You'll join Nilaya at around 4pm in Nevers after Isabelle or I pick you up from the train station. After settling in and freshening up, you'll enjoy a glass of champagne before we drop you back in Nevers for dinner ashore at your own expense. There's a great eatery we book you into that always gets rave reviews from guests.
After an extensive breakfast, we'll cruise out from our tree lined mooring in Nevers and head slowly through to todays mooring on the far side of the 'Le Guetin' aqueduct with its double step canal lock raising and lowering boats from the downstream end of the bridge. After a gorgeous lunch, we'll take our minivan to visit the beautiful riverside village and gardens of 'Apremont sur Allier'. En route, we'll stop and view an intriguing piece of canal architecture. A circular canal lock that used to lift barges from the River Allier up into the canal above, but now long since abandoned. You'll take dinner ashore tonight at a restaurant overlooking our mooring.
Today's destination is the small canal side village of Beffes. We'll head out from Le Guetin and after some glorious meandering canal cruising and passage through the old old canal town of Marseilles les Aubigny which grew from the days when it repaired and built the original Loire sailing barges 'Gaberes' long before the canals were created. After a light lunch aboard, we have a couple of options this afternoon. One might be to visit the Chateau of Menetou Salon or the other choice, a visit the medieval book town of La Charite sur Loire. As part of one of the routes to Compostello in Spain, the town was founded in the 8th century. It's Priory and Church are both Unesco world heritage monuments and you can enjoy wandering its narrow streets and wonderful 16th century bridge that spans the wide Loire below the town. In the evening we'll cook you a tasty dinner aboard.
Setting out after a hearty French breakfast, this morning we enjoy a lovely cruise through to the small canal halt at 'Menetreol sur Sancerre'. The name says it all really because high above our mooring lies the quaint hill top town of Sancerre. This part of the Loire produces some of France's finest wines so after a light regional lunch aboard, I'll drive you up to the village and drop you to explore at your leisure. There's a lovely marked walk offering excellent views and even I route that picks its way through the vineyards back to the barge. One dining suggestion is the excellent 'La Tour' restaurant high on the hill in Sancerre, but the canalside auberge takes a lot of beating. We'd be delighted to drop you off and / or pick you up as you wish. One way or the other, dinner tonight is at your own expense. You'll love it!
After enjoying possibly the finest pain au chocolate for breakfast from the boulangerie next to the barge this morning, you'll enjoy a private guided visit to the vineyards and a local wine producer for a tasting. We leave Sancerre behind after you return and have had lunch, cruising the 'Canal lateral a Loire' downstream towards a wild canal bank mooring in or near the small hamlet of 'Belleville'. En route, while in the lock at 'les Houards' I'll pop across the road and purchase some excellent goats cheese produced by the farm right there. We'll arrive quite late but you've still got time to stretch your legs before Isabelle and I will cook you a fabulous dinner on board.
Cruising from Belleville after breakfast, we'll pass through Chatillon sur Loire, possibly even stopping for lunch and an opportunity to explore. Today provides one of the highlights of this weeks cruise, namely crossing the 'Le pont-canal de Briare' or Briare aqueduct. Built in part by Gustave Eiffel of tower fame, it's an engineering triumph and one of the most photographed waterways features in France. Built to bridge the Loire at the end of the 1800's, it's design even included electrical power generation for the lighting! Once slowly across, we'll double back and moor in the old port in the centre of town. During the afternoon you're free to explore this pleasant little place, re cross the aqueduct or wander the lovely paths laid out by the river and canals that criss cross the town. Tonight you can dine ashore at one of Briare's many simple eateries at your own expense.
You'll be leaving Nilaya after breakfast with most guests heading to Paris from Briare's mainline railway station a short walk from the barge. Alternatively, we can drop you in nearby Gien.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Unforeseen circumstances sometimes affect our cruising schedule. These can include, but are not limited to: illness, floods, weather, canal closures, canal maintenance, lack of moorings, bureaucracy, strikes, civil disturbance, acts of god, the engine, and whims and fancies of both skipper, guests and crew. All of these things might cause last minute changes to the above and cruise routes. Although rare, we reserve the right to alter any and all routes accordingly. Flexibility is the name of the game and any such changes cannot be considered grounds for cancellation of the cruise.