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


welcome to the September edition of the Lock-keeper.

This month in the lock-keeper, we have some great offers and features to inspire a late season break or indeed to help you look forward to next year and begin planning your 2007 European cruise vacation.

We begin with Savoir Faire and a 13 night, 3 country cruise, we have some great feedback from recent guests who cruised the river Cher in the Upper Loire Valley on Nymphea. We follow this with a look back to the days of Logging on the Yonne in Burgundy, and tell you about the La Belle Epoque October Walking cruise itinerary.

As usual, we have our monthly Lockkeeper competition, and I am sure all our August Anjodi cruise competition entrants are keen to find out who's won our cruise for two.

For this month's competition we've got two copies of a wonderful book about Burgundy and its Wine for you to win.

We follow up on last month's Scottish Golf cruise feature with some great information on four of the fine courses we visit. We finish up with news of a special offer on Meanderer for October cruises in the Loire valley, so there should be plenty of interest for all.

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:

Savoir Faire cruise

Praise for Nymphea

Yonne Logging

Burgundy Walking Cruise

Anjodi cruise winner

September competition

Scottish Golf

Cruise News

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Savoir Faire's three country cruise
France, Belgium & The Netherlands
Savoir Faire

In just under 2 weeks time on October 8th our 12-passenger barge Savoir Faire will be setting off from romantic Paris for her three country cruise across Picardie, Flanders and Holland to vibrant Amsterdam, arriving on November 4th - just in time for Christmas shopping!

It's a very pleasant time of the year to be travelling - the autumn leaves will be falling, the days are cool, the air invigorating and the barge will be warm and cosy. This cruise is for those who would like to delve a little deeper into the lesser-known areas of northern Europe as well as enjoying their favourites. Its refreshing mixture of ports of call covers the full scale from capital cities to peaceful rural hamlets and sleepy villages. The barge chugs its way through at a steady pace, allowing you to take everything in and not miss a trick.

This three country experience offers great variety - geographical, linguistic and creative - from hills and valleys to cruising below sea level, three main language zones (and several dialect zones!), natural and man-made wonders. This cruise area is famed for its amazing architecture - both historic and modern - and the creativity of its inhabitants has been acclaimed worldwide for centuries from the tapestry makers and painters of the 15th and 16th centuries to the ship and cathedral builders to the garden designers, botanists and horticulturists.

The food on board Savoir-Faire reflects the regional cuisine as she steadily makes her way northwards - this makes for an interesting mixture which includes the transition from wine-loving France to beer loving Belgium and Holland! Strange how monasteries had a lot to do with both!!

Several rivers and waterways carry the Savoir-Faire along her route - the Seine, Oise, Canal du Nord, the Somme, the Scheldt/Escaut and Ijssel. Sometimes you are just on one main solitary waterway passing fields of cows and at other times you are surrounded by water such as the Hollands Diep, with land barely in sight and seagulls soaring overhead. An optional visit to the famous Delta Project is certainly worth contemplating - one of the greatest feats of engineering in the world.

There is plenty of time to explore such pretty towns as Amiens with its beautiful cathedral, Valenciennes with its gardens, renaissance town hall and lake and the charming little walled towns of Bruges, also known as "Venice of the North" (famous amongst other things for its lace makers) and Willemstad with its windmill and dykes. Cheese-making Gouda is also on the route, with much more than cheese there to attract your attention, such as its flamboyant town hall. An interesting and moving contrast is provided by the villages and towns along the river Somme, with their proud commemorations of first world war fallen, including Compiegne, famed site of the signing of the 1st world war armistice.

To offer a contrast to the gentle rural cruising, we visit Gent and Antwerp with their numerous churches, art galleries, museums (including Rubens house), squares and fountains, castle and attractive shopping centres, offering the latest European fashions and fun presents for loved-ones at home.

Visits to stately homes include the opulent Malmaison, home of Napoleon and Josephine, and the country house of Claude Monet at Giverny, where visitors can stroll through his beautiful gardens and walk over the famous Japanese bridge and lily pond.

There is still time to join this special cruise, whether you would like to join for all 13 days or whether you'd like to come for half that time. Contact us here.


For the 13 day 3 country cruise:
  • Individual cabins: price per person (based on 2 people sharing a cabin) $6,500 / £4,645
  • Single occupancy: $7,290 / £6,645
  • Discounted charter price available on application
For the 6 night Paris to Gent section or the 6 night Gent to Amsterdam section only:
  • Individual cabins: price per person (based on 2 people sharing a cabin) $3,445 / £2,460
  • Single occupancy supplements apply. Please contact us for more information.
  • Charter prices available on application.   back to top

Nymphea Nymphea on the river Cher, Loire valley, France

Here is an extract from a questionnaire we received back from a very satisfied customer who cruised on board Nymphea this month:

Please give us your overall impression of the barge trip

I have been travelling on business and pleasure for some 45 years. This will have to have been mine and my wife's most memorable travel experience in all aspects.

How was the service?


How were the meals and wines?

A gastronomical experience. Besides the excellent meals, which would compare favorably with some of the best meals we have experienced in Paris and New York, we had the pleasure of savoring a variety of some eighteen cheeses and sixteen wines. I was so impressed I asked for a listing to take back with me to share with friends. We also found fascinating the description of the wines and cheeses provided by the very knowledgeable staff. Unfortunately, we will never find any of these cheeses in the United States ...maybe some of the wines.

How were the excursions?

Excellent. I hate crowds, so I have to compliment the staff on the timing of the excursions designed to avoid the tourist crush. In some instances we virtually had the chateaus to ourselves, or almost.

How did you like the barge route?

We did find the route interesting...especially with the experience of the multiple locks and particularly approaching and passing under the Chateau de Chenonceaux. We also enjoyed the down time look and see.

Did the barge and your cabin meet your expectations?

Exceeded our expectations.

What were the high points of the cruise?

Celebrating my wife's birthday on the cruise with a custom baked cake. Also the final captain's dinner. I also have to include as a high point of the cruise the attention lavished on us by the captain and the crew.

Richard and Irene V.H.   back to top

The Logging Industry of the Yonne Luxury barge cruises on La Belle Epoque in Burgundy, France

It's hard to imagine the peaceful waters of the river Yonne in Burgundy carrying anything other than gently meandering light river craft, canoes and swimmers, but 450 years ago, it was another story. One could even go as far as to say that without the logging industry of the Yonne, the look of today's Paris might have been completely different! In 16th century France, under King François 1st, Paris had a massive problem - fuel exhaustion.

The forests surrounding Paris had run out of firewood and the Royal hunting grounds were out of the question. Eventually the king gave the order for wood to be brought up to Paris from Burgundy's Morvan forest by river. The only period during which the wood could be cut was during the winter, so the wood cutters set to work at break-neck speed in the Morvan forest. Within the year, the forest landowners were selling this wood at the All Saints Day market to traders.

loggers meal timeAfter purchase, the logs were "branded" at each end with the purchaser's mark by means of a large hammer, then driven by cart or floated downstream along small streams to one of 22 small wharves along the Yonne, removed from the water and put into temporary storage piles.

This all had to be done by 15th November. Then, once a year, a "great floating convoy" was organised, allowing the logs to go down from the small wharves to the larger sorting ports situated in Clamecy and its surroundings.

The big convoys - a sea of wood arrives at Clamecy

logs go back into the riverWith the arrival of Spring and the melting of the snow, the water levels rose sufficiently to allow the next stage of the logs' journey. Into the water they went again, forming a veritable sea of wood converging on Clamecy and its surroundings. It was important that every log was accounted for and that none were lost amongst the bushes or river bank.

There were over 30 river harbours along the two banks of the Yonne in Clamecy and its neighbouring villages. There, men would receive the wood arriving along the river Yonne or the river Beuvron. Imagine 700,000 logs being pulled out, sorted according to the branding marks and piled up. Hundreds of men, women and children got involved. It's these sorts of figures which help us to picture how important this activity was to the economy of Clamecy and its region. It affected the lives of around 500 men and their families, and as a mark of respect, a statue of a logging man can be seen at Clamecy bridge.

Everything had to be sorted by mid July. This marked the end of the second stage of the wood's journey and was celebrated by festivities and water-jousting and every year nowadays on 14th July, water-jousting is still a focal part of the Bastille Day festivities. The person who is able to stay on his boat and knock his opponents into the river is known as "The Dry King". Four hundred years ago, each year's Dry King became the spokesman of the log men for the coming year, representing his work companions during strikes and conflicts.

The Logging Industry of the Yonne - continued Luxury barge cruises on Art de Vivre in Burgundy, France

After harvest time, it was time to get back to the work of transporting the wood and preparing the floating log convoys going on to the capital. Each of the log convoys was in reality a huge raft, 75 metres long, 4 ½ metres wide and half a metre thick.making the log rafts

It was made up of around 200 logs and took 6 experienced men around a week to construct. This was the most intense period of activity, with 700,000 logs being transformed into 3,500 rafts, each made up of with 200 logs. Each raft comprised two parts - like railway carriages - coupled one behind the other.

Steering a raft needed two pilots to start with - an adult at the front and a child at the back. The child only stayed on board until the raft had got through the weir at Auxerre, then he had to go back home and leave the adult to make the rest of the journey alone to Paris, which was often a perilous journey of 10-15 days, following which he had to come back from Paris on foot.

steering the log raftsIn this way, Clamecy became, and remained for nigh on 400 years, the hub of firewood provision to Paris - dealing with not only the logistics but also the commercial and administrative sides. The local archives for 1804 show 3,535 rafts made around Clamecy and 1,051 at Vermenton. This represented 90% of the wood used in Paris!

To facilitate the whole process and reduce the danger, the Nivernais Canal project was established. Its principal purpose was to aid the transport of wood from the Loire valley to the Seine valley. However, this spelt the beginning of the end for the logging industry, especially with the arrival of coal. The last log convoys to be seen were on the river Cure in 1927 marking the end of an era.

Descente Bidon, the annual raft race festivalWe are happy to say that this important part of the history of the river Yonne is beautifully commemorated in the Clamecy Museum of logging which is visited during excursions from both La Belle Epoque and L'Art de Vivre.

For those who love feasts and festivals, if you happen to be in Clamecy on 13th August, try to get to the raft race (Descente Bidon). It's organized by the association known as the "Crapauds de Basseville" (The Downtown Toads!) to commemorate the wood convoy. It's a real hoot, with teams from all around competing in crazy colourful rafts.   back to top

Walking and barging in Burgundy - October 2007 Luxury barge cruising in Burgundy aboard La Belle Epoque, France

Burgundy boasts some of Europe's prettiest canal routes and offers great possibilities for walkers of all abilities.

Our barge La Belle Epoque on the Canal du Nivernais provides a very comfortable base (with a spa pool in which to relax those joints before or after a walk) and your own master chef to prepare delicious regional meals to provide perfect sustenance for a week's walking! An open bar provides liquid refreshment of all types and a cheerful crew ensure all your needs are catered for. With this carefully planned cruise and walking schedule, you can properly experience the grass roots of Burgundy! Slow food, smooth cruise, calm walking..

In the company of our professional walking guide saunter along the region's scenic pathways, through dreamy old villages, past castles and vineyards. Have no fear, we provide just the right balance of exploration, exertion and relaxation!

This walking-barging cruise departs on 21st October 2007 for 6 nights.

Prices: (based on 2 people sharing)

  • £2350 / US$4350 per person for a Junior Suite
  • £2490 / US$4590 per person for a Suite

La Belle Epoque Walking Itinerary - 21st to 27th October 2007

Sunday - Auxerre

We meet you at Hotel Ampere in Paris at 1.30pm and you are transferred to hotel barge La Belle Epoque for our Champagne Reception and Welcome Dinner.

Monday - Bailly

We walk the banks of the River Yonne and through the vineyard-clad hills to the village of Vaux. Continuing along the river, we arrive at Champs-sur-Yonne where we meet our barge for lunch. We go on to St Bris, with its intricate network of medieval passages beneath the town. At the 12th-century cellars of Monsieur Bersan, we taste the outstanding Chardonnay and Pinot of the region.

Tuesday - Accolay

On foot we follow the canal to Cravant Donjon, a tiny community priding itself on its fine church. A path through rich pastures with views of the valley brings us to Accolay, which sits beside the River Cure. Following lunch we continue our walk to Regny Abbey and Bessy-sur-Cure.

Wednesday - Mailly-la-Ville

From Vermenton we head towards a wooded hill, while our barge travels south through the Yonne valley. We cruise past dramatic steep cliffs to the market town of Mailly, and then enjoy an excursion to Noyers, one of the most beautiful villages in France.

Thursday - Lucy-sur-Yonne

We walk in the hills above the canal to the pretty cliff top village of Mailly-le-Chateau, finding diverse fauna and fascinating archaeology in La Reserve Naturelle de Bois du Parc. Following lunch on the barge, our walk continues along the canal.

Walking and barging in Burgundy - October 2007 - continued
La Belle Epoque Walking cruise in Burgundy

Friday - Clamecy

This morning we visit Vezelay, known for its Romanesque Basilica of St Mary Magdalene and fine specialty shops. A cruise through beautiful countryside then takes us to Clamecy. We take a short walk into Clamecy and then tour the Cathedral and the Logging and Barging Museum. There is time to wander through the narrow streets lined with historic buildings and an opportunity for shopping before returning to the barge. Aboard for our final evening, the Captain hosts our farewell dinner.


We disembark for a private transfer back from Clamecy to Hotel Ampere in Paris by about 1pm

**This itinerary may operate in reverse according to the barge scheduling.


These are sample itineraries, which will show guests a sample of interesting and low to medium difficulty walks through a variety of landscapes. We have a tremendous selection of walks available so just ask our reservations team for more information.


Clients should bring suitable walking boots and protective clothing and small backpack. Members will be provided with a compass and local map.


All of our Walking Cruises will have the services of a professional local walking guide who is familiar with the terrain. The guide will carry a hand held radio and cell phone for emergencies.


If you are on a long walk then our crew will meet your group at a predestined point and serve lunch so that you can continue your walk without having to return to the barge Contact us here to book your October Walking vacation on La Belle Epoque.

August Competition winnerAnjodi luxury barge cruises on the Canal du Midi, Provence, France

Our August competition featured Anjodi, cruising the Canal du Midi in Provence, France. You could win a cruise for two in Spring 2007 by answering some easy multiple choice questions..

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

September Competition

Burgundy and Its WinesFor our September Lockkeeper competition we have two copies of Burgundy and Its Wines by Nicholas Faith to give away.

An irresistible portrait of Burgundy's culture, history, landscape and wines. Burgundy, France's historic wine region, is a unique mix of old towns and vineyards, of great wines, and of thousands of individualistic wine-makers, brokers and merchants. Burgundy and Its Wines takes the reader on a journey where the temptation to linger is irresistible - from the gentle slopes of the Cote d'Or to the treasures of Dijon. The journey concludes with a directory of practical advice and information, including the best merchants and producers.
Burgundy Wine competition.   back to top

The Scottish Highlander

As a follow-on from last month's announcement, here is more to whet your appetite if you are contemplating a golfing cruise next May.

Golf in the northern part of Scotland can be traced back to the 1600s. A journey to the Highlands takes you into a different life zone which allows you to enjoy the pleasures of peace and quiet and drink in some great scenery while playing some of the best courses in the world.

Your Scottish Highlander cruise will introduce you to the following four courses:

Royal Dornoch Championship Golf Course

Royal Dornoch Golf courseRoyal Dornoch is one of the original locations for golf in Scotland, with people having played there since 1616. It's been "Royal" for 100 years, when King Edward 7th was prevailed upon by the Duchess of Sutherland to give it Royal patronage. Ranking 5th in the world outside the USA, the course was designed by Tom Morris in 1891. Honorary members of the club include Tom Watson, HRH Prince Andrew, Ben Crenshaw and more recent celebrities to visit the course include Greg Norman and Jack Nicholson. This 18 hole, 6,514 yard, Par 70 course offers great scenery with its first 8 holes following the natural slants and humps of old dune embankments while the rest flank the sandy beaches of Dornoch Bay. Hole by hole description   Pictures of the course

Nairn Championship Golf Course

Nairn Golf courseNairn was founded in 1887 and added to and extended by Archie Simpson, Tom Morris and James Braid and is now one of the best courses in Scotland. Nairn's reputation is well founded, hosting many professional and amateur events including the 37th Walker Cup in September 1999. Several holes border the North Sea - from every hole you can see the Moray Firth and the golden colouring and changing lights of the Black Isle. On any one of the first 7 greens you can strike the ball into the sea! Three of the par 5 holes are over 530 yards long and are a test for all. As we play the 18 hole, 6,705 yards, Par 72 course, we never know who will be in front of us - notable guests include FW De Clerk, Lee Westwood, Colin Montgomerie, Ronan Rafferty, Darren Clarke, Davis Love IIII, Sam Torrance, and Michael Douglas! Nairn Golf course

Fort Augustus Golf Course

Fort Augustus Golf courseFort Augustus club moved here in 1925, taking over mainly moorland ground on which crofters grazed stock. The club still shares the course with the sheep, but so far the sheep have never protested! The golf course sits amongst beautiful scenery, with Caledonian pines and the Caledonian canal on one side and the birch and heather covered Lochunagan Hill on the other. Her 18 tees (9 hole, 5,454 yards par (or is it baaaa!) 67) present a challenge even to the low handicap golfer.

Newtonmore Golf course

Newtonmore Golf courseGolf has been played at Newtonmore for well over 100 years. Established in 1893, this versatile 18 hole, 6,041 yard, Par 70 course nestles appealingly in the midst of the Monadhliath and Grampian Mountains on the banks of the River Spey. The wild flowers, (there are 8 varieties of wild orchids growing around the course) and the bird life are added attractions which can distract you if you aren't careful! Play to your handicap and you've played well! Netwonmore Golf course

As well as the golf, your cruise experience includes some very enjoyable excursions and an itinerary through glorious mountain scenery, past castles and in amongst man-made engineering, such as the 5 lock flight at Fort Augustus and Neptune's Staircase. Visits to Spean Bridge Woollen Mill and the Glen Nevis Whisky Distillery (where the elaboration of whisky is explained with a tasting!) are just two places we visit which give an interesting insight into the traditions of the area.

To join Scottish Highlander's golf cruise, the price per person is

  • Stateroom per person: $4,050 / £2,250
  • Suite per person: $4,490 / £2,490
  • Stateroom single supplement: $1,300 / £700
  • Suite single supplement: $1,500 / £800
The price includes the cruise on board Scottish Highlander between Inverness and Fort William, accommodation in serviced en-suite cabins, golfing at the 4 beautiful golf Scottish courses mentioned above, transfers to and from the courses, all meals, wines, excursions, the services of a dedicated crew, an open bar, Champagne welcome and use of bicycles. Cruise joining and leaving point: Inverness. Book early to avoid disappointment, as this is a very popular cruise!   back to top


SPECIAL OFFERS ON MEANDERER CRUISES IN OCTOBER 2006 Meanderer in the Loire valley, France

Readers who are still looking for a great location to cruise in October might be interested to know that Meanderer, cruising in the upper Loire valley, can offer space on her October 15th and 22nd departures. If you are a party of 3 upwards looking for a luxurious waterway experience, look no further than this delightful barge.

For those wishing to charter Meanderer, it is possible to benefit from the following discounted prices on the cruise departing 15th October:

  • Six passenger charter: $18,950 / £11,845
  • Four passenger charter: $16,950 / £10,595
Highlights of a cruise on board Meanderer include:
  • Champagne reception and romantic early evening cruise
  • Visit to the town and spectacular palace of Fontainebleau, famed for its Italian Renaissance art and architecture, home to almost thirty kings of France for nearly eight centuries from Louis IV to Napoleon I.
  • Visits to the busy market towns of Montargis and Briare (including the famous Mazet Praline shop)
  • Excursion to the re-created 16th century working farm and the splendid Chateau of St Fargeau
  • A chance to walk the ancient "staircase" of locks, which stand as a monument to the old canal at Rogny-les-Sept-Ecluses
  • A visit to Gien with its chateau, famous Faience Factory Museum and Hunting Museum
  • Private tour of a family run vineyard in the heart of Sancerre with a chance to sample the wines and cheeses for which this region is renowned
  • See the world's longest aqueduct, crossing the River Loire
Contact us here to book your October break on Meanderer.

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 39th 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 October 2006, so we'll see you then.

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