An Intimate European Waterways Loire Valley Barge Cruise on the Renaissance

A week long Loire Valley barge cruise with European Waterways was a truly relaxing and slow paced journey with intimate service, gourmet food and wine, and visits to out of the ordinary sights in the French countryside.

A Loire valley barge cruise on the Renaissance

Last Updated on 11/01/23 by Rose Palmer

Before there were planes, trains and automobiles, France developed a vast network of canals that were used to transport goods from one part of the country to another. These canals connected to the major rivers and also to the Mediterranean and the Atlantic. The canal network made it easy to move all manner of goods from one part of the country to the other, and in particular, allowed Parisians to easily taste the delicacies from all corners of their realm.

Today, the canals and their many locks are used primarily for recreation.  European Waterways expertly manages a fleet of 12 luxury barges that ply the many canals of France on a variety of itineraries. I had already experienced a wonderful cruise along the Burgundy Canal on the La Belle Epoque and was quite familiar with this unique way of touring France’s less visited countryside.

Our cruise on the Canal de Briare started in Montargis
Our cruise on the Canal de Briare started in Montargis

I was really looking forward to another barge cruise, this time in the Loire valley on the Renaissance, European Waterways’ flagship vessel. Our cruise would take us through the heart of the Loire Valley on the  Canal de Briare, one of France’s oldest canals which was built in the early 1600’s.

She may have been a beast of burden in her previous life, but in her current incarnation, the Renaissance was now beautifully appointed and modern. And as the flagship for European Waterways, she and her crew certainly set a high bar in all aspects.

European Waterway's Renaissance barge cruising on the Canal de Briare
European Waterway’s Renaissance barge cruising on the Canal de Briare

My European Waterways Loire Valley barge cruise

Sunday – Day 1 on the Renaissance – Montargis to Amilly

Hadrian, the captain of the Renaissance barge, picked us up at the Westminster Hotel in Paris around 2:30 and drove us about an hour and a half to the small city of Montargis where our barge was waiting. Here, the crew greeted us with warm smiles, champagne, and a tray of delicious canapés- a wonderful beginning to what I knew would be a wonderful week.

While the crew prepped the barge to start our first afternoon of slow cruising, I explored what would be my floating home for the next 6 days.  The barge can accommodate up to eight passengers – however, on this cruise there were only 4 guests total, the same as the number of crew on board.

A special welcome aboard message
A special welcome aboard message

Besides captain Hadrian, we had chef Hannah whose delicious culinary creations kept us really well fed all week. Hostess Inma saw to all of our smallest needs and kept our cabins spotless. And Brian was the captain’s right hand on deck and also our guide for the various excursions.

While the crew moved our luggage, Inma introduced us to the various spaces on the barge’s two decks. The top deck held the public spaces, both inside and outside. The indoor living area had a bright and airy feel with lots of natural light that was reflected by the light colored walls and floor. The space was elegantly appointed with a red leather couch, comfy chairs and a coffee table with plenty of reading material and vases of fresh flowers.

The dining area included a large round table that could seat 8 people and a bar with plenty of top shelf drink options or sodas, juices, and coffee, depending on your preference. The space felt both elegant and comfy at the same time.

The outside deck had another table and chairs for dining al fresco under an overhanging roof, 4 lounge chairs, and the ultimate luxury, a hot tub. My favorite details though were the planter boxes hanging from the railings, filled with fragrant herbs and blooming annuals.

Herbs and flowers decorate the railing baskets on the Renaissance barge.
Herbs and flowers decorate the railing baskets on the Renaissance barge.

The lower deck of the barge held the four guest staterooms which were also bright and quite spacious. The rooms can be set up with one king sized bed or two twin beds based on your preference. There were also two chairs, a dresser, and a large wardrobe – more than enough storage space for a week’s worth of clothes for two people.

The en suite bathroom was also roomy – bigger than what I have experienced in some European hotels.  It was outfitted with L’Occitane toiletries, bathrobes and slippers, and my favorite, a heated towel rack.  And best of all, the shower was big enough for my very tall husband.

The bathroom in my cabin on the Renaissance barge
The bathroom in my cabin on the Renaissance

Other cabin details included an AC which was a nice option since the port holes cannot always be opened to get cooler air. The outlets also had USB ports which made it easier to charge cell phones. And there was a TV and DVD player for those looking for other distractions, though we did not use them. We also had bottled water (plain and sparkling in recyclable glass bottles) which was replenished each day.

While I didn’t spend a lot of time in the cabin, it was certainly roomy so that two people did not trip over each other. And best of all, the ceiling was high enough so that my 6 foot 7 inch husband could easily stand up straight without hitting his head.

Once we were on board, Captain Hadrian didn’t waste any time getting our cruising started. The barge moved slowly along the canal as we passed under the many bridges in Montargis. The town is nicknamed “Little Venice of the Gatinais” because of its 131 bridges that cross the Canal de Briare and the River Loing.

It didn’t take long for me to feel my body and spirit adjust to the slow pace of the moving barge. As the wooded scenery passed slowly by, I could feel my heart rate and my breathing slow down to the pace of the boat and a sense of calm and peace quickly prevailed. I knew that for the next week, I had no more worries and all my needs and wants would be expertly taken care of.

It was time to just enjoy the journey.

A beautiful afternoon cruise on the canal de Briare
A beautiful afternoon cruise on the Canal de Briare

For the next few hours, we moved slowly down the canal, passed through our first locks and all too soon, reached our mooring point at Amilly. There was just time for a quick walk before sunset and our exceptional dinner – the first of many.

Dinner menu:

First course: Smoked salmon mousse

Second course: Magret canard with red currant sauce

Cheese course: Chabichou, morbier and forme d’ambert

Desert: Roasted peaches with white chocolate and raspberry ripple ice cream

Wines by Mercury and Margaux

Cheese course
Cheese course

Monday – Day 2 on the Renaissance – Amilly to Montbouy

My second day on the Renaissance dawned bright and sunny. Breakfast included a cooked to order dish, but I was quite content with a fresh and crispy croissant and freshly squeezed orange juice out on the deck.

This morning was another leisurely cruise along the canal with time to walk or bike along the towpath. Biking for a mile or two and then catching the boat at one of the locks was easy. The trail was flat and peaceful with an occasional biker passing by and offering a friendly “bonjour”. I hoped that my biking worked off a few of the calories from that day’s meals, but I think it was just wishful thinking.

Lunch was enjoyably al fresco as we continued cruising.

Lunch menu:

First course: French onion soup

Second course: Quiche lorraine with potatoe salad

Desert: White chocolate cheesecake

Wines by Ladoix and Mercury

Excursion to Cheteau de la Boussiére

In the afternoon we had a taste of our first excursion – literally. A short drive took us to the Chateau de La Boussiére where we started with a cooking demo in the castle’s conservatory by our own Chef Hannah. She showed us how easy it was to make a versatile and fragrant Sauce Diane with mushrooms, onions, cream, and brandy. Of course, this included a sampling of the finished product.

Chef Hannah cooking demonstration
Chef Hannah demonstrates how to make a Dianne sauce

For the next few hours, we explored the chateau and its grounds with our excellent guide Bryan. If a French castle ever looked like it belonged in a fairy tale, this one certainly did.

The first fortification was built here in the 12th century within a Gallo-Roman pond, but the version we saw today was a result of a 16the century rebuild followed by a 19th century restoration. The chateau is nicknamed “The Fisherman’s Castle” for its extensive collections of historic fishing paraphernalia.

Some of the fishing paraphernalia at the Chateau de la Boussiere
Some of the fishing paraphernalia at the Chateau de la Boussiere

It was a pleasure to tour the beautifully restored public rooms with their period furniture and décor. I found the kitchen especially interesting with the huge 17th century fireplace and also the humongous iron stove from the 19th century with its many individual baking compartments. With my high tech kitchen appliances, I can’t imagine cooking in this kitchen for 40-50 people each day.

My favorite part of the castle visit though was the beautiful French style kitchen garden. These gardens were first designed by the same landscape designer that developed the Versaille gardens.

The 4 acre garden was put in place to feed about 50 people and has the typical French formality. Six large rectangles are outlined with low boxwood hedges and flowering perennials and roses, while inside each rectangle an orderly geometric planting of vegetables, herbs and fruits provides the necessary foodstuffs for the estate.

Today, this vast garden is still lovingly cared for and nourished daily by the Countess de Chasseval. In fact we chanced to meet her as she was weeding, deadheading and picking raspberries and strawberries in her beloved garden. The Chasseval family have owned this estate since the French Revolution, and while her adult children bring the business of owning a historic castle into the 21st century, the countess is content to bike to the gardens each day and tend to her much loved plantings.

the kitchen garden at Chateau de la Boussiere
The Countess de Chasseval tends to her beloved garden

From the castle, a short drive took us back “home” to our boat in Montbouy where refreshing cocktails and another gourmet dinner awaited.

Dinner menu:

First course: Seabream tartare

Second course: Salmon with hollandaise and white asparagus

Cheese course: Couonnede de touraine, tomme de savoie, blue de chevre

Desert: Tarte au citron

Wines: Savigny le beaune, Moulin au vent

Tuesday – Day 3 on the Renaissance – Montbouy to Rogny Les Sept Ecluses

Renaissance moored in Montbouy
Renaissance moored in Montbouy

Excursion to Montargis

Our day started with a morning exploration of the lovely town of Montargis, often referred to as “Venice of the Gatinais” because of its many picturesque canals crossed by 131 bridges.

Canalas and flowers in Montargis
Canalas and flowers in Montargis

Bryan started our tour with the Montargis Castle which stands atop a hill dominating the town. Two of the 14th century towers and some of the defensive walls are still visible even though the French revolution destroyed much of the medieval architecture. The reconstructed buildings now house a school.

From the old we continued downhill to the somewhat newer 15th century Town Hall with its beautiful rose gardens, and then on to the Church of Sainte Madeleine with its airy, high ceilings supported by walls of exquisite stained glass windows.

Inside the church of St. Madeleine in Montargis
Inside the church of St. Madeleine

The highlight of our Montargis tour though was a private chocolate tasting at the confectionary house of Mazet. The oldest confection in France was developed here in 1636, a perfect melding of toasted almond and caramel called a Praslines. The secret recipe for Mazet’s trademark treat is still used today.

Mazer store in Montargis
The Mazet store in Montargis
Inside the Mazet confectionary shop in Montargis
Inside the Mazet confectionary shop

Our private tasting took us through the history of Mazet delicacies. We started with the Praslines and then moved on to various other chocolate and nut candies developed over the years. The experience finished with a delicate choux pastry filled with a Praslines infused filling and topped with crushed Praslines – the combination was the most delicious flavor explosion I have ever tasted.

A selection of chocolates at Mazet for our tasting
A selection of chocolates at Mazet for our tasting
choosing a chocolate to taste at Mazet
So many good choices

Our morning in Montargis ended with a little time to explore the town and its photogenic, flower filled canals, and half timbered houses on our own. All these beautiful flower displays have given Montargis a “Ville Fleurie” award. Much like Michelin stars, this award recognizes towns that beautify their public spaces with plants.

We were back on the barge in time for more tasty lunch dishes accompanied by a fine rosé wine.

Lunch menu:

First course: Ham and melon salad

Second course: Cod with ratatouille and mixed greens

Desert: Brie

Wine: Rose Aspras

As we enjoyed lunch, Captain Hadrian set off down the Briare Canal for another afternoon of slow cruising. It was tempting to take a nap on deck and let the gentle movement of the barge lull me to sleep. But since this part of the canal had another good, long stretch of towpath, I chose to expend a little more energy and work off some of that morning’s calories with another bike ride.

It didn’t seem long before we reached our “port” for the night at Rogny Les Sept Ecluses. Before dinner there was time to discover the “sept ecluses” or the “seven locks” that were part of the original Briare canal built in 1642. In the late 1800’s, a set of newer and more efficient locks were put in place and the old locks were designated a National Historic Monument.

Dinner was once again a wonderful feast. The onion and goat cheese tart was one of my favorite dishes of the week and the coq au vin (chicken in wine sauce) was divine. Chef Hannah shares her coq au van recipe here.

Dinner menu:

First course: Red onion and goat cheese tart

Second course: Coq au vin

Cheese course: Chevre caeur de berry, beauforl L blue d’auvergne

Desert: Fondant au chocolat

Wines: Beaune bastion, Pernand vergelesses

Wednesday – Day 4 on the Renaissance – Rogny Les Sept Ecluses to La Gazonne

This morning dawned wet and rainy, but I had no worries. The Renaissance supplied plenty of large umbrellas for our use and the transfer van was parked only a few feet from the barge, so I did not get in the least bit wet as we heading to another unique destination.

Excursion to Chateau de Rosa Bonheur

Today’s excursion took us to the home and studio of artist Rosa Bonheur. Rosa was internationally renowned, and the best know female artist in the mid 19th century, though time has dulled history’s memory of her. Today, her talent is getting rediscovered, and our tour of the Chateau de Rosa Bonheur showed us why.

Rosa Bonheur Home and Studio museum
Rosa Bonheur Home and Studio museum

Rosa was born in 1822 into an artistic family. Her father was a landscape and portrait painter and started her artistic training. Her brother Auguste and sister Juliette also became painters and her sister Isidore was a talented sculptor.

Rosa was particularly drawn to animals, and she spent her life learning their anatomy in detail so she could draw and paint them realistically. Her most famous work is The Horse Fair, a huge canvas finished in 1855 (96 inches x 200 inches, hanging at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York)  realistically depicts horses being sold at a horse market in Paris.

A display shows some of Rosa'Bonheur's sketches and animal models
A display shows some of Rosa Bonheur’s sketches and animal models

She regularly went to a horse market for a year and a half to study and draw draft horses, and those sketches served as the basis for her paintings. With the money she earned from selling “The Horse Fair” she was able to purchase the chateau which became her home and studio for the next 40 years until her death in 1899.

We learned all about Rosa and her pioneering lifestyle as we stood surrounded by her light filled studio. This space, mostly untouched since she worked here more than 100 years ago, was filled with a collection of items that represent her life and loves. A larger than life painting of her dominated one corner and added to the feeling that she never left her beloved studio.

The museum also had a lovely tea room serving delicacies prepared by a talented young chef. For our small group however, a special luncheon was prepared and served in what had been Rosa Bonheur’s private salon. Fine linens, delicate china, and sparkling silverware were a fitting canvas for the colorful and incredibly delicious dishes we were served. It truly was art on a plate for all the senses.

Lunch menu:

Apperitif: Coupe de Champagne – Maison Mennetrier

Starter: Carpacio de Betterave (colorful beet salad)

Main course: Mignon de Porc aux girolles (pork tenderloin wtih mushrooms)

Cheese course

Dessert : Rocher de Dames ( meringue with cream and berries)

Wine: Cheverny

By the time we headed back to the barge in the early afternoon, the rain clouds were dissipating. Our lovely hostess Inma was waiting for us with another refreshing (non-alcoholic) drink, and, just in case we were hungry, some light snacks.

Our afternoon cruise started with a close up view of the historic seven locks. Then we went through the new series of locks.

Cruising on fron of the seven locks on the Briare Canal
Cruising in front of the seven locks on the Briare Canal

At this point in the Briare Canal we had reached the high point of the canal and now we were starting to go downhill. During the first part of the cruise, we entered a lock which was then filled with water, raising us up to the next level. Now, we entered a lock already filled with water, which was then emptied, lowering us down to the level of the canal.

This afternoon’s cruise was a short one and it didn’t take long to reach our scenic stop for the night at La Gazonne. Here, the canal passes through a series of small lakes and our berth for the night was surrounded by water and a wooded shoreline. It was a beautiful and peaceful spot to relax for the evening and enjoy another wonderful French meal.

on Gazone Lake
Parked for the night on Gazonne Lake

Dinner menu:

First course: Leek mimosa

Second course: Bouillabaisse

Cheese course: Lagres and ossau iraty

Desert: Poached pineapple with coconut ice cream

Wines: Riesling, Pinot noir

Bouillabaisse that tasted as good as it looked

Thursday – Day 5 on the Renaissance – La Gazonne to Briare

After the somewhat busy day the day before, it was nice to have a leisurely morning lie-in and a late breakfast. Chef Hannah offered a daily cooked to order dish for breakfast, but I was always quite content with a fresh, crispy croissant, fresh squeezed orange juice and a cup of tea. After all, another delicious lunch was only a few hours away.

my croissant for breakfast
My favorite French breakfast

The morning’s leisurely cruise took us to the town of Briare, for which the canal is named. I continued to be amazed at the skill with which Captain Hadrian piloted us through each lock. He usually had only a few inches to spare on each side, yet he always managed to guide us straight and true into the middle of the lock, an amazing feat considering he was steering from the back of the barge.

Captain hadrian steering the Renaissance barge
Captain Hadrian expertly steers the Renaissance barge

Today’s delicious lunch was al fresco again as we enjoyed both the meal and the quiet countryside sliding by.

Al fresco lunch on the Renaissance barge
Enjoying lunch al fresco
Chef Hannah on the Renaissance Barge
Chef Hannah serves us our soup

Lunch menu:

First course: Gazpacho

Second course: Filet mignon (of pork) with morrel risotto

Desert: Clafoutis

Wine: Alchimie, Alaric

Excursion to Perriere Winery and the town of Sancerre

This afternoon’s excursion was so very divinely French. A short drive took us to the La Perriére Winery in the Sancerre wine producing region of the Loire Valley. This was a perfect picture book winery with all the elements you would see in a glossy magazine add.

The winery sits inside a vast natural stone cave set inside a large hill. On the hillside above the cave are 80 acres of perfectly maintained grapevines. Each manicured row marches uniformly down the hill while high atop the adjacent hill, the picturesque medieval town of Sancerre holds court over its namesake wine producing region.

Our guide Ava took us through each part of the cave and each step of the winemaking process. Domaine La Perriére produces mostly classic Sancerre wines from Sauvignon Blanc grapes along with some reds and roses from Pino Noir grapes. The whites are processed and aged solely in large steel tanks. The reds however undergo a final maturation in oak casks which are stored deep in the heart of the cave, a space that has been used for this purpose for centuries.

The winery tour ended with a tasting of a few of La Perriére’s vintages. This tasting was an interesting study in the effect of terroir on the flavors of the final product. The soils in which the winery’s grapes grow have different underlying characteristics – some areas have more flinty clay while others have more lime. I could taste the different underlying minerality in the wine that was made in the same way but where the grapes were exposed to the different terroir conditions.

Wine tasting at Domaine La Perriere
Wine tasting at Domaine La Perriere

From the winery, we drove to the town of Sancerre and explored its quaint streets and views over the valley with our barge guide Bryan. In 2021 Sancerre was voted “France’s favorite village” and as we explored this quaint town with him it was easy to see why.

Sancerre’s 13th century character was still visible in the narrow, winding streets and its many preserved medieval buildings. From the heights of the town, the surrounding landscape was a peaceful patchwork of vineyards and farmland. And as is befitting a town that has given its name to a specific wine appellation, there were plenty of tasting rooms to try the local vintages.

The Briare Aqueduct

Back at the barge there was still time before dinner to discover the beautiful Briare aqueduct. At this point in its journey, the Loire River was quite wide and shallow at some points. The aqueduct is a long bridge with a channel of water built over the Loire River that allows the barges to pass easily over the river.

The aqueduct was built in the 1890’s, with the masonry abutments engineered by Gustav Eiffel who built the Eiffel Tower in Paris. This almost half mile long aqueduct held the title of longest aqueduct for a little over 100 years.

The facts however to do nothing to describe the delicate beauty of this long steel structure. It may have to be strong enough to support both the water and the boats that cross over it, but along with function there is also form.

Whimsical dragons decorate the large light posts at each entrance to the aqueduct. The design of the steel framework, the railings and the light posts hint at the Art Nouveau style that was just coming into vogue at the time this bridge was built.

The Briare Aqueduct is just as beautiful at night
The Briare Aqueduct is just as beautiful at night

The day ended with yet one more wonderful meal

Dinner menu:

First course: Sole chablisienne

Second course: Loin of rabbit with whole grain mustard sauce

Cheese course: Pouligny st pierre, chorouce, bleu de causses

Desert: Spiced poached pear

Wines: Condrieu, Chateauneuf du papa

Friday – Day 6 on the Renaissance – Briare to Chatillon su Loire

Our last full day on the Renaissance barge was already here – but oh what a wonderful day it was. The morning started with a shopping trip at the local market in the town of Briare with our chef Hannah. We were shopping for items for both lunch and dinner.

I love French markets. Not only do they have fresh, colorful  produce, but there were cheese mongers, butchers’ stalls, and baked good vendors. Hannah took time to explain the different delicacies that we were looking at and asked for our input on what we wanted to try.

Before heading back to the barge, we stopped by the beautiful Eglise Saint- Etienne de Briare. The church was decorated with delicate mosaics both inside and out.

Eglise Saint- Etienne de Briare
Eglise Saint- Etienne de Briare
roof detail of Eglise Saint- Etienne de Briare
Roof mosaic detail on Eglise Saint- Etienne de Briare
Inside Eglise Saint- Etienne de Briare
Inside Eglise Saint- Etienne de Briare

Crossing the Briare Aqueduct

Once we were back on board the Renaissance, Captain Hadrian started up the engines and headed us toward the Briare Aqueduct. We went slowly so that we could savor both the crossing and the glass of champagne that Inma offered us to toast this experience.

Approaching the Briare Aqueduct on the Renaissance barge
Approaching the Briare Aqueduct on the Renaissance barge

Once again, Hadrian showed his skill in piloting the barge as we passed through the aqueduct – he had only a few inches clearance on each side, yet he made it all look effortless.

It's a tight fit as the barge cruises the Briare Aqueduct
It’s a tight fit as the barge cruises the Briare Aqueduct

As we continued the cruise to our final stop for the week, we enjoyed another al fresco lunch. Hannah put together a colorful and super tasty buffet of all the delicious items we had purchased at the Briare market that morning. This was authentic French charcuterie at its best.

Lunch menu:

First course: Market buffet

Cheese: Crottin chavignol, dome de vezelay

Wine: Sancerre white and red

A delicious and colorful buffet lunch
A delicious and colorful buffet lunch
More salad and cheese for lunch
More salad and cheese for lunch
A colorful plate too pretty to eat
A colorful plate too pretty to eat

Excursion to Chateau de Ratilly

That afternoon’s excursion took us on a tour of the Chateau de Ratilly, a castle that looked like it had not changed since it was built in the 13th century. With its intact towers, drawbridge and surrounding moat it looked exactly like a storybook castle out of my imagination.

Over the centuries, the chateau had many owners and managed to stay mostly true to its original design. In 1951, artists Jeanne and Norbert Pierlot purchase the chateau with the dream of turning it into a pottery workshop and an artistic instruction and exhibition space. Their dream succeeded and thrived, and today, these ancient stone walls are a backdrop for all manner of creative events, including art exhibitions, musical performances, and art film screenings.

The dovecote at Chateau de Ratilly
One of the towers at Chateau de Ratilly was used as a dovecote – a home for pigeons

Our tour took us all around the castle, both inside and out. Part of the building is still used for making ceramics, and we also had a pottery demonstration by one of the resident artists.

Pottery demonstrations at Chateau de Ratilly
Pottery demonstrations at Chateau de Ratilly

Back on board the barge the crew awaited us with a lovely surprise – a wonderful musical performance by the B’Yo Jazz Trio. For an hour we listened to jazz classics, sung in both English and French, while sipping wine and nibbling snacks.

Jazz performance on the Renaissance
Jazz performance on the Renaissance

To cap off this last day and this memorable cruise, Hannah outdid herself for our special farewell Captain’s Dinner with outstanding presentation and flavors. We finished the evening with convivial conversations aided by all this wonderful food and wine.

The Renaissance crew wishing us well at the Captain's dinner
The Renaissance crew wishing us well at the Captain’s dinner (left to right, Bryan, Hadrian, Hannah, Inma)
Starting with delicious canapes
Starting with delicious canapes

Dinner menu:

First course: Cheese souffle

Second course: Fillet of Charolais beef with spinach, celeriac puree, mange tout, fondant potatoes and port sauce

Cheese course: Valdancay, comte, roquefort

Desert: Chocolate delice

Wines: Chablis Grand Cru, Charmes Chambertin Grand Cru

Chese souffle in phyllo
Cheese souffle in phyllo
Beef fillet main course
Beef fillet main course

Saturday – Saying good bye to the Renaissance

Is it possible for a week to go by slowly and quickly at the same time? Each day was an experience of immersive slow travel at its best, yet the whole week went by much too quickly.

This morning we had to say goodbye to the crew, who by now felt more like family. A quick 90 minute drive took us back to Paris where my husband and I continued our adventures to Strasbourg and the Alsace region of France.

A lovely good bye thank you note from the Renaissance crew
A lovely good bye thank you note from the Renaissance crew

Even though this was my second European Waterways cruise and I knew what to expect, I was still blown away by the level of quality and the attention to detail that I experienced. The food, the wine, the excursions, the barge environment, the attentive service – it was all perfect.

Thank you Hadrian, Hannah, Inma, and Bryan for once again making my European Waterways barge cruise one of my most memorable travel experiences – ever!

I hope this in depth review has inspired you to give barge cruising a try.

If you want to learn more about my barge cruise experiences, check out my podcast interview on Big Blend Radio and the corresponding You Tube and magazine article:

Podcast – Barge Cruising With European Waterways

You Tube – Barge Cruising With European Waterways

Big Blend Magazine article – Why A Barge Cruise Should be on Your Bucket List – Vacation Station Magazine : Barge Cruising With European Waterways

You can also read more on my blog post for European Waterways:

A Perfect Barge Cruise is All About the Details

Or, listen to another podcast about my Loire Valley barge cruising experience:

Cruising the Canal de Briare and the Loire Valley of France


Links to all my cruising content, including all my other European Waterways cruises, can be found on my Experience – Cruising page.


Please note that my week on the Renaissance was hosted by European Waterways. All opinions and content are my own.


Other luxury cruising stories I’ve written:

Cruising the Burgundy Canal on European Waterways’ La Belle Epoque: My France Canal Cruise – Quiet Luxury in the French countryside

Cruising through the Panama Canal on the Ruby Princess: Living Like Royalty On a Princess Cruise – A Ruby Princess Review With Photos

A unique small ship sailing experience through the Greek Isles: Release Your Inner Jackie O On A Luxury Sailing Holiday In Greece

Barge cruising in Italy with European Waterways: European Waterways La Bella Vita Cruise Review – Discovering Italy on a Luxury Barge Cruise


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