Anjodi, cruising along the Canal du Midi, painting by Stanley Rose


welcome to the June edition of the Lock-keeper. This 48th edition marks four years since we began our GoBarging newsletter and its amazing how quickly the time has passed. Some of our readers have been with us all the way, and every month we welcome new subscribers to the Lock-keeper. Thanks for your company and support on this journey.

This month we meet Maire Touchet, our stewardess on La Belle Epoque, we hear about the warmest April since 1945 from Ralph Collier aboard the Actief on the river Thames in England. David Yeskel talks about the wheelchair accessible Reine Pedauque cruising in Burgundy France, and we briefly visit Wimbledon where this year's tennis championship is about to begin.

We announce our May competition winner and for our June competition we have two copies of chef Rick Stein's new book to be won.

I look forward to hearing from you, and seeing you at our website, where you can find out all about GoBarging and keep up to date with the latest news as it breaks....

best regards,

Derek Banks, Chairman

Derek Banks - Chairman and Barge skipper

in this issue:

Staff profile

Cruising the Thames

Reine Pedauque


May Competition winner

Win Rick Stein's new book

Cruise News

back issues:


January 07

February 07

March 07

April 07

May 07

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Staff Profile - Maire Touchet
Luxury barge cruises on La Belle Epoque in Burgundy, France


How long have you worked for GoBarging?

Since 2006, I started on the Anjodi as a hostess. 

What did you do before coming to GoBarging?

I studied hotel and restaurant business in Quimper’s hotelerie high school for four years. My course taught me about cooking, serving at the table and restaurant management

My typical day onboard La Belle Epoque?

In the morning, the other hostess and I mainly take care of the breakfast service, the cleaning of the cabins, the laundry and the cleaning of the salon. We then finish the laying of the lunch table. During the lunch service, we make sure that the guests enjoy their meal in the most comfortable way (wines speech and wines services, water and bread service. A cheese speech, coffee and tea to finish the meal).

In the afternoon one of us usually assists the tour guide during the visit, while the other person finishes the cleaning of the lunch service& the laundry then greets the guests with freshly made cocktails. We then get ready for the dinner service, which is a full four course gourmet meal that is prepared and served with a lot of care. Afterwards, the guests are invited on the deck, when the weather permits, are served coffee, tea &liquors. We then prepare the table for breakfast, finish the washing-up and go to bed.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I enjoy being able to combine what I learned at the Hotelerie School and working on the barges, so this is just perfect. The barges are a unique opportunity to meet people from all over the world and to perfect my English.

What is your favourite destination?

Up to now, I have only worked on two barges of the company; the Anjodi and the Belle Epoque. Both these barges work in very different regions; I like the Anjodi a lot because it is close to the sea, the sights of the region are really superb and the Canal du Midi carries a lot of history. The Belle Epoque travels through the Burgundy region which is reputed for its wines and its beautiful countryside, locals are really attached to the Canal du Nivernais because it occupied big place in the economy and development of the region, so I am sure that like me other people will find both regions very interesting.

What is the funniest moment of the European Waterways?

There have been many funny moments since I have been working with European Waterways and it is difficult to say which one was the most, but one of them occurred only a few weeks ago. The passengers had come from Singapore on a family reunion and after a wonderful week and a beautiful captain's dinner we all gathered in the salon. We spent the rest of the evening singing songs to the rhythm of the guitar that one guest was playing and the guests turned out to be much better singers than the crew - which was very embarrassing, but we did laugh a lot.

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Birtan and Ralph CollierActief at a Lock on the river Thames, England

The timing, fortuitous as it may have been, was perfect. This April was the warmest since 1945 in England, the Thames Valley was enchanting and the attributes of the elegant hotel barge, Actief, were similarly fortuitous.

"The river glideth at his own sweet will" is how Wordsworth described the Thames in 'Upon Westminster Bridge'.

Not unlike other great rivers such as the Danube and the Seine, it creates the illusion of flowing not only through the rich countryside, but through long centuries of history, as well. Actief is a long vessel and the Thames is narrow in its northern extremities but the skipper shows that she is nimble as a squirrel as he turns her about for mooring purposes.

The countryside grows increasingly more beautiful and spring is everywhere: primroses in hedgerows, ducklings on the riverbanks, as the intimate 11 passenger barge, an ideal ship for this fascinating voyage of utter serenity, floats from Christchurch to magnificent Windsor Castle.

She is equipped with a small library and the onboard ambience is enhanced by an open bar, a cordial staff, an experienced skipper and guiding by a savvy young captain who offers insights that add texture and historical context to the many experiences along the river.

Very much to the delight of the passengers, he turns out to be a winner on a cruise that serves as a highly pleasurable reminder that most Americans have no idea of the charms of this kind of boating. Don't let Actief slip by you - it's a true gem."

Actief at a Lock on the river Thames, England

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GoBarging makes Reine Pedauque wheelchair-accessibleLuxury barge cruises on Reine Pedauque in Burgundy, France
By David Yeskel

Barging through Europe has just gotten more accessible, in every sense of the word. By introducing a renovated vessel that can accommodate guests with disabilities and enable them to experience all facets of its product, GoBarging has opened European river and canal barge cruising to a previously shut-out demographic segment.

The Reine Pedauque, a luxury barge that plies the waterways of the Burgundy region of France, has been refitted with wheelchair lifts, stair lifts and bathroom handrails. Doors on all decks are wide enough for wheelchair access. The showers in the two Royal Suites feature a shower seat and handrails, and beds are just 28 inches high. Also, the minibus that shadows the barge is wheelchair-accessible. These enhancements are designed to offer disabled guests the same luxury experience and choice of excursions available to all passengers.

According to Derek Banks, Go Barging's CEO, the Reine Pedauque is the only wheelchair-accessible barge in the industry. Banks, who has helmed his business for more than 30 years, said he firmly believed "that every company in the holiday industry should attempt to accommodate physically challenged travelers."

Despite the small size of the eight-passenger Reine Pedauque, luxury is not compromised. The air-conditioned vessel has a dining room, lounge, sun deck and four suites, ranging in size from 184 to 320 square feet. Each suite is equipped with a private bath.

The barge's English-speaking crew of four has a singular mission: to accommodate individual passenger desires while providing outstanding service. In fact, Banks likened the GoBarging experience to a "moving house party with good food, good wines and sophisticated company."

The gastronomic experience is paramount. It is France, after all. Go Barging's European chefs take guests' culinary tastes into consideration when planning the day's meals and may even take those guests to local markets to select provisions for dinner, which typically features geographically appropriate French specialties, regional wines and an extensive cheese selection.

Passengers may get on and off the barge to walk or bicycle along the towpath, all the while keeping pace with the slowly moving vessel. Most mornings, passengers gather to explore local cultural attractions via the company's air-conditioned minibus, typically returning to the barge in time for lunch. Afternoons are usually enjoyed on deck as the barge passes idyllic country vistas on its meandering route, which covers only about 70 miles during the course of six days.

GoBarging's largely English-speaking passenger mix skews about 70% North American, with the remainder comprising of Britons, Australians and South Africans. The product generally appeals to well-traveled urbanites in their 50s, according to the company.

Departing from Dijon and sailing down the Burgundy Canal, the Reine Pedauque negotiates 45 hand-operated locks. The barge cruises six nights, from Fridays to Thursdays, in April through October. The voyage includes all meals, open bar (including regional wines) and daily escorted excursions. The passenger-to-crew ratio is typically 2-to-1. All-inclusive rates range from $3,550 to $3,950 per person, depending on accommodations and dates selected.

Asked what attracts U.S. guests to his product, Banks pointed to what he described as the three major advantages of barging over large-ship luxury cruising: intimacy, flexibility and a true immersion.

In addition, GoBarging prices its fares in U.S. dollars, which is to Americans' advantage as the dollar continues to sink against the euro. But the real kicker is that GoBarging creates such a stress-free and relaxing environment that, according to Banks, a sail on the Reine Pedauque is, in effect, "like two weeks' vacation in one." And that, he said, is the deal closer. Contact us here for more information on Reine Pedauque   back to top

Wimbledon, Its not just tennis...

With its open spaces and clean air, Wimbledon has for centuries been a wonderful place to live and many famous people have come here. Not to mention one Prime Minister who came here to fight a duel! (In 1798, Prime Minister William Pitt fought a duel against the MP for Southwark on Wimbledon Common. Both missed.)

Nowadays Wimbledon is synonymous of course with the world grass court tennis championships.

This year's tournament is just about to start, but for next year, why not try a pre or post Wimbledon tennis cruise onboard Actief or Magna Carta, cruising the tranquil upper Thames river. Booking for Wimbledon 2008 can be made via our reservations department

Steve Furgal's International Tennis tours - Wimbledon
Steve Furgal's International Tennis tours - Wimbledon

As traditional as Strawberries and cream Perfect Pimm's® No.1 and Lemonade

Pimms No. 1 Cup, image courtesy of Take a jug or glass. Fill it with ice. Mix 1 part Pimm's No.1 spirit drink with 3 parts Chilled Lemonade. Add some mint, strawberry, orange and cucumber or any other fruits you like.

Served in a jug with lots of ice, the refreshingly fruity taste of Pimm's is irresistible.

You've just made the perfect drink for all your summer BBQs, parties and picnics


May Lock-keeper Competition

For our May Lockkeeper competition we had a hard backed copy of La Mia Venezia by the the famous photographer Fulvio Roiter to give away.

Find out who the lucky winner is; May competition winner,

June Competition

Rick Stein Mediterranean EscapesPublished to accompany Rick Stein’s new TV series for the BBC, this new book starts where French Odyssey left off – After jumping ship ( well barge actually) the Anjodi has been moored up in favour of public ferries crisscrossing the Mediterranean and the result is wonderful new book.... Mediterranean Escapes.

We would like to wish Rick success with his new series and book.

We are offering two lucky lock keeper competition winners a copy of Mediterranean Escape (out in August 2007).

Rick Stein Book competition.   

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Special Offer

Tuscan Sun Festival” held in Cortona Italy, August 2007 is a fabulous way to start your Italian experience followed by a river cruise on board La Dolce Vita...see itinerary & booking information

Tuscan Sun FestivalThe Tuscan Sun Festival has been previously called “One of the Ten Best Summer Arts Festivals in Europe”, by The Independent newspaper in the U.K. Concerts in Cortona in both the Teatro Signorelli, as well as other picturesque settings, The Tuscan Sun Festival will also be celebrating with unique cookery and literary events, wine tasting, receptions, yoga sessions and art exhibitions that will be taking place not only throughout the town of Cortona, but in the beautiful surrounding areas.

Musical program boasts distinguished artists such as: Joshua Bell & Anna Netrebko, and more…..

Extend your Italian experience by booking

La Dolce VitaA week on board the luxury hotel barge La Dolce Vita, GoBarging has the only hotel barge in Venice. This 6 passenger vessel will take you down the breath taking Brenta River; where you can discuss your newly learnt cookery skills with the Dolce Vita’s unique chef Eros or put to test your recently honed wine tasting skills!.
Bookings for the Tuscan Sun Festival and La Dolce Vita must be made separately.

To book your cruise email or Call + 44 (0) 1784 482439 toll free 1 800 394 8630 to enable this cruise to take place 6 passengers must book either separately or a whole barge charter.

2008 prices available

Our new price sheet for 2008 is now available for clients to download at on our web site and if you would like hard copy posted please email

Loch Ness Bids For World Heritage Status

Loch Ness and the Great Glen, one of world’s natural wonders is launching a bid for World Heritage status to raise awareness of the heritage value of the area as part of a vision to increase the area’s visitor economy by a massive £80 million a year. If successful, the bid will position Loch Ness and the Great Glen alongside the Grand Canyon, Great Barrier Reef, The Taj Mahal and Scotland’s own New Lanark and the Old City of Edinburgh, as one of 830 of the world’s finest heritage sites. Experience Loch Ness in style from Scottish Highlander's 10th Anniversary

Founded in 1997, celebrate their 10th anniversary this month. Well done to the team there. Visit to see a great range of quality french "fromages" .

If you have any suggestions, feedback or barging stories to tell us, then please e-mail us. We'll be glad to hear from you and share your inputs in the lock-keeper.

Why not email this edition on to a friend, and let them share the fun. New subscribers can sign-up here, and are very welcome. More people are joining every day, so let's keep building a great Barging community..!

That's about it for this 48th edition of the Lockkeeper, and hopefully the above articles have whet your appetite for that well-earned luxury cruise..! Please visit barge cruises and have a look around, or follow the individual links above.

The next edition of the lock-keeper will be out in July 2007, so we'll see you then.

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