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Barging From Paris To Pont-L'évêque | May 15-21, 2024

Since the first of the year, more than 200 of you have expressed interest in a barge adventure, and because I enjoy the barges so much (and of course the French canals), I’ve settled on what I think will be an ideal barge experience. This itinerary is new to me, but one that I am eager to experience. It begins in Paris and travels through the Oise Valley.

Itinerary

Day 1: PARIS

We are welcome to board at 6 p.m. We’ll introduce our crew at a welcome cocktail before dinner on board.

Highlight: This evening, we’ll enjoy a cruise through Paris at night.

Day 2: PARIS – BOUGIVAL

We’ll spend the morning cruising to Bougival. In the afternoon, join a guided tour of the Château de Malmaison. Built in the 17th century, Joséphine de Beauharnais acquired this castle in 1779. In 1800, it became the headquarters of the government and a conference room. The library restores the industrious atmosphere by which Bonaparte enjoyed to be surrounded. The council room is shaped like a military tent where receptions, dances and country-style games took place. The musical lounge offers Josephine’s “troubadour” paintings and her well-known harp for visitors to admire. Here, many paintings from these times are on display. After her divorce in 1809, Joséphine continued to live in her house, where she died in 1814. The Napoleonic museum was inaugurated in 1906; it is furnished, decorated and adorned with the paintings that Joséphine bought and loved. The charm and authenticity that have been preserved in this castle will certainly delight you. We’ll return to the barge, which will remain in port overnight.

Day 3 : BOUGIVAL – PONTOISE

We’ll spend the morning cruising to Pontoise. This afternoon, we’ll visit Pontoise and the Musée d’Art et d’Histoire Pissarro. Learn about Pontoise’s monuments and celebrities as we stroll along its picturesque streets at our own pace. The city’s superb cathedral dates as far back as the 12th century and includes a Flamboyant-style tower and central portal, as well as Renaissance additions added a few centuries later. Afterwards, we’ll visit the Musée d’Art et d’Histoire Pissarro. The museum’s collection includes more than 3,000 works from several great masters, including sketches by Henri Matisse; watercolors by Freundlich, Jimenez, and Thornley; and etchings by Camille Pissarro. Thanks to this prestigious compilation, the museum presents fascinating exhibits throughout the year. We’ll finish up our excursion with a taste of goat cheese and honey at the Tourist Information Office. We’ll return to the barge, which will remain in port overnight. Enjoy a free evening after dinner on board.

Day 4 : PONTOISE – AUVERS-SUR-OISE – SAINT-LEU-D’ESSERENT

Included excursion: Auvers-sur-Oise and the Musée de l’Absinthe. We’ll head toward Auvers-sur-Oise. Stretching four miles (seven kilometers) along the Oise River bank, Auvers-sur-Oise was Vincent Van Gogh’s last home and final resting place. We’ll stroll through the picturesque village streets and along the Artists’ Pathway, where works by famous Impressionists compare the current landscapes and architecture. Our next stop will be the Musée de l’Absinthe and its reproduction of the ambiance found in cafés during the Belle Époque, when the “green fairy” was the preferred drink of poets and artists. The museum collection gives us great insight into 19th-century culture in France. We’ll finish up our tour with a demonstration of the absinthe ritual and a tasting, of course. We’ll return to the ship in Auvers-sur-Oise for lunch. We’ll then spend the afternoon cruising to Saint-Leu-d’Esserent.

In the afternoon, learn how to prepare France’s legendary crème chantilly. A member of the Confrérie des Chevaliers Fouetteurs will join us on board to talk about this traditional culinary delight. Learn how to whip up delicious, authentic whipped cream by hand!

After dinner, take some time on your own to explore Saint-Leu-d’Esserent. The more adventurous can head to the impressive abbatial church to catch some great views of the surrounding valley. We’ll remain in port overnight.

Day 5 : SAINT-LEU-D’ESSERENT – PONT-SAINTE-MAXENCE – COMPIEGNE

We’ll set off for Chantilly, home to one of the most beautiful castles in France. The Château de Chantilly is the work of an exceptional figure, Henri d’Orléans, Duke of Aumale, son of the last French king, Louis-Phillipe. The duke is considered to have owned one of the finest art collections of his time, making Chantilly a showcase for his many masterpieces and priceless manuscripts. The castle has remained at a virtual standstill since the Duke of Aumale bequeathed it to the Institut de France, so take advantage of this moment to jump back in time and relish this princely domain. We’ll visit the art galleries, where paintings have hung undisturbed since the 19th century; the large, opulent suites once used as reception rooms; and the reading room, one of the most extensive libraries in the country. We’ll return to Pont-Sainte-Maxence for lunch. Our barge will cruise to Compiègne in the afternoon. We’ll remain in port overnight. Enjoy a free evening after dinner.

Day 6 : COMPIEGNE – PONT-L’ÉVÊQUE

Included excursion: Compiègne, the Armistice Memorial, and the Château de Compiègne. Set off on a guided tour of historic Compiègne. On the picturesque streets of this significant city, you’ll see the lovely 16th-century town hall with its intricately sculptured late-Gothic facade containing several historical figures, such as Louis XII on his horse. The town hall tower holds one of the oldest municipal bells in France, dating back to 1303. Further along the route, we’ll come across some lovely medieval homes. The oldest, La Vieille Cassine, was built in the 15th century. We’ll enjoy a tasting of regional delicacies before we continue on to the Armistice Memorial. Part of the museum’s collection includes the emblematic train car used in the signing of the 1918 Armistice, later vindictively recommissioned by Hitler for the 1940 surrender of France during World War II; a Marne Taxi requisitioned by the French government to transport troops during its namesake battle; and 800 stereoscopic images from the time of World War I. The memorial is dedicated to all soldiers who have fought since 1870, including Augustin Trébuchon—the last French soldier killed on the front during World War I. Before we return, we’ll visit the Château de Compiègne. The outstanding beauty, gorgeous decor, and fine furnishings of the largest neoclassical palace in France add up to an impressive ensemble.

Versailles, Fontainebleau, and Compiègne form a trifecta of the largest imperial residences in France. After our excursion, we’ll return on board for lunch. Our barge will cruise to Pont-l’Évêque, arriving mid-afternoon.

Discover Noyon and its 2,000 years of history during this included  tour. Two thousand years of heritage and funky street art dot this eclectic city’s streets. A festival of lights and colors awaits you within the Notre Dame Cathedral, the first example of Gothic architecture in northern France during the second half of the 12th century. We’ll return to the barge for our festive gala evening.

Day 7 : PONT-L’ÉVÊQUE 

Enjoy breakfast on board this morning before disembarking at 9 a.m. Transfer back to Paris.

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Of 11 Cabins Remaining

Pricing, Per Person, All-Inclusive

Per-person rates are in U.S. dollars and based on double occupancy. All-inclusive except for suggested gratuities of 100 euros per cabin.

Paris & The Oise Valley

Rates are per person, based on double occupancy
$ 4197 per person, double occupancy
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From last April's barge trip In Burgundy