Monday, December 28, 2015

Scottish Traditions : Hogmanay, January 1st

With the New Year nearly upon us, you may be interested to know a little more about the tradition of Hogmanay on December 31st in Scotland.
The origins of Hogmanay stretch back to the pagan practice of sun and fire worship in mid-winter.  For centuries, fire ceremonies such as torchlight processions, bonfires and fireball swinging have played an important part in the Hogmanay celebrations as fire has always been one of those positive symbols of hope and enlightenment.

When the Romans invaded Britain, this was assimilated into their Winter festival "Saturnalia and when the Vikings arrived later, their Yule celebrations became the twelve days of Christmas. Those traditions have been passed through the generations and become magnified into the celebrations we all know today.

There is no certainty as to the precise origins of  the word “Hogmanay”.  It may have come from the Gaelic “oge maiden” meaning “New Morning”, or perhaps from the Anglo Saxon “Haleg Monath” meaning “Holy Month”.  Some say it is a product of Gaelic or Norman-French origin such as the Norman French word “hoguinane” meaning “gift at New Year” or “Homme est né” ( French for “Man is born”).

Celebrations in Scotland on New Year’s Eve typically involve the partaking of a wee dram or two with friends and family, and some traditional music and dancing.  In the run-up to midnight, many Scots go “First Footing”, a night-time door-to-door tradition when custom dictates that if you receive a visit from a “tall, dark stranger”, bearing a lump of coal, a cake or a coin, you are assured of good luck and prosperity in the coming year. This tradition is believed to refer to Viking times, when the sight of a blonde stranger at your door was likely that of a Viking invading enemy instead of a well-wisher.

Hogmanay fireworks in Edinburgh

Finally, of course, events reach their peak at midnight, with the clock chiming, the bagpipes playing, and the singing of Auld Lang Syne. As to when the celebrations finish... well that’s anyone’s guess!

Contact Paradise Connections Yacht Charters to book your barge trip
Visit our website for more info on our barges and barging:

It's not how far nor how fast, it's the pleasure of the journey that keeps people coming back for more.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Tasty Scottish Treat For The Holidays: Tipsy Laird


Here’s a recipe for a delicious dessert, the Tipsy Laird, a Scottish version of the classic sherry trifle which is often served on special occasions like Christmas or New Year’s Eve. 

Tipsy Laird - makes 6 servings


  • 8 sponge fingers
  • 3 tablespoons of raspberry jam
  • 6 digestive biscuits (or ratafia biscuits, or Maria cookies)
  • 1 dram of sweet sherry
  • 1 dram of whisky or Drambuie
  • A handful of fresh raspberries
  • 1 cup of double cream
  • 1 tablespoon of caster (powdered) sugar
  • Flaked almonds toasted to decorate

For the custard:

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1.5 ounces of caster (powdered) sugar
  • 4 drops of vanilla essence
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 2/3 cup of double cream


Start by making the custard.
  • Beat together the egg yolks and sugar until pale.
  • Mix the cream, milk and vanilla in a pan and warm to just below boiling point.
  • Pour into the beaten egg mixture, blending well.
  • Return to the pan over a low heat and stir continuously until thickened.
  • Transfer to a bowl and cool.

  • Spread the sponge fingers with the raspberry jam and place in the bottom of a large glass bowl or small trifle dishes.
  • Roughly crush the biscuits and scatter over the jammed sponge.
  • Mix the sherry and whisky (or Drambuie) and pour over the biscuit and sponge.
  • Leave it to soak in.
  • Whisk the double cream and caster sugar to thick peaks and fold in more whisky if preferred.
  • Pour the cooled custard over the sponge and top with a layer of raspberries.
  • Spoon over the thickened cream and decorate with a scattering of toasted flaked almonds.


Contact Paradise Connections Yacht Charters to book your barge trip
Visit our website for more info on our barges and barging:

It's not how far nor how fast, it's the pleasure of the journey that keeps people coming back for more.

Saturday, December 05, 2015

A hotel barge cruise is perfect for a family vacation

With hectic lifestyles becoming the norm these days, a vacation where several generations of the same family, perhaps for a birthday or graduation celebration, can grab that rare opportunity to all be together is becoming more and more desirable.

French Hotel Barge Anjodi - Canal du Midi, France

Hotel barge charters are a wonderful way for families to spend special time together. There is something on offer for family members of all ages. A doting crew to care for you, delicious food prepared by your very own on-board chef, your own minibus to take you where you want to go, and stopping in a different locations every day without having to pack and unpack. It’s like having your own private floating villa!

Most of our hotel barges offer family charter cruises with great activities for the children, but also plenty of time for the adults to relax, especially if they’re sipping a chilled glass of Chablis in the on-deck spa pool as they cruise gently along a meandering canal on the waterways of Europe.

A private barge charter's itinerary can be tailored to fit your personal interests. Many of our barges have sample itineraries for family cruises. Take a look at their online brochure under "Itineraries".



For example, during a cruise on the French Hotel Barge Anjodi along the Canal du Midi, there are visits to the underground Limoussis Caves, the Meze Dinosaur Park, and medieval fortified Carcassonne where the youngsters can pretend to be gallant knights, while the grown-ups can enjoy wine tastings at local vineyards and explore the wonderful food market in Narbonne. Rick Stein certainly enjoyed it when we was on board Anjodi filming his French Odyssey TV series some years ago.


Another great destination for a family cruise is the Canal du Nivernais in Burgundy, home to the French Hotel Barge L’Art de Vivre. Activities for the younger members can include tree-climbing and kayaking at local adventure parks and visiting the Parc L’Auxois zoo, while other folks in the family can indulge in a private wine tasting in Chablis and a tour of the Renaissance Château d’Ancy le Franc.


When considering taking children on a boating holiday in France, a river cruise in the Loire Valley aboard the French Hotel Barge Nymphea, is an amazing way to explore the many attractions this region has to offer There’s nothing like seeing the world through the eyes of children. Learning how locks operate, visiting castles, an aquarium and a zoo, makes this not only fun for children and adults but it’s an education in itself.


The Irish Hotel Barge Shannon Princess offers a Family Adventure charter which is a perfect casual cruise choice for families. Cruise through an area of spectacular unspoiled landscape, atmospheric ancient settlements and ruins with your friendly, professional crew. Each day can be changed and arranged to your immediate requirements. Activities may include: Walking, Zorbing, Zip Lining, Canoeing, Waterskiing, Trekking, Fishing, Cycling, Horse Riding, Water Sports, Traditional Music, Pottery & Crafts, Go-cart Racing, etc. This charming owner-operated barge has excellent modern facilities including Wii & PS3 on board (with games for all age groups) as well as DVDs and satellite TV. There's also interesting history, antiquity, folklore & music.


The family cruise holiday aboard Scottish Hotel Barge Scottish Highlander makes frequent stops on its itinerary that offer plenty of activities that are popular with children. On a typical trip, a child will have the chance to go bowling, try out some fishing, explore castles, go-karting, have a picnic, go swimming, and even join the chef in preparing a barbecue. A ride on the steam train that was used in the Harry Potter films is suitable for anyone of any age with an interest in steam locomotives, Harry Potter, or both. Remember to keep a lookout for Nessie!

Captain & The Kid --- Kids in Jacuzzi

The voyage itself is already great fun. Grandchildren may find themselves steering their 126 foot vessel along a tree-lined canal, perhaps joining their cousins in the barge jacuzzi or biking together, as their parents relax alongside on the sundeck just a few feet away.

Having your own chef makes evening meals both enjoyable and flexible on a family charter. Dinner can be enjoyed as a family, with perhaps a casual barbecue during the week for children to enjoy some alfresco dining. Or a high tea can be served for younger children with the normal recipes they enjoy. Alternatively, a combination where elder children join the adults for dinner and then a break between courses for an evening stroll before bedtime. Adults can then relax in peace and quiet with coffee and liqueurs.

Meze Dinosaur Park --- Parc L’Auxois

Ashore, as well as our traditional cultural visits, we can arrange horse riding, water sports, tennis and many other activities to keep the younger ones and young at heart, completely satisfied. As with all our charter itineraries your experience is fully customisable to suite the ages and needs of your group. Child equipment such high-chairs, car seats, child bike seats, travel cots, children’s bicycles and more are available on request at no extra cost.

"Harry Potter" Steam Train --- Château de Chenonceau

So, in the immortal words of The Ramones:

Hey Ho, Let's Go !

Contact Paradise Connections Yacht Charters to book your barge trip
Visit our website for more info on our barges and barging:

It's not how far nor how fast, it's the pleasure of the journey that keeps people coming back for more.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

World War One (WWI) Commemorative Cruises 2016 - Barge Panache

This year we will be offering World War One Commemorative Cruises aboard the Hotel Barge Panache for the weeks of May 22-28 (Courtrai to Bethencourt-sur-Somme) and May 29-June 4, 2016 (Bethencourt-sur-Somme to Paris).

It is just over 100 years since the outbreak of World War One (WWI), which ran from July 1914 through November 1918, and we will be offering a number of 6-night, all-inclusive, World War One commemorative cruises each spring over the next few years.

In May 2016, these cruises will be aboard the superb 12-passenger hotel barge, Panache, along the Canal du Nord and the River Oise. There will be excursions to sites in Flanders, including the Menin Gate in Ypres for the moving Last Post ceremony; the battlefields, memorials and museums of the Somme, such as Thiepval and Belicourt; the forest clearing at Compiègne where the Armistice was signed in November 1918.
Menin Gate Memorial
Thiepval Memorial
Vimy Ridge Memorial

There will be tours of other significant places during the conflict, such as Vimy Ridge and Villers-Bretonneux, site of the Australian National War Memorial and and a place of deep meaning to Australians and New Zealanders;

The excursion program for the cruises will have some flexibility built in to allow, where possible, guests of different nationalities to visit sites of particular significance to their own countries. In addition, there will be interesting cruising through the Spring Picardy countryside.

Cruise weeks for Panache's 2016 WWI cruises (availability as of November 22, 2015):

Pananche would love to welcome you aboard for one of these fascinating voyages through the landscapes of Belgium and Northern France that witnessed events a century ago that changed the course of history.

Let's Go Barging with Panache in 2016 !

Contact Paradise Connections to book PANACHE
View Panache's online brochure
Visit our website for more info on our barges and barging:

Saturday, November 14, 2015

French Hotel Barge La Belle Epoque: Flavigny-Sur-Ozerain

Today we’d like to tell you a little about an historical and characterful barge, La Belle Epoque, and one of the towns her passengers can visit along the way - one where the critically acclaimed and popular film Chocolat was shot in 2000.

La Belle Epoque is already steeped in local history, having originally carried logs from Burgundy to Paris. It’s oddly fitting, then, that she should pass through such a historic town, both in terms of its ancient architecture and its more recent prominence as the location where the excellent movie Chocolat was filmed.

La Belle Epoque cruises the idyllic Burgundy Canal, passing through miles of beautiful French countryside, past picturesque villages, towns and chateaux. When you finally visit the town of Flavigny-sur-Ozerain, you’ll begin to understand why it was chosen as the set of this unique and moving film.

The central theme of a strong, vivacious character living her life against centuries of stagnant tradition is etched into the beautiful but imposing medieval architecture and the stone walls all around. The combination of the stoic, uncompromising nature of the structures with the sublime beauty and peace of the town, not to mention its timeless, isolated feel, provide the perfect atmosphere for the story of beautiful, heart-warming relationships erupting within a repressive, old-fashioned framework.

If you’ve been considering a barge holiday and you have a passion for film, please do consider a trip on La Belle Epoque. Combining a historically and culturally rich route with the charming character of the vessel makes for a holiday experience like no other.
 - The Lock Keeper

La Belle Epoque has been designed with both elegance and passenger comfort in mind. This all-inclusive deluxe barge is 128 feet long, has two interior deck levels (fully air conditioned & heated), a crew of 6, and accommodates up to 12 guests in 6 cabins, each with private, ensuite bathrooms. The salon & dining room has beautiful wood panelling, with an always-open inclusive bar. The sundeck has steamer chairs, recliners, parasols, a large dining table, and a Jacuzzi spa pool. They have 12 touring bikes, plus a tandem! These, together with other luxury facilities, create a vessel perfect for a relaxing, luxurious cruise.

Burgundy is among the most popular hotel barging areas in Europe. It is renowned for its vineyards, Gothic churches, Renaissance châteaux and picturesque villages. This is a region of France in which gastronomic delights and the art of living have reigned supreme since Roman times.

Go Barging in 2016

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:

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

French Hotel Barge Clair de Lune: New route for summer 2016 - Canal du Midi, France

The French Hotel Barge Clair de Lune cruises the Canal du Midi between the little village of Le Somail and the old fortified city of Carcassonne... but, this summer between July 17 and September 24, 2016, they will be altering their route with an itinerary between Trebes and Naurouze, thus allowing another voyage of exploration along this historic canal.

Click image to enlarge map

During this summer period, guests on board Clair de Lune will enjoy an extra insight into the 330-year old Canal du Midi and the Languedoc-Roussillon region. She will cruise a route further west from Trebes to Naurouze on a gentle voyage through delightful countryside past canal-side villages and under the pretty, arched bridges that make this waterway so special.

Along the way, there will be excursions to some of the most interesting places the region has to offer, such as Castelnaudary, home of the classic French dish, cassoulet. Clair de Lune will also traverse the impressive Fresquel aqueduct en route to her final destination of Nuarouze, the canal’s highest point. And to quench the thirst during this relaxing summer cruise, there will be even be a private tasting at a winery producing the region’s distinctive sparkling wine, Limoux. (See sample summer 2016 itinerary HERE).

This is a fabulous cruise for wine, food, and history lovers alike.

French Hotel Barge Clair de Lune - Barging Cruises on the Canal du Midi, France

The French Hotel Barge Clair de Lune offers all-inclusive, crewed barging cruise vacations for up to six guests for private full-boat charters or by individual cabins aboard a cabin cruise week. Enjoy her three stylish cabin suites, sun-deck with spa pool and, of course, bicycles for exploring the towpath.

Clair de Lune's stardard itinerary cruises the Canal du Midi between the charming village of Le Somail and the fortified city of Carcassonne, where you will discover some of the most beautiful scenery in the south of France along the way.  During your voyage along the tree-lined Canal du Midi you will visit historical sites such as the spectacular Cathar town of Minerve, the elegant city of Narbonne, and enjoy wine tastings at renowned local domaines.


You can find lots of information about Clair de Lune in our online brochure such as sample itineraries, rates, crew, cuisine & wine aboard including sample mentus, and details about the barge's layout, accommodations and amenities. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions or if you want to book!

Let's Go Barging In 2016 !

Contact Paradise Connections Yacht Charters to book CLAIR DE LUNE 
View Clair de Lune online brochure
Visit our website for more info on our barges and barging:

Friday, November 06, 2015

Alsace-Lorraine Barging Cruises: 5% Off Barge Panache

Save up to $3,300 on private charters on French Hotel Barge Panache Canal de la Marne au Rhin cruises in Alsace-Lorraine, France for August 2016 departures
French Hotel Barge Panache cruises Alsace-Lorraine
from mid-June through end October 2016

The French Hotel Barge Panache is offering a 5% discount off private charter rates (up to a $3300 value) for select August 2016 departures to stimulate interest in one of its newer cruising areas, the Alsace-Lorraine region of eastern France. Book before November 16, 2015.

“The more travelers learn about hotel barge cruising, the more they want to experience it. Families appreciate the unique and exclusive setting to enjoy quality time together, while groups enjoy sharing the leisurely cruises with friends,” said Managing Director Derek Banks. “Chartering the entire boat allows our guests to modify the itinerary to reflect their particular interests in the regions, ensuring everyone on board has the best time possible.”

Elevating Experiences On Board Panache

The 12-passenger Panache is staffed with a crew of six, which includes a master chef, deck hand, tour guide and two housekeepers – all led by a highly experienced captain. From mid-June through the end of October, the stylish hotel barge cruises the Canal de la Marne au Rhin through an area famous for its unique blend of French and German influences, strongly evident in its customs, cuisine, wines and architecture.

French Hotel Barge Panache about to ascend the Arzviller boat lift

A major highlight of the cruise is a ride on the Arzviller boat elevator, a marvel of engineering that carries the hotel barge and her passengers 450 feet up the Vosges Mountains. Other cruise highlights include a tour of the culturally-rich city of Strasbourg, the region’s capital and principal city. There, guests tour the 12th century Gothic pink sandstone cathedral, considered one of the three grandest Gothic style buildings in the world and called by French poet and novelist Victor Hugo a “gigantic and delicate marvel.” Panache also docks at Saverne, where guests enjoy a tour of the Lalique Museum, home to more than 500 exceptional pieces of glassware by French designer René Lalique, considered a genius of the craft.

An introduction to the various wines of the region is also part of the cruise, both at the dinner table on board and at local vineyards, such as Domaine Pfister, where guests enjoy private tastings. Every meal is an adventure into the regional cuisine, with authentic dishes expertly-prepared and presented by the on board master chef. Guests can also tour the Meteor Brewery, the last privately-owned brewery in the region, where a private tasting is provided.

Hotel barges all offer their own, unique cruise experiences, and the Alsace-Lorraine region of France is an excellent example of this. Guests will be treated to fascinating tours and see storybook villages, all while savoring the culinary specialties and wonderful wines of the region.

The Panache features spacious public areas with a large sun deck and a spa pool. Panoramic windows in the saloon ensure that guests never miss the beautiful scenery. With the local knowledge of the pampering crew, the numerous chauffeur-driven private excursions and the 12 bikes on deck, guests can explore the areas they cruise in as much detail as they wish.

Let's Go Barging in 2016 !

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

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Barge MAGNA CARTA: Special Downton Abbey Cruises 2016

We are pleased to announce that the English Hotel Barge Magna Carta has added the Highclere Castle excursion to several of their cruise weeks for the 2016 barging season. This unique trip to the iconic castle and fictional site of the highly popular TV series “Downton Abbey” is a limited opportunity. The visit to Highclere replaces the standard itinerary's visit to Dorney Court.

Current availability for Downton Abbey itinerary (as of November 4, 2015)
  • 27 March - 10% off - Open for private charter or by cabin
  • 3 April - 10% off - Open for private charter or by cabin
  • 1 May - 3 cabins open, 1 booked
  • 29 May- Open for private charter or by cabin

Note that the weeks of 27th March and 3rd April have a special 10% discount, plus they are both value season weeks.

This extremely impressive Victorian castle, designed by Sir Charles Barry who was also the architect of the Houses of Parliament, sits on a 1000-acre estate and is the iconic home of the fictional Crawley family on the show. The "real" Downton Abbey has been owned by the Carnarvon family since 1679, where Lord and Lady Carnarvon still live today.

Located west of London in Berkshire, it is considered one of the finest Victorian homes still in existence, with sprawling grounds that are four times the size of New York City’s Central Park.


Cruising along the famous River Thames in England, passengers aboard hotel barge Magna Carta will also enjoy "royal" views and excursions to majestic castles, palaces and cathedrals. Magna Carta's itinerary also features a private tour of Dorney Court, a remarkable Tudor home on the banks of the Thames, where "Elizabeth", "The Other Boleyn Girl", and Agatha Christie's series "Poirot" were all filmed. We also visit Hampton Court Palace, one of the locations for the award winning film "A Man for All Seasons". The cruise concludes with a tour of Christ Church, one of the most prestigious colleges at the University of Oxford and one of the settings for Lewis Carroll's "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland".

The Royal River Thames cruise route of the luxury, 8-passenger, all-inclusive, crewed English Hotel Barge MAGNA CARTA brings you in touch with the very soul of England. The Magna Carta cruises from Hampton Court to Henley-on-Thames past Royal Palaces, quaint riverside towns and villages.  It is the perfect way to admire olde worlde England and the natural beauty of Surrey, Berkshire and Oxfordshire.

To view Magna Carta's Downton Abbey itinerary, please click here.

This is a one-of-a-kind experience for fans of Downton Abbey that allows them to walk the real-life setting made famous by their favorite television drama.

English Hotel Barge MAGNA CARTA - Experience England from a different point of view

The all-inclusive, crewed, luxury, English Hotel Barge Magna Carta accommodates up to 8 guests. She is approximately 120 feet in length and has two decks.

The lower deck boasts four full-width luxurious staterooms each averaging 200 square feet with private ensuite bathrooms. The staterooms may be configured as Kings or Twins according to your preference. Magna Carta has the most sophisticated modern amenities, including air conditioning, WI-FI internet access and underfloor heating in each of the four full width suites. Each suite has exceptionally spacious contemporary en-suite facilities and colour TVs and DVD players.

The upper deck comprises the main salon and dining areas with large picture windows and stylish furnishings. Outside you have the sundeck with comfortable seating and the spa pool/jacuzzi. There are eight bikes on board to take at your pleasure for rides along the tow paths.

The Magna Carta offers 6-night, all-inclusive private charters, as well as cabin cruises. Theme cruises such as golf, tennis, guided walking, family, flower shows, Henley regatta, antiques, etc, are available for private charters.

Check out our Regional Guide to learn more about the area where Magna Carta cruises.

Interested ?  Let's reserve your spot !

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

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

French Hotel Barge Anjodi opens an additional 2 weeks for 2016

We are delighted to let you know that the French Hotel Barge Anjodi has added two cruises to their 2016 calendar for March 20th and 27th departures.

French Hotel Barge Anjodi - Barging Cruises on Canal du Midi, France

Springtime on the Canal du Midi is a lovely time to travel, with its beautiful scenery and warm Mediterranean climate. Please click here for Anjodi's sample itinerary.

These additional departure dates incorporate the Easter weekend holiday, and are priced at Value Season rates, plus there is an early booking discount of 10% for all reservations confirmed before December 31, 2015.

Anjodi is a classic Dutch barge that was rebuilt for charter to specifically navigate the canal du midi. The barge is 100-feet long with a crew of 4, has both air conditioning and central heating, and accommodates up to 8 guests in 4 cabins with private, ensuite bathrooms. Anjodi has a spacious sun deck with teak furnishings, a jacuzzi/spa tub, and 8 touring bicycles.

Anjodi is available for private charters and also for cabin cruises where you share the barge with others. For private charters, Anjodi also offers Family with Children cruises, Golf cruises, and Wine Appreciation cruises.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us should you require any further details.

Go Barging in 2016!

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