in March and April

Windmills dot the landscape when cruising through the countryside in Holland. Photo by Sue Porth. Haarlem to Haarlem

Sunday, Day 1
After your pick-up by the Captain you will be taken to the barge moored in the center of Haarlem for a champagne welcome. We will relax for the afternoon with a cruise to Zaandam, where we will moor for the night and you will enjoy your first gourmet dinner on board.

Monday, Day 2
After breakfast we will take a short drive to the Zaanse Schans to visit a working windmill, a clog maker and a cheese maker. In the afternoon we will cruise to Amsterdam, through the heart of the city where the small canals and architecture will take you back to a previous century and then along the Amstel River to Ouderkerk.

Tuesday, Day 3
An early rise and drive to the colorful flower auction in Aalsmeer. Upon return we will set off for a cruise on the canals to the cheese Mecca of Gouda. After lunch, we will take a drive out to a local cheese farm. Besides cheese, you will find beautiful buildings, excellent shopping and the most magnificent stained glass windows in Holland.

Wednesday, Day 4
A morning cruise to Rotterdam through the center of this busy port and then onto Delft. Visit the Delft Pottery works, where porcelain is still handmade and painted. Spend the rest of the afternoon strolling around this beautiful ancient Dutch city.

Thursday, Day 5
A morning cruise through the canals past Leiden, across the Brasemmer Lakes to Oude Wetering. Spend the afternoon at the famous Keukenhof Gardens with the largest display of flowers in the world. Here you will see hundreds of varieties of tulips, hyacinths, and other beautiful bulbs.

Friday, Day 6
Morning cruise to Haarlem, a picturesque town and the home of the famous Dutch painter Frans Hals where we will tour its museum. Farewell celebration on board and your last elegant gourmet dinner.

Saturday, Day 7
This will be your last breakfast on board. You will then be driven to either the airport or your hotel in Amsterdam.

Note: This is a sample itinerary. Itineraries are flexible and may be changed according to passenger requests and local conditions.

SAMPLE ITINERARY ...
THREE COUNTRY CRUISE: 13 days
Between Amsterdam and Paris, Mid-May and
Paris to Amsterdam, Mid-October

Passing fields of tulips, as the Savoir Faire cruises through Holland.

Photo by Sue Porth. From the canals of Amsterdam and the excitement of the city, through the Dutch countryside, past windmills and fields of tulips, then on to Belgium, and the Seine, and into Paris ... this is the most leisurely and pampered way to visit Holland, Belgium and France ever invented! Special rates and a very special tour.

Day 1. Guests are met at their hotel in Amsterdam at 1:30pm and driven to the Etoile de Champagne for a champagne welcome and a cruise through the heart of the city to the quaint little town of Ouderkerk.

Day 2. Morning cruise along the canals to the town of Gouda, famous for its cheese. Afternoon visit to the Keukenhof Gardens, the largest display of flowers in the world. Here you will see hundreds of varieties of tulips, hyacinths and other bulbs. After we return to the Etoile de Champagne there will be time for a stroll around Gouda where we will find the most magnificent stained glass windows in Holland.

Day 3. A cruise out of Gouda to the river Ijssel and across the Holland Diep, part of the Dutch estuaries, to the charming old fortress town of Wilemstad. This town is preserved in its original state, with windmill dykes, an old church and a 15th century arsenal. There will be an optional visit to the famous Delta Project which is one of the greatest feats of water engineering in the world involving damming the great estuaries.

Day 4. Today we will leave Holland and cross the border into Belgium and travel to Antwerp. Antwerp is the city of Rubens, where we can take a tour of Rubens' house, then a walk in the old quarter of this beautiful Flemish city.

Day 5. We catch the flood tide up the winding "Sea Schelde" which takes us to the town of Ghent. You will have plenty of time to visit this beautiful town in the afternoon.

Day 6. You cannot pass through this part of the world without a visit to the beautiful little town of Bruges, known as the "Venice of the North". The chef will pack a picnic lunch, so there will be plenty of time to explore the many museums, buy some of the handmade lace or take a boat trip in the small canals that wander through the town. Rejoin the Savoir Faire in late afternoon to cruise along the river Schelde to the French/Belgian frontier.

Day 7. After clearing customs at the frontier, (a simple formality), the Etoile de Champagne continues along the Schelde, through the town of Valenciennes to the junction of Canal du Nord at the little French village of Arleux. The cars will take guests to Valenciennes along the way.

Day 8. The Savoir Faire begins her climb over the Vermandois Hills of Picardie through the many locks and several tunnels of the Canal du Nord. The scenery is splendid - rural France at her best, and a good tow path allows guests to walk between locks. After lunch, the cars take an excursion to Amiens to visit what must be one of the greatest of all the Gothic cathedrals with its powerful, towering columns.

Day 9. The cruise continues along the Canal du Nord as it drops down into the valley of the river Somme; a short trip on the Somme before climbing over another watershed and down to the valley of the river Oise to moor in the riverside town of Compiegne. There are many places to visit, including the train where the World War I Armistice was signed, as well as the Royal Palace.

Day 10. As the Savoir Faire continues down the lovely Oise River, guests are taken on an afternoon excursion to the old Roman town of Senlis with its quaint narrow streets, ancient churches and interesting museums, rejoining the Savoir Faire for an evening cruise to the river town of Pontoise.

Windmills dot the landscape as the Savoir Faire cruises through Holland. Day 11. Loaded down with a picnic lunch, deck chairs and tables, the cars take guests on a day excursion to Giverny to visit the home and gardens of the Impressionist, Claude Monet. The gardens should be at their best at this time of the year, and we can visit the waterlily pond and the Japanese bridge that inspired so many of Monet's paintings. Moor for the night in Pontoise.

Day 12. Cruise to Bougival in the morning and visit Malmaison, the home of Napoleon, its many rooms lavishly furnished by Josephine. Guests rejoin the Savoir Faire for an evening cruise into Paris. The last evening is spent moored in the heart of Paris, beside the Place de la Concorde.

Day 13. After breakfast guests are driven either to their Paris hotel or to the airport.

Note: This is a sample itinerary. Itineraries are flexible and may be changed according to passenger requests and local conditions. In May, the cruise route is Amsterdam to Paris; in October, the cruise route is Paris to Amsterdam.


SAMPLE ITINERARY ...
CHABLIS CRUISE, between Paris and Auxerre
Scheduled Cruises: May-October

From the Kings of France to the jewels of Burgundy, this splendid cruise includes some of the greatest sites in France.

DAY 1: SUNDAY (Moored in the heart of Paris at the Port Arsenal, Bastille)
Our chauffeurs collect you from your designated meeting point in Paris and escort you to the "Etoile de Champagne," moored at the Port Arsenal, Bastille, in the very heart of the city. It is here that your adventure begins. After a champagne reception, during which you are introduced to your crew and the ship, you are free to settle into your cabins. You will have an opportunity to explore the area before we depart for our exclusive evening cruise through Paris. While cocktails are served the "Savoir Faire" glides past the magnificent church of Notre Dame, the resplendent Louvre art gallery and the symbolic Eiffel Tower. You will then be served your first of many splendid dinners aboard, prepared by your personal master chef. After dinner we continue our cruise through Paris to your overnight mooring.

Paris by night is referred to as the "City of Lights" and is one of the most romantic sights to behold anywhere in the world. As we pass beneath the floodlit Eiffel Tower and illuminated bridges, you can see from our panoramic observation deck why this city has been the focus of so many creative artists and authors. The very essence of Paris comes flooding down to the banks of the Seine, overwhelming the senses and firing the imagination.

DAY 2: MONDAY (Cruise from Paris to Samois)
We set off from the Arsenal bright and early to begin your cruise south along the mighty Seine towards Burgundy. Once past the reaches of Paris, the landscape begins to unfold revealing the tranquil beauty so sought after by busy city folk. Luxury villas and chateaus begin to appear along the river banks, as we cruise past fishermen patiently sitting beneath the shade of a willow tree.

Your excursion today is to the magnificent chateau of Fontainebleau. Your captain has chosen a fully trained Fontainebleau guide to privately escort you around the chateau, as to walk through Fontainebleau is to walk through the very history of France. Every royal family has added their architectural signature, resulting in an unrivalled display of opulence. Afterwards you will be able to explore the shops and boutiques of Fontainebleau before joining your chauffeurs who will escort you back to the "Savoir Faire". This evening we shall be moored beneath the hilltop town of Samois, a favorite amongst painters and poets. You will have the opportunity to stroll or cycle along the shaded river bank and breathe in the fresh air before your candlelit dinner is served.

DAY 3: TUESDAY (Cruise from Samois to Sens)
We begin the day with a peaceful cruise along the last stretch of the Seine before joining the river Yonne that takes us south towards Burgundy, the land of Counts and fine wines. This morning there will be opportunities to cycle alongside the river and explore villages close by. Your tour guide has personally chosen routes of varying degrees of difficulty so that you can enjoy your cycling excursions to the full during your cruise. After lunch on board, your guide will escort you to the medieval town of Provins where you can explore ancient ramparts, watch a falconry show and browse around the boutiques and shops. Provins is now listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site and is listed amongst the most interesting towns in France. Once back on board you will have time to enjoy a pre-dinner cocktail before yet another delicious meal is served.

DAY 4: WEDNESDAY (Cruise from Sens to Joigny)
This morning we set off along the Yonne towards our overnight mooring at the riverside town of Joigny, where cobbled streets and timbered-framed buildings take you back to a bygone era. After a pleasant cruise through opening landscapes we stop at Villeneuve-sur-Yonne for lunch on board.This afternoon your chauffeurs will drive you to Sens for a private guided tour of the Cathedral of St Stephen, the first of the great Gothic cathedrals of France. The beauty of the exterior dominates the main square of Sens. Begun in 1140 AD, this magnificent building houses one of the richest treasuries in France. In addition to this there is a tour of the museum, which is in the 13th Century synodal palace, situated in the former archbishop's residence. It houses a fascinating exhibition of Gallo-Roman mosaics and works of art from the cathedral. Afterwards you will have time to explore the charming streets of Sens before your chauffeurs drive you back to the "Savoir Faire." Dinner is served aboard after which you may enjoy a stroll around the lamp lit streets of Joigny.

DAY 5: THURSDAY (Cruise from Joigny to Gurgy)
This morning we set off on our cruise to the riverside hamlet of Gurgy. Today is the perfect opportunity for those who wish to cycle alongside the ship as she glides gently by. After lunch we take a short drive to Chablis, town to some of the greatest wines in Burgundy. We have selected the small family operation of Domaine Laroche for an intimate tour of their cellar and an insightful introduction to the secrets of this ancient art. A comprehensive wine tasting rounds off this fascinating visit. Afterwards we drive over the tops of the surrounding vineyards, through the wine village of Irancy and on to St Bris, where we shall visit the 12th Century underground cellars of Bersan and Fils. Once back on board, you will have time to stroll or cycle along the riverbank before dinner.

DAY 6: FRIDAY (Cruise from Gurgy to Auxerre)
Our final cruise takes us along the upper reaches of the Yonne to Auxerre, the most beautiful of all river towns whose skyline is punctuated by church spires and its streets lined with timbered 16th century houses. We arrive in time for lunch, after which you have the option of two visits.

The first visit offered is to explore this wonderful riverside town, with the Cathedral of Saint-Etienne dominating the skyline. Behind its apparent simplicity lies one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture in France. Undoubtedly one of the prettiest towns in France, Auxerre, the capital of Lower Burgundy, is situated in the heart of a wine growing area most famous for its Chablis wine. The town's magnificent monuments, which include a splendid 15th Century clock tower, all bear witness to a remarkable historical past. The center, which is classified as a protected area, is best visited on foot.

The second visit to choose from is to the world famous hilltop town of Vezelay, forty minutes from Auxerre. Listed as a UNESCO world heritage site, Vezelay has been a place of worship since the Middle Ages and is a rallying point for the pilgrimage of Saint-Jacques de Compostelle. It is from here that the second and third crusades were launched, the latter by Richard the Lionhearted. Dominating this medieval town is the Basilica Sainte-Madeleine, one of the most impressive churches in France. Streets lined with 15th Century timbered-framed buildings house art galleries, boutiques and shops. Quiet parks offer panoramic views of the surrounding countryside and underground cellars the opportunity to taste the wines from the surrounding vineyards. Later your chauffeurs will escort you back to the "Savoir Faire." This evening, after pre-dinner cocktails, we present our farewell Captain's Dinner. You are joined by your hosts Chris and Fran, for what promises to be a meal to remember.

DAY 7: SATURDAY (Departure at 9.30am)
After a hearty breakfast you are driven by our chauffeurs to your hotel or airport in Paris.

Note: This is a sample itinerary. Itineraries are flexible and may be changed according to passenger requests and local conditions. The itinerary is in the reverse direction every other cruise week.


SAMPLE ITINERARY ...
CHAMPAGNE & BRIE CRUISE, between Paris and Epernay

Charter Cruises: May-September on Request (Subject to Availability),
Scheduled Cruises: in mid-September

A glorious week of cheese and wine tasting while cruising on the Marne, one of the most beautiful rivers in France.

DAY 1: SUNDAY (Cumieres)
You are transferred by air-conditioned minivan from your hotel or airport and driven directly to the Savoir Faire, moored at Cumieres, 2km from the heart of Epernay. After an introduction to your ship, you are given time to settle in to your cabin before joining your captain and crew for our welcoming champagne reception. There will be time to stroll through the village before coming back on board where your master chef will delight you with the first of many delicious meals.

DAY 2: MONDAY (Cruise Cumieres to Damery)
This morning, after breakfast, we visit Reims and its magnificent cathedral. We then join the "Etoile de Champagne" for lunch and a short cruise to the delightful little town of Damery, with its 13th century church, which was part of a former Benedictine priory. Later this afternoon we visit the Abbey of Hautvilliers where the monk Dom Perignon first made champagne. Dinner aboard.

DAY 3: TUESDAY (Cruise Damery to Chateau Thierry)
You are now entering the true Champagne region. Your hosts have arranged a pre-lunch visit to the world famous cellars of Moet and Chandon for a tour and tasting. We then continue to cruise to Chateau Thierry, were we shall moor for the night. This pretty town offers a promenade along the original walls of the town with views over the Marne valley. This whole area was the scene of American battles in World War I. Nearby is the American Monument. Built in 1929, at an altitude of 660 feet, the monument keeps alive the memory of the American troops who fought in WWI. Optional visit to Belleau Wood battlefield and the American cemetery. Dinner aboard.

DAY 4: WEDNESDAY (Cruise Chateau Thierry to La Ferte)
Your cruise today will take you through picturesque landscapes so loved by both the French and visitors abroad. Today we have arranged a tour of some of our favorite places and a selection of visits to small family-run vineyards so that you can try their fine selection of champagnes. Our mooring for the night is at La Ferte, which offers beautiful, refreshing promenades along the river. Dinner aboard.

DAY 5: THURSDAY (Cruise La Ferte to Meaux)
Today we cruise to Meaux, in the very heart of Brie, famous for its wonderful cheeses of the same name. Nearby, on the route to Soissons, stands a monument that commemorates the 5th September 1914, the extreme point of advance of the German troops and the date of the French counter-attack. We visit Coulomniers, one of the centers of Brie cheese. Your personalized visit to a master cheese maker will enable you to see the cheese-making process first hand and to sample a variety of the world famous Brie cheese, along with wines from his excellent cellar. Dinner aboard.

DAY 6: FRIDAY (Meaux to Paris)
This morning we leave Meaux and head towards the mighty Seine which will take us into the very heart of Paris. Our cruise will take us past Coupvray, the birthplace of Louis Braille, the inventor of the alphabet for the blind. At St Maur des Fosses we pass through the tunnel, which enables us to bypass the shallow waters of the Marne Loop. Today we visit the magnificent Chateau of Vaux-le-Vicomte. The wonderfully-proportioned chateau and its exquisite gardens are the highlight of this visit. Built between 1656 and 1661 for finance minister Nicolas Fouquet, the chateau's construction was monstrous even for those days. Entire villages were razed, 18,000 workmen called in. Famous architects, painters and landscapers were called in to reflect Fouquet's refined tastes. So lavish was the housewarming party, that Louis XIV threw a fit of jealousy and hurled Fouquet in jail. Just to prove who was boss, Louis XIV began building Versailles.

We finish our journey with an exclusive evening cruise through Paris. As the "Savoir Faire" glides past the magnificent church of Notre Dame, the resplendent Louvre art gallery and the symbolic Eiffel Tower, you will be joined by your captain and his wife for cocktails followed by the farewell "Captains Dinner". Paris by night is referred to as the "City of Lights" and is one of the greatest sights to behold anywhere in the world. As we pass beneath the Eiffel Tower and the floodlit bridges, you can see from our panoramic observation deck why this capital has been the focus of so many creative artists and authors. The very essence of Paris comes flooding down to the banks of the Seine, overwhelming the senses and firing the imagination. Our final berth for the night is in the Arsenal, a stone's throw from the lively district of the Bastille.

Day 7: SATURDAY (Departure 9.30am)
After a hearty breakfast, our chauffeurs will drive you to your hotel or airport in Paris.

Note: This is a sample itinerary. Itineraries are flexible and may be changed according to passenger requests and local conditions. The itinerary is in the reverse direction every other cruise week.


PASSENGER COMMENTS ... 2009 Season

  • One of the week's many highlights is a visit to a small family-owned vineyard.We appreciate your gracious sharing of your knowledge, experience and home! You and your energetic, engaging crew have taught us much about the culture of France. We thank you for your extraordinary planning and patience. [RF, USA]
  • How can this trip on the "Etoile de Champagne"* be topped? So much knowledge and fun - always relaxed - always delightful! I would recommend a week with you to anyone- no other barge I've seen comes close to yours. Three cheers to the staff - the spirit of each makes all the difference. [E. McG, USA]
  • What a magnificent trip! Thank you all for catering to our every need and whim as we traveled through the beautiful countryside. Biking alongside the ship as she cruised was an incredible way to get the full flavor. Your wonderful crew provided a spectacular experience that will not be forgotten. Thank you for all the wonderful memories. [FA, USA]
  • The only sad moment of this wonderful week was when we realized that our cruise was coming to an end. We enjoyed the exceptional hospitality, the incredible food and wines and the most enjoyable and memorable group of mothers and daughters. Thank you to all ... [S & JB, USA]
  • Your boat is magical - with a warmth and charm that is infectious. The beautiful meals and trips and cruising made for an all too short week. Thank you for all you did to spoil us throughout. Speaking for all of us, this week exceeded all expectations and has set a high bar for future trips that are sure to come. Many thanks for everything ... [MMcG, USA]
  • Dearest cast and crew of the "Etoile de Champagne".* You have made our trip to France a grand excursion and a pleasure beyond belief ... a magical tour of an enchanted place. Thank you all for your generous hospitality. [A.R, USA]
  • We can't thank you enough for your incredible hospitality aboard the "Etoile de Champagne".* We thoroughly enjoyed our stay and you treated us like royalty at every turn. We so appreciate your bending over backwards for us and teaching us so much about this glorious part of France. We're also very grateful for your flexibility and patience with our "colorful cast of characters" in addition to your impeccable service. It will be a very hard duty returning to dirty laundry, dirty dishes and dirty diapers, but our greatest dread will be the dirty dieting after the incredible cuisine !! Many, many thanks to you all. [L&D M Atlanta, Georgia, USA]
  • Etoile de Champagne* is a fantastic boat! It is large, luxurious, sparkling clean, and in perfect condition. The newly decorated cabins are so clean and delightful -- we felt very special to be a part of this ... Captain Chris Bennett is a dream -- intelligent, dedicated to your every comfort, precise and a joy to spend time with ... We relaxed as we have not been able to relax in years -- we ate as we have never eaten -- healthful food that was gourmet all the way -- and the dedication to fine wines made us feel very special and pampered. The route was lovely and the last night in Paris was icing on a very special cake. [JSB, USA]

 

Exceptional cuisine and fine wines are one of the many memories of Savoir Faire, formerly called 'Etoile de Champagne.' Guests having the time of their lives aboard Etoile de Champagne!

SAMPLE ITINERARY*
Tulip Cruise in Holland
Haarlem to Haarlem

Sunday - Cruquius to Leiden
Your chauffeurs collect you from your Amsterdam hotel at 2.00pm for the short drive to the Savoir Faire, moored at Cruquius. Once aboard your Captain and host welcomes you with a champagne reception and an introduction to your crew and ship. Shortly afterwards we begin our cruise to Leiden, where we shall moor overnight. This evening your chef welcomes you to your table with the first of many delicious offerings. Candlelit crystal and gleaming silverware add to the romantic ambiance of what promises to be the first of many memorable occasions.

Monday - Leiden to Delft
A peaceful morning cruise along the canals out of Leiden and through the oldest lock in Holland at Leidschendam. After lunch we drive to the world famous Keukenhof Gardens with the largest display of flowers in the world. Here you will see hundreds of varieties of tulips, hyacinths and other beautiful bulbous plants. Afterwards we continue our cruise into Delft.

Tuesday - Delft to Gouda
After breakfast we take a walking tour of the Royal Porcelain Factory, where beautiful hand painted ceramics are still made. We then take a stroll around the cobbled streets of Delft before joining the ship to begin your cruise through the busy port of Rotterdam and onto Gouda.

Wednesday - Gouda to Uithoorn
This morning your tour guide will escort you through the streets of medieval Gouda, where you will see the most famous of all stained glass windows in Holland. A leisurely stroll through town is a must, with its "Disneyesque" main square and small boutiques. After lunch we cruise through towns clinging to the canal sides to our overnight mooring at Uithoorn.

Thursday - Uithoorn to Zaandam
Today we begin our cruise along the winding Amstel River into Amsterdam and then through the very heart of this enchanting city where small canals and unique architecture take you back to a bygone era. You can literally reach out and touch the passers by. Leaving Amsterdam we join the mighty North Sea Canal and head west towards our overnight mooring at Zaandam. After lunch your tour guide drives you to Zaans Schans with its clog maker and working windmills. There's even the first supermarket in Holland.

Friday - Zaandam to Haarlem
Our final cruise takes us to Haarlem, a town of exceptional beauty with its main square, once used for jousting and the famous Frans Hals Museum. There will be plenty of time to enjoy this wonderful place and to shop around its many boutiques. Tonight we celebrate your company at the Captain's table with mouth watering offerings from your chef.

Saturday - departure 9.30am
We end the cruise with a hearty breakfast and a fond farewell from your crew, before your chauffeurs take you onward to your Amsterdam hotel or airport.

Note: This is a sample itinerary. Itineraries are flexible and subject to change.


SAMPLE ITINERARY*
Holland, Belgium & France
Amsterdam to Paris
Three Country Cruise
From the canals and cobbled streets of Haarlem, through the Dutch countryside, past windmills and fields of tulips, then on to Ghent in Belgium ... this is the most leisurely and pampered way to visit Holland, Belgium, and France ever invented! A very special tour! There are ample opportunities for bicycling and walking throughout the cruise. Your tour guide is on hand to advise you of the best possible choices.

Sunday - Haarlem
Guests are met at their hotel in Amsterdam early afternoon and driven to the Savoir Faire. After a Champagne Welcome by your Captain, we'll get your suitcases to your cabins and then take you on a tour through the centre of Haarlem and show you some of its famous sights. We shall be moored in Haarlem overnight so please enjoy this pretty town.

Monday - Haarlem to oldest lock in Holland
This morning we start our cruise towards Paris. Before lunch we take a tour of the famous Keukenhof Gardens, the largest display of flowers in the world. Here you will see hundreds of varieties of tulips, hyacinths, and other bulbs. In the afternoon we continue our cruise to the oldest lock in Holland, where we shall moor with a traditional wood sawing windmill as our backdrop.

Tuesday – Oldest lock in Holland to Delft to Rotterdam
This morning we start our cruise to Delft. After lunch, we visit the Royal Porcelein Factory before cruising into Rotterdam where we have the option of taking a ride in the Skylift.

Wednesday - Rotterdam to Willemstad
Before setting off, why not take a short walk around some of the older parts of Rotterdam. Your cruise from this busiest of ports takes you onto the tidal river Nieuwe Maas and later across the wide open waters of Holland Deep, part of the Dutch estuaries, to the charming old fortress town of Willemstad. This is real barging! We shall moor here overnight. This town is preserved in its original state, with windmill dykes, an old church, and a 15th century arsenal. Great pubs along the waterfront as well as charming pathways around the old fortifications.

Thursday - Willemstad to Antwerp
Today, after a very early start, we leave Holland and cross the border into Belgium and travel south to Antwerp. Antwerp is the city of Rubens, where we can take a tour of Ruben's house, then a walk in the old quarter of this beautiful Flemish city.

Friday - Antwerp to Ghent
Another early start today! Once through the exit lock at Antwerp, we catch the flood tide up the winding 'Sea Schelde'. This mighty river rises over 20 feet during high tide, providing an ever changing landscape which is seen best from the decks of the Savoir Faire. Later on your tour guide will meet you and drive you to the city of Ghent, with its magnificent cathedral and collections of fine art.

Saturday - Moored in Ghent
After a hearty breakfast our chauffeurs will take you to Bruges where you will be free for the day to roam the cobbled streets of this fascinating town, known as the 'Venice of the North'. Here you will have the opportunity to explore the many museums, buy some of the handmade lace, take a boat trip on one of the small canals that flow through the centre of Bruges - or simply relax on a cafe terrace watching the world pass by. Our chauffeurs will take you back to the Savoir Faire late afternoon. Saturday lunch is at your own expense. Buffet Style Dinner aboard.

Sunday - Ghent to Tournai
A relaxed morning heralds in the start of the second leg of our journey from Ghent to Paris. We begin our cruise nice and early, travelling along the river Schelde to the French/Belgian frontier. This afternoon we will explore the centre of Tournai, with its fascinating main square and cobbled streets.

Monday - Tournai to Arleux
After passing the frontier, the Savoir Faire continues along the Schelde, through the town of Valenciennes to the junction of Canal du Nord at the little French village of Arleux. The chauffeurs will take you to Cambrai along the way.

Tuesday - Arleux to Peronne
The Savoir Faire begins her climb over the Vermandois Hills of Picardie through the many locks and several tunnels of the Canal du Nord. The scenery is splendid - rural France at her best, and a good towpath allows guests to walk between locks. After lunch, the cars take an excursion to Amiens to visit what must be one of the greatest of all the Gothic cathedrals with its powerful, towering columns.

Wednesday - Peronne to Compiegne
Your cruise continues along the Canal du Nord as it drops down into the valley of the river Somme; a short trip on the Somme before climbing over another watershed and down to the valley of the river Oise to moor in the riverside town of Compiegne. There are many places to visit, including the train where the World War I Armistice was signed, as well as the Royal Palace.

Thursday - Compiegne to Pontoise
As the Savoir Faire continues down the meandering Oise River, guests are taken to Giverny to visit the home and gardens of the Impressionist Claude Monet. The gardens should be at their best at this time of the year, and we can visit the water lily pond and the Japanese bridge that inspired so many of Monet's paintings.

Friday - Pontoise to Paris
We cruise to Bougival in the morning. You can visit Malmaison, the home of Napoleon, with its many rooms lavishly furnished by Josephine. Guests rejoin the Savoir Faire for the journey into Paris. After dinner your Captain will take you for your final cruise through the centre of Paris, past the famous landmarks of the Eiffel Tower, Louvre Museum and Notre Dame. Our final destination is the Port d'Arsenal, a stone's throw from the Place de la Bastille.

Saturday - Disembarkation at 9:30am
After breakfast guests are driven either to their Paris hotel or to the airport.

Note: This is a sample itinerary and is subject to change.
Rev 10/10 sd


SAMPLE ITINERARY*
Burgundy: Canal de Bourgogne: Ancy-le-Franc to Auxerre 2011


Sunday: Ancy-le-Franc
Your chauffeur collects you from your Paris hotel at 2.00pm for the drive to the "Savoir Faire", moored at Ancy-le-Franc on the Burgundy Canal. Your host and Captain, Chris, welcomes you aboard with a Champagne Reception and an introduction to your crew and ship. Before dinner, your tour guide is at hand to introduce you to the local area and tell you about the cruise week ahead. After a well deserved aperitif on deck you are served your first of many splendid dinners aboard, prepared by your very own master chef.

Monday: Ancy-le-Franc to Tanlay
Fresh ground coffee and fluffy croissants and pastries straight from the local baker - a delicious breakfast sets us up for our gentle cruise past the beautiful 16th century Renaissance palace and gardens of Chateau d'Ancy le Franc, towards the picturesque village of Tanlay where we moor overnight. Today, as with every day of your cruise, there's plenty of opportunity to wander or cycle ahead as the vessel descends through a series of quaint hand operated locks.

After a leisurely lunch we stroll over to the 16th century Renaissance-style Chateau de Tanlay, nestling serenely within this picturesque village, which also boasts a challenging 9-hole golf course (advance bookings required). The interior is luxuriously furnished and decorated by some astonishing frescoes. Afterwards enjoy a promenade along the canal bank, a cool refreshing drink on the upper deck or a leisurely wander into the village before dinner.

Tuesday - Tanlay to Tonnerre
Today we have a real delight in store! After a hearty breakfast we take a short ride to the Chateau of Ancy-le-Franc. This Renaissance jewel, set in the centre of a large park on the banks of the canal, houses the biggest collection of Renaissance murals in France making Ancy-le-Franc a direct contender of Fontainebleau Palace. The immense quadrilateral, which is a classified historic monument, holds a rich decor attributed to some of the most celebrated Italian, Flemish and Burgundy artists of the 16th and 17th century.

Your chef's offerings await you upon your return. Ropes away and onward past sleepy hamlets and cattle grazing by the canal banks. Our cruise today takes us to Tonnerre, one of the few places along the canal where you will find vineyards. This town is the centre of a small wine growing area of about 60 hectares producing excellent reds and roses under the name "Bourgogne Epineuil". Of particular interest is La Fosse Dionne. Situated in the centre of the old town this natural spring, the second deepest in France, has long mystified people and is well worth a visit. In 1758 it was converted into a "Lavoire". The most beautiful reminder of Tonnerre's past is the old hospital, built in 1293 by Margueritte od Burgundy. The chapel has a magnificent entombment, a masterpiece of 15th century Burgundian art.

Wednesday - Tonnerre to St Florentin
Yet another great breakfast! Why not pop along to the Wednesday morning market before rejoining your cruise along the Burgundy Canal. This is barging at it's best. Relaxed, gentle on the soul, every bend offering something new. Hop on, hop off - we're going nowhere fast! Feeling left out - why not help us with the locks. Great exercise and the photos will be the envy of your friends.

Today we visit one of the great Cistercian monasteries of France. The Abbey of Pontigny was founded in 1114. Charming and rather understated on the outside, the great spaces of the interior really are something special and not to be missed if you are in northern Burgundy. More recently Pontigny Abbey has also played an important role in French culture - from 1922 to 1939 there was an annual get together of the great European intellectuals of the time at the abbey, including TS Eliot, Thomas Mann and Jean Paul Sartre. Let's not forget the Cistercian monks of Pontigny Abbey. who first planted vines in the Chablis region.

Thursday - St Florentin to Gurgy
We begin our cruise along the final stretch of the Burgundy Canal before we join the river Yonne, which winds it's way upstream to the riverside town of Auxerre. Your Captain, a veteran of the European waterways, fell in love with this delightful river when first in France and reckons it to be one of the most delightful waters he cruises on today. Birdsong abounds within the trees that line the riverbanks. Locks with sloping walls and electric gates make for stark contrast to those quaint hand operated gates on the Burgundy Canal.


Before lunch your tour guide drives you to the world famous town of Chablis where you'll take a tour of the ancient press and cellars of Domaine Laroche, followed by a winetasting of their various fine vintages. After seeing Chablis we drive a short distance to a beautiful secluded spot where you can enjoy a panoramic vista of the Grand Cru vineyards and the surrounding countryside. Your chef has prepared a surprise picnic with offerings worthy of a King's table. Great wine, great food and the companionship of friends and loved ones make for the perfect setting. Fully replenished we return to the "Savoir Faire" to continue our cruise to the sleepy riverside hamlet of Gurgy, where we moor overnight.

Friday - Gurgy to Auxerre
Our cruise this morning takes us to our final destination and what is undoubtedly one of the prettiest towns in France. Auxerre, the capital of lower Burgundy, is situated in the heart of a wine growing region most famous for its Chablis wine. The success of this thriving town is celebrated by architectural jewels such as the ornately painted 15th century Clock Tower, the soaring Gothic cathedrals of Saint Germain and Saint Stephen and an abundance of ornate Renaissance houses bordering tree lined squares. Every street offers a golden opportunity for the aspiring photographer. After lunch your tour guide is at hand to show you around this delightful town.

Relax before dinner with a drink from the bar and enjoy the best view in town from the panoramic deck of the "Savoir Faire". Tonight your chef adorns your table with a special Farewell Dinner. Candlelit crystal and gleaming silverware add to the romantic ambiance of your celebration. Laughter, great times and the warmth of friendship contribute to those "Golden Memories" that last a lifetime.

Saturday - Auxerre
Finally time to say farewell to the Savoir Faire and her Captain and crew, but not before a rather special breakfast. After all, we wouldn't want you leave hungry! Bags are loaded by 9.30am and off we drive to your designated destination in Paris.

Note: This is a sample itinerary and is subject to change.
Rev 6/10 cb



What's Included
- 7 days and 6 nights on the barge in six cabins, each with private bath
- Transfers from Paris or Amsterdam (depending on cruise route) to the barge and return
- All meals beginning with dinner on Sunday through breakfast on Saturday
- Open bar and all wines with lunches and dinners
- All escorted side-excursions
- Use of bicycles

Note: Three country cruise is 14 days, 13 nights, departing Sunday and concluding Saturday

What's Not Included
- Overseas air transportation to Amsterdam or Paris and return
- Hot air ballooning option, typically 200 euros per person, 4 person minimum, when available, dependent on weather.
- Suggested minimum 5% gratuity for the crew, to be paid in equivalent Euros to the captain.

 



For Reservations or Information,

Ad' Navis - La Maison du Canal
80 Grand'rue
34290 Servian - France
Tel: 04 67 90 95 51
Fax: 04 67 90 95 25

mailto:Contact@adnavis.com



Text copyright © 2004, 2005, Chris Bennett. All rights Reserved.