Wednesday, 30 October 2013

End of 2013 season

The 2013 season has now drawn to a close.  The Luciole crew are returning to their respective homes with plans to travel to distant exotic lands or enjoy a bit of peace and quiet by warm fires, following busy weeks on board the barge.

Merci millions to all who cruised on the Luciole this season.  Do take a look at our video to bring back a few memories of familiar faces and places of 2013.  

20th - 26th October 2013

The last week of the season has come around. The weather was exceptionally warm, we could hardly believe it. Lunch on deck even, in the warmth of the mid-day sun. 

Our lovely passengers were a group of ladies, friends for many years, decades in fact. Many of us of a certain age, know that some need it hot and others need it cold and before too long those that needed it hot then need it cold and those who were cold then suddenly were hot and needed cold so it goes on......High Fives and big respects to you ladies. Your wonderful guest book entry is a perfect finale to the 2013 season

High Fives to the Lovely Ladies, chartering
the Luciole for the final week of our 2013 season

13th - 19th October 2013

An exciting week for the Luciole, with the arrival of the new entrance to our mooring in Auxerre. Over the last year, the quay of Auxerre, has undergone a massive refurbishment programme.  The town planners have created a walk way to be proud of along the banks of the River Yonne. The back drop of the magnificent Cathedral de St Etienne standing proud up on the skyline is dramatic.

The Luciole has her own private mooring, thanks to the diligence and hard work of our Captain Francisco.  Gosh we feel fortunate and privileged!  The week was therefore extra special that Francisco's mother and cousin were visiting the Luciole all the way from Chile.

We also welcomed back passengers who have cruised with the Luciole before.  The record being with dear Alan and Marie Ann, who have cruised with us regularly since the 1980s!

Marie Ann, Francisco and Peter cutting 'the
 ribbon' for the new Luciole entrance on our  mooring in Auxerre

Friday, 18 October 2013

6th - 12th October 2013

Yet another beautiful week aboard the Luciole. The sun was shining, the leaves on the trees have turned the dark reds and oranges of autumn, and our passengers were a lovely combination of people hailing from the United States and Canada.

Good fun and late nights were a daily occurrence as the liquor and card games emerged after dinner. These plus the many jokes and great humour helped this group to relax and get to know each other very quickly, until they were inseparable by friday nights Captain's Dinner.

The wonderful old streets of Noyers. This alleyway leads to one of the pottery shops, a very popular curiosity to browse amongst our passengers and the locals alike. 

Thursday, 10 October 2013

29th September - 5th October 2013

Party time on board the Luciole! John was the energetic team leader of this American charter group of 14 passengers. The forecast for the week looked as if we could have been in for some rain but happily for us the forecasters were wrong and the good weather enabled the group to indulge in early morning exercises with stretchy bands, cycling and brisk walking. Where did this group find all their energy after a late night of fun around the dining table fuelled by copious amounts of Armagnac?

These guests were so enthusiastic about Marc's cooking and appreciative of everything and everyone on board that they were full of praise for their wonderful week in Burgundy. The great atmosphere must have been contagious, as we had a great week too.

 A mouth watering example of Marc's scallops.

And here's a glimpse at one of his many enticing desserts.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

22nd - 28th September 2013

Autumn has arrived in Burgundy with beautiful warm weather and changing colours on the trees.  The early morning mist and cool mornings clear to give blue skies perfect for cycling and walking along the canal.  Our group this week saw a lone New Zealander amongst Americans from various states. Sporting a beret and out for an early pre breakfast walk on the first day, Bruce, from Maine. was mistaken for a local Frenchman amongst much merriment.

Along with the return of Autumn we welcomed the delightful Anna back to join Suzie as the hostesses aboard the Luciole.  Marc the Chef triumphantly completed his first week solo amid much praise from our lovely passengers.

Our outing to visit the vineyard in Chablis

Thursday, 3 October 2013

15th - 21st September 2013

This week we say au revoir to old friends and bonjour to old and new friends alike. Chef Mike has moved to new pastures ready for the winter season, so from all the crew we would like to wish him the best of luck, a fond farewell and to thank him for his months of excellence.

To fill such big boots we enlisted the big personality and chef of previous seasons, Sebastian, just for the week, and what a week we had. Fantastic food and a wonderful atmosphere was enjoyed by everyone. Adding to the brilliant ambience was the Luciole's new chef Marc, here for the latter part of the week and remaining with us for the rest of the season. So a big thank you to Seb and welcome aboard to Marc.

Having two chefs in the galley was not only a fantastic experience but a gastronomic delight for our guests who had a wonderful week of fabulous food and fun. The photograph is courtesy of matelot Tom's phone so apologies for the quality.

Seb and Marc in the Luciole galley,  cooking up a feast

Sunday, 22 September 2013

8th - 14th September 2013

What a week we had, a week of sun, kilometres of cycling, and global cooperation and friendship. Our very lovely guests this week hailed from all corners of the United States, Australia and a two person contingent from the UK, .

With the beautiful weather it was only expected that a few people would cycle along the towpaths following the boat and scouting a path to that evenings destination. I was however stunned with the sheer number of Luciole cyclists and their amazing dedication to going the distance. Indeed we were without fail beaten to every lock by our passengers who would proceed to open the lock gates and close the vains and take the ropes from Tom and Francisco's hands.

Just as well that chef Mike was on hand as always to replenish everyone's energy with his wonderful cuisine, and that Izzy and Suzie were ready as ever with pot of tea or a bottle or two of something delicious.
Cruising the glorious Nivernais Canal

Monday, 9 September 2013

1st - 7th September 2013

This week we saw a great group of people from all corners of the world. Americans, English and Australians joined us in this mixed group and enjoyed a week we won't soon forget on the Luciole. Great weather was had and many laughs shared as the group got to know each other.

A special event also brought us all together from behind the lens of multiple cameras. The biannual crossing of the horses to and from their island grazing at the lock of Vaux took place. Due to the particular size and shape of the Luciole we provide the easiest and safest method for lock-keeper Olivier to transport his two magnificent horses across the lock and onto the otherwise unreachable pastures. It creates quite the spectacle and is an amazing sight as the boat rocks and wallows under the weight of all that horse.

A special mention must be made to the charming Don and lovely Kelli who were celebrating their honeymoon with us. Congratulations from all of us and here's hoping to many, many  years of happiness to the both of you.

The Luciole enters l'ecluse de Preuilly as tour guide Neil closes the lock vanes. 

Friday, 6 September 2013

25th - 31st August 2013

What a great week to start off the latter end of our barge season after crew holidays. Beautiful weather, wonderful people, fantastic food and drink, many laughs with new found friends and fond memories made by passengers and crew alike. All in all life as we know it aboard the Luciole in our little corner of France.

A personal highlight was observing the ladies being taught the art of napkin folding by hostess Izzy. Whilst the men (quite rightly) retreated to a safe distance to "taste test" the local wines and beers, before cycling in a reasonably straight line down the towpath and into the distance.

Izzy passes on her napkin folding skills to the ladies

Crew and passengers on the deck at the end of the week

Friday, 23 August 2013

17th - 24th August 2013

The film gang of last week returned to respective homes and the Luciole crew scattered on their holidays.  Francisco to the Atlantic Ocean, Mike to the Alps, Neil to the Morvan Forest, Anna to the UK to prepare for travels to China and Tom to the sunny climes of Cheshire in the north of England. The Luciole was left in the hands of the ladies, Suzie and Penny!

The Luciole was moored on her smart new town mooring in Auxerre, the mid-seasons spruce-up began. Varnishing, painting, oiling with some rest and repose thrown in.  'OC' Roy our dear painter friend was on hand with masterly skills various and Scottish humour to boot.

On Friday night the crew returned refreshed and ready for the last months of the season.  September, is nearly upon us and always feels a different season.  Summer is slipping by and the wine makers of the Burgundy region, prepare for harvest, with the hopes of a fruitful vintage.

The attractive vineyard at Brocard in Chablis

10th - 16th August 2013

Friends and family gathered on the Luciole for the filming of our new video, under the masterful eye of Director and Producer, Ant Palmer.  We certainly were amazingly fortunate with the weather, every day sunshine, blue sky and a scattering of fluffy clouds across the Burgundy sky-scape.

Ant Palmer films the Luciole cruising through Auxerre

Lots of laughs and a fair old sprinkling of 'Just one more time'.  More wine was poured, the Luciole was turned to cruise a canal section again to film the shot from another angle.  Everyone became 'a darling' as the days slipped past and camera rolled in this most exquisite corner of France.

Big thanks to: Ant, Min and Laura, Judith for joining us all the way from America, Lesley and Malcolm, Isobelle and David, Margaret and Richard, Clare, Tony and Jennie, Luciole crew and Liley Lads, William and Tris.

You were all stars.......Darlings xx

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

4th - 10th August 2013

This week saw a mixed group from New Zealand, Australia, Canada and England and within one day the group had gelled and that was the tone for the rest of the week.  Cocktails on deck were followed by a game of petanque at Mailly le Chateau with lots of laughs from participants and spectators alike.  Action was captured on camera by delightful hostess Anna.

Shirley in action, Christine and Cal looking keenly on:

........while Sue,  Jill, Yvonne, Mel and Allan watched from the deck

The week of fun was rounded off with a game of Charades.  It felt as though friends had been made for life and we were very sorry to say goodbye to this entertaining group of passengers.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

28th July - 3rd August 2013

Welcome aboard to our passengers from Atlanta, Georgia on an adventure charter, lead by the lovely Patricia with her daughters, friends and grandchildren.

This family loved their swimming and must have had the fastest dip on the time it took for Maunoir lock to empty various members of the party had jumped into the river, followed by Captain Francisco who neatly dived amongst the water lilies.

Beautiful sunshine all week and the sunflowers are now out and looking gorgeous, who is that peeping out amongst them?

Could it be our camera shy chef Mike?

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

21st - 27th July 2013

What a week of party goers, the bet was on....were there Americans on board or Canadians?  Pleased to say the hostesses beat the Chef and yes they were Canadians!

Larry was celebrating a milestone birthday and brought along the delightful Marie, his children and grandchildren.  They enjoyed fabulous weather and of course fabulous food which went down particularly well as they all admitted to being great 'foodies'.  Minda helped Mike in the galley and Julia is soon to be made Captain!

Apart from the birthday celebration the highlight of the week had to be (for us the crew) the wonderful 'thank you' finale of a presentation of Canadian specialities by all the family.

The view from our mooring in Auxerre.  Stunning!

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

14th - 20th July

What a lovely week with a family celebrating a 90th birthday this year.  Not that one could really think it possibly true!  The cruise kicked off on Sunday night, the 14 July 'the day to be in France' with a firework display, watched from our deck. 

Perfect Sunday start to the cruise.  Bastille day fireworks in Chatel Censoir

Adventure and activity for our charter group's week.  Perhaps the most notable activity remembered by Eric and our tour guide Neil, was oh yes, we all know......the go-karting!!!  The car definitely came off the worse, with Neil disappearing into the crash barrier at a faster speed than he expected, courtesy of Eric's well timed and masterly executed nudge.  The Luciole certainly does have its very own racing driver, keen to win from the start.

Truly a week to remember - multi coloured berets at supper and matching suits - not forgetting the straw boaters.  A week of panache and joie de vivre.  Fingers crossed we are all as nimble and fit, glamorous and interesting when we reach such a milestone. Thank you all lovely family.

Luciole passes under a low bridge.  Passengers  duck, while others snap photos from above

Friday, 19 July 2013

7th - 13th July

Summer in Burgundy.  Gardens in full bloom and fields of corn and barley golden.  A lovely group on the Luciole.  Fond memories of Donald and his mother joining the cruise from China.  Not often we hear Chinese on the Luciole and who would have believed the chances of having another fluent Chinese speaker cruising?  Kathryn what a miracle you were - and oh Reggie - your 'Mama Go' nickname, will be remembered always!

Delightful garden in Vezealy, where we visit the stunning Basilica of Mary Magdalene

Lovely flowers make delicious honey!

Thursday, 18 July 2013

30th June - 6 July

Our cruise week to be remembered by the crew as the 'New Zealanders' week (not forgetting the Latvians and British of course!) with 4 couples travelling half way round the world to cruise the Nivernais Canal.
The crew will not forget the rendition of 'the Haker' feathers and all.  First performance ever on the Luciole.  How often is it also, that one meets friends from home while travelling?  Well, in Mailly-le-Chateau it happened New Zealanders are travellers for sure.

Magical rainbow after a refreshing summer shower

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

23rd - 29th June

The new free WIFI on the Luciole is proving a great success.  Photos of the first nights's supper were winging their way back to America before the evening was out.

Passengers enjoying their first night aboard the Luciole

On the Monday afternoon, at the end of the cruise when we arrived in Auxerre, Penny entertained by disembarking from Luciole to the quay (via a couple of boats) on the boom, the swinging pole that enables the rider to 'fly' from barge to shore or visa versa.  Always a fun experience.   The love of this mode of travel is a family thing as can be seen when William, eldest son, showed his acrobatic skills a few years ago:

Cheese speeches were a little unusual this week.  Touch of the mid-summer madness for sure, with a little help from our talented Dutch friend Loeloe.

16th - 22nd June

Oh la la! The orchid week.........

....from Lizards to Bees and numerous purple varieties in between.  This week, the Luciole cruised with a British charter group, who got a bit more than they bargained for with the discovery of 9 different orchid species tucked into the Burgundian countryside.  Thank you Carol for opening all our eyes to these very special flowers, that have bloomed this season, prolifically.....and late.....undoubtedly just for you!

It was lovely to welcome aboard a group of friends who heard about the Luciole through past dear passengers Mike and Jan.  Happy memories of all.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

9th - 15th June

The Luciole crew, 2013

A fine bunch of people, the Luciole crew this year consists (from right to left) of Captain Francsico, Matelot (deckhand) Tom, the superb chef Mike, lovely hostesses Suzie and Anna and finally the best tour guide in the business Neil. 

It is at this time I can say that I will not be part of the Luciole crew this season, in order to pursue a career in graphic design while still maintaining a role behind scenes. This will mean the blog will no longer be mine, however I shall be passing the role on the to Tom to keep you updated with the Luciole season.

In further news the Luciole was published on the first page of Burgundys newspaper, an article celebrating the 47 years Luciole has cruised the canals of the region, featuring an interview of owner John Liley. The article is found online here: 

2nd - 8th June

John Liley at the helm
A long week cruising! We returned from the top of the Canal de Bourgogne to the Canal du Nivernais, passing through many locks and achieving over 90km in a week! The sun was really out and beamed down on the rolling Burgundy hills.  The trip down the Burgundy has been much enjoyed, however it is nice to be back on the Nivernais, the route which we love so much.

Owner and father of the Luciole, John Liley also joined with his sons. Who came to see her cruise the Burgundy Canal - Something thats not been done on the Luciole for over 12 years and resurfaced some old memories. John the father of hotel barging is a canal celebrity,  his involvement developing hotel barging and thus keeping many of the canals in France alive, meaning he is well respected within the community.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

26th May - 1 June

The Luciole was cruising on the Burgundy Canal this week.  A change from our usual route, cruising from Tanlay to Les Laumes.  The older lock-keepers of course knew the Luciole from years past and were delighted to see again.

Our barge (bought from Continental Waterways in 9785) was originally called the 'Palinurus' and she began cruising in 1966, Captained by the entrepreneur Richard Parsons, who now lives in the hills near the Burgundy Canal.  Nearly fifty years on, we are very proud to be cruising on history and operating the first in the hotel barge world.

Palinurus first cruised in 1966, when a whole new vacation  idea was born

Our passengers came from from far and wide: New Zealand, the States and England.  Penny sends a merci millions for the beautiful flowers!

Monday, 27 May 2013

19th - 25th May

The Luciole was exceedingly fortunate this week to be cruising with a group of Lovely Ladies.  The cruise was all a bit of an adventure, with an unexpected change of route.  With fun and laughter throughout and one night a selection of the most glamorous of wigs the week went with a swing.

Captain Francisco, joins in with the 'hilarious wig spirit' of one evening

Merci millions Lovely Ladies for bringing so much sunshine to the barge. You will honestly, never be forgotten by the Luciole crew and we do hope that the laughter and memories shared, last with you always, where ever you are. No doubts that 'your wigs' will be making an appearance again, next time on a crew member.  Blue sky!

Friday, 24 May 2013

12th - 18th May

The Luciole was without passengers this week.  There was therefore the opportunity for more work various and for the crew to recharge their batteries.  We said goodbye to chef Stuart and welcomed Mike and bonjour to Tom, who took over from Mark as matelot (deckhand).  William, who wrote our blog as deckhand for the last two seasons, is now helping to run the family business from terra firma,  during the cruising season.

We thought you might like to see some pre-season photos of the 2 weeks before passengers arrive.  It can feel a bit touch and go at the end - especially this season with the laying or our new hardwood decking - but we do always get there!  Check out our photo albums or facebook to see the proof!

Delicious crew lunches, prepared by cheffy Stuart.  Essence or Luciole team work                                                                          

Mark and Tom working together on the newly laid hard wood decking

Afternoon break in the shadow of a boat on the quay.  For the hostesses Anna and Suzie, help was on hand with the return of Fi, our hostess of a few seasons ago to assist with training and the passing on of 'the knowledge'

Captain Francisco could call the engine room his second home......  

William entertains before scrubbing the roof, ready for painting

 Neil, our true historian, ponders the DIY challenges of the day

Monday, 13 May 2013

5th - 11th May

Our third week saw the return of passengers Charles and Susan, who brought along with them family and friends to charter the Luciole.  In Accolay the nightingales sang and the sun went down.  While in the saloon a strawberry desert with a caramel spear was served.

Tranquil mooring in the village of Accolay

Strawberry delight to WOW
The river levels dropped and Luciole cruised to Auxerre.  Once through the lock 'Batardeau' and before the bridge of Pont Paul Bert, Francisco skilfully steered, with Neil 'counting' the distance between barge and bridge arch to bring Luciole safely to her mooring on the city quay.

Friday, 10 May 2013

28th April - 4th May

Unfortunately the rain came to France and the rivers and canals filled with water.  Day trips were in order and our fantastic chef Stu meant spirits were not dampened.  Tour guide Neil, unfathomable in history and knowledge of the region and France showed the true historian he is and kept all things incredibly interesting and amusing at the same time!  The lovely new hostesses Anna and Suzie were also always on hand to help with a smile.  Our passengers were truly fantastic, a family without doubt.

Passengers and crew on the Luciole deck, shortly before the departure to Paris

At the weekend, in preparation for our Adventure Charters later in the summer, the crew visited the caves of Dissingis.  Challenging and exciting, without question. We all slept well on Saturday night!

Up in the roof of the quarry, wearing harnesses and hard hats

21st - 27th April

The first week has commenced. A group from Japan came and kickstarted the season as the first passengers to see our new looking Luciole, a great week with lots of Spring sunshine.
The dramatic sky line of Auxerre with the impressive Cathedral of St Etienne

The Luciole crew have been wonderful this week.  Francisco our Captain and Neil the Tours Director have guided us all through.  I will not be matelot-ing on the Luciole this year in order to pursue a career in graphic design. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all who have made the last two years on the Luciole so fun and memorable, it will be missed and I wish the new crew all the best in what is a fantastic place to work and given me so much. I will still continue to be involved in this family business, just a bit more land based now.
Francisco straight back where he left off,
fitting the Luciole into the locks and making it look easy

Monday, 22 April 2013

Season 2013

A new looking Luciole and a new looking Auxerre waterfront.

The season has officially started! After a cold winter in Auxerre the Luciole has awoken from her hibernation and the first guests have walked on, the refit crew has worked hard over the few weeks and after a new coat of paint she looks like the boat that ended the season last year. Major work has also occurred on the quay in Auxerre which makes mooring here all the more special.

Our new wooden sun deck

A big thank you to all involved to get the boat started - she looks fantastic, especially the new deck. Fingers crossed for the rest of the season.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Spring in Auxerre

Francisco - hammer in one hand - umbrella in the other!
Spring on the Luciole and crew and friends are helping with the refit for the coming season.  The guys are busy with two new bathrooms, complete re-paint of the barge, inside and out and numerous other improvements. Francisco swapped South African sun for rain and an umbrella, with some serious steel preparation before painting.

For the girls, it was curtain making for the cabins - rather a lot of curtains - 20 of them in fact!  A real production line for Ann, Loeloe and Penny.   All ready now to co-ordinate with the new French, Olivier Deforges bed linen.

The ladies are busy with the cabin curtains
We did all take a break from work to celebrate Neil's birthday.  Cake, served in the galley was enjoyed by one and all, which included a line up of a Brazilian, Chilean, Scot, 4 from England and two visiting Dutchmen!

Birthday celebrations for Neil on the Luciole

Saturday, 26 January 2013


Winter in Auxerre
The Luciole sleeps below the snow covered cathedral, as Burgundy slows down in winter's icy grip. Inside, the Luciole still holds her warmth as she waits for Spring. When the barge will be given her pre-season refit ready for another year of laughs and smiles.

A change of scenery - in Chamonix, below Mont Blanc
With fresh snow covering France; Francisco, Penny and I took the chance for a short break in Chamonix.  Francisco learnt to ski in a day, progressing from nursery to red runs by the end of our trip! The off-piste ski-ing was amazing, fresh powder every morning.  It was a great break from office work for Mum and I, planning and preparation for the season continues more than ever when the boat is not operating.