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No.22 - The Winding Waterways of Bourgogne

No.22 - The Winding Waterways of Bourgogne

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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During our week we enjoy some 90 miles of gentle cruising on the Canal du Nivernais, River Yonne and Canal de Bourgogne, yet as our waterways odyssey describes a V-shaped route we are never beyond easy travelling distance of our hotel – the Logis St François in the quiet village of Vermenton.  


Total cruise time and distance approx 38hrs, 136km, 62 locks


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 Nivernais occupies our first three days of cruising before we spend a day on the picturesque River Yonne making our way downstream from Auxerre to Migennes.  A major tributary of the Seine, the Yonne rises in the Morvan before following a northwards path through Auxerre and Sens to its confluence with the Petit Seine at Monterau-fault-Yonne.  The Canal de Bourgogne is then another remarkable example of ambitious French canal engineering, linking the Yonne across a distance of 242 km with the River Saone, and including no less than 189 locks and the 3.3km summit tunnel at Pouilly-en-Auxois.  Our journey along the Canal de Bourgogne occupies our last two days of cruising via St-Florentin onwards to the wine town of Tonnerre.  If anyone would like to see even more of the Canal de Bourgogne there is the option of conjoining this cruise with our next one, which continues south-eastwards for another four days of scenic and very rural cruising as far as the small town of Veneray-les-Laumes. 


These really are full days of cruising so we don't schedule any committed visits, but on some days there will be the option of breaking out of the cruise itinerary for a few hours to visit a local attraction in the coach.  There is no extra cost attached to these optional excursions.


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.  Dinners 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.


During our canal sections there will be good opportunity for anyone who would like to stroll the towpath.  There are stretches where locks come quite regularly and it is quite easy to keep up with the boat. 

Day 1

Depart Folkestone by coach mid morning. We normally cross by Eurotunnel but may revert to ferry if crossings are unavailable. Lunch break in or near Reims. Due arrival at hotel around 18:30 - 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. Today's excursion option is the hilltop village of Vézelay and its magnificent Basilica said to accommodate a relic of St Mary Magdalen. This would be a morning option, staying with the coach from Clamecy and then boarding the boat at lunchtime in Coulanges-sur-Yonne. Evening meal in hotel - weather permitting a barbecue in the back garden!

B, L, D

Day 3

We make the short hop by coach from the hotel to Châtel-Censoir, and from here we continue to cruise northwards on the Nivernais, passing the spectacular limestone bluff at Les Rochers du Saussois with its resident Peregrine Falcon population, and the equally dramatic clifftop setting of Mailly-le-Château, highlighted by one of the programmes in Timothy West and Prunella Scales' TV series. At the end of the day we switch on to the short branch canal alongside the River Cure which leads us into Vermenton, with the hotel just 5 minutes walk away. We dine tonight at the hotel. There is no break-out excursion today so that our coach driver can enjoy some cruising with us!

B, L, D

Day 4

Setting out from Vermenton, we continue our cruise northwards as we follow the canal and river downstream through more picturesque scenery as the Yonne valley passes through the vineyards of Auxerrois. We will aim to lunch today at the village of Champs-sur-Yonne, and for anyone who would like some free time to explore Auxerre the coach will go ahead after lunch, allowing about three hours to explore the medieval centre and the great St Etienne Cathedral and St Gervais Abbey. At the end of the afternoon the cruise will conclude in Auxerre and we will all rendezvous to return to Vermenton. We dine this evening in the vaulted cellars of the Hostellerie de la Fontaine in the nearby village of Accolay.

B, L, D

Day 5

The coach takes us into Auxerre where we embark to spend a full day cruising on the River Yonne, concluding by late afternoon by turning almost back on ourselves as we join the Canal de Bourgogne in Migennes. Today's excursion option is to stay with the coach in Auxerre to make for the riverside town of Joigny where it is market day. We will allow ourselves a couple of hours here before rejoining the boat near Monetau in good time for lunch. This evening's meal is in the hotel, where we will enjoy the company of a professional recording accordionist for our entertainment.

B, L, D

Day 6

We return to Migennes and continue our cruise along the sedate Canal de Bourgogne through to the town of St-Florentin. Today the coach takes a scenic route from Vermenton via the vineyards of Chablis and will then drop-off passengers at the spectacular Cistercian cathedral-abbey of Pontigny before continuing to embark at Migennes. Those wishing to visit Pontigny will then be retrieved by the coach to rejoin the boat in time for lunch at Brienon-sur-Armancon. 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.

B, L, D

Day 7

Our final day of cruising commences in St-Florentin and continues to follow the canal south-eastwards through rolling countryside to the wine town of Tonnerre, where we conclude. Today the coach offers two excursion options. In the morning you can choose to linger for an hour or so in St-Florentin to visit the town's splendid hilltop Gothic and Renaissance church, whose cathedral-scale profile is visible from miles around. Then after lunch the coach will take those interested ahead for some free time in Tonnerre, which aside from its wines is notable for its karst spring - adapted in Roman times to serve as the town's lavoir, and for the lovely stained glass windows in the hillside Church of St Pierre overlooking the town. Our evening meal in the hotel is highlighted by a tasting of Chablis wines hosted by our regional manager and companion throughout the tour, Craig Jenner.

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

Six full days of cruising with on board lunch and free bar

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

Optional visits by coach as stated at no extra charge and including free time in Auxerre

Chablis wine-tasting

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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07 Sep
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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