Southern Burgundy and the river Saône
Paris to Gray, we begin with Champagne
Your Grand Victoria experience begins here! A private chauffeur meets our guests in Paris for the journey to Gray, where we board the boat for a Champagne welcome by the cheerful crew. Sit and relax on board while the team install your luggage and take in the beautiful views. This evening, our chef will delight you with one of many incredible dinners to come.
Gray to Pontailler including a walking tour of the medieval town of Dole
We continue our culinary adventure with a fabulous breakfast! Breaking free from the traditional Continental, the chef awakens your palate and other senses with an array of delicious and nutritious choices including freshly baked croissants, fresh fruit platters, yoghurts, cappuccino, coffee or tea, but also a signature hot dish! Perhaps today will be almond French toast: Each breakfast will be a surprise.
Our cruise begins during breakfast and continues until lunchtime. Join your Captain in the wheelhouse, relax on the deck or enjoy a spot of cycling as we meander along one of the prettiest stretches of the petit Saône, between Gray and Pontailler.
After a delicious lunch on board, it's time to head to the medieval town of Dole, once the capital of Burgundy Franche Comté. Our walking tour takes us along the picturesque Tanneurs Canal, known locally as Petite Venice, and into the historical centre, listed as a conservation area.
Louis Pasteur, the physician responsible for the development of the rabies vaccine, was born here in 1822: We visit his birth house, now an informative museum, before exploring the Gothic architecture of the Collegiate Church of Notre Dame, which towers above the Canal. Dating from 1509, the church has undergone considerable renovation to preserve its beauty.
Dole has a charming, friendly atmosphere which we'll savour over a drink in a local café, before returning to the Grand Victoria for happy hour.
Pontailler to Auxonne, market day with lunch in Dijon
A visit to Burgundy is not complete without exploring Dijon, the capital of the Dukes of Burgundy. We begin our day with a walking tour of the historic centre, including the marketplace with its stunning buildings, designed by Gustav Eiffel. Take time to admire the ironwork reminiscent of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Now is the time to watch the locals at work sourcing the best fresh, locally grown produce. With so much variety, no wonder French food is so delicious!
Dijon is full of beautiful architecture; Our historical tour of the Ducal Palace, the Cathedral of Notre Dame with its stunning gargoyles, and a typically narrow, 15th-century shopping street lead to the Place du Bareuzai, where lunch in a local bistro beckons.
After lunch, you can enjoy some free time to explore the area. There are many shops, galleries and boutiques. We'll reconvene at the world-famous mustard store, the Maison Maille founded in 1747, to enjoy a tasting.
We return to the Grand Victoria for an afternoon of cruising on the scenic River Saône to medieval Auxonne, where our superb mooring spot is just a short walk or cycle ride to the canal path should you fancy an early evening stroll. When admiring the ancient walls and streets, it is easy to imagine the life of Napoleon, who was garrisoned here as a young soldier.
Auxonne to Seurre: Visiting the Hospice de Beaune & wine tasting
Our day begins with an early cruise to Seurre. There is an excellent towpath as we cruise along, so you may like to take a bike or walk together to the next lock before hopping back aboard. After lunch at our Seurre mooring, a short drive takes us to the town of Beaune, famous not only for wine but also for one of France's most prestigious monuments, the Hospice de Beaune, founded in 1443 to care for the poor and most disadvantaged after the ravages of the 100 years war and plague. Behind the flamboyant Gothic architect and polychrome roofs, discover the lives of patients and nurses alike in the various rooms including the hospital dormitory, apothecary, pharmacy and kitchens. A real treat for art lovers is the chance to view the polyptych of the Last Judgement, painted by Rogier van der Weyden.
After such a step back, it's onwards to the famous Château de Pommard to discover the authentic taste of Burgundy appellations, viticulture and the wine-making tradition for which this area is renowned. Enjoy a gourmet experience offered by the Chateau, which will include pairing with local cheeses from the region.
A wine-tasting will prepare us for Happy Hour which begins this evening on board with a selection of vinyl albums for a spot of nostalgia while the chef prepares another masterpiece.
Seurre to Chalon-sur-Saône: Majestic Chateau Rully
Another red-letter day! After breakfast, there is plenty of time to relax and enjoy the view from the spacious sundeck this morning as we cruise down the scenic Saône river to Chalon sur Saone, which was used as a port by the Roman Emperor Constantius II.
Lunch will be taken ashore in a local Michelin Star restaurant before we continue our historically enlightening adventure with a tour of the majestic 12th century Chateâu de Rully, perched high in the vineyards, where excellent Chardonnays are produced. This chateâu has been in the same family since the 12th-century and boasts all the features associated with designs through the ages: an encircling path, battlements, crenellations, merlons, loopholes, a dry ditch and a drawbridge.
We return to our mooring at Chalon-sur-Saone for cocktails and dinner and invite you to explore this magical town with its ancient and modern quarters, home to the creator of photography, Nicéphore Niepce, born in the town in 1765.
Chalon sur Saône to Tournus: Wine tasting the famous Pouilly-Fuisse
After breakfast, we wave goodbye to Chalôn sur Saône and enjoy a morning cruise to the Roman town of Tournus, noted for art and history. Often warmed by the winds of the Mediterranean sea to the south, the area enjoys an exceptional climate throughout much of the year which lends itself to wine production.
We will visit the early 11th century of St Philibert de Tournus, built in the Romanesque style, the main surviving structure of the ancient Benedictine Abbey.
After lunch onboard the Grand Victoria, we go for a wine tasting at the prestigious Pouilly-Fuisse an appellation (AOC) for white wine in the Mâconnais region of southern Burgundy.
We return to the Grand Victoria for a fabulous evening: There's time to kick back with a cocktail and to look back over the week during our final dinner together.
Tournus to Paris: Champagne breakfast and departure
Our final morning together, and what better way to celebrate these last moments than a Champagne breakfast before you depart the Grand Victoria at 9 am. Your private chauffeur will drive you back to Paris.
More information about the Saône