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Waterways of The Yonne, Paris and The Petite Seine by Barge

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4.6 stars(12 reviews)
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Glide along the Seine and its tributaries by barge

7 days From £2,395 per person
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Save 10% on your River Cruise 2023 holiday when you book between 12th November 2022 and midnight 12th December 2022. Call only offer. Call 01904 734078 to claim your discount, quoting reference CRUISE10.

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2023 Tour code: CYR23

About the tour

Glide along the Seine and its tributaries - the Yonne and Loing Rivers - taking in picturesque villages, medieval churches, and lichen-draped forests on this barge cruise. Experience the grandeur of royal French châteaux with visits to Fontainebleau and Vicomte, take in the simple charm of historic towns and their architecture, and admire the beauty of Paris by night, cruising along canals and below bridges that larger ships cannot navigate.

Highlights

What’s included

Itinerary

Day 1 – London and Sens

We depart from London St Pancras on the Eurostar to Paris. Alighting at the Gare du Nord, we transfer by coach to Sens, on the banks of the Yonne River, and board our barge, the MS Deborah. After being welcomed with cocktails, we settle into our cabins before enjoying a 3-course dinner.

Includes
  • Dinner
Day 2 – Sens and Montereau

This morning we embark on a guided tour of Sens, one of the oldest cities in France with a history dating back to 1st century BC. Dotted with impressive and ancient architecture, we see the Gothic cathedral, one of the earliest built in Europe, as sunlight filters through the intricate stained-glass windows. We then take a stroll through the Roman streets and promenades before visiting the vibrant food market, Marché Couvert. This covered market is housed in a pentagonal wooden building with rows of benches that serve as stalls. Hundreds of sellers come here daily with local vegetables, cheese, meat, gingerbread, and honey, and there's some free time to look around and experience a snippet of everyday life in Sens before returning to our barge for lunch.

This afternoon we begin our cruise along the Yonne River, gliding past idyllic hamlets of stone cottages, thick woodlands and lesser-known towns. We reach Montereau-Fault-Yonne, situated at the confluence of the Yonne and Seine Rivers, where we moor for the night. The evening is free to explore Montereau-Fault-Yonne, best remembered as the site of one of Napoleon's last battle in 1814. This quiet French town is a well-kept secret, boasting some excellent cafés, a quaint riverside church, and a number of colourful murals painted on walls across the town. Later, another delicious dinner is served onboard MS Deborah.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 3 – Moret-sur-Loing and Provins

This morning we reach the Loing River, another tributary of the Seine. We continue to Moret-sur-Loing, a picturesque medieval town that lies close to Fontainebleau Forest. We moor here for today. After lunch on board, we set out by coach for Provins, a UNESCO-listed town boasting an impressive 58 historic monuments. We take a guided tour of the city, taking in the medieval charm as well as half-timbered houses dating from the 13th century. Provins is famous for its rose cultivation and produces a wide variety of rose-based food products. We get to sample some of the local rose honey, enjoying its distinctive floral flavours, before returning to our barge in time for dinner.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 4 – Melun and Fontainebleau Palace

We re-join the Seine this morning, making our way to Melun, famous for its Brie de Melun cheese. After lunch on board, we travel by coach to the Château of Fontainebleau. Spread over many acres of land and flaunting an elegant horseshoe stairway, it was used by French royal families between the 12th and 19th centuries as a hunting lodge. Set on the edge of Fontainebleau Forest, French monarchs would ride out to hunt its resident wildlife; deer, wild boars, and rabbits.

Over the years, the palace has been home to a variety of distinguished residents, with each inhabitant putting their unique mark on the building. During our tour, we see Marie Antoinette's unique Turkish boudoir, elegantly painted white with inlaid gold, and Napoleon III's imperial theatre. One of the most impressive rooms in the palace, it features 3 levels of plush seating, an ornate chandelier and a stage with hand-painted sets. There's also a ballroom that displays Italian frescoes and intricate woodwork from the 16th century, while hundreds of acres of parkland surround the Château, punctuated with magnificent sculptures. This evening we return to Melun, where our barge remains for the night.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 5 – Évry and Barbizon

After a relaxing morning sailing the Seine, we arrive in Évry on the outskirts of Paris. Flaunting a contemporary architectural style, with red brick buildings dominating the town centre, its main attraction is its cathedral. Constructed in the shape of a cylinder, this is the only cathedral in France to be built in the 20th century. From here, our coach transports us to picturesque Barbizon, known as the painter's village. A settlement that began with a single grocery store grew to become the birthplace of the Barbizon School of Art, a precursor of French Impressionism. You are free to explore the charming village on your own, and one of the main attractions here is the Auberge Ganne. Once the meeting place of all the resident artists, it now houses a museum exhibiting the life and work of local artists. Perhaps, visit the studios of Theodore Rousseau and Jean-François Millet, which have been preserved in their memory and now host temporary exhibitions. Returning to Evry, tonight we enjoy the captain's gala dinner onboard.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 6 - Vaux-le-Vicomte and Paris cruise

This morning, we set out by coach to explore another stately château, Vaux-le-Vicomte. Built between 1656 and 1661 by King Louis XIV, it is considered to be a masterpiece of French Baroque style, while its extensive grounds were designed by Andre Le Notre who later designed the gardens at Versailles. Opulent tapestries, paintings, and chandeliers adorn the interiors, while the gardens boast beautifully laid out flowerbeds and elaborate fountains. We take a guided tour, discovering the fascinating history of this royal residence before returning to MS Deborah.

This afternoon we begin cruising towards Paris, reaching the capital by evening time. Our small vessel takes us along narrow canals and beneath low bridges, revealing the romantic beauty of the illuminated city (dependant on water levels). We admire the brightly lit Eiffel Tower as well as life on the French capital's 2 banks, experiencing the city of love from a different perspective.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 7 – Paris and London

After breakfast, we disembark for the final time, transferring to the station where we board the Eurostar back to London St Pancras.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner

Additional information

Departure times

Provisional departure and return times, where available, can be found together with our dates and prices by clicking on the 'Prices & Availability' button. We write to all booked customers approximately 10 weeks prior to the start of their tour to advise the exact departure and return time for their particular group.

Mobility information

Due to the nature of our tours they are generally unsuitable for those with restricted mobility. If you’d like to discuss any particular holiday with us in this respect, then please don’t hesitate to call us.

Train

Eurostar

Ship

MS Deborah

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Reviews

4.6 stars4.6 / 5 · 12 reviews

  1. 5 stars
    (8)
  2. 4 stars
    (3)
  3. 3 stars
    (1)
  4. 2 stars
    (0)
  5. 1 star
    (0)

Avid Reader

4 stars

Submitted 23/Sep

It was a wonderful trip. Food was excellently cooked and presented. The whole crew were wonderful and did their utmost to keep us happy, surpassing their remit on many occasions. The excursions were interesting and well organised. My only gripe is that we did not have any information about what we were seeing when we sailed through the Seine.

Collected by Trustpilot

PCS

5 stars

Submitted 23/Sep

A good trip on a comfortable barge with an excellent crew and good food and wine. Only quibble was the variable quality of the guides - one excellent (fortunately we had her for two visits),one OK, and two not so good

Collected by Trustpilot

Julie Lane

5 stars

Submitted 22/Sep

An amazing experience. The crew were most attentive, caring for all passenger needs/requests. Nothing was too much trouble. A total of 16 passengers who all helped to make the trip most enjoyable. The food was a gastronomic delight. Napkins folded in different designs, by Monika, at lunch and dinner. Monika also gave a demonstration on "how to fold". A 3 or 4 course lunch, plus 3 or 4 course dinner, all served with wines suggested to go with the meal. Cheese from France was served daily, 2 different varieties for each serving. Wonderful desserts, especially the "Burning of Deborah". My birthday was during the trip and was made into a memorable occasion by the crew and fellow passengers. A different cocktail served every day and various spirits and non alcoholic drinks as requested. The Barge and cabins were cleaned to a very high standard. The excursions were interesting and the local guides were very knowledgeable. I was able to sign the book of condolences in memory of our Queen in a Church during an excursion. Thank you to the crew of RMS Deborah, especially Monika, who was loved by all and Great Rail Journeys.

Collected by Trustpilot

S Baksi

5 stars

Submitted 21/Sep

Intriguing shore visits of pleasing variety - chateaux, rural art, Roman and medieval images in the towns; beautiful cruising - the trees, the water birds, the riverside homes, the rural views and grain silos; wonderful hospitality from the crew - comfortable cabin, excellent dining, expert captaining, many personal touches. What a lovely week.

Collected by Trustpilot

R Tyte

5 stars

Submitted 21/Sep

The barge, its wonderful staff and the cruise and outings were all fantastic!.

Collected by Trustpilot

Mr Kerry Schofield

4 stars

Submitted 21/Sep

Our Loire Canal trip was cancelled and GR offered this alternative at short notice. TBH a bit too much Chateau for us but as ever, food and service was exemplary. Company was good, just 14 other guests. So we need to do the Loire trip now as planned for 2020!

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Waterways of The Yonne, Paris and The Petite Seine by Barge

Glide along the Seine and its tributaries by barge

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