01303 261 870

No.30 -The Classical Nivernais, A Musical Delight

No.30 -The Classical Nivernais, A Musical Delight

Spend a memorable week with Backwaters exploring the full 70km of the Canal du Nivernais and River Yonne between the spectacular city of Auxerre and the medieval town of Clamecy, in the company of our piono trio led by the leader of Folkestone Symphony and member of the Festival Orchestra, Floriane Peycelon.

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A music-themed week of cruising and exploration on the wonderfully scenic and secluded Canal du Nivernais, in the heart of Burgundy, in the Company of the Radnor Trio.


Passing through scenic and sparsely populated country on the western edge of the Morvan regional park, the Canal du Nivernais is arguably 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.


3 Full days of Cruising - 3 more days of relaxed exploration of the natural world around us!


For this 8-day Cruise and Tour package will be accompanied throughout by our Piano Trio who will entertain us both aboard the boat and back at the hotel, where there is a vintage Steinbeck piano waiting for us to exercise.  They will also play for us in the inspiring setting of the UNESCO-listed Basilica of St Mary Magdalen at Vézelay, and we will take the opportunity to play at other local venues happy to welcome us.

Day 1

Outward Travel by executive coach departing Folkestone in the morning to arrive in Vermenton by 18:30, with an en route break for lunch in or near Reims. Pre-departure overnight accommodation and/or parking available at the Ashford International Hotel (please enquire for further detail). Anyone preferring to transfer via Eurostar to Paris and local train to Auxerre again please enquire for further information, we are happy to provide escort and/or reception facilities as required. We are also able to receive forwarded baggage to go with the coach so that you can fly or take the train to Paris and onwards to Auxerre with minimal luggage.


Day 2

We travel by coach into Auxerre (about 30 mins) and then cruise the Canal du Nivernais and River Yonne back to Vermenton - 7 hours on alternating sections of the River Yonne and canal cuts, the waterway travels 21km through the villages of Vaux, Champs sur Yonne, Bailly, Vincelles, Cravant and Accolay, and passes through 13 locks.

B, L, D

Day 3

First we will visit the UNESCO-listed Basilica at Vézelay, enjoying an introduction to the history of the village before we ask Flo and her colleagues to play for us in the spellbinding setting of this majestic building. We then board the coach for the short hop to the remote hilltop vineyard of La Croix Montjoie, where we can savour more magnificent views over a pick-up lunch. In the afternoon there is the opportunity to visit the Grotte d'Arcy - location of the second oldest known prehistoric cave drawings in all of Europe - where we would hope our trio can test some rather different acoustics!

B, L, D

Day 4

We cruise for 6 hours today between Châtel-Censoir and Clamecy, covering a further 20km with 9 locks over a scenic rural route, with the small town of Coulanges-sur-Yonne as midpoint. There should be time to explore a little of Clamecy on arrival before we board the coach to return to Vermenton.

B, L, D

Day 5

Today we spend a free day in Auxerre, where the spectacular waterfront with the Cathedral St Étienne and Abbaye St Gervais make this one of the most attractive skylines in all of France. We will plan to gather at lunchtime at a local brasserie which with Flo's assistance may have something of the Flashmob about it!

B, L, D

Day 6

For our final day of cruising we board at Châtel-Censoir and cruise back to Vermenton - 7 hours mostly on canal over 29km with 12 locks, passing through the villages of Merry-sur-Yonne, Mailly-le-Château (another splendid viewpoint), Mailly-la-Ville, Prégilbert, Ste-Pallaye and Accolay, and also passing the spectacular limestone crag at Les Rochers du Saussois, a protected zone in nesting season for its prodigious Peregrine Falcon population. In the evening we visit the restored Cistercian Abbey of Reigny - only 2km south of Vermenton - where we enjoy supper courtesy of our hosts Béatrice and Louis-Marie Mauvais.

B, L, D

Day 7

The coach takes us first to the stunning Château Ancy-le-Franc, where we enjoy an audio-guided visit before we travel onwards to the iconic wine town of Chablis for lunch and some free time. From here it is a half-hour journey through the vineyards back to Vermenton, where we enjoy a gala farewell dinner in the hotel.

B, L, D

Day 8

We set out for home with a brief call at Pontigny Abbey, just north of Auxerre, before a planned lunchtime break in Reims or Laon before completing our journey back to Calais for an early evening crossing.


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

Because of the regularity of locks and our gentle cruising speed there will be plenty of opportunity for a towpath stroll. 


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.  Lunches-out are also included on excursion days


The Radnor Trio Ensemble


French-born Floriane Peycelon completed her violin studies in the Lyon National Conservatoire of Music and Drama. Flo is now enjoying a full-time career as a professional freelance violinist and violin teacher in South East Kent.  She is the Violin Tutor at the University of Kent and the musical director of the University Sinfonia and runs string workshops for amateur players. She has been the leader of the Folkestone Symphony Orchestra since 2000.  As an orchestral and chamber player, Flo regularly performs around the UK and abroad. Her solo performances have included the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto, the Beethoven Violin Concerto and Vaughan-Williams' Lark Ascending. In November 2016, she took over the post of violinist in the international Narropera trio. She leads the Radnor Ensemble, co-founded with her cellist friend Sarah Boxall. Together they perform as the Radnor Ensemble, as a duo, trio or quartet. 


Sarah Boxall studied the cello at the Royal College of Music, both in the junior department and as a postgraduate, where she won several prizes. Sarah has a degree in Biochemistry and Pharmacology from Southampton University and a PhD from UCL and is now a patent attorney running her own business in South East Kent. She maintains an active musical life organising and playing in orchestras and chamber groups around the UK and the Channel Islands. She and Flo regularly play together as part of the Radnor Ensemble, often performing as a duo, trio or quartet. 


David Smith studied the piano at the Royal College of Music in London and went on to working as a full-time professional pianist and keyboard player in London West End theatres, playing in the world-famous shows such as Cats, Phantom of the Opera, Annie, Lion King, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Mamma Mia. A fully-qualified teacher, he now enjoys a busy career as Head of Music in a local grammar school in South East Kent whilst finding the time to work part-time as a West End Keyboard deputy. 



What’s Included:

  • Executive Coach Travel

  • Assistance with booking taxi connections and/or hotel stay pre-departure (additional cost)

  • Eurotunnel or ferry crossings

  • En route stops where time allows – normally Reims or Laon

  • Hotel stay at the Logis St François in Vermenton

  • All meals except for lunches on travel days outbound and return

  • Wine with all lunches and evening meals

  • Three full days of cruising on the Canal du Nivernais between Auxerre and Clamecy

  • A planned and ad hoc musical programme as described

  • Guided visits to Vézelay Basilica and Visitor Centre, Grotte d'Arcy, Château Ancy le Franc

  • Free time in Auxerre, Chablis, Clamecy

  • Visit and tasting at the vineyard at La Croix Monjoie (Vézelay appellation)

  • Dinner at the Abbaye de Reigny

  • Advance luggage/travel independently options



Our Hotel and Meal Plan:


The Logis St François in the village of Vermenton, recently fully renovated and ideally situated for our cruising the Canal Du Nivernais between Auxerre and Clamecy.   This groups-only hotel is operated by the family who own the nearby Abbaye de Reigny where we dine on one evening.   This is a comfortable, clean, spacious and quiet hotel and has been well reported by guests staying during our 2018 season.


Our package includes all meals, with a continental breakfast every day at the hotel; lunches either on board the boat or at a local restaurant; and evening meal either at the hotel or on one evening out at the nearby Abbaye de Reigny.  Wine is included with all lunches and dinners.



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.


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.



On Board Facilities:


Our boat has been designed to comfortably accommodate a coachload of passengers in observation lounge comfort and there is additional seating outside for those wanting to take in the views and fresh air.  There are 3 bikes on board free of charge for anyone who would like to ride the towpath.  The boat has two WC/washrooms and a galley serving hot and cold drinks, beers and wines, for which there is no charge.  There is no smoking on board.



Departure from Kent:


Anyone from further afield please feel welcome to join us on this or any other Buzzlines/Backwaters tour.  We are happy to arrange parking for you here in Kent, or we can pick you up from Ashford International Station – only 37 minutes by HS1 from London St Pancras – and help you to find overnight hotel or B&B stops. 

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