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Cruise Ship Information

he L'Art de Vivre (The Art of Living) was built in 1917 in Deptford, England, as a cargo barge but currently serves as a luxury hotel barge owned and operated by European Waterways.

L’Art de Vivre started life as a Scottish lumber carrier and has been carefully transformed by skilled craftsmen into a floating celebration of the Burgundian “good life”. The recently refitted cabins have modern en suite bathrooms and the delightful saloon combines contemporary leather with more traditional furnishings.

There is a sun deck to relax on with a glass of wine as you glide through the pretty Burgundy countryside, a relaxing spa pool and, of course, bicycles for exploring along the towpath before rejoining the hotel barge at one of the locks up ahead.

Your crew of four comprises a Captain, Master Chef, Tour Guide and Hostess, all with a love of the Nivernais Canal and secure in the knowledge that their vessel represents “L’Art de Vivre” itself. The region simply oozes charm and the cruise is a journey back in time along a magical waterway.

L'Art de Vivre is also available for 'Tandem Cruises' with the 12 passenger La Belle Epoque for larger groups of up to 20 passengers.

Atmosphere on board

GoBarging's eight-passenger L'Art de Vivre is converted Scottish munitions carrier built back in 1917. The barge cruises along the charming Canal du Nivernais in Burgundy, France, an infrequently traveled canal known for its hand-swung bridges, Charolais cattle and old logging sites.

Here's what you can expect on an L'Art de Vivre cruise:

Accommodations include four 100-square-ft. cabins. Three of four cabins feature single beds that can be configured into doubles (the fourth is double-only). Bathrooms are shower-only (some of Go Barging's barges include baths), and include hair dryers.

Cruises typically include all meals with local wine (and a French cheese board), all shore excursions (guided tours to historic sites, wine tastings in a 12th century wine cellar, for instance), an open bar and bikes for passenger use. Optional excursions, such as hot air balloon rides, are extra.

Public spaces include a saloon, and a sun deck with loungers and a six-person hot tub. The ship features air conditioning throughout.

The four-person crew is comprised of a skipper, chef, tour guide and hostess.

Family with Kids/Teens

Family charters are available aboard all our hotel barges. You have the whole vessel to yourselves and she becomes a home from home, except we take care of all the hard work!

Whether you are young or old or a combination of all ages, or whether there’s cause for celebration, or just a chance to enjoy each other’s company. Any one of our voyages, with all that can be experienced, really does take some beating.

Many years of experience have shown us that every group is different and we try our hardest to make you aware of everything the region you have chosen has to offer, be it the Scottish Highlands, England, Ireland, Holland, Italy, Burgundy or the South of France.

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.

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. The 6 passenger Nymphea in the Loire Valley is a great example of a barge and itinerary seemingly perfect for a family to enjoy.

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.

Past Passenger Programs

There's one inside public room and one-and-a-half outside. The small covered deck has a small table, and the large open deck sports a table big enough for all guests.

The inside space, known as the "saloon," serves as the dining room, bar, living room, relaxation area, conversation pit, and, depending on the crowd you're with, the dance floor. It isn't big, but it's well laid-out with banquettes along the walls and two small armchairs, a small bar and a long dining table that seats 14. It's a cozy space for conversation, for reading, and -- because it's flanked on both sides by big picture windows-- for seeing the route if the weather isn't good enough to be outside. When the weather is good, though, outside is where you want to be. The big teak table on the upper deck is surrounded with teak lounge chairs and pads. It's a comfy spot for sitting and watching the scenery as the barge wanders lazily through the canals and rivers that make up this route. Whether you grab a beer from the fridge or the crew serves wine and canapes, it's a convivial spot. It's also surrounded with terra cotta planters filled with flowers and herbs; it's not unusual to see the chef come out and snip something or another for that night's supper. At the very bow, in front of the upper deck, is a hot tub that seats six. It was pretty chilly most evenings on our voyage, but the whirlpool did get used a couple of times.

The lower deck is covered and has a table for four. The view isn't as good, but it's a quieter and more private place to hold a conversation or to enjoy the out-of-doors with a good book.

Fitness And Spa

L’Art De Vivre has touring bicycles available for both men and women. Guests on our journey used them in Vallabregues to visit the little town, and in Maguelone to ride the mile or so to dip their toes into the Mediterranean Sea.

Other than that, the fitness routine depends on how much walking one wants to do while ashore.

Food & Dining

Starters

Salad nicoise - Green bean and potato salad with tuna and anchovies

Gnocchi verts - Handmade potato & Basel pasta with a tomato & herb sauce

Champignon farcee- Stuffed mushrooms

Saumon gravadlux mesclun- Salmon carparccio on a bed of mixed salad leaves

Main Course

Fillet de boeuf au poivre - The finest French Charolais beefsteak with a merlot and mushroom jus

Noix de St Jacques avec epinard - Sea scallops served on a bed of spinach

Lotte menieure au citron vert- Grilled Monk fish in butter and lime sauce

All dishes served with vegetables fresh from the market daily.

Cheese Board

Each night, a selection of French cheeses with a description of the cheese & the region accompanied by specially selected wines.

Dessert

A selection of traditional, all-time favorites.

Chocolate mousse

Crème Brulee

Crepe Suzettes Ille flotante

Tarte tatin

Chocolate profiteroles

Raspberry Soufflé

Entertainment

The entertainment onboard the vessel itself consists of a stereo system and several CDs (most of which have been compiled and left by former guests), the camaraderie of the guests themselves, and the interaction with the crew. It doesn't sound like much, but on a journey of this type, it's really all that's needed. One of the more joyous moments of our cruise came on the last night, after the Captain's Farewell Supper, where almost every one of the guests sang along with Don McLean's American Pie. All of us, with the exception of my traveling companion (who happened to be my mother), had grown up during the '60s and could belt out the words with abandon.

There are also some board games, and a small library of both regional travel books and novels, most left by prior guests.

The bulk of what constitutes the "entertainment" quotient on L’Art De Vivre, though, is the ability to see and experience, close-up, the region through which we are traveling. In Avignon we visited both the 12th-century Palace of the Popes and the Chateauneuf du Papes winery. In Arles, we saw the Roman Coliseum, known today as the site of "corridas" (bullfights), and walked in the footsteps of Vincent Van Gogh. In Aigues Mortes we dined at a local restaurant and visited the Constance Tower, seeing for ourselves how the Crusades affected the history of France. We also had the opportunity to walk the ramparts of this medieval walled city. In Marseillan we got to visit the Noilly Prat vermouth distillery, to taste the three vermouths produced and to purchase Noilly Prat Amber, which is only available in Marseillan. In Agde, at the end of our voyage, we visited the charming, tiny village of Pezenas, climbing its narrow cobbled streets as Laurent, our knowledgeable and engaging tour guide, gave us a glimpse into life in the 1200s.

Along the way, on the Canal du Rhone a Sete and later on the Canal du Midi, we were witness to the wildlife of the Camargue, a protected wetlands with famous white horses, black bulls, pink flamingos and sundry other species including egrets, pelicans, terns and wild ducks. We waved at the men in overalls who fished along the banks, learned about the culture and significance of "les taurreaux" (the bulls) around Aigues Mortes, and later, as we passed between Sete and Marseillan across the Thau Lagoon, we were witness to the acres and acres of oyster beds and learned about the culture of oysters and mussels in the region.

In the afternoons, as we cruised along our route, we would sit at the large upper-deck table, sipping wine and munching hors d'oeuvres that had been specially prepared for us, and our conversation and laughter completed the circle of our onboard "entertainment."

Fellow Passengers

Traveling on a peniche is a specialty voyage, and as a result, guests on L’Art De Vivre tend to be well-educated, sophisticated travelers who appreciate the fine dining, culture, history and wines of France. Go Barging is marketed internationally, so guests might be a mix of nationalities. On our voyage, everyone happened to be American, but the trip just before ours was filled with German nationals and the one just after with Brits.

Our recommendation

L’Art De Vivre was purpose-built for luxury cruising on the inland waterways of Europe and was launched as the private luxury hotel barge of the DeKuyper liqueur family of Belgium in 1994. SThere is a comfortable saloon and dining area with large picture windows to enjoy the surrounding countryside.

With two sun decks, there is an abundance of space to relax inside and out. There is a pleasant shaded area, as well as a sunning area with a spa pool available for relaxing in whilst cruising through the stunning countryside.

L’Art De Vivre's professional crew of five is comprised of Master Chef, Tour Guide, Deck-Hand and Hostess, led by a knowledgeable and experienced Captain who will ensure your cruise is highly enjoyable and memorable. Their knowledge of the region, combined with the 8 bicycles provided, will allow you to explore the areas you cruise through, in as much detail as you desire.