Note: This itinerary features longer daily cruising on larger waterways, so it is different from a gentler-paced canal cruise, with limited opportunities for walking and cycling along towpaths en route. However, there is a wide selection of fascinating escorted excursions during the voyage.
Sunday, Day 1 Pont-l’Eveque (Noyon)
Guests are met at the Hotel Westminster in Paris and transferred by private chauffeured minibus to Panache for a Champagne welcome and introduction to your crew and barge. Time perhaps for a cycle ride before dinner on board.
Monday, Day 2 Pont-l’Eveque (Noyon) to Compiègne
Our first cruise is from Pont-l'Éveque along the Canal du Nord before joining the River Oise to moor at Compiègne. After lunch on board, we head out to the Armistice Clearing deep in the forest of Compiègne. This was the venue of the signing of the Armistice in a carriage of Marshal Foch’s private train on November 11th 1918 The clearing and its museum tell a fascinating story that stretches far beyond November 1918, as it was also on this famous train that Hitler insisted the French capitulate to Germany in 1940. Later, there should also be time to tour the Imperial town of Compiègne itself and visit the imposing château, once the Royal residence of King Louis XIV. Dinner on board.
Tuesday, Day 3 Compiègne to Pont Ste-Maxence
This morning we continue our cruise along the River Oise, passing barges laden with merchandise to our mooring at Pont Ste Maxence, a river crossing point since Roman times. This afternoon, we enjoy an unforgettable excursion to the elegant Renaissance Château de Chantilly. This superb example of 16th century architecture boats an array of art treasures, gardens laid out by Le Notre (of Versailles fame) and the great stables. More than 3,000 horses are stabled in and around Chantilly making it the thoroughbred capital of France. Dinner on board.
Wednesday, Day 4 Pont Ste-Maxence to Auvers-sur-Oise
Our cruise today takes us further towards Paris along the meandering Oise to our next mooring at Auvers-sur-Oise. After lunch, we visit a local Impressionism museum, then walk in the footsteps of Vincent Van Gogh. The painter spent the last part of his life in this picturesque village and was buried in the local cemetery. Here and there, panels indicate the scenes portrayed by the painter. It is the district around the church, however, that constitutes the favourite “place of pilgrimage” for art lovers. Dinner tonight is at a local restaurant.
Thursday, Day 5 Auvers-sur-Oise to Chatou
After breakfast, we drive to Giverny to visit Claude Monet’s house and magnificent gardens with the water-lily ponds that were such an inspiration for many of his paintings. We return to the barge and continue our cruise along the River Oise, reaching its confluence with the River Seine, before reaching our overnight mooring at Chatou. This evening, you should have time for a stroll through the village, following “the Impressionists Walk” where you will find reproductions of Impressionist paintings located in the precise locations where these works are believed to have been painted. Dinner on board.
Friday, Day 6 Chatou to Paris
After breakfast, we visit Château de Malmaison, a charming estate purchased by the Empress Josephine while Napoleon Bonaparte was away fighting the Egyptian campaign. It houses many fine artworks in lavish apartments and there is a notable rose garden. Returning to the barge, we cruise to Paris, gliding past the futuristic La Defense business district with its impressive concrete and glass architecture. The cruise culminates with a magical cruise through Paris, known as the "City of Lights", past floodlit monuments and the illuminated Eiffel Tower, whilst enjoying the Captain’s Farewell Dinner. We moor overnight in central Paris.
Saturday, Day 7 Paris
After breakfast, guests are transferred by private chauffeured minibus to the Hotel Westminster in Paris.
*This is a sample itinerary and is subject to change.