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The Classic Nivernais Cruise

Nivernais, France

Reviews for the The Classic Nivernais Cruise

10 of us (5 couples) traveling in 2 boats to celebrate the 60th birthdays for half of the party. Some of us had experienced a narrow boat holiday in the UK, one couple own a small runabout in New Zealand. We were expecting to sample the local food and wine, see a part of France and share the experience.
The relaxed pace of navigating the canal Nivernais, the villages along the way, the great food, friendly lock keepers, sharing stories with others cruising the canal and being extremely lucky with the weather.
4 PAX all experienced sailors with world circumnavigations by all. the trip was exactly what was expected.
this cruise was very relaxing with beautiful scenery and quaint towns to visit. the information in the hand book provided was poor and we believe LeBoat could provide better more up todate information i.e. restaurants, supermarkets, places of interest and detailed maps showing locations and more sights along the route. we researched the areas our selves and found a number of venues that were not noted and made our trip very special. We feel those less experienced and without spoken French would struggle to find such places.
The weather was perfect which helped add to the magnificence of the trip. We rented a Vision 4 boat and it was ready for us on time and in perfect shape. Very neat and tidy and well-appointed. We loved the visual experience of the Nivernais. Each anchorage was special. The villages along the way were very special to experience, either for meals or just walking around. We loved the hours of cycling that all of us were able to do each day, either along the riverbank or through uncrowded villages and secondary roads. We bought fresh produce and meat and stopped at every boulangerie possible to prepare our own stellar meals onboard the Vision. The kitchen was very adequate for preparing elaborate dinners for the six of us. And, the wifi worked perfectly for the people on board who needed to be connected to the work-world. Thank you for that!
We planned our route so we didn't miss much of the special things that the Michelin guide suggested. We actually planned the stops at the markets as well. There were so many surprises each day as well. We had fun exchanging fresh food, clothes, T shirts and hats with the lockmasters. Get off and cycle and see as much as you can.
We were told by Leboat that we could stop at the small villages along the way, walk around and enjoy the shops and cafes. It was not true. No small villages were open, and we were told by other boaters that they have been closed for quite some time. Surely Leboat personnel must have been aware of this, and we are disappointed that we given false information. Only Clamecy, Vermonton, and Auxerre had shops and restaurants open.
After a week traveling through Switzerland by car, we spent a night in stunning Vezelay, and got a taxi ride to Tannay to begin our one-way, one-week cruise north to Migennes. We'd traveled the Canal du Midi with the same friends and our children in 2002, so this was a long-awaited, adults-only return visit to the French canal system. We encountered very little traffic on the water, and the relatively modest 100km distance made for leisurely travel. We spent two nights each in Chatel-Censoir and Auxerre, rather than racing from point to point each day. We loved both towns, as well as Clamecy. Many of the smaller towns seem to be hard-hit by economic troubles, so our dining out options were limited at times, but we loved the entire trip all the same. Lovely, quiet countryside, herons all along the route, peaceful, low-key canal travel, old, old chateaux and farms... all of it.
We did not stray far from the canal/river, and we did not visit any vineyards or tasting rooms. We simply relaxed and enjoyed the scenery and food close by the canal route. Great local wines were available at very reasonable prices (for American wallets) from local groceries, lock keepers and, of course, at every restaurant. We especially loved walking in and around Chatel-Censoir and Auxerre. The side canal to Accolay and Vermenton was a bit of a disappointment, as there were relatively few business operating in either town, but again, the local scenery and available food never let us down. Auxerre's a much bigger town whose three big attractions are the church, cathedral and abbey. It's a great place to just explore. We had a great meal at Poivre et Sel, a place clearly favored by locals, which features an extensive wine list. We toyed with splurging for a high-end meal in Joigny at the end of our cruise, but we opted for a more basic outing, and found a lovely place a short walk from Migennes. If you are looking for a very lively time on the canal, or a lot of canal-side cafes and attractions, the Nivernais and Yonne are probably not the places to go -- at least not in late-June/early-July, but if you want a relaxing, beautiful and stress-free week, by all means, GO.