Canal barge cruising offers a completely different experience from a river cruise, which covers several rivers in one sailing, and with more than 100 passengers. The canal barge cruise is slower, smaller, and focuses on personalized attention to service.
The Grand Victoria can host four to six guests with six English-speaking crew. We navigate through century-old waterways that traverse the French countryside.
Guests debark on guided tours. Our excursions encompass castles, cathedrals, French markets, and vineyards to taste Burgundy Premier and Grand Cru wines.
The wines offered on board a Grand Victoria cruise are numerous! We work with a local sommelier to provide our guests an exemplary pairing experience with every meal. More than two dozen — all French Burgundy — are selected for our wine cellar after careful tastings by the staff.
Our routes wind through vineyards where guests to can step off the Grand Victoria and taste wines from Village, Premier Cru, and Grand Cru appellations. Some of Burgundy’s best vintages can be tasted in the Côte d’Or, Côte de Beaune, the Côte de Nuits, with excursions to the renowned vineyards Gevrey Chambertin, Pommard, Meursault, and Chassagne Montrachet included in our itineraries.
The Grand Victoria offers lunch ashore at restored Abbaye de la Bussiere in La Bussière-sur-Ouche, once a pilgrimage retreat built in 1131. Today, the Abbaye is now a Relais & Chateaux hotel and Michelin-starred restaurant. On market day in Dijon, we dine at the O’Bareuzai bistro, which offers guests a full day of French experiences.
Our innovative menu infuses the simplicity of classic French cuisine with a modern twist and fresh ingredients. Our chef has created a menu that uses ingredients sourced from the Dijon Market, Grand Fresh Market, and local French bakeries, which is a good indication of the thought put into our gourmet meals. This emphasis on fresh and local ingredients imparts bold flavors into our dishes. Expect to find an excellent selection of meat from New Zealand lamb to Charolais beef (the ultimate item on our fine-dining menu), making for tantalizing meals. Other tempting dishes include scallops, salmon, and sea bass. Meals are paired with a selection from our extensive wine list, boasting an inventory of white and red Premier and Grand Cru Burgundy wine. The food has to be outstanding to compete with the wine! Vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options are available as well.
The gastronomic market in the culinary town of Dijon is a guest favorite. Guests can shadow the Grand Victoria chef at the market in Chalon-sur-Saône on Wednesday morning and shop for the lunch and dinner essentials. Joining the chef for a cooking class in the afternoon is another way to experience our cuisine firsthand in our remodeled demonstration galley.
Quaint Lock Keepers
Many old locks on the burgundy canal waterways are tended by lock keepers, and passing through them on the Grand Victoria becomes a fun and exciting experience for guests. When barges enter a lock, lock keepers race out to crank the lock doors closed, raising or lowering the rushing water levels enough to let the barge cruise through.
Dating back to the 16th century, barging had a different meaning from the luxury travel experience that it's become today. The French countryside's elaborate canal system was developed as a means to transport coal and other goods that were difficult to move on land. History buffs will love the fact that their airy, luxurious barges were once working ships carrying cargo along the same winding waterways.
Leisurely Day Excursions
The canals in France are surrounded by historical towns and in addition to vineyard visits, day excursions include stopping by the old towns and meeting the locals.
Guided tours of old architecture are some of the top highlights of a barge trip. The Grand Victoria guests visit the Hospice de Beaune in the town of Beaune, which was built in 1443 and is one of the finest examples of French 15th-century architecture. For those who prefer to just relax instead of embarking on busy historical excursions, it's wonderful to just sit on the deck and watch the scenery pass you by.