01303 261 870

No.22 - Exploring the Peaceful Nivernais

No.22 - Exploring the Peaceful Nivernais

A week spent cruising the serene and intricate waterways of Burgundy, passing through the historic city of Auxerre and with excellent full-board cuisine and a free bar!

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A week spent cruising the serene and intricate waterways of the Gateway to Burgundy between the medieval town of Clamecy and the historic city of Auxerre, with a programme of complimentary visits to some of the great attractions of this historic region.


During our week we enjoy some 70km of gentle cruising on the Canal du Nivernais and River Yonne, passing through 35 locks and a number of lift and swing bridges. We are always within easy travelling distance of our hotel – the Logis St François in the quiet village of Vermenton.


Passing through scenic and sparsely populated country on the western edge of the Morvan regional park, the Canal du Nivernais is widely held to be the prettiest of the many canal cruise routes in central and eastern France. The Canal provides a link between the Loire Valley to the south and the Paris basin to the north, and its mix of river and canal sections make it an infinitely varying and interesting waterways journey. The Canal du Nivernais is fed throughout our cruise route by the River Yonne. A major tributary of the Seine, the Yonne rises in the remote Morvan Regional Park before following a northwards path through Auxerre and Sens to its confluence with the Petit Seine at Monterau-fault-Yonne.



On cruise days an on-board lunch is included and a free bar operates throughout. Our evening meals also include wine and are served at the hotel but on two evenings we dine-out at the nearby Cistercian Abbaye de Reigny and at the Hostellerie de la Fontaine in the village of Accolay.



Day 1

Depart Folkestone by coach at around 09:00. We normally cross by Eurotunnel but may
revert to ferry if tunnel crossings are unavailable. Lunch break in or near Reims. Due arrival at hotel
around 18:00 – evening meal in hotel.


Day 2

We take a local train following the line along the Yonne Valley between the nearby village
of Cravant and the medieval town of Clamecy, where our coach ferries us down to the moorings to
board the Natalia. We then cruise alternating stretches of river and canal for the rest of the day as
far as the village of Châtel-Censoir, with lunch on-board.

B, L, D

Day 3

This morning we leave the hotel at 09:00 to make our way to the UNESCO-listed hilltop
Basilica of Vézelay, following a lovely route along the Cure Valley through a succession of quiet
villages. Shortly after its foundation in the 9th century, the Benedictine Abbey of Vézelay acquired
the relics of St Mary Magdalene and since then it has been an important place of pilgrimage. St
Bernard preached the Second Crusade there in 1146 and Richard the Lion-Heart and Philip II
Augustus met there to leave for the Third Crusade in 1190. We enjoy a guided introduction courtesy
of local expert Chris Kelly, before moving on to Châtel-Censoir where our cruise continues as far as
the village of Mailly-la-Ville. Lunch is served on-board.

B, L, D

Day 4

This morning we return to Mailly-la-Ville and our cruise continues back to our home port
of Vermenton, within walking distance of the hotel. This afternoon there is the option of a short trip
on the coach to the limestone Caves d’Arcy, reputed to be home to the second-oldest cave paintings
in all of Europe. [there are about 100 steps to access the caves and some places where it is
necessary to stoop – it is well-lit and guided throughout and quite even underfoot aside from the
steps, but not advised for anyone of impaired mobility]. This evening we will dine in the cellars of
the Hostellerie de la Fontaine in nearby Accolay.

B, L, D

Day 5

Today we enjoy a full day excursion to the Castle under Construction project at
Guédelon, as featured in the recent BBC2 series. This project, now in its 22nd year, aims to recreate
the 13th century castle using construction methods and materials of that time. Our visitors to the
site in 2018 were of one voice in telling us a half day visit is not enough, so we schedule to be there
for a full 5hr visit to include lunch. For anyone preferring to relax for the day at Vermenton, the
boat will remain moored and available for rest and refreshments at Accolay, about a half-hour stroll
from the hotel. Guédelon visitors will enjoy lunch at the castle.

B, L, D

Day 6

We resume cruising this morning at Accolay and follow the Nivernais as far as Vincelles.
After lunch on board we take the coach via the viewpoint overlooking the vineyards of Irancy before
we continue the short distance to the iconic wine town of Chablis where we enjoy a tasting and
some free time for exploration and shopping. We dine this evening at the restored Cistercian
Abbaye de Reigny, situated only just outside Vermenton and occupying a lovely position alongside
the River Cure where we are joined by recording accordion artist Yves Busato.

B, L, D

Day 7

For our final cruise-leg, we re-board at La Cour Barrée and follow the Nivernais and Yonne
downstream into Auxerre, enjoying one of the finest riverside vistas in all of France as we pass under
the Pont Paul Bert and approach our moorings. After lunch on board there will be free time to
explore the medieval old town and shops of Auxerre, or simply to relax on board the Natalia and
take-in the river views. This evening we will enjoy a farewell gala meal in the hotel ahead of our
departure for home.

B, L, D

Day 8

We depart Vermenton after breakfast for a return journey via Chablis, Tonnerre and the
village of Chaource (noted for its cheese). We would then expect to join the French autoroute
system at Troyes to continue north, with a break for lunch in or near Reims or Laon, and an early
evening channel crossing.


B=Breakfast Included, L=Lunch Included, D =Dinner Included

What’s Included:


Executive Coach Travel

Assistance with booking taxi connections and/or hotel stay pre-departure

Eurotunnel or ferry crossings

5 days of cruising with on board lunch and free bar

Guided visits to the Basilica at Vézelay, Caves d’Arcy and Guédelon Castle (with lunch)

Hotel accommodation at the Logis St François in Vermenton

Dinners with wine including evening meals at the Cistercian Abbaye de Reigny and the Hostellerie de la Fontaine in Accolay

Chablis wine-tasting

Free time in Auxerre, Chablis

Accordionist entertainment


Our Hotel:



The Logis St François in the village of Vermenton, a no-frills facility recently fully renovated and ideally situated for our cruising the Canal Du Nivernais southwards to Clamecy.   This groups-only hotel is operated by the family who own the nearby Abbaye de Reigny where we eat out on one evening.   This is a comfortable, clean, spacious and quiet hotel, well rated by our visitors throughout the 2018 season.  





Our tour package includes all meals with the sole exception of lunch on our travel days, when it is planned to break the journey so that guests can lunch on their own initiative in or near Reims or Laon.


Our evening programme will include a trip out to the Cistercian Abbaye de Reigny and the Hostellerie de la Fontaine in Accolay.  Both venues are less than 10 minutes by coach from the hotel. 


On cruise days an on-board lunch is included and a free bar operates throughout.   As well as teas, coffees and soft drinks, the bar stocks bottled beers and a range of wines including local Chablis, Bourgogne Aligoté and Irancy rouge, Crémant de Bourgogne, and a Provence rosé.  



On Board Facilities:


Our boat has been designed to comfortably accommodate a coachload of passengers in lounge-standard seating and there is additional seating outside for those wanting to take in the views and fresh air.  The boats has two WC/washrooms.  There is no smoking on board.



Environmental Policies


Our boat is hybrid-engined and normally charges overnight from shore supply.  Its diesel engines are only used if battery power is exhausted, so most of the time you can look forward to silent cruising.  The saloon roof is bedecked with solar panels which reinforce battery endurance and support the boat's air conditioning system, and the hull design ensures that we create minimal wash, and therefore do not add to the problems of bank erosion.


We also operate to a strict waste-avoidance policy.  We try to completely avoid the use of single-use plastics and we operate to a responsible recycling code.  All meals and drinks on board are served using normal crockery, cutlery and glassware.  Our crew also has a brief to support the recovery from rivers and canals of floating litter whenever this is practicable.

Below is a list of pick-up points available on this tour.

Below is a list of pick-up points available on this tour.

Name Address Contact Details
Ashford International Htl Ashford International Hotel
Folkestone Bus Station Bay E, Folkestone

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Buzzlines Travel
Unit G1, Lympne Distribution Park, Lympne, Nr. Hythe, Kent, CT21 4LR
01303 261 870

Opening Hours

Monday – Friday
09:00hrs – 17:00hrs

Saturday & Sunday