le papillon - burgundy

canal cruising in france

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canal cruising in france

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le papillon - Burgundy

Canal Barge in France

"If you ever dreamed of a vacation..."

“If you ever dreamed of a vacation where you don’t have to worry about anything, with a perfect setting, just the right amount of activities, delicious food, great companionship and the most wonderful people to care for you – Le Papillon is for you!" - Cindy.

"one of the most relaxing ways to spend a summer European holiday..."

Read the article of Arlene Harris in the Irish Sunday Business Post

Le papillon video

4 PASSENGER BARGE le papillon

‘Le Papillon’ or ‘The Butterfly’ is an authentic vintage barge launched over a century ago in 1902. During her commercial life she proudly steamed the waterways of northern Europe and carried cargo along the Rhine and Meuse rivers. In 1980 she was rescued by two designers from New York and skilfully converted into the elegant ‘péniche-hôtel’ that today graces the Burgundy canal. With her oak and teak furnishings, provincial handmade tiles, brass portholes and printed wall paper, Le Papillon has such character and charm that passengers find themselves wanting to return year after year. She is getting a facelift and will sleep four, in two cabins. Each cabin will have en-suite facilities with air conditioning and central heating. Every one of the large portholes can be opened so your floating home is always filled with air and light.

on board

itinerary 1
may - july

Day 1, Sunday

Welcome to Auxerre, where your cruise starts. After a glass of champagne or two when you board you are free to stroll along the quayside or into the old town whilst chef prepares the first of your gourmet dinners. Overnight at mooring.

Day 2, Monday

After a morning cruise, navigating some delightful locks and passing through vineyard-covered hillsides, we moor at the typically French village of Vincelles. After lunch we make the short drive to Chablis, one of the best-known wine names throughout the world. They’ve been making great wine here since Roman times and the soil, or terroir’, produces a uniquely flinty crisp white wine from the chardonnay grape. We’ll taste a few and you’ll see what we mean! Then back for aperitifs and dinner.

Day 3, Tuesday

Today we’ll quickly drive back and show you Auxerre, the original capital of Lower Burgundy. It’s a wonderfully medieval town, with a magnificent cathedral, old churches and later period renaissance houses. We return to Le Papillon for lunch and a slow cruise south through rich pastures dotted with grazing white Charolais cattle. This is a good afternoon to cycle along the towpath as we negotiate locks, or even to stroll. Tonight, we moor at Mailly-le-Ville and dine on board.

Day 4, Wednesday

We start by driving through delightful countryside to visit Noyers-sur-Surein, one of the prettiest medieval 14th century market villages in France. After lunch the landscape changes dramatically as we head towards the cliffs at Le Saussois, internationally famous as a climbing centre. We recommend a walk or cycle along the towpath this afternoon to work up an appetite for the spectacular dinner we have planned ashore at Le Château de Vault-de-Lugny. This romantic and secluded 5-star hotel dates back almost 900 years. The menu includes Burgundy Truffle (hand picked from the hotel’s secret plantation) and Charolais beef, arguably the finest red meat in Europe. You’ll sleep well tonight.

Day 5, Thursday

Plenty of time to digest last night’s feast as we cruise through the Yonne valley to moor for lunch at Lucy-sur-Yonne. Then it’s an afternoon of full-on history and culture as we visit Vézelay, designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Benedictine Abbey here has a major role in history. In the 9th century it acquired the relics of St. Mary Magdalene, now housed in a Romanesque Basilica bearing her name. It has long been a meeting point for pilgrims and played a part in both the Second and Third Crusades. Even today it is an important landmark on the Camino de Santiago – the pilgrims’ walk to Santiago de Compostela. It’s a wonderful place to visit, with some stunning views into the bargain. Dinner on board.

Day 6, Friday

Our last day cruising takes us through yet more glorious countryside as we clear the locks and arrive in yet another quaint village, Chevroches. Yet more great history on our afternoon visit, this time to elegant Château de Bazoches. Built in the 12th century, it is has welcomed. Among others, King Richard III known as The Lionheart. Today it welcomes you! There are wonderful views from its elevated hillside setting. This evening we welcome you back on board to share the Captain’s Farewell Dinner.

Day 7, Saturday

After breakfast we transfer you by private minibus to the local train station.

On alternate weeks the cruise will be in the reverse direction. This is a sample itinerary and is subject to change.

itinerary 2
August - October

Day1, Sunday

Meet at Dijon railway station for the 35-minute transfer to join Le Papillon at the port of Saint Jean de Losne (pron. Lone) on the tranquil waters of the River Saone. Every great journey in France should start with a champagne reception – and yours is no exception! After a glass or two, and the chance to meet your crew, there is time to settle in before dinner.

Day 2, Monday

We cast-off soon after breakfast and head down river, taking morning coffee as we wind our way to our mooring at the sleepy farming hamlet of Le Chatelet sur Saone. From there we head to the famed Côte de Nuits wine area to visit the 12th century Château of Clos de Vougeot. Later we’ll have a tasting at cellars of the Jafflin family, one of the most established Côte de Nuits producers.

Day 3, Tuesday

Today is market day in the historic capital of the Dukes of Burgundy, Dijon. The magnificent market building, Les Halles, was built around 1875 and houses the most spectacular array of meat, fish, vegetables, and cheese. You can wander round with Chef as she picks out seasonal delicacies and haggles with the traders. After coffee you are at leisure to wander the local streets – one shop not to miss is Moutarde de Maille. Lunch is back on Le Papillon then we cruise to Verdun sur le Doubs. This evening we’ll take you ashore to entertain you for dinner at a local ‘hostellerie’.

Day 4, Wednesday

It’s a truly golden day today as we travel through the vineyards of the Côte D’Or and descend into Beaune, proud capital of the region. Beaune is the epitome of Burgundy – the wine that is – which brings the region its wealth. Nowhere is this more apparent than the wonderful Hospice built in 1443 by Nicholas Rolin, Chancellor to the Dukes of Burgundy. With its multi-coloured tiled roof, paved courtyard, perfectly preserved wards and pharmacy it is a piece of living history. Later we journey to bustling Chalon-sur-Saone where photography was invented by Nicephore Niepce. We moor here on an island in the town’s historic centre.

Day 5, Thursday

After a morning cruising down-stream we moor for lunch on the waterfront at Tournus, under the shadow of the 11th century Abbey of St. Philibert. Then we go ashore to stroll the sleepy streets of the medieval hilltop village of Brancion, before a visit to Chateau de Cormatin with its magnificent 17th century gilded rooms. On the way home we’ll try and make time for wine tasting in the village of Chardonnay – from which the world-famous grape takes its name.

Day 5, Friday

We leave the Soane this morning and join the River Seille – something of a treat as only Le Papillon can regularly navigate with passengers owing to her carefully calculated dimensions. It’s one of the gems of the French waterways and we take lunch on deck with some carefully paired wines as we cruise past water meadows and timeless watermills. Our destination is Louhans, capital of the region that produces the poultry renowned worldwide as Poulet de Bresse. After a stroll down the fabulously colonnaded Grand Rue, and a visit to the medieval hospital we head home for aperitifs. Tonight we feast on the only ‘Appellation Controlée’ chicken in the world, famed for its blue legs, scarlet crest and sublime flavour.

Day 7, Saturday

After a farewell breakfast we’ll transfer you by private minibus to the station at Macon Loche. Head north to be in Paris within 90 minutes, or head south to be in Provence in around 2 hours.

On alternate weeks the cruise will be in the reverse direction. This is a sample itinerary and is subject to change.

  • 2020 - 2021
    le papillon

    4 person charter
    3 person charter
    2 person charter

  • burgundy classic
    7 day / 6 night cruise

    May to October

    25000 Euros
    21500 Euros
    18500 Euros

  • Price for papillon includes:

    Return door to door transfers with our private minibus from your hotel in Paris, six night accommodation and five days of cruising, all food and wine with an open bar, land based excursions and entrance fees.

    These rates do not include:

    • Insurance • Personal expenses • Hot air balloon flights
    • Gratuities to the crew (between 7 and 10%)

    To avoid currency exchange fees

    • Australians can pay in Australian dollars by direct deposit or credit card. • New Zealanders can pay in New Zealand dollars by direct deposit or credit card. • US citizens will be charged in US dollars using credit card.


    Bon voyage!