Cruising between Chevroche and Auxerre on the Nivernais Canal and River Yonne
Paris to Chevroches
You are met at Paris at 2 pm and transferred by private car to Chevroches for a champagne reception aboard The Randle.
There will be ample time to take a stroll through the nearby town of Clamecy, which nestles in the rolling countryside characteristic of the Nievre region, from which the Nivernais Canal gets its name. Step back in time: cobbled streets, ornate timbered houses and the 16th-century church of St Martin await. Clamecy was the seat of the Bishop of Jerusalem for more than 600 years before the French Revolution.
After an aperitif, it's time to enjoy a gourmet dinner prepared by our chef, Gael Robertson, served with a premier-cru wine from the region.
Chevroche to Lucy-sur-Yonne
After a tasty continental breakfast including exceptionally fresh croissants, we begin our day with a 4-hour cruise along the river Yonne, passing ancient limestone cliff faces and a 14th-century fortified farm at Chartreuse-de-Bassville. After lunch, the journey continues to Lucy-sur-Yonne, our peaceful mooring for the night. You may like to visit the 11th-century church with recently restored stained-glass windows and the nearby millpond. But first, enjoy our afternoon tour to the fascinating UNESCO World Heritage Site and fortified town of Vezelay and the fabulous example of a Romanesque Basilica containing the relics of Mary Magdalene in the underground crypt. It is from Vezelay that the crusaders began their long pilgrimages.
The small town is the ideal place for tasteful souvenirs. There are many craftsmen working here in boutiques and art galleries, and also cafes and restaurants.
We return to the Randle for dinner on board, along with another fine premier cru wine.
We begin our day with a gentle cruise along the picturesque Canal du Nivernais passing hilltop villages and the magnificent Rochers-du-Saussois. These ancient rocks are very popular with rock climbers and afford a fabulous view of the region.
After lunch, we take an excursion to the Grottes-de-Arcy, a fascinating cave system that houses over 200 examples of 28,000-year-old Paleolithic cave paintings representing bears, rhino and mammoths, a reminder of our ever-changing world. The stalactites and crystal formations will also leave you breathless.
After such a treat, we round the day off with fine dining in the Michelin Starred Chateau Vault-du-Lugny, a fabulous chateau with peacocks and centuries-old trees in the parklands. Chef Franco Bowanee's cuisine is both healthy and delicious, but also exquisitely beautiful. The chef makes excellent use of the 140 varieties of fruit and vegetables growing in the chateau gardens.
Mailly-la-Ville to Accolay
This morning we leave the boat immediately after breakfast for another treat for the senses. It's market day in nearly Noyer-sur-Serein, one of the prettiest villages in France. This is a medieval, fortified village with intricate 15th-century timber-framed buildings, nestled in an oxbow river setting. The market has a wide variety of stalls including artists, a potter, jewellers and a leatherworker. Stroll through the cobbled streets and be sure to have your camera ready for this beautiful stop off.
After a delicious lunch board Randle, we enjoy a peaceful cruise along the canal and river Yonne to the village of Accolay, where we moor for the evening.
Dinner on board.
Mailly-la-Ville to Vincelles
After stepping back in time yesterday, today is all about the wine! We begin the day cruising towards the vineyards which will appear above on the hillsides of the Yonne valley. A gourmet lunch on board whets our appetites, ready for this afternoon: Enjoy a private Chablis Grand Cru tour or a tasting in one of the other local wine villages such as Irancy or Chitry.
We return to the Randle for dinner on board.
Vincelles to Auxerre
Our final cruising this morning takes up past open vistas and pretty riverside villages. This is a perfect time to take a cycle or leisurely walk alongside the barge.
After a sumptuous lunch, the stunning views of the 11th to 16th-century cathedral of St Etienne announce our arrival at Auxerre, a prosperous town since Roman times, and the birthplace of Saint Germain.
Auxerre is a beautiful town, a mix of ancient and modern. Cobbled streets, 15th-century buildings sit comfortably beside modern restaurants and shop fronts. Enjoy our private tour of the cathedral and historic centre, or amble at your own pace, as you please. There is so much to see and photograph here. How many spires can you spot? Auxerre is known for its religious history. There are many ancient religious buildings to be discovered, should you wish.
Our Captains's Farewell dinner is hosted in the diminutive restaurant l'Aspérule by chef Takayuki Nagayoshi, previously at the Hotel Georges V, Paris 3* Michelin under the tutelage of Christian Le Squer. The cuisine is delicate, fresh and precise, matching flavours and textures to please both the eye and the palate.
What a fabulous setting in which to look back over our week aboard Randle.
After a delicious breakfast, it is time to say "Au revoir" for your onward private transfer to your Paris hotel, station or airport departure lounge.