French Country Waterways' Princess will sail to the Upper Loire Valley in 2011. // © 2011 French Country Waterways
French Country Waterways is returning to the Upper Loire Valley in 2011, deploying its luxury eight-passenger Princess, formerly the private barge of shipping magnate Daniel K. Ludwig, on this itinerary for the first time.
The Princess will sail between Chatillon-sur-Loire and Montargis every Sunday from April 3 through Oct. 30. Highlights of the river cruise include a private cellar tour and wine tasting in the charming village of Sancerre, France; dinner ashore at the Michelin-starred Auberge des Templiers in Les Bezards, France; a visit to the medieval town of Gien, France, a leading center for French faience; and a day trip -- including lunch -- to the Chateau de Chambord, the largest of the Loire Valley chateaux.
The vessel has four suites with king-size beds; a salon with large picture windows and a well-stocked bar; a formal dining room; a separate library; a powder room; and a canopied sundeck for relaxing and al fresco dining.
Onboard, guests enjoy four-course candlelit dinners accompanied by Grand Cru and Premier Cru wines from Burgundy and other major French wine regions. The onboard chef shops in local farmers' markets and local bakeries each morning to provide guests with freshly baked breads and local cheeses, produce, meats and fish. An onshore dinner at a Michelin-starred restaurant; attentive service from a crew fluent in English and French; daily sightseeing excursions and private wine tastings; and time to relax on the sundeck and walk or bicycle along canal towpaths are also included. Hot air ballooning is also an available option for passengers.
Prices for the weekly departures are priced from $5,495 per person, based on double occupancy. The barge is available for individual bookings and for charter by groups of eight to 12 persons. Special room rates are offered at several deluxe hotels in Paris for guests wishing to extend their stay.