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Champagne Barge Cruise

The Savoir Faire

Cabins

• Six cabins: cabins #2 through #6 each have 116 sq. ft. of space; the forward cabin (#1) has 142 sq. ft. All cabins have an average ceiling height of 6 ft. 8 in.

• All cabins have private bath. Five have separate toilet and shower, both with a sink; forward cabin (#1) has one large bathroom.

• All cabins can be configured with two twin beds (31.5 in. wide by 75 in. long), OR with one queen bed (63 in. wide by 75 in. long).

• Cabins feature dual wardrobes with ample hanging space and shelves, and a writing desk and chair.

 

Boat Layout

The Savoir Faire features six staterooms. Each can be configured with two twin beds or with one queen bed.

Staterooms 2 through 6 each have a separate toilet and shower. Stateroom 1 has a large bathroom with shower. All cabins offer good lighting, a large number of electrical outlets, and include 220v European standard and 110v U.S. standard power outlets.

boat layout

In the public areas, the Savoir Faire is unique with five separate areas for passenger enjoyment -- whether for a personal retreat, a quiet conversation, a small group get-together, or for all passengers to enjoy together. The salon, dining area, and bar are finished in mahogany, teak and brass, decorated with antiques and paintings collected over the years, and with new original works of art introduced by Chris and Fran.

* The main lounge has a panoramic view, comfortable custom-made furniture, upright piano, game table, and library.

* Adjacent to the lounge is an elegant dining room, large enough to double as a dance floor on festive evenings, and a writing desk in its own quiet corner.

* To the aft is a cozy cocktail lounge, a favorite meeting place for aperitifs or quiet conversations, with stereo and CD player.

* Outside there are two spacious decks -- a fore deck that opens directly from the main lounge, and an elevated observation deck offering a magnificent view of the passing countryside

 

Daily Itinerary in Burgundy

boat layout

DAY 1: SUNDAY (Moored in the heart of Paris at the Port Arsenal, Bastille)
Our chauffeurs collect you from your designated meeting point in Paris and escort you to the "Etoile de Champagne," moored at the Port Arsenal, Bastille, in the very heart of the city. It is here that your adventure begins. After a champagne reception, during which you are introduced to your crew and the ship, you are free to settle into your cabins. You will have an opportunity to explore the area before we depart for our exclusive evening cruise through Paris. While cocktails are served the "Savoir Faire" glides past the magnificent church of Notre Dame, the resplendent Louvre art gallery and the symbolic Eiffel Tower. You will then be served your first of many splendid dinners aboard, prepared by your personal master chef. After dinner we continue our cruise through Paris to your overnight mooring.

Paris by night is referred to as the "City of Lights" and is one of the most romantic sights to behold anywhere in the world. As we pass beneath the floodlit Eiffel Tower and illuminated bridges, you can see from our panoramic observation deck why this city has been the focus of so many creative artists and authors. The very essence of Paris comes flooding down to the banks of the Seine, overwhelming the senses and firing the imagination.

DAY 2: MONDAY (Cruise from Paris to Samois)
We set off from the Arsenal bright and early to begin your cruise south along the mighty Seine towards Burgundy. Once past the reaches of Paris, the landscape begins to unfold revealing the tranquil beauty so sought after by busy city folk. Luxury villas and chateaux begin to appear along the river banks, as we cruise past fishermen patiently sitting beneath the shade of a willow tree.

Your excursion today is to the magnificent chateau of Fontainebleau. Your captain has chosen a fully trained Fontainebleau guide to privately escort you around the chateau, as to walk through Fontainebleau is to walk through the very history of France. Every royal family has added their architectural signature, resulting in an unrivalled display of opulence. Afterwards you will be able to explore the shops and boutiques of Fontainebleau before joining your chauffeurs who will escort you back to the "Savoir Faire". This evening we shall be moored beneath the hilltop town of Samois, a favorite amongst painters and poets. You will have the opportunity to stroll or cycle along the shaded river bank and breathe in the fresh air before your candlelit dinner is served.

DAY 3: TUESDAY (Cruise from Samois to Sens)
We begin the day with a peaceful cruise along the last stretch of the Seine before joining the river Yonne that takes us south towards Burgundy, the land of Counts and fine wines. This morning there will be opportunities to cycle alongside the river and explore villages close by. Your tour guide has personally chosen routes of varying degrees of difficulty so that you can enjoy your cycling excursions to the full during your cruise. After lunch on board, your guide will escort you to the medieval town of Provins where you can explore ancient ramparts, watch a falconry show and browse around the boutiques and shops. Provins is now listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site and is listed amongst the most interesting towns in France. Once back on board you will have time to enjoy a pre-dinner cocktail before yet another delicious meal is served.

DAY 4: WEDNESDAY (Cruise from Sens to Joigny)
This morning we set off along the Yonne towards our overnight mooring at the riverside town of Joigny, where cobbled streets and timbered-framed buildings take you back to a bygone era. After a pleasant cruise through opening landscapes we stop at Villeneuve-sur-Yonne for lunch on board.This afternoon your chauffeurs will drive you to Sens for a private guided tour of the Cathedral of St Stephen, the first of the great Gothic cathedrals of France. The beauty of the exterior dominates the main square of Sens. Begun in 1140 AD, this magnificent building houses one of the richest treasuries in France. In addition to this there is a tour of the museum, which is in the 13th Century synodal palace, situated in the former archbishop's residence. It houses a fascinating exhibition of Gallo-Roman mosaics and works of art from the cathedral. Afterwards you will have time to explore the charming streets of Sens before your chauffeurs drive you back to the "Savoir Faire." Dinner is served aboard after which you may enjoy a stroll around the lamp lit streets of Joigny.

DAY 5: THURSDAY (Cruise from Joigny to Gurgy)
This morning we set off on our cruise to the riverside hamlet of Gurgy. Today is the perfect opportunity for those who wish to cycle alongside the ship as she glides gently by. After lunch we take a short drive to Chablis, town to some of the greatest wines in Burgundy. We have selected the small family operation of Domaine Laroche for an intimate tour of their cellar and an insightful introduction to the secrets of this ancient art. A comprehensive wine tasting rounds off this fascinating visit. Afterwards we drive over the tops of the surrounding vineyards, through the wine village of Irancy and on to St Bris, where we shall visit the 12th Century underground cellars of Bersan and Fils. Once back on board, you will have time to stroll or cycle along the riverbank before dinner.

DAY 6: FRIDAY (Cruise from Gurgy to Auxerre)
Our final cruise takes us along the upper reaches of the Yonne to Auxerre, the most beautiful of all river towns whose skyline is punctuated by church spires and its streets lined with timbered 16th century houses. We arrive in time for lunch, after which you have the option of two visits.

The first visit offered is to explore this wonderful riverside town, with the Cathedral of Saint-Etienne dominating the skyline. Behind its apparent simplicity lies one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture in France. Undoubtedly one of the prettiest towns in France, Auxerre, the capital of Lower Burgundy, is situated in the heart of a wine growing area most famous for its Chablis wine. The town's magnificent monuments, which include a splendid 15th Century clock tower, all bear witness to a remarkable historical past. The center, which is classified as a protected area, is best visited on foot.

The second visit to choose from is to the world famous hilltop town of Vezelay, forty minutes from Auxerre. Listed as a UNESCO world heritage site, Vezelay has been a place of worship since the Middle Ages and is a rallying point for the pilgrimage of Saint-Jacques de Compostelle. It is from here that the second and third crusades were launched, the latter by Richard the Lionhearted. Dominating this medieval town is the Basilica Sainte-Madeleine, one of the most impressive churches in France. Streets lined with 15th Century timbered-framed buildings house art galleries, boutiques and shops. Quiet parks offer panoramic views of the surrounding countryside and underground cellars the opportunity to taste the wines from the surrounding vineyards. Later your chauffeurs will escort you back to the "Savoir Faire." This evening, after pre-dinner cocktails, we present our farewell Captain's Dinner. You are joined by your hosts Chris and Fran, for what promises to be a meal to remember.

DAY 7: SATURDAY (Departure at 9.30am)
After a hearty breakfast you are driven by our chauffeurs to your hotel or airport in Paris.

Food & Wine

Savoir Faire's master chef selects only the freshest ingredients to prepare the subtle sauces and the delicate pastries that are so much a part of exceptional French cuisine.

A grand selection of fine regional wines accompanies lunch and dinner, complementing the superb cuisine.

All meals are served in Savoir Faire's elegant mahogany panelled dining room with the finest crystal, Wedgewood china and Christofle silver.

Each day, the chef combines fresh ingredients drawn from local markets to create the most incredible cuisine you have ever experienced. The menus You will experience aboard will always be unique, and tailored to your specific needs. The following menu selections are typical, but cuisine aboard will be different -- and is sure to surprise and delight you!

Breakfast

Continental breakfast with freshly baked pastries and breads, cereals, fruit, yogurt and eggs made to order.

Lunch
Pan fried fois gras, served on warm brioche, with an assortment of fresh salads Souffle of Parmesan and Marrow, served on warm roast vegetables in olive oil (vegetarian)

Dinner typically includes an entree, main course, cheese course, dessert, and coffee, followed by aperitifs and chocolates served in the main salon.

Entrees

Steak tartare with roquette salad
Cream of Mussel and Saffron soup
Oeuf en Meurette - poached egg in a Bourgignon sauce Tartare of Salmon, capers and dill, topped with a fresh quail’s egg
Smoked duck and poached pear salad, with blue cheese dressing
Feuillete of roast avocado and Brie with a walnut dressed salad (vegetarian)

Plat principal

Poulet de Bresse a la crème with gratin Dauphinois
Fillet of Shark served in a tarragon butter sauce
Braised beef fillet in juniper berry and red wine jus
Rosette of pork filet with a Dijon mustard sauce and Gratin Dauphinois
Cumin roasted saddle of Lamb with a Caviar of Aubergines
Roasted duck breast with a Grillottes sauce, Duchess potatoes
Tarragon Pancake filled with spinach mousse with a roquefot glaze (vegetarian)

Dessert
Tart Amandine with Crème Anglaise
Lemon Posset with Langue du chat biscuits
Homemade nougat glace with a fresh fruit coulis
Dark Chocolate Soufflé with a white chocolate sauce
Strawberry Meringue Roulade with a Summer Fruit Coulis
Paris Brest, with Crème Anglaise

Your Hosts

Chris and Fran Bennett have been captain and owners since the end of 2004. Their extensive experience on the waterways of France has included operating a successful barge in Burgundy that received rave reviews from their passengers, setting the stage for their operations aboard the Savoir Faire.

They are charming, attentive and knowledgable hosts assisted by a crew of four including a master chef.

In their first year of operation aboard the Etoile de Champagne -- the 2005 season -- they have received exceptional reviews from each charter and individual cabin cruise week, achieving some of the highest guest satisfaction levels of any of the barges in Europe.

Passengers Comments

We appreciate your gracious sharing of your knowledge, experience and home! You and your energetic, engaging crew have taught us much about the culture of France. We thank you for your extraordinary planning and patience. [RF, USA]
How can this trip on the "Etoile de Champagne"* be topped? So much knowledge and fun - always relaxed - always delightful! I would recommend a week with you to anyone- no other barge I've seen comes close to yours. Three cheers to the staff - the spirit of each makes all the difference. [E. McG, USA]

What a magnificent trip! Thank you all for catering to our every need and whim as we traveled through the beautiful countryside. Biking alongside the ship as she cruised was an incredible way to get the full flavor. Your wonderful crew provided a spectacular experience that will not be forgotten. Thank you for all the wonderful memories. [FA, USA]

The only sad moment of this wonderful week was when we realized that our cruise was coming to an end. We enjoyed the exceptional hospitality, the incredible food and wines and the most enjoyable and memorable group of mothers and daughters. Thank you to all ... [S & JB, USA]

Your boat is magical - with a warmth and charm that is infectious. The beautiful meals and trips and cruising made for an all too short week. Thank you for all you did to spoil us throughout. Speaking for all of us, this week exceeded all expectations and has set a high bar for future trips that are sure to come. Many thanks for everything ... [MMcG, USA]

Dearest cast and crew of the "Etoile de Champagne".* You have made our trip to France a grand excursion and a pleasure beyond belief ... a magical tour of an enchanted place. Thank you all for your generous hospitality. [A.R, USA]

Approximate Prices

Value : July, August

$3,500pp

Mid - Augst 31

$4,200pp

Regular: May, June, Sept, Oct

$4,600pp

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external view
dressed table in the dining room
the living room
the living room-2nd view
the bar
a cabin

The Savoir Faire - Paris to Burgundy or Paris to Champagne

The Savoir Faire (formerly "Etoile de Champagne") dates back to 1932 when she was built as a transport barge in the Belgian estuaries. During World War II, her bow was replaced with a landing bow so she could sail up on the beaches. She was sunk during the war but later lifted from the river bottom and completely refurbished.

In 1979, the barge was brought to Holland where she underwent a total metamorphosis and was converted into the elegant three-decked hotel barge that she is today. Carrying just 12 passengers and built on the largest hull that can cruise the waterways, the former "Etoile de Champagne" was substantially refurbished. For the 2006 season, her name changes to "Savoir Faire," continuing to maintain the very high standard of excellence in cuisine, accommodations and service that it became known for during the 2005 and previous seasons.

Through the years, she has received accolades from all those fortunate to have sailed aboard her, and many passengers have returned for repeat visits. As one of the few owner-operated luxury barges, the Savoir Faire prides itself in customizing your cruise week to your desires.

 
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