Saturday, July 25, 2020

Wine & Cheese

Wine and Cheese
A Very French Pairing

On a hotel barge cruise, one of the wonderful ways you can experience the best of your cruising region is through the cuisine. Barge chefs and sommeliers are aficionados of the local produce and as such, they will pair some of the finest French wine and cheese. Prepare yourself for the flavors of a lifetime!


There are a number of similarities between French wine and cheese. Both go through a fermentation and ageing process; both have flavors that vary depending on the soil, sunlight, rainfall and geography of the area in which they are produced. In France, both are given the esteemed certification of AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) to indicate the quality and provenance of their traditional production.

Like wine, the tasting of cheese is something of a science, as different regions produce so many diverse flavors in all shapes, sizes and colors. If you are a cheese connoisseur, you will certainly be able to indulge your passion on any of our hotel barge cruises in France, where each barge takes pride on procuring and serving the best each region has to offer.

 A Cheese to Please All Palates

Cheeses can be classified in a number of different ways. For example, by the country or region of origin: a hard cheese made in the Alpine climes of Beaufort would be incredibly difficult to make in the flat, western region of Normandy.

Another difference is the method of production: for example, the outside of washed rind cheeses are repeatedly dusted with ‘morge’ – a mixture of brine, whey and old cheese scrapings – to create a colored rind, while the inside of a blue cheese is pricked with needles to grow blue mould.


A Bit About Cheese

Some specialized vocabulary is helpful in the understanding of cheeses. One who has become a turophile, or lover of cheese, will no doubt be conversant with the following terms.

Specialty Cheeses – It might be said that every French cheese is a specialty cheese, but some are more special than others. Artisanal cheeses are those which have been crafted by hand from the finest ingredients, cheeses made on a farm, chalet, or mountain hut are called fermier, a monastery-type cheese is a term that describes cheeses which once were or continue to be made in the monasteries of France.

The Parts of a Cheese – The pâte of a cheese is all that is within the rind or the crust of the cheese. The rind is the part of the cheese formed in the natural, external thickening of the surface, not all rinds are edible. A cheese has a natural rind when it has formed as a result of the drying of the outer surface during ageing. Some cheeses have eyes, which are holes or voids in a cheese produced by gas which has been unable to escape during the curing process.

These varying processes and environments create cheeses that are wildly different in texture, smell and taste, which we invite you to try as part of every meal during your culinary voyage of discovery.

So open your eyes to a world of delicious, French wine and cheese on any of our French hotel barge cruises – you won’t be disappointed!







Visit our website for more info on our barges and barging: www.BargeCharters.com
 



Sunday, March 08, 2020

Meet The Barge Chefs

Barge Chefs for the 2020 Season


Each luxury hotel barge features a master chef with world-class training and a certain flair for creating mouth-watering taste sensations in particularly compact mobile kitchens. They play a huge role in your luxury barge cruising experience. Here's an introduction to some of this season’s barge chefs…


ANJODI, Dave Lawrence

 Aboard Anjodi - Canal du Midi, France

Dave is from the Australian island state of Tasmania.  He worked briefly on Anjodi’s sister barge, L’Art de Vivre, at the start of the 2012 barging season before returning to his hometown of Hobart, Tasmania to work as a Head Chef. In 2019, Dave joined the crew of Spirit of Scotland with his partner and fellow crew member, Michelle; and this year he is looking forward to returning to the markets of France.

Online brochure: CLICK HERE


LA BELLE EPOQUE, Arnis Maskevics

Aboard La Belle Epoque - Burgundy, France

Originating from Latvia, Arnis (pronounced Ar-nee) joined the crew of La Belle Epoque in 2018, having spent most of the previous year working aboard Panache. Experienced in a multitude of culinary expertise, Arnis is looking forward to putting his skills to excellent use aboard La Belle Epoque.  A great multi-skilled crew member, Arnis also enjoys throwing a rope if necessary, in between courses.

Online brochure: CLICK HERE


RENAISSANCE, Hannah Dunleavy

Aboard Renaissance - Upper Loire/ Burgundy, Framce

Hannah has been a much-loved member of the Renaissance crew since 2014. She was a hairdresser in the past but fell in love with food. Hannah moved to France to learn its fine cuisine, which she now shares with her guests.

Online brochure: CLICK HERE


PANACHE, Jonathan Drew

Aboard Panache - Holland & Champagne, Alsace-Lorraine, France

Jonathan lives outside Glasgow where he trained and gained experience in high-end hospitality in the prestigious Number Seven Lounge of Celtic FC. While working for the Compass Group preparing private buffets and fine dining events for Directors and Senior Management at the new Scottish Power HQ in Glasgow, he competed in The Compass Chef of the Year Competition, finishing second. Jonathan, or "Jonny" to his friends, joined Panache when he was visiting Alsace. He is looking forward to a full season onboard and adapting his menus for both Holland and Northern France.

Online brochure: CLICK HERE


ENCHANTE, Sylvain Moretto

Aboard Enchante - Canal du Midi, France

An extremely experienced chef, Sylvain has been barging for over ten seasons with Enchanté, and three seasons aboard Renaissance. Many guests who are fortunate to enjoy Sylvain’s cuisine will photograph and write about their culinary adventures.

Online brochure: CLICK HERE


L'IMPRESSIONNISTE, Jim McGarry

Aboard L'Impressionniste - Burgundy, France

Jim is a seasoned barge chef having worked on a number of barges over the past seven seasons. His eighth season is aboard L’Impressionniste, where Jim shall continue to delight passengers with his varied menus and beautiful presentations.

Online brochure: CLICK HERE


ROSA, Erell Delmotte

Aboard Rosa - Gascony & Bordeaux, France

Erell has been a crewmember on various barges since 2015, both as hostess and guide. Having worked closely with the chefs onboard barges Nymphea, Renaissance, Finesse, Panache, L’Impressionniste and Scottish Highlander, Erell gained valuable experience and spent the winter of 2018 training as a chef.  Her weeks as relief chef on Rosa in 2019 were more than enough to convince Rosa's owner to offer her the position of barge chef for the 2020 season.

Online brochure: CLICK HERE


SPIRIT OF SCOTLAND, Robert Erdelyi

Aboard Spirit of Scotland - Highlands, Scotland

Robert is originally from Budapest and gained his experience working on the larger river boats. His first experience working on a luxury barge cruise was aboard L’Art de Vivre, where he thoroughly enjoyed a close working connection with the barge’s passengers. You’ll instantly warm to Robert’s outgoing character and broad smile.

Online brochure: CLICK HERE


FINESSE, Mike Crowson

Aboard Finesse - Burgundy, France

A bit of a celebrity in the world of culinary blogging, Mike Crowson spends the barging season serving up delicious meals for the lucky passengers aboard luxury hotel barge Finesse. Born and bred in Cornwall, Mike is a stellar chef who takes a great deal of satisfaction from both barging and cooking up a storm in the kitchen.

Online brochure: CLICK HERE


LA BELLA VITA, Andrea Chin

Aboard La Bella Vita - Venice, Italy

Andrea has been the Italian master chef aboard La Bella Vita since its launch. This culinary extraordinaire loves interacting with passengers and sharing his passion for Italian food. But don’t take our word for it – client reviews on Chef Andrea’s creations speak for themselves!

Online brochure: CLICK HERE
 


Enjoy Luxury Barge Cruising with the Experts

Whichever barge you choose for your cruise, your onboard chef will delight you with culinary creations featuring the best locally-sourced ingredients. He/she has the experience and imagination to produce dishes that cater to your specific dietary requirements. Typically, chefs are pleased to show off their skills with a cooking demonstration in the galley.







Visit our website for more info on our barges and barging: www.BargeCharters.com
 


Monday, March 02, 2020

Discover the Canal de Bourgogne, Burgundy France

Barge Cruising on the Canal de Bourgogne

French Hotel Barge l'Impressionniste

The Canal de Bourgogne in Burgundy with its beautiful scenery that features charming French houses and colorful greenery is revered as one of the nicest canals to navigate in France. There are many sites to visit along the way including renowned vineyards, medieval towns, elegant châteaux, magnificent cathedrals, picturesque villages, and charming delightful local markets.
(Click image to enlarge)

The Long and Winding Road

Completed in 1832, this 242-kilometer waterway connects Burgundy to Paris, wending its way through the heartland of France. If you want to explore the Canal de Bourgogne on a French hotel barge cruise, we’d recommend a journey on L’Impressionniste’s route between Fleurey-sur-Ouche and Escommes or La Belle Epoque’s gorgeous stretch of Northern Burgundian countryside between Tanlay and Venarey-les-Laumes.

Attractions en Route

The great thing about barging in this region of France is that the canal roams its way through a number of beautiful French cities, giving you time to explore their history and soak in a little local culture. Cruising along the Canal de Bourgogne allows you to explore the Northern and Southern areas of this renowned region.

 Abbaye de Fontenay

In the north, be sure to visit the Abbaye de Fontenay. Founded in the early 1100s, its structure has been incredibly well maintained with its cloisters, scriptorium, and dormitories still intact. It’s a breathtaking piece of architecture. Now that it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, even its gardens and ponds retain their original glory.

Notre-Dame de Dijon
By Welleschik - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

As you travel further south, you’ll want to visit the monumental Notre-Dame de Dijon. It’s a Gothic-style church with an ornamented façade that boasts stunning columns and archways, as well as the typical gargoyles. Inside, you’ll find lovely colorful stain-glass paintings. Both edifices are a compelling time capsule, the first providing unrivaled insight into Cistercian life and industry, while the second lets you revisit French Catholic practices.

If you have time, you should also stroll through Dijon’s market. It wouldn’t be a vacation in France without sampling French wines, local cheeses, and artisanal bread. There are also pâté and terrine stalls that are worth a visit, as well as local delicacies like snails on offer. Make sure to try Dijon’s famous mustard and take some back with you as a souvenir. It’s a real treat for the tastebuds!

History and Feats of Engineering

Entering a Lock

Conceptualised in the seventeenth century, the Canal de Bourgogne is an incredibly well thought-out masterpiece of engineering, perfect for your barge trip in France. The waterway opened in 1832 and took over 50 years to build. It features 127 locks, the most impressive of which is at Pouilly-en-Auxois. This lock is continuously filled by an underground reservoir via a tunnel system. It serves as a watershed from which the water flows both towards Dijon in the south and towards Migennes in the north.

The canal boasts many ingenious features. Its best one though, is the tunnel which links the Pouilly-en-Auxois lock with the small port of Escommes. It is a very narrow 2.5 mile underground passageway that was dug out from the rock in the early nineteenth century. Even today, it remains an essential connection between the north and south of France.

Discover Burgundy






French Hotel Barges Cruising the Canal de Bourgogne


La Belle Epoque
  • Route: Canal de Bourgogne between Tanlay and Venarey-les-Laumes
  • Accommodations: up to 8 guests in 4 ensuite staterooms
  • Private charters and Cabin cruises
  • Itineraries: See all itineraries
  • Learn more: Online brochure
L'Impressionniste
  • Route: Canal de Bourgogne between Escommes and Fleurey-sur-Ouche
  • Accommodations: up to 12 guests in 8 ensuite staterooms
  • Private charters and Cabin cruises
  • Itineraries: See all itineraries
  • Learn more: Online brochure
Grand Cru
  • Route: Canal du Rhone au Rhin and the Canal du Centre between Pontailler-sur-Saone and St Léger-Sur-Dhune
  • Accommodations: up to 8 guests in 4 ensuite staterooms
  • Private charters
  • Itineraries: See all itineraries
  • Learn more: Online brochure
Prosperite
  • Route: Canal de Bourgogne between Plombieres-les-Dijon and Vandenesse-en-Auxois
  • Accommodations: up to 8 guests in 4 ensuite staterooms
  • Private charters and Cabin cruises
  • Itineraries: See all itineraries
  • Learn more: Online brochure

Rendez-Vous
  • Route: Canal de Bourgogne between Fleurey-sur-Ouche and Escomme
  • Accommodations: up to 6 guests in 3 ensuite staterooms
  • Private charters
  • Itineraries: See all itineraries
  • Learn more: Online brochure

Savoir Vivre
  • Route: Canal de Bourgogne between Fleurey-sur-Ouche and Escommes
  • Accommodations: up to 8 guests in 4 ensuite staterooms
  • Private charters and Cabin cruises
  • Itineraries: See all itineraries
  • Learn more: Online brochure






Visit our website for more info on our barges and barging: www.BargeCharters.com
 




Sunday, March 01, 2020

What's to like about a barging vacation?

A Barge Cruise Sounds Interesting!
What's It Like?


What to Expect On Your Luxury Barge Cruise

Part of the joys of luxury hotel barge cruising is the journey itself and, of course, which barge to travel aboard. While luxury hotel barges enjoy their own unique character and charm, there are a number of qualities that you can be sure to expect each and every time you travel.

If you like reading, then you’ll love the cozy salon library, packed with great reads


There’s nothing quite like getting stuck-in to a good book while on vacation. It’s a fantastic way to really relax and take your mind off everyday life.  Browse through the salon library to pick up a classic, or perhaps learn more about the area you’re visiting. Soak in the sunlight on deck, curl up on the sofa, or in the comfort of your room.

If you like good food, then you’ll love the creations of your onboard master chef


How better to enjoy your vacation than through the delicious creations of your very own barge chef? Your chef will visit local markets to pick up an array of seasonal produce, and you’re more than welcome to come along. Then, watch as these local ingredients are made into a true taste sensation!

If you like a cocktail, a digestif on deck, a sundowner… then you’ll love the open bar

 

The well-stocked open bar, filled with a wide selection of beers, wines and spirits, is accessible throughout your cruise. You can help yourself or place an order with one of the crew but, in all likeliness, they’ve anticipated your request and your favorite drink is already on its way. Cheers!

If you like exploring, then you’ll love the complimentary bicycles


If you want to stretch your legs but walking isn’t enough, why not take one of the complimentary bicycles along the tow path as the barge gently cruises alongside? You can choose to meet the barge at the next lock, explore a nearby village, or perhaps plan ahead for a longer cycle. Some itineraries have fantastic cycle routes with dedicated bike maps, and even the possibility of upgrading to e-bikes! (Pre-booking e-bikes is essential. Contact Paradise Connections for details).

If you like history & culture, then you’ll love the variety of daily excursions


Whether you consider yourself a bit of a history buff or are simply curious about the cultures of the places you travel to, the daily guided excursions will take you on a variety of fascinating journeys through the places you visit. From ancient Roman cities to UNESCO World Heritage sites; from world-renowned vineyards to private dinners with a countess. Whatever your interest, you’re sure to be impressed by what’s in store. Plus, many of the barges have a fascinating history too! Have a chat with your crew to find out more.

If you like wine, then you’ll love the recommendations of the onboard wine expert


The onboard wine expert hand-picks a selection of fine wines to perfectly complement each meal. From the "table talk", where he/she will explain how this particular vintage was chosen, to the tasting – you’re in great hands. They're also helpful when visiting local wineries!

If you like time to unwind, then you’ll love our spacious decks, cabins and comfy salons

Panache

Taking a break from exploring for some "me time" is an essential part of a vacation. Cosy-up in the salon with a cup of coffee, watch the world go by from a deck chair or perhaps take a well-deserved nap in the comfort of your room. Most of our barges offer hot tubs – an excellent observation point with a glass of chilled wine in hand.

Let's Go Barging!






Visit our website for more info on our barges and barging: www.BargeCharters.com
 


Sunday, February 23, 2020

ITALY - Mantua's Palazzo Ducale

La Bella Vita's Italian River Cruise
Visit Palazzo Ducale in Mantua



A highlight of  LA BELLA VITA's Italian river cruise is a visit to the Lombardy city of Mantua. It is known by Italians as "La Bella Addormentata" (Sleeping Beauty). Surrounded by artificial lakes created to fortify the city in the Middle Ages, the city has been relatively untouched by modern development. Its old town was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007 in recognition of its Renaissance town planning.

Palazzo Ducale

Palazzo Ducale

Mantua is dominated by the Palazzo Ducale de Mantova, or the Ducal Palace. This colossal complex of rooms, towers, churches, and gardens was the residence of the powerful Gonzaga family for 400 years. They ruled as the Dukes of Mantua until 1707. At 34,000m², the only residence in Italy that can claim to be larger is the Vatican. The guided tour on La Bella Vita's Classic Cruise gives you the opportunity to explore beautiful Baroque and neo-classical buildings, such as the following historical gems…

Ducale Palace Gardens

Corte Vecchia

The Corte Vecchia is the oldest part of the complex. From it you can access the Palazzo del Capitano, linked to the Magna Domus around the year 1300 with a beautiful arcade. In the same century, a series of stunning Arthurian frescos glorifying the serving duke, Gianfrancesco Gonzaga, was painted by Pisanello. In the 1960s these incredible 700-year old paintings were rediscovered and fragments of the frescos and their preliminary drawings can still be seen in the palace.

Camera Picta


Another impressive room in the palace complex is the Camera Picta (Painted Room), also known as the Bridal Chamber. The walls are the canvas for a Renaissance masterpiece by Andrea Mantegna, painted between 1465 and 1474, which depicts the triumphs of the whole Gonzaga family. Make sure you raise your eyes to the ceiling, where you’ll see one of the earliest examples of an illusionistic di sotto in sù painting; an oculus (opening in the dome) reveals a blue sky with cherubs playing around its rim.

Isabella d’Este’s Studiolo

Isabella d’Este, who was Marchesa of Mantua around the turn of the sixteenth century, is known as the First Lady of the Renaissance. Her studiolo in the palace – a place to display and enjoy her collection of antiques, paintings and books – was a Renaissance retreat from the outside world. It has unfortunately lost all of its treasures to museums, but still boasts beautiful dark blue, starry walls.

With so much more to see and experience at the Palazzo Ducale, art and architecture lovers will savor this fascinating segment of La Bella Vita's Italian river cruise.




About The Italian Hotel Barge Bella Vita

Italian Hotel Barge La Bella Vita

La Bella Vita

La Bella Vita is a stylish 20-passenger vessel with a typically modern Italian interior, reflected in the use of vibrant colors throughout to create an atmosphere of casual relaxation. There is an inviting bar area in which to enjoy a glass of Prosecco and a spacious dining room with louver doors that open to give a perfect view as you are served delicious Italian specialties and wines.

There are two main deck junior suites and eight lower deck staterooms, all air-conditioned and with en suite facilities. The upper deck has a huge sun deck with a large canopy and comfortable loungers to relax and watch the world drift by.

Enjoy delicious regional cuisine, fine Italian wines and the services of an attentive crew that will make this an unforgettable cruise. 

La Bella Vita offers 6-night, all-inclusive private charters, as well as cabin cruises. Themed cruises such as family, golf, opera, and wine appreciation are available for private charters.






Discover the Waterways of Northern Italy




Contact Paradise Connections Yacht Charters to book LA BELLA VITA
View La Bella Vita's online brochure
Visit our website for more info on our barges and barging: www.BargeCharters.com
 

ITALY - Discover Byron’s Po at Villa Ca’Zen


Discover Byron's Po at Villa Ca'Zen

River cruising is one of the most immersive and relaxing ways to explore a destination, and the tranquil waterways of Europe offer a plethora of opportunities to enjoy this much-loved mode of slow travel. In Italy, the Po River flows 650km through the north of the country and provides the perfect setting from which to discover its landscape, people and history in the most delightful way.

Villa Ca'Zen

One popular stop on LA BELLA VITA's Italian river cruise itinerary through the Veneto region is the lovely Villa Ca'Zen, a 17th-century villa in the Po Delta Nature Reserve, the country's biggest regional park. The villa's long and interesting history is inextricably linked to one of Britain's greatest poets: Lord Byron.

Early History

In the early 1700s, many wealthy Venetian families established grand estates throughout the Po Delta region, using the area for shooting, fishing and crop cultivation. The Ca'Zen estate was built by the Zen family around that time and is situated on the site of a small stone tabernacle dedicated to Saint Margherita dating back to 1459.

The original estate included the Venetian-style villa, along with a chapel, stables, and a portico. The chapel has a beautiful aspect directly facing the River Po and contains two important statues from the famous Bolognese School that depict Mary and the Archangel Gabriel during the Annunciation. In the early 1800s, when the estate passed from the Zen family's hands to the Marchesi Guiccioli of Ravenna, two extra wings were added to the villa, along with some outlying cottages and several large granary barns.

Byron's Muse

The history of the villa took on a romantic twist through its association with Lord Byron, perhaps the most romantic of all the great Romantic poets. Byron fell deeply in love with an Italian beauty, Contessa Teresa Gamba who, unfortunately, was already very spoken for as the wife of Alessandro Guiccioli.

Despite her marriage, the attraction was instant and mutual and they became lovers. Angered by their liaison, her husband sent her away to languish in the family estate (Ca'Zen) – which was far from the parties and social life of Venice – in an attempt to place distance between the poet and Teresa. Alas for Guiccioli, Byron instead pursued his passion and travelled secretly to the estate to be with Teresa. Whether it was due to his own amorous state or the inspiring landscape itself, it was from here that the poet penned some of his most celebrated and beautiful works, many of which were dedicated to his ladylove and the river.

Beyond Byron

In the ensuing years, the estate was taken over by the Casalicchio-Avanzo family, and it was the wife of Cavalier Pericle Avanzo, Elaine Avanzo Westropp Bennett, who suggested using part of the country house to rent out to visitors looking for some bucolic respite. Its location in the heart of the environmental reserve is ideal for a host of outdoor pursuits. Today, the villa is also very popular as a wedding venue.

The romance, history, culture and landscape of this relatively unspoilt region combine to create a truly memorable experience both on and off the water.



About The Italian Hotel Barge Bella Vita

Italian Hotel Barge La Bella Vita

La Bella Vita

La Bella Vita is a stylish 20-passenger vessel with a typically modern Italian interior, reflected in the use of vibrant colors throughout to create an atmosphere of casual relaxation. There is an inviting bar area in which to enjoy a glass of Prosecco and a spacious dining room with louvre doors that open to give a perfect view as you are served delicious Italian specialities and wines.

There are two main deck junior suites and eight lower deck staterooms, all air-conditioned and with en suite facilities. The upper deck has a huge sun deck with a large canopy and comfortable loungers to relax and watch the world drift by.

Enjoy delicious regional cuisine, fine Italian wines and the services of an attentive crew that will make this an unforgettable cruise. 

La Bella Vita offers 6-night, all-inclusive private charters, as well as cabin cruises. Themed cruises such as family, golf, opera, and wine appreciation are available for private charters.






Discover the Waterways of Northern Italy




Contact Paradise Connections Yacht Charters to book LA BELLA VITA
View La Bella Vita's online brochure
Visit our website for more info on our barges and barging: www.BargeCharters.com