Monday, 10 November 2014

Onwards to Paris

Every five years, at the end of the season, the Luciole must make her way to Paris for her routine hull inspection. Its an exciting journey, every once in a while, and it seems like only yesterday we were making the trip in 2009! As the Luciole cruises down the River Yonne, joining the River Seine at Montereau, the same debate commences, surely if you study the map, you too will wonder if it really is the River Yonne that flows through Paris and not the River Seine!

Cruising on rivers, with their large locks is a very different experience from our friendly, rural Nivernais Canal. Huge barges, some as 'pushers' with an extra barge attached to the front, thrust past the Luciole, often leaving us feeling as if we were not cruising at all, but bobbing around at sea.

Photos below, taken by my son, William capture the voyage to the shipyard in the north of Paris.

On Saturday morning we waved goodbye to passengers of the last cruising week of the season. We cruised through the day, in the Autumn sunshine and moored on the Seine, in the picturesque town of Saint Mammes.

The Luciole is seemingly left standing on choppy waters, while overtaken by a powerful freight barge.

Nearly loaded. The Juan de Nova sinks deeper into the water as gravel is funnelled into her hull.  We passed many gravel pits along the river banks, towards Paris.  Water transport is by far the most economical way to carry heavy, bulky loads.

Our work goes on too. Tom scrubs the sidedeck whilst we cruise.

An unloaded - high out of the water - 'pusher pair' storm on past us.  The hull clearly visible, without a cargo to weigh the barge down in the water.  On loaded barges you occasionally see river waves lapping over the side decks.

A grey morning and Luciole waits to descend in a large Seine lock.  The weir to the right, allows a frightening amount of water to rush through. Water is carefully controlled, it needs to be with the conflux of the Seine and Yonne at Montereau, vast volumes descend after rainy spells.

Reaching the outskirts or Paris.  River route map to hand.  A night time mooring a little more elusive!

Cruising again, early in the morning,  The River Seine divides round the island of Île de la Cité and close down on the water's edge, with its two dark windows, the 'Memorial des Martyrs' can be seen. Open to visitors, the memorial is dedicated to the 200,000 French citizens who lost their lives in the concentration camps of World War II.

A magnificent view from the river, cruising under Notre Dame.  Our Captain Francisco as a Paris 'Bateau Bus' pilot, regularly cruised the route, but taking the Luciole through Paris is a whole different experience.  His old friends heard through the grapevine that we were 'in town'.  Horns were blown, salutes and noisy hollers exchanged. A far cry from Kenneth Graham's 'Wind in the Willows' but none the less, enormously up-lifting!

The Seine narrows as we approach Pont Neuf.  The yellow diamond on the preceding bridge indicates the arch we must cruise through.  In 1985, for a fortnight, artists Christo and his wife Jeanne-Claude's art installation, saw the bridge wrapped in a golden fabric.  In my younger days, before barging, I frequently cooked in Chamonix, the French town that lies in the valley at the foot of Mont Blanc. Whilst visiting Paris, I was delighted to bump into my old friends - Chamonix guides - donned in climbing tackle with abseiling skills abundant, helping to wrap and transform the oldest Parisian bridge crossing the Seine.  Nowadays art installations are more common, although it has to be said 'the Christmas tree', by Paul McCarthy on Place Vendome, recently went up and then sunk, deflated, sooner than expected!

              Cruising under Pont des Art, now known for its 'love-locks'.  The padlocks clearly visible and on the northern side, the section that fell away under the weight of the lovers' mementoes. The Institut de France, seen here stands at one end, with the Louvre at the other.

                                          A rare photo of William (usually the photographer) as we cruise beneath the Eiffel Tower.                                                         Cloud obscuring the steel work near the top, gives an erie appearance.

Destination reached.  The delights of the shipyard at Saint Denis on the northern edge of Paris.  A far cry from the glamour and beauty of our morning cruise beneath many of Paris's most famous landmarks.  Gone is the golden guilding, replaced with the raw rusty steel of the tracks and pulleys that will slowly haul the Luciole up onto dry land. An undignified process for a barge of nearly 100 years, who started work carrying cargo, but is now proud to boast that she was the first hotel barge to cruise the French waterways.

The scary process of being hauled up the tramway, leaving the water below, is complete.  Large 'chocks' keep the Luciole balanced straight. Scrubbing and cleaning the hull quickly began in readiness for the 'inspection'.  An anxious time, while measurements are taken and steelwork agonizing wait and......the news is music to our ears. The old girl is indeed, still in good shape!!

Days end. Tom and George sit on the side deck, guitar and vocals make for an unusual sound in this industrial landscape of pylons and cranes.  Far far away from Burgundy, for now under blue sky, we can only dream of returning home.

19th - 25th October


It is always a surprise when the last week of the season arrives.  We begin cruising in April and before we know it, nearly thirty weeks later, we are waving goodbye to our final passengers.

The Luciole cruised with passengers from all round the world - America, Canada, Australia, England and Scotland. Richard and Susie Parsons joined us for lunch one day too, to spend the day with their son, crew member George, pictured below with Francisco.  Always a proud moment for us to have Richard onboard, the humble man we put on a pedestal, who started hotel barging in 1966 on the Palinurus, now called the Luciole.

Francisco makes his speech on the final Captain's Diner of the season

The Luciole cruised further north, along the River Yonne for the end part of the week, with Friday night's mooring in Sens. We were making our way towards Paris for our five yearly hull inspection. Matelot Tom, as ever assisted Francisco, as they negotiated the new territory and larger locks and William Liley, came out from London to assist with the down river cruising. Hostess Noemi made welcome drinks, always delivered with a glorious smile.

With the change to our usual itinerary, tour guide Anna as capable as ever, took passengers to the beautiful Cistercian Abby at Pontigny, followed by coffee at the impressive hotel restaurant the 'Cote Saint Jacques' in Joigny. We were delighted to have on board the parents of our talented chef Marc. A prouder mum you could not meet! Penny also joined the cruise and the Luciole felt a real family.

Our sincere thanks to all our passengers for cruising with us this season. It has been another wonderful year for the Luciole.  Next season we celebrate 49 years of hotel barging. No doubt it will be here before we know it!

Mirror reflection at midnight in Sens. Perfect stillness at the end of our season.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

12th - 18th October

The penultimate week of the Luciole's 2014 season is unexpectedly and very sadly upon us. On a happier note however, we have thirteen lovely guests keeping us company as we cruise from Coulanges-sur-Yonne to Auxerre. 11 Americans and 2 Brits make up this merry bunch, and merry they certainly were,as the wine flowed and beers were cracked open in the still miraculously glorious autumnal sun.

It felt like a week of real camaraderie as the passengers clicked so quickly with each other and with the crew. Due to their being only 3 men on board, alongside 10 women, a boys club very quickly formed with headquarters on the deck. This is where you would generally find Gordon, Robert and Bob, putting the world to rights and "supervising" the boats navigation, beers in hands. Indeed Bob could well have been made an honourary crew member and paid a wage for the amount of assistance he offered throughout the week. At every single lock of the route he would be supervising, opening gates, or just having a conversation with the lock keeper. So thank you Bob, for your tireless efforts.

Finally I would like to say congratulations from all the crew to Robert and Marilyn on their 65th wedding anniversary, we hope yourselves and your daughters had an excellent stay and enjoyed your week as much as we enjoyed ours.

The gang pose at Chablis, with, as Anna describes him, the dashing Sebastian.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

5th October - 11th October

A very special week on the Luciole this week, especially so for Captain Francisco, as his Aunt Carmen was onboard, alongside a group of eight and a group of four Americans, who have spent their holidays travelling together for many years. The constant laughter permeated every inch of the boat as the passengers divulged in a sudden favourite past time for all, playing bridge and drinking wine. All overseen and organised to perfection by Carmen. It's a bit of a running joke for passengers to play bridge, it gets mentioned week after week, but it's never the case that people actually play the game! So it was nice to see everyone put their gambling heads on and start betting some serious amounts of dried beans. Perhaps it was the Chilean influence wearing off. 

The route was also slightly altered this week due to maintenance on the formidable lock of Basseville again, as a result we decided to stop at the ever pleasant Chatel Censoir, and the rather spectacular Coulanges, an untried location for the Luciole but one that was definitely worth stopping for, even if just for the spectacular skies.

The week ended with an excellent ambience, with a hint of sadness as Francisco's final speech after captain's dinner took a trip down memory lane, reminiscing about Christmas' spent at Aunt Carmens and finally paying her back for her hospitality with a little hospitality of his own aboard the Luciole.

Francisco and Carmen sitting down for captain's dinner.

The sun setting over Coulanges-sur-Yonne

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

28th September - 4th October

The first week of October is here, and somehow the Luciole's final month cruising for the season is upon us, the crew all swear we only arrived in France yesterday, or that's the way it feels perhaps! The weather is still bright and beautiful, and the canal is still as active and full of life as ever. Much the same could be said about our passengers as we welcome aboard six Canadians and eight Americans for a week of splendour in the sunshine.

When the weather is good it's natural for people to walk and cycle and enjoy the scenery of the Nivernais as it passes them by from the comfort of the deck. But this week our resident adventurers Mitch and Mary-Lou explored much more than the canal and paths local to us, and decided to meet tour guide Anna and company in Vezelay on the Tuesday, making them the first passengers I've ever seen to do it. Not only this but they performed the same feat heading to Auxerre on friday, and perhaps most impressively of all, managed to successfully locate an open bar in the middle of the week, something very few guests have ever achieved, though not through lack of trying! But then that's Burgundy for you, it may be quiet and you may have to plan your shopping trips or drinks in advance and with due care, but I suppose it's part of the charm and it's one of many reasons to love it.

Marc looking very pleased with his newly acquired (enormous) autumn vegetables, courtesy of everyone's favourite lock keeper Cindy.

Roger and Elaine, Mo and Ken posing specifically for the blog photo in Bazoches. We thought it was essential seeing as Ken is such an avid reader of my blog.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

21st - 27th September

For the final week of September, and also I'm very sad to say our fifth final week of the season, we have a very special charter hailing from the States, twelve excellent people from San Francisco and one lovely couple from New York. This group has known each other for many years and have been travelling the world and cycling across America for the past twenty years together, and now they have their chance to take on a new challenge along the tow-paths of the Nivernais.

The cycling may be gentler and flatter here, the pace of the boat slow and relaxed, but being energetic after one of Marc's exceptional buffet lunches, followed by a selection of cheeses is no mean feat, and it's best not to mention the lunchtime wines! Regardless of this very unique set of difficulties, cycling and walking were in full swing and very popular, as was staying on deck by the remainder of the group, mostly husbands enjoying a beer in the sun, shouting out jokes and hurling abuse at their wives as they passed by. And so was set the tone for the week, a happy week full of constant laughter and familiarity. Thus is life on The Luciole, each week it's own set of qualities that differentiate it from the last, but always the same atmosphere of calm, happiness and our pure appreciation of the beautiful place we are so fortunate to spend our time in and get to share with so many good people. Life is peachy.

 A very typical scene of the last 6 days, this picture is taken just before the lock of Basseville.

The sun setting at Lucy sur Yonne. One example of the wonder we witness every day.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

14th - 20th September

Autumn has arrived in Burgundy, and with the change of the season come twelve new passengers from America to spend a week with us on the Luciole as we cruise from Clamecy to Auxerre, and a very nice week we had too! The green may be beginning to fade from the world to be replaced by the subtle yellows, reds and oranges of early autumn, and Tom the deckhand now spends each morning sweeping up the newly fallen carpet of leaves from every inch of the boat, but the sun is still shining, the weather is beautiful and Burgundy takes on a very different hue and atmosphere at this time of year, though as spectacular as always.

A garden of St. Pallaye showing Burgundies transition into Autumn.

Additionally this week we had new faces amongst the crew, we welcomed aboard the excellent Noemie joining us as a hostess and welcomed aboard but also bid a fond farewell to chef Damien joining us again just for the week to cover his close friend and our regular chef Marc's holiday. We all hope he enjoyed the week here as much as we enjoyed having him, and as much as our passengers certainly did eating the simply superb and delectable treats he prepared each day.

Chef Damien posing upon the back deck, the river Yonne by the town of Vincelles in the background.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

7th - 13th September

It's been a very active and extremely enjoyable week here aboard the Luciole, accompanied as we were by twelve wonderful people joining us from across the globe. Two Australians, two Brits and eight Americans made our merry and diverse group as we cruised from Auxerre to Clamecy in beautiful September sunshine.

The Luciole may have spent Monday to Friday navigating the waterways of the Nivernais canal and the river Yonne, but for the majority of our passengers it was more of a walking tour as so many of them chose to cycle, walk or jog alongside the boat and off into the distance. Once Don had taken his initial spin at Batardeau the first lock out of Auxerre, that was the tone set for the week as he was quickly joined by practically everyone at one time or another. You would have thought we had spent half the week cruising empty! Passengers just rejoining the boat every lock or two for a splash of something interesting to drink and keep them going as they headed straight back off down the tow path.

The most staggering feat was done on Tuesday as a group of six negotiated their way from the village of Accolay, the second nights stop of the route, all the way back to Auxerre in time to meet Anna before her tour of the cathedral. Perfectly on time as well. So well done to those brave few, it's actually the first time I've seen it done, but then barging is full of interesting little surprises.

 Cheese monger Xavier Didier in his Noyers fromagerie.

Pam outside the pottery shop also in Noyers.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

31st August - 6th September

The Luciole has been a hotbed of entertainment this past week as our latest group of passengers kept us laughing all day with their combined antics. That plus the presence of our very own John Liley for the first three days before his unfortunate departure back to the UK, meant we had a week of none stop jokes, anecdotes and fun.

It's always nice to see a group gel so quickly in the week, and be so close by the end. By the time friday came around and the traditional friday night toast was made, you could have sworn this selection of perfect strangers had known each other for decades, particularly so when the celebration cake and toasts were made to celebrate Clive's 80th birthday and Tony's 70th.

Tony, our resident joker for the week surprised us all and made quite the name for himself with his superb dance moves under the bridge of Pregilbert as he waited for the boat to pass. The following day the very lovely Charlie managed to walk off determinedly in the wrong direction without a soul on board noticing his departure. Thankfully he realised his mistake sooner or later, when he found himself in the mooring we had just spent the night at and decided it was for the best to turn around and catch us up. We were more than glad to hear the cheers and laughter that resonated across the water and up the valley sides as he finally reappeared on the horizon, earning himself the nick name wrong way Charlie, and a special place in our memories.

Passengers line up in the sun outside Auxerre's Place Saint Nicolas.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

24th - 30th August

Another memorable and extremely pleasant week aboard the Luciole, where we were joined by a charming contingent of both Americans and Brits, as well as a surprise guest in the form of Mr. John Liley, the owner of the Luciole. With John on board, joining Captain Francisco in the wheelhouse, cruises were made even more soothing to the gentle sound of John's tuneful whistling as he piloted us with grace through the locks and numerous obstacles, like a true veteran. After the cruising and the outings to the fascinating, beautiful or simply wine flavoured places Burgundy has to offer, the anecdotes of the barging world delighted and entertained passengers and crew throughout the whole week.

John Liley at the helm of the Luciole

We were lucky enough to be a part of Clare and Rob's 36th wedding anniversary, where all enjoyed champagne and a celebration cake to mark the occasion

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

17th - 23rd August

The Luciole crew were happy to welcome on board Nancy and Mike, their two daughters, KC and Kamin, son-in-laws Frank and Matt, and six lovely grandchildren for a week full of celebrations and firsts. We toasted to Mike and Nancy's 50th wedding anniversary, Frank and KC's 9th wedding anniversary and to our youngest ever pilots Maggie and Matthew, only 3 and 4 years old, who sweetly joined Captain Cisco at the helm of our mighty barge!

Lots of 'Little Captainettes' on the Luciole this week
We were also joined for the week by chef Damien visiting our regular Chef Marc and together they produced a plethora of celebration cakes and meals for both the younger and elder generations to enjoy. They were frequently visited in the galley by Matt and his daughter Maddie, age 10, who took great interest in the culinary prowess of our chefs. Tom aided in the loading and unloading of bicycles and our very special trailer for the little ones between locks when the family would head off along the towpath to enjoy the scenic lanes along the Nivernais canal.

Cycling along the towpath beside the Nivernais Canal

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

10th - 16th August

We've had an interesting last few days, a week of mishaps, adventures and rare occurrences. But this is the Luciole and happiness and laughter always prevail, the rest is simply a backdrop. Especially with a group as charming and friendly as these.

The lock of Basseville was unusually closed for two days causing us to stop at a couple of new mooring locations and attempt a number of extremely complex manoeuvres, testing Captain Francisco and Matelot Tom to the limit. As a result we spent Thursday and Friday nights respectively at the lovely Chatel Censoir and the wild and beautiful Pousseaux. We also decided to forego Noyers this week and instead visited the fascinating museum de la mode in Avallon, an excellent find by tour guide Anna.

Captain Francisco and Deck-hand Tom.

The other unfortunate news of the week was the hospitalization of one passenger before his arrival on the barge, the passenger in question being the father of the matelot in fact. Thankfully he was released before the end of the week, we only hope his shorter cruise and half a week of Marc's food was enough and that he had a good time regardless and makes a full and speedy recovery.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

3rd - 9th August

Our chef Marc had this week highlighted on his calendar since the beginning of the season.  The reason being, his mentor and hero chef Robert MacPherson was cruising on the Luciole, with his wife Jacqui.

The starter on the Sunday night paraded succulent scallops, crispy pancetta, cauliflower swipe with a garnish of curried cauliflower beignets and pea shoots and lastly, not forgetting, all the way from the Highlands of Scotland delicious 'black pudding'.

Wish we could have bottled the laughter that rang out throughout the week from breakfast to late.  Such delightful passengers.  Sadly two ladies were thwarted joining the Luciole for this cruise - but we greatly look forward to welcoming them aboard at the end of the season.  No doubt it will be here befoe we know it!

We may well have taken a record on the Luciole of having three crew members whose parents crewed barges, decades ago.  George - whose father Richard began hotel barging, Alice - her parents worked on barges on the Burgundy Canal and Tris - youngest lad of John and Penny Liley.  As ever, the Luciole family atmosphere continues.

Chef Marc with his mentor Robert
Delicious starter of scallops

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

27 July - 2 August

A delightful charter group on board of friends and family, gathered together by Stephen and Clare.  The sunflower season is in full swing now, great swathes of flwoer fields.  Appropriately in France the flower is called 'Tournesol' meaning 'turn to the sun'.

Sunflower season is here again
The cruise took us from Auxerre to Clamecy and William, matelot from a few seasons ago returned to steer much of the route, including the famous Basseville lock entrance, when the Luciole navigates across the current of the River Yonne into the lock beyond.  The video on our YouTube chanel shows the entrance into the lock:

Saturday, 2 August 2014

20th - 26th July

Xin chào and càm õn to our extremely excellent Vietnamese passengers who have travelled all the way from the USA to join us here on the Luciole. Three generations of these lovely people brightened our week and spread the cheer daily, even if the weather was being less than cooperative at times it never dampened their spirits or slowed their picture taking fingers!

Our lovely charter group - fun memories of horse riding and cycling beside the canal
In the sunshine the bikes were disembarked and the group would explore in force, riding up and down the towpath and onto the little tracks leading into parts unknown. Austin and An-nam racing off into the lead, group leader Lilia walking alongside us, chief photographer Robert riding back and forth in search of the perfect shot and Ytien and Chloe (two of the sweetest young ladies I've had the good fortune to meet) decorating their bikes with wild flowers.

Finally I want to wish a happy 8th birthday again to An-nam! We hope you had a memorable one and perhaps we will see "y'all" again soon. 

13th - 19th July

It's been a beautiful week here in Burgundy, and just like the sun reappearing from behind the clouds so too returns our third time guests Terrence and Frances, cruising this time with their family.  We were joined also by Gordon who flew from Australia for his family reunion and of course we must not forget our talented musician Larry, from Chicago, who displayed his undeniable talents in jamming sessions on board. The week was marked by the easy days of cruising(for Francisco) as he was assisted by the three very lovely young ladies, Eloise, Anne-Marie and Zoe along with Zoe's father Philip.

The weather has been glorious and every day passengers and crew alike would wander down to the local swimming spots on the river, expertly guided by chef and part time swimming enthusiast Marc. There are lovely locations for a quick dip all along the route and always places close to our over night stops. A particular favourite amongst ourselves and the locals is at the village of Lucy sur Yonne, just a couple of hundred meters from where the boat spends the night. The riverside beach at Vermenton is a very close second. They all have their charm however and whether you prefer quiet and secluded, wild and fun or busy and well tamed, there's always a good place to cool off.

Cruising on a beautiful summer's day

Saturday, 19 July 2014

6th - 12th July

July has kicked off in style as the Luciole welcomes aboard it's first family adventure charter of the season and we couldn't have asked for a better group of people. Polite, friendly and above all very fun Australians all the way from Brisbane. It was a week of action filled days and mellow nights.  Memorable indeed for one and all.

Adventure charters can vary in activities from week to week down to choice, this week alongside the regular tours our guests went horse riding, climbing in caves and go-karting with some of the crew too. On that note I'd like to congratulate Daniel on his gold medal and offer my commiserations to our ultra competitive captain Francisco on his third place finish.

I feel I have to say a big thank you to Kylie for being the group leader and bringing along this bunch of lovely people to our barge. We hope you enjoyed the week as much as we did.

Rock climbing for every age

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

29th June - 5th July

The first week of July saw the arrival of the Liley family (minus John and Tristam) as well as another old friend in the form of Hector on board La Luciole with their friends and guests from America, Australia, Switzerland and the UK.  The weather was typically Burgundian, that is to say changeable but so sunny by Thursday we saw Cisco leading a party off to the river at Lucy sur Yonne, followed by enthusiastic swimmer Toni sporting his multinational Speedos.

Richard and Andy, coincidentally both former Reverends, enjoyed their tour of Bazoches and discovered along with the help of the curator, the mural depicting the story of Thisbe, a love story similar to that of Romeo and Juliet.

To continue the football news I'm afraid to say that all the teams of the Luciole have now been eliminated after France finally saw defeat at the hands of Germany. So from my point of view at least, go on Holland!

Eclusier Cindy and chef Marc swap vegetables for wine at the lock of la Place.

...and perhaps a cheeky dessert too.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

15th - 21st June

This week we welcomed on-board a charter of 13 excellent people from the United States. Friends and colleagues for years working in a variety of positions in higher education. A group that loved their tours with the exceptional Anna, and loved a few bottles of red wine in the evenings! An extremely enjoyable week and one we are all very sad to see behind us. Group leader and organiser Tad, a veteran of 22 cruises, spoke a few words of encouragement after dinner on the final evening, claiming the food, ambience and crew of the Luciole set us apart from his previous experiences. With words as kind as that being said, what more could anyone need for job satisfaction?

Finally I would like to say a huge congratulations to our supremely talented captain Francisco, who this week received his certificate of naturalisation and finally after two years of toil, patience and paperwork became a French citizen. Needless to say we're all extremely proud of him. To top it off both Chile and France have qualified for the next round of the World Cup, so we have one happy captain.

England were not so fortunate, much to the dismay of the Matelot and real joy of our Scottish chef.

Sid seemingly enjoying the sights at Chateaux de Bazoches.  

The Luciole's own Captain Francisco receiving his citizenship at the naturalisation ceremony.

Friday, 20 June 2014

8th - 14th June

What a beautiful week to be in Burgundy and what an absolute scorcher we've had. Along with the sunshine and moments of parasol related drama we have 12 wonderful people all the way from the USA, plus one perfect British gentleman in the form of Donald, the father of our very own tour guide Anna. Another week of happy, gentle cruises, fascinating tours and flawless food. The Luciole in a nutshell.

World cup fever has also gripped the Luciole this week as Brazil opens the action. Three qualifying nations are represented on-board so best of luck to England, Chile and France.

Especially England.

 Acting-captain Donald at the helm successfully navigating a lock.

Captain Francisco aided in part by Host George attempts to tune the aerial in preparation for world cup action. 

Friday, 13 June 2014

1st - 7th June

It's the first week of June and summer has arrived in style in Burgundy. Along with the sun and summer cheer come 13 wonderful people from all across the United States. Friends who have travelled together every year for the last 27 years and found themselves in our little corner of France, and very glad we are to have them too.

The week was marked by slow, peaceful days of cruising, passengers walking in the sun or drinking cocktails on the deck. The evenings spent enjoying long, interesting discussions over a bottle of wine or two and of course chef Marcs marvellous creations. The pinnacle however was surely the group sing alongs after dinner, a tradition for many years amongst these guests and one we were all very glad to witness and have the good fortune to join them for on the final night. A great ending to an excellent week.

A sing-a-long after supper. Guitar unfortunately out of shot.

Friday, 6 June 2014

25th - 31st May

Peaceful, relaxed and happy. These words are synonymous with life aboard the Luciole, but never more so than this week. Our passengers cycling and walking in the sun, others inside enjoying a drink and reading a book, above it all the sounds of sweet music as Kevin plays on deck, well travelled guitar in hand and sheet music spread on the table. The perfect backdrop to a beautiful afternoon.

Again a week of great weather, bright early morning sunshine and glorious heat in the afternoon. No wonder so many guests chose to cycle down the towpaths and in some adventurous cases cycle straight off the beaten track exploring parts unknown.

Finally I would like to say a big congratulations to Colin and Katherine, the honeymoon couple, who joined us this week for the first leg of their 5 week trip. Here's to many years of happiness together.

Peter and Nik, who cruised with us in 2005, shared a picture with us from their last cruise. 
The Luciole is cruising round the bend, beneath Mailly-le-Chateau.  In those days, the path beside the canal could be rather unpredictable, nowadays its tarmac and so much nicer for walking or cycling along.

18th - 24th May

This week as we were without passengers the Luciole was moored up in the picturesque town of Clamecy, one of the usual weekend moorings of the barge. A good chance to touch up the paint and get some cleaning done, alongside soaking up the sun and the cycling excursions that is.

The latter half of the week was ours to occupy and saw the crew enjoying a long weekend in a variety of places. Francisco, Marc and Tom taking a turn as tourists with a visit to the Netherlands, George home to Dijon and Anna and Suzie remaining on-board having a lovely time without the boys.

A productive and very pleasant week, roll on the next one and our next group of guests.

The port of Clamecy seen from the wheelhouse of the Luciole

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

11th - 17th May

The Luciole season commences with our second group of passengers, and what a group they were. Australians, Americans and British all represented in this diverse, friendly and talkative group. Many hours of pilot training with captain Francisco were racked up by several of the passengers as the jokes flew from deck to wheelhouse and back again.

Spring was also making itself known as the sun emerged and the countryside bloomed into life, reminding us all of the rural beauty and serenity of Burgundy and the timeless canal du Nivernais.

A flawless early season week with fond farewells as new friends depart for Paris. A perfect way to put us all in high spirits and ready the crew for the coming weeks.

Monday, 19 May 2014

4th - 10th May

This was a week in which we aimed to do some promotional work. Camera man and BBC Producer Anthony Palmer joined us for week with the aim of producing a short video promoting bespoke charters. A lot was covered, the weather was on our side and many minutes of footage was captured.

On the Luciole you can now create your own bespoke charter, whether you are a group of females who prefer to relax in the spa, have cooking lessons from Mark and enjoy colour me beautiful events, or if you prefer the more adrenaline fuelled side of life and enjoy climbing cliffs or swinging through trees - you can now create your own itinerary.

The aim of this week was also to trial out the logistics regarding it all, and it was deemed extremely successful, laughing was contagious and constant all week long and a lot of fun was had. Joe reached great heights at cliff climbing and James discovered his true colours and that he required a change in wardobe, while the ladies relaxed at the spa.

A big thank you to all involved and especially to Ant for his hard work. Stay tuned for the video which will be arriving shortly.