Wednesday, March 31, 2010

French mobile phones for travellers in France

Yesterday, I needed information about acquiring a mobile phone while travelling in France for a group of people chartering a Burgundy hotel barge. Plus, as we plan to be sailing to France next year, I was quite interested in the subject of cell phones for ourselves.

Louisa from the Hotel Barge ENCHANTE who cruises the canal du midi & the Provence/Camargue regions in the South of France enlightened us...
I've found most of our guests use their US phones and pay the fee. But it's quite easy to pick up a "pay as you go" phone (any big supermarket have them on offer plus there are lots of specialised phone shops)  for about 35 euro which would include some credit. There's usually a deal going on one provider or another.
This is a cool feature that I didn't know about...
We've actually got a mobile phone for each of our cabins on Enchanté for their personal use while on board. When our guests arrive there's about 5 euro credit and they can top up anytime. The fees from a local provider are not half as bad as a US phone to phone the States.

Thanks for your help, Louisa. We really appreciate it!

Contact Paradise Connections Yacht Charters to book ENCHANTE 
View Enchanté's online brochure
Visit our website for more info on our barges and barging:

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Cheap air fares to Europe April - mid-May 2010

I was just looking at American Airlines sale. They have some cheap round trip airfares to Europe for April through mid-May (2010) that would be great to combine with one of the special offers that we have previously mentioned for April and May barging charters (see here).

Purchase your tickets on by April 23, 2010, to get these low fares! Begin travel April 5 through April 30, 2010, and complete travel by May 15, 2010.

Read about it on the site => HERE

Here are a few examples...
  • round trip New York (JFK) to/from London (LHR) starting at $236
  • round trip New York (JFK) to/from Paris (CDG) starting at $312
  • round trip New York (JFK) to/from Dublin (DUB) starting at $233
And the US Dollar/Euro exchange rate has improved recently from an American point of view :)

Contact Paradise Connections Yacht Charters to book your barging holiday
For more information on our barges and barging, visit our website :

Sunday, March 28, 2010

French Hotel Barge ENCHANTE

We asked Roger and Louisa, owner-operators of the new French hotel barge ENCHANTE, what special theme charters they offer.

Roger and Louisa, French Hotel Barge Enchanté - Canal du Midi, Provence & Camargue Cruises

While Enchanté has sample itineraries for standard, antiques, and golfing cruises, Louisa tell us that they focus on providing a tailored holiday according to their charter group. Here are a few features they believe can enhance a cruise, depending on their guests: on board wine degustation, champagne sunset over the Oppidum, live music aboard Enchanté, optional scenic flights over the Cathar castles, pétanques tournament, evening or breakfast cruise (depending on whether the guests like late dinners or are early risers!), excursions to local rural festivals or events (antiques fairs, jousting, medieval reenactments, Taurean ferias, live music...), etc.

They find that most of their private, full-boat charters are more interested in catching up between themselves and want to enjoy time on the boat together. Of course, all cruises are different, as are all guests, so it is difficult to generalize.

Excursions are detailed in history and local knowledge. Louisa has a French degree in Tourism (which includes art history) and specialised in the Languedoc area. She has a French background, as her father is French and she was raised in the Loire valley, spending summer vacations at their holiday home in Frontignan.  Louisa is Enchanté's tour guide and she particularly enjoys visiting different wineries. She always arranges that the owner personally takes her group around the wine making process.

Enchanté's demonstration galley

One of Enchanté's neat features is the open galley. Guests can simply stroll over and glean some techniques or, if anyone voices a true interest, the chef will stage a cooking demonstration within the day's schedule. The Russian fudge making is a real winner, as is the pasta making!

And for you workaholics and/or internet junkies, you are sure to appreciate Enchanté's media station which allows you to keep in touch while cruising the French canals :)

Did we mention the 8-person on-deck Jacuzzi?

Each guest cabin on Enchanté has a mobile phone for their personal use while on board. When the guests arrive there's about 5 euros credit and they can top up anytime. The fees from a local provider are not half as bad as typical roaming charges for a US phone to phone the States.

Enchanté is currently available for the popular Bastille week (Bastille Day is Wednesday, July 14th), as well as other choice dates. We look forward to your inquiries!

Contact Paradise Connections Yacht Charters to book ENCHANTE 
View Enchanté's online brochure
Visit our website for more info on our barges and barging:

Saturday, March 27, 2010

French Hotel Barge Savoir VIVRE - Cabin week Sept 2010

The French Hotel Barge SAVOIR VIVRE (not to be confused with Savoir FAIRE) has announced that they have opened the week of September 19-25, 2010 for individual cabin bookings.

French Hotel Barge Savoir Vivre - Barging Cruises on the Burgundy Canal, France

Savoir Vivre cruises the canal de Bourgogne in the Burgundy region of France. Savoir Vivre accommodates up to 8 guests in 4 identical cabins which can be either configured with double or twin beds. Savoir Vivre offers half-board cruises with evening meals taken off the barge at the guests' expense.

Currently, one cabin is available is available for this week.  As a special incentive, the price of $5,000 per couple will INCLUDE pre-payment of dinners off the barge.

Come and experience barging in France!

Contact Paradise Connections Yacht Charters to book SAVOIR VIVRE 
View Savoir Vivre's online brochure
Visit our website for more info on our barges and barging:

Friday, March 26, 2010

Guiness Cake Recipe from Irish Hotel Barge SHANNON PRINCESS

A bit late for St. Patrick's Day but still yummy nonetheless...

Thanks to the Irish Hotel Barge SHANNON PRINCESS for sharing this excellent recipe with our readers..


A delicious treat anytime. This is a firm favourite with Guests and Crew alike. It can also be served as Guinness Cupcakes.

  • 200 g cream flour
  • 250 g unrefined sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 125 g butter
  • 150 ml natural yogurt or butter milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa
  • 150 ml of Guinness
  • Preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F or gas mark 4).
  • Prepare your cake tin by lining with parchment paper.
  • In a large mixing bowl sieve all the dry ingredients together.
  • Then lightly whisk the egg, vanilla and buttermilk (or yogurt) in a jug.
  • Next melt the butter, cocoa and the Guinness in a saucepan,
  • When it is just melted, stir it smooth making sure there are no lumps.
  • Now mix all ingredients together, pour into the prepared tin and bake for approx 45 minutes or when a tester comes out clean.
  • Let to stand for 30 minutes before unmolding from its tin.
  • Turn out and cool on a wire rack.
To serve:
  • Dust with cocoa and serve with softly whipped cream
  • Or ice with a chocolate butter cream

If you're not a baker, why not book a trip with Shannon Princess and have it done up right!

Reminder:  There's still space available on the Guided Walking Tour week, June 20-26, 2010. There is no additional supplement for this special week.

Also:  Book Hotel Barge Shannon Princess before March 31, 2010 and receive a $1000/cabin discount on 2010 April and May cruises (double occupancy).

Contact Paradise Connections Yacht Charters to book SHANNON PRINCESS 
View Shannon Princess's online brochure
Visit our website for more info on our barges and barging:

Thursday, March 25, 2010

French Hotel Barge EMMA has had a Spring Clean

Back in February, Liz and Rene took EMMA to the boatyard for inspection, and also her pre-season Spring clean.  It must have been quite nippy to do this in February, but as they had plans to participate in the Rally of the Gazelles in Morocco in March, there wasn't really any better time with their 2010 barging charter season beginning 3rd April.

Here's a photo of EMMA going back into the water after her 2-week spa treatment :)  Doesn't she look fabulous!

French Hotel Barge EMMA, returning to the water

Here's a note from Liz...
Hello everyone, we are just about to go back into the water after having been out in dry dock for the last 2 weeks. Our bottom has been well scrubbed and the Expert has been and given us the thumbs up for another 10 years, which is brilliant considering Emma is 105 years old and needs nothing replaced. (Hope René and I end up in the same condition) We are all painted, new bathroom floors are down and we are just gorgeous, and looking forward to welcoming your lovely clients aboard in this new season.

Amitiés Liz

EMMA's calendar is filling up quickly.  There are still a few available weeks for you though. We would especially like to point out for those of you who are seeking a cabin on a shared week, that:
  • May 8-14 : has one cabin booked and TWO cabins OPEN
  • May 22-28: has two cabins booked and ONE cabin OPEN
Unfortunately, July 4th week is booked, as is Bastille Day (July 14th) week.

But, they are available June 19-25 which encompasses Fete de la Musique, which is good fun and one of my favorite French festivities of the year.

EMMA is currently available for private charter (inquire for cabin bookings) for the following weeks:
  • April 17-23
  • April 24-30
  • May 1-7
  • June 12-18
  • June 19-25
  • June 26 - July 2
  • July 31 - August 6 (Aigues Mortes to Beziers)
  • August 7-13
  • August 14-20
  • August 21-27
  • October 2-8
  • October 23-29
We hope that you will be able to take advantage of one of these open weeks. You will have a wonderful time aboard EMMA with our friends Liz and Rene, plus their excellent crew, Chris and Anita.

Contact Paradise Connections Yacht Charters to book EMMA 
View Emma's online brochure
Visit our website for more info on our barges and barging:

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Barge BELLE EPOQUE Burgundy France - New itineraries updated

We have updated the itineraries for the French Hotel Barge LA BELLE EPOQUE, which cruises on the Canal du Bourgogne between Pouillenay and Tonnerre in the Burgundy region of France.

Enjoy the French countryside of Burgundy aboard the Hotel Barge La Belle Epoque

This all-inclusive deluxe barge has a crew of 5 or 6, and accommodates up to 13 guests in 7 cabins, each with private, ensuite bathrooms. La Belle Epoque is fully air conditioned and central heating. They have two sundecks with steamer chairs, recliners, parasols, a large dining table, plus a Jacuzzi spa pool.

Besides their standard itinerary, themed cruises are available for private charters: Guided walking tour, Family cruise, Cycling, Wine lovers appreciation cruise... If you have specific interests, let us know and we'll see about adapting a cruise to your desires.

Contact Paradise Connections Yacht Charters to book LA BELLE EPOQUE 
View La Belle Epoque's online brochure
Visit our website for more info on our barges and barging:

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Dutch Barging Tulip Cruise - Keukenhof Gardens Holland

Dutch Hotel Barge SAVOIR FAIRE - Keukenhof Gardens Holland Tulip Cruise

Today is the first day of Spring and barging season is almost upon us!

Chris from the Hotel Barge SAVOIR FAIRE reminds us that they still have a couple of openings for the Dutch Tulip Cruise weeks, and the Holland to France barging trip, too.
Rites of Spring: Keukenhof, Netherlands

There may be no time more joyous than the greening of the year, when cold climates awaken from their snowtime slumber and flowers warm the world with cheer. Spring it on!

The tulip is a national symbol of the Netherlands, and the flower figures prominently in Dutch history. They take their tulips seriously here: The Netherlands’ Princess Máxima (with help from the wife of Russia’s president) presided at last year’s opening of Keukenhof, the world’s largest flower garden. More than 7 million tulips in 100 varieties are planted by hand each year on Keukenhof’s 80 acres, provided by dozens of royally appointed growers. The 2010 season runs through May 16th.

The Savoir Faire still has openings for last minute cabin bookings at an amazing price of US$3800 (per person, based on double occupancy):
  • April 18: Amsterdam Tulip Cruise : 4 cabins booked / 2 available
  • April 25: Amsterdam Tulip Cruise : 2 cabins booked / 4 available
We also have cabins available on our 13-night, 3-Country Cruise from Amsterdam - Ghent - Paris, May 2-15, 2010. Places on this magnificent cruise can be booked for either one or both weeks. This cruise is limited to 8 guests.

US$3800/week per person, double occupancy:
  • May 2: Amsterdam-Ghent : 3 cabins booked / 1 available
  • May 9: Ghent-Paris : 3 cabins booked / 1 available
The Hotel Barge SAVOIR FAIRE has 6 crew and accommodates up to 12 guests in 6 cabins which can be configured with either a Queen bed or 2 Twins, each cabin having their own ensuite bathroom.

Hotel Barge Savoir Faire

SAVOIR FAIRE has both air conditioning and central heating, piano, touring bikes, internet access, air conditioned minibus... Please view SAVOIR FAIRE's brochure for details, and feel free to contact us for any questions you may have.

Contact Paradise Connections Yacht Charters to book SAVOIR FAIRE 
View Savoir Faires's online brochure
Visit our website for more info on our barges and barging:

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

French Hotel Barge ALEGRIA - Cabin available for May 2010 shared charter week

The luxury French hotel barge ALEGRIA has a cabin available for the week of May 22-28, 2010 for a canal du midi cruise in the south of France.

The cabin rate for this all-inclusive 6-night charter is only 6400 euros... that's for TWO people, not each! Inquire for current US Dollar rates.

Our clients who have already booked this week are a delightful Australian couple and are willing to share ALEGRIA with you.

Alegria normally only does private charter cruises where you book the entire boat, so this is a good opportunity if you would like to enjoy Alegria, save a few bucks, and make some new friends.

Alegria hosts a maximum of four guests in two large cabins fitted with king size beds and ensuite bathrooms. The large, beautiful cabins are distinctive, light and bright. Intimacy and privacy are ensured, thanks to two entrance doors from each cabin leading either directly to the outside of the barge or inside to the lounge. Each guest cabin has a mini fridge and is equipped with a coffee & tea tray.

Do not hesitate to enjoy the (heated!) pool after a warm afternoon… or just relax while enjoying some pre-dinner drinks …

Barge cruising offers a week of relaxation, gastronomy, excellent wines, fascinating culture, great landscapes and friendship with a warm nation.

Every day is a new day of discoveries ... and of unexpected surprises! 

Contact Paradise Connections Yacht Charters to book ALEGRIA 
View Alegria's online brochure
Visit our website for more info on our barges & barging:

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Road trip for Emma's crew... We're on the road to Morocco

Liz and Rene, owner-operators of the French Hotel Barge Emma, are helping to sponsor a jeep in the Rally of the Gazelles. It is an all-women race across Morocco, held March 13-27, 2010. Their team is #104, Martine and Cecile.

You can read more about the race on the web site :

Rene has been busy getting the Land Rover 4x4 prepared for the desert and today they are on their way; taking the ferry from Sete to Tangiers, and then a few weeks of roughing it in the desert.

Sounds like fun, but I'm sure they'll be glad to return to the French waterways and the comforts of their home, Emma.

Emma at the bridge in Le Somail, canal du midi, south of France

Emma has two cabins available for their cabin cruise of May 8-14 (Carcassonne to Beziers, Canal du Midi), and we are keen to fill it...

Liz told us that the King of Morocco is hosting an aperitif for the rally. Maybe she could interest him in a week on the canal... Go for it, Liz :)

Contact Paradise Connections Yacht Charters to book EMMA 
View Emma's online brochure
Visit our website for more info on our barges & barging:

Friday, March 12, 2010

Barge MAGNA CARTA Golf cruise for individual cabin cruise

English Hotel Barge MAGNA CARTA who cruises the River Thames in England, is offering a golf week (September 12-18, 2010) on an individual cabin cruise basis, rather than as a themed cruise for a full-boat, private charter. We hope you will be able to take advantage of this special opportunity.

 The English Hotel Barge MAGNA CARTA

If golf is not your cup of tea and you would like to cruise the Royal Thames this week, that's fine... there are plenty of other activities you can enjoy.

September is a great time for golfing in the UK and it would be nice to have a few more golfers aboard. Instead of the standard additional golf supplement, it will be adhoc, pay-as-you-go situation.

The couple who have already booked a cabin aboard MAGNA CARTA for this departure wants to golf twice during the week.  They are interested in the Hampton Court Palace Golf Club as they want to walk from barge with clubs and play, and also perhaps the Sunningdale Golf Club as it is rated in the top 20 in the world. Sunnydale requires men to have a handicap of 18 or better, and women to have a handicap of 24 or better. Take a look at Magna Carta's golfing itinerary for other possibilities.

Remember that Magna Carta is offering some super discounts for the 2010 season if you book your charter BEFORE April 30, 2010.
  • $2000 off standard per cabin rates for the following cruise weeks:
  • April 18-24
  • April 25 - May 1
  • May 30 - June 5

STANDARD RATES for individual cabins, per person, double occupancy:
  • March 21 - May 1: Value season: $3800/person
  • May 2 - October 2: Regular season: $4500/person
  • October 3 - December: Value season: $3800/person
The English Hotel Barge MAGNA CARTA accommodates up to 8 guests in 4 ensuite cabins. Please see their online brochure for more details.

The MAGNA CARTA is also available for full-boat, private charters, too :)

Contact Paradise Connections Yacht Charters to book MAGNA CARTA 
View Magna Carta's online brochure
Visit our website for more info on our barges & barging: