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  • 'GOLDEN ODYSSEY'

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  • Sample Itineraries
    Please note that shown below are only a sample of the many itineraries, which may be tailored to the interests of your party.

    For example, there is the River Leie, whose verdant banks meander through the countryside that made famous the Latem School of painting, which grew from St. Maartens Latem, near Ghent. Nearby is the spectacular Ooidonk castle, a beautiful reminder of the Spanish occupation of ages past.

    For contemporary art lovers the active art scene in the bustling city of Antwerp is as famous as its diamond merchants and haute couture. A limousine ride to Knokke-Heist on the seacoast will put you in play in the renowned casino, decorated with paintings of Magritte.

    The ancient city of Leuven, with its incomparable Stadhuis, or city hall. The battlefields of two wars and their moving memorials of the tens of thousands who died in Flanders fields are not far away, Ballooning and sand yachting are two of the more esoteric sports available in the province of West Flanders.

    If antique hunting is your interest, this area is full of an overwhelming selection of antique shops, from kitsch to matchless antiquities, as well as some fine Oriental carpet shops. A week or ten days on a slow boat is a perfect adjunct to an extended Continental vacation. The choices are yours to make. It is a wonderful region of Europe, a virtually undiscovered treasure trove, and only the beginning of our European Odyssey.

    CHAMPAGNE ITINERARY
    Extensive cruising from the Château of Fontainebleau via Paris to Reims in the heart of the Champagne
    Cruise route map
    (Click to enlarge)

    DAY ONE—Board your yacht in Fontainebleau, and leave the world behind with a glass of champagne as you become familiar with the amenities aboard. After settling into your cabin, there is ample time for a stroll around this beautiful Chateau town before returning the first of what will be a series of memorable dinners. Perhaps end the day in the spa pool before retiring to your stateroom.

    DAY TWO—Breakfast, and, if you wish, a visit to the Chateau of Fontainebleau, or directly underway for a cruise to Paris, a voyage of some sixty kilometres. Lunch will be whilst you cruise, and mooring for the night will be in the heart of Paris, near La Bastille. The attractions of this city are legendary; and having one’s yacht moored here is a unique experience.

    DAY THREE—Breakfast as we cruise through the Paris to Meaux, renowned for its gastronomy, its Brie cheese and its mustard. Meaux was made famous by Maurice Chevalier and its pretty streets were the inspiration for the impressionists Monet, Renoir, and Sisley. Lunch in a shore side restaurant, and dinner aboard.

    DAY FOUR—Cruise the quiet River Marne to Chateau Thierry, stopping along the way for lunch on deck or a picnic ashore. After arrival, visit the chateau, which has some fine examples of sixteenth century furniture and objets d’art. Dinner aboard and a quiet night

    DAY FIVE—A somewhat long cruise to Epernay, through the beautiful countryside of the Champagne district. There will be ample opportunities to sample the smaller producers, and we will end the day in Epernay, where if desired we may visit the caves of Moet and Chandon. A balloon trip over the countryside is always a possibility, either before or after dinner aboard.

    DAY SIX—Cruise to Reims, passing through more of the verdant, vineyard-quilted countryside of Champagne. In Reims, we may visit more champagne producers and learn more about this delicate sparkling wine, and its qualities, which differ so much from district to district. Naturally the Cathedral of Reims, perhaps the most beautiful in the world, is always an option. Perhaps a visit to the monastery where Dom Perignon discovered “la methode Champenoise”.

    DAY SEVEN—A leisurely breakfast, perhaps on deck, and time to visit anything missed yesterday before being returned by limousine to your point of origin.
    FLANDERS (BELGIUM) ITINERARY
    An extensive and ambitious cruise across Flanders
    Cruise route map
    (Click to enlarge)

    DAY ONE—A chauffeured car will come to your hotel in Brussels from where it is but a short drive to Golden Odyssey moored in the beautiful Flemish town of Mechelen where, after a champagne reception on board and settling into your staterooms, this thirteenth century town awaits a walking exploration. Perhaps you will be favoured to enjoy a concert from the town carillon, since Mechelen is the home of the world famous school of the “beiardeeren” or bell ringers, before returning to aperitifs and leisurely dining aboard for your first taste of Golden Odyssey cuisine.

    DAY TWO— Breakfast and lunch while underway to the fascinating and historic old city of Ghent, where we will arrive late in the afternoon, having had a long lazy cruise up the Schelde River. We wend our way through the city, and moor at our lovely green mooring place, on the banks of the River Leie, the “Golden River”, so called because of its associations with flax and the riches of Gent. There will be time for a stroll into the town to whet your appetite for further exploration on the morrow. Cocktails, a marvellous dinner, perhaps a glass of cognac in the spa pool before bed, or, if you are ambitious, a taste of nightlife in Gent.

    DAY THREE— Awaken to a new day; feed the ducks that will come to visit, and, after breakfast, an exploration of the vibrant and historic city of Gent, whose origin is seventh century, and offers such rich and diverse panoply of incomparable architectural vistas that the senses reel. This even before one has time to begin to take in the wonderful shops, taverns, art, and other attractions. One absolute must is viewing the van Eyck altarpiece, which has been drawing visitors to Ghent for over five hundred years. It is located in one of the chapels of St. Bavos Cathedral in the heart of the old city, and is the most beautiful medieval Flemish painting in Belgium, if not the world. Some guests elect to spend the remainder of their cruise here, so rich is the city in sights and pleasures. At the very least it requires an entire day. Take advantage of the wonderful shops here, from fine art and antiquities to chocolate, from monastery-brewed beer to handmade lace and tapestries.

    DAY FOUR—After breakfasting in a leisurely fashion, perhaps a side trip down the beautiful River Leie for lunch at St. Maartens Latem, or in a waterside pub, or a trip to Ooidonk Castle, one of the finest in Belgium, or simply remain in the old city of Ghent exploring and shopping, getting a glimpse of Flemish life and culture. You will find the people warm and friendly, and most speak English or French, as well as Flemish. The choice is yours.

    DAY FIVE—Sated, if not overwhelmed by the sights of Ghent, we are underway early for a cruise down the Ghent-Ostend Canal. Lunching aboard, we arrive late afternoon at a mooring near the windmills of Bruges. Met at the quayside by horse drawn carriages, you will be driven on a trip back in time. Almost nothing disturbs the medieval atmosphere of this gem in the crown of Flemish cities. In the sixteenth century, Hadrianus Borlandus, Professor of Rhetoric at Leuven University wrote, “The cities of Ghent, Antwerp, Brussels, Leuven, and Mechelen are beautiful, but they are nothing in comparison to Bruges”. After Venice, it was the finest and richest city in Europe, if not the world. It is from here that we can, if you wish, arrange to have you driven to Knokke-Heist or Ostend, to gamble away the night in one of the famous casinos.

    DAY SIX— A day spent in enjoying this incomparable town will be an appropriate leave-taking of the delights of Flanders, perhaps finding that special piece of art, enjoying a few glasses of convent-brewed beer; perhaps taking another carriage ride through the town. A sinfully indolent picnic with delicious food and wines on a grassy riverbank is almost always an option.

    DAY SEVEN— After breakfasting, we will return you overland to your hotel in Brussels or to the airport, whatever arrangements you have made with us.

    Please note that all itineraries shown here are merely samples, and represent ideas of what might occur whilst cruising. Cruises may be altered without notice.

    A FRENCH COUNTRYSIDE ITINERARY
    A leisurely cruise up the River Yonne and Canal du Nivernais
    Cruise route map
    (Click to enlarge)

    DAY ONE—Board the Golden Odyssey at the beautiful town of Auxerre, perched on the left bank of the River Yonne. Undoubtedly one of the prettiest towns in France, Auxerre is the capital of Lower Burgundy and is situated in the heart of the Chablis wine growing region. You may content yourself with simply relaxing on deck with your party and looking at this ancient and impressive city, or explore the twisting cobbled streets and visit the Cathedral of St. Etienne, one of the finest examples of gothic architecture in France, which was three hundred years in the building. Shopping for local products or antiques and beginning your Chablis education are other possibilities before returning aboard to your first experience of Golden Odyssey cuisine.

    DAY TWO—You may decide to remain in Auxerre for the morning before getting underway for the first days cruising through a variety of landscapes until we turn into a divergence canal, which leads us to Vermenton, our mooring for the night. This is in ancient wine country, and the remnants of a Roman portal can still be seen. Wine, of course, was an important resource for the Roman Legions, as it kept better than water. Happy Centurions! They did not have a heated spa pool, however, which is one of your options aboard.

    DAY THREE—By now you will have fully adapted to the pampered lifestyle aboard, and may decide to sleep late and breakfast on deck. When you are quite ready, we will get underway for our cruise to Mailly le Chateau. Perched high above the valley of the Yonne, the impressive chateau has a commanding view of the valley and surrounding countryside.

    DAY FOUR—Today, we propose a cruise to the town of Clamecy, which is situated at the junction of the Yonne and Beuvron Rivers. En route, we will pass the very dramatic cliffs named Le Sausois. Perhaps we will stop and bring ashore a picnic, or swim in the lovely clear water, as you wish. We arrive in this charming old town, and wander the narrow streets, with its half-timbered houses leaning out overhead, to be transported into another century. Have a Pernod or a glass of wine in an old bar and see that life here has a quiet pace. But not, perhaps as quiet as aboard the Golden Odyssey, where you will eventually return for another in the continuing series of memorable dinners.

    DAY FIVE—Again you may decide to spend some more time in this medieval river town, which, incidentally, was the birthplace of the famous writers Romain Rolland and Claude Tellier, as well as the celebrated sailor Alain Colas, who was lost at sea. Perhaps visit a museum, which graphically displays the ancient practice of assembling huge rafts of wood to float to Paris in the old days, a practice that accounted for much of the commerce of this town. We can also take a short cruise to Chevroches, an enchanting village perched high above the river not far from Clamecy. We will eventually come to Tannay, which the guidebooks call “…a joyful wine city”. The chalky hills that surround the town are covered with vineyards, which produce an excellent dry white wine that you must sample with some local cuisine.

    DAY SIX-We will now pass through country of green pastoral landscape, dotted with white Charolais cattle (yes, we do obtain Charolais beef from a local butcher), through old wooden bridges. We will moor for lunch in a suitably idyllic spot and perhaps you will doze in the sun as we wend our way to the riverside town of Chitry les Mines, a charming port. Another town to explore, more wine to taste, and perhaps a special last night dinner; a glass of good cognac in the pool is always a delightful prelude to a quiet nights sleep in this beautiful country surrounding.

    DAY SEVEN—Your morning, as always, is yours to spend. Sleep late, sightsee, bicycle the towpaths, or simply lounge in a deckchair and reflect on the past week over a cup of coffee with your friends until it is time for the chauffered car to arrive and transport you back to reality.

    A TASTE OF THE LOIRE
    An extensive cruise in the centre of France
    Cruise route map
    (Click to enlarge)

    DAY ONE—From Paris you will be whisked away into the country in a chauffeured limousine and board the yacht in the ancient city of Nemours, beautifully situated in the valley of the Loing. A fitting place to begin your adventure, with a twelfth century castle and a church containing relics brought from the second Crusade. Unwind with a glass of champagne as you investigate your yacht and unwind from travel and the bustle of Paris. Dinner will be your introduction to the cuisine of the Golden Odyssey

    DAY TWO—This day marks the beginning of an ambitious cruise. Underway while you breakfast, we traverse fourteen locks and arrive at the town of Montargis.. A charming place in which to wander, with a museum containing some exceptionally good paintings and a local speciality called “praslines”: grilled sugared almonds created originally by the cook of the Duke de Plessis-Pralins. Was this the origin of the Flemish Praline?

    DAY THREE—As Montargis marks the beginning of the Briare Canal, we enter, technically speaking, a new waterway. Today, after you have breakfasted, perhaps had a dip in the pool, we voyage at a more leisured pace, and travel through lovely countryside enroute Montbouy, where we moor for lunch and stroll ashore to visit the ruins of the Roman Baths and Amphitheatre (The Romans loved France, as much as we do) before continuing to Chatillon – Coliny. Here we spend the night not far from the remains of a XII century feudal chateau overlooking this town.

    DAY FOUR—Underway as you breakfast, for today is a special destination, the town of Briare, for which the canal is named. Enroute, we pass the town of Rogny and enter a series of locks which have replaced the seven “staircase “locks which were built during the reign of Henry the IV, and represented an engineering marvel at the time. Lunching while underway, we pass through the town of Briare, and actually cross the Loire River via a beautiful canal bridge which was designed by Gustave Eiffel. A very unique sensation to appear to be floating in air as we slowly cross the river and shortly come to the lovely and quiet village of Chatillon – sur – Loire.
    Though we are now in the Canal Lateral de la Loire, the town was built on the banks of the Loire, and a short wander through town takes us to this historic river which has meant so much to the history of France, and waters what is referred to as the Garden of France. Such a different variety of wines is produced in this area that each time we stop you can sample a different vintage.

    DAY FIVE—The next portion of our voyage will be alongside the Loire river, and we will have it, often, in our view. As we are now in the Sancerrois, or region of Sancerre, it is as well to go straight to the heart, and cruise to this famous town which has, through history, produced this delicate wine to which it gives its name. Enroute we continue to pass through the beautiful valley of the Loire; verdant, rich in history as it is in scenery, it presents a never ending panorama. Once we arrive in Sancerre, there will be time to have a quick meander before returning to the yacht and another Golden Odyssey dining experience.

    DAY SIX—Today , when the mood strikes you, because by now you will most likely have lost all sense of time, an exploration of the town, perhaps shopping, tasting the various vintages of Sancerre, both white and rose’, having lunch in a local bistro, developing a taste for Crottin de Chavignol, a delicious goat cheese, perhaps the most well-known in France. In general, just messing about ashore for the day before returning to a special dinner aboard the Golden Odyssey. A late night dip in the heated spa pool to remember this feeling of being in the centre of France on a yacht, and to bed.

    DAY SEVEN—Breakfast and perhaps a last visit to the town, or just lying idly in your deck chair awaiting the arrival of your chauffered car which will return you to Paris.

    TO CONTACT US
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    The Barge Cruise Company Ltd, 501 Chemin Lacoste, 82170 Grisolles, FRANCE