Though we are classifying this small ship cruise in France as a bike and boat tour, it is much, much more. It is a cultural tour, a history lesson, and a culinary experience. It is a meander along canals and through narrow alleys and cobblestone streets. It is sunset deck sitting, sipping wine, and immersing in what the French call joie-de-vivre.
The itinerary, featuring Northern Burgundy, is France at its finest and highlights quaint villages, peaceful farmlands, and lush vineyards. The 'must visits' of the region, such as Auxerre and Chablis are on the agenda as well.
With many cultural excursions possible throughout your days and active pursuits such as walking and biking opportunities to help you earn your exquisite meals, the beautiful Aurora meets the standard of even the most discerning of travelers.
As you navigate the landscape of the impressionists, the Aurora, with just four cabins, delivers what no other river cruise company can, a true small-group experience, perfect for your family and friends.
- Idyllic region of Northern Burgundy
- Small picturesque villages
- Auxerre, Sens, Chablis, Montargis
- Beautiful vineyards and wine tasting
- Varied excursions and experiences
- All-inclusive itinerary and accommodations
Take a look at all our bike & boat tours in Europe and beyond.
Day 1: Paris - Samois Sur Seine
Day 2: Samois Sur Seine - Montereau
Day 3: Montereau - Courlon sur Yonne
Day 4: Courlon sur Yonne - Sens
Day 5: Sens - Villeneuve sur Yonne
Day 6: Villeneuve sur Yonne - Joigny
Day 7: Joigny, breakfast on board, and late morning return to Paris (hotels or airport) by private van
Cruise routes are subject to change without notice. Some waterways may be subject to occasional closures due to drought, storms, floods, canal or lock repairs, or other unforeseen circumstances that make navigation unsafe or impossible. The captain reserves the right to any make changes necessary.
Day 1: Paris - Samois Sur Seine
You will be met at your hotel in Paris and transferred to Samois Sur Seine, a charming village on the banks of the Seine River, surrounded by the forest of Fontainebleau, one of the most beautiful French forests.
The Aurora and crew will be waiting to welcome you on board with champagne and petits fours.
If you arrive early enough, feel free to hop on a bike and cycle a bit in the forest.
Day 2: Samois Sur Seine - Montereau
Contrasted with the glitter and glitz of Paris, Montereau is a beautiful village, small, charming, and authentic France. It lies at the confluence of the two big rivers, the Yonne and the Seine. Being strategically located at the fork of these two rivers, it has a quaint river port.
- Collegiate Church of Notre- Dame and Saint-Loup
- 17th-century Hospice of Charity house
- Chateau de Fontainebleau: One of the largest royal castles in France, today a national museum and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Napolean said of the palace and the wide expanse of parks and gardens that this wad "The true home of kings, the house of all centuries".
- Garden-Museum of Antoine Bourdelle: Housed in his former studio and carefully designed gardens, the majority of Bourdelle's major works can be found here including, Hercules the Archer, the Dying Centaur, the bas relief of the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées and the equestrian statue of General Alvear, surrounded by his four allegorical figures.
- Barbizon, the hometown of the Ecole de Fontainebleau painting movement, with the Auberge Gannes where many artists stayed and worked. There are many art galleries in the village to visit with extensions to Milly-la-Foret chapel and Jean Cocteau house
- Moret sur Loing, a charming medieval town where Impressionists once lived, were inspired, and worked! Highlights here include Sisley’s house, the Barley Sugar Museum of the Nuns of Moret, and the Grange Bateliere, house of Clemenceau, named “Pere la Victoire”, after a stateman, officer, and commander during World War I.
- The most prominent landmarks are the Priory of Pont Loup and the Notre Dame, the City Hall, Villa Sisley, Tour de Bourgogne, Municipal Museum, and the equestrian statue of Napolean
Day 3: Montereau - Courlon sur Yonne
Today the Yonne River is your waterway. Perhaps you are thinking that there is not much of the Seine in the itinerary, but this course has been chosen to highlight the areas "away from the crowds." You will navigate away from the industrialized stretch close to Paris. You continue to cruise the Yonne all the way to the end of your journey in Joigny. This river is partially canalized so there will be stretches of big open river, peacefully flowing, with many beautiful nooks and crannies, with narrow canals mixed in. The locks alternate between small narrow locks and wider deeper ones with slanting sides where lock keepers pull the barge through.
- Chateau de Vaux Le Vicomte: One of the most beautiful palaces inFrance, built for Fouquet, finance minister of Louis XIV. This chateau inspired the building of Versailles by the same three artists: Le Vau, architect, Le Brun, painter, Le Notre, gardener. Fouquet’s arrest inspired the famous story “The Man with the Iron Mask”
- Chateau de Motte-Tilly, a national monument near Provins, a perfect example of an 18th-century property. The peace and quiet of its vast gardens sloping down to a bend in the Seine River are soothing and relaxing.
- Provins: A magnificent medieval town in the Champagne region with 12th and 13th cent. fortified walls and typical picturesque wooden houses. A visit to the medieval and Renaissance Museum is possible.
- Shopping available.
Today, you can follow the canals of the Yonne River for lovely cycling on the historical towpaths.
Day 4: Courlon sur Yonne - Sens
Situated at the confluence of Yonne and Vanne Rivers, Sens was important before Caesar came to Gaul in 390 BC. The “Cathedrale St-Etienne” is Sens’ outstanding glory. Construction began before 1140 and it is the oldest of the great Gothic cathedrals. The exquisite stained-glass windows from the 12th-16th centuries show biblical scenes, including a tribute to Thomas Becket, who was exiled here and whose liturgical robes are in the Treasury (part of the “Musées de Sens” and “Palais Synodal”)l Here you can also see beautiful Byzantine reliquary, tapestries, and chalices. “Orangerie” garden on the south side of the Cathedral is not to be missed. The 19th century covered market hall is located opposite the cathedral and the charming Italian-style theatre dating back to 1882 is also worth a visit.
- Cathedral St Etienne & Synodal Palace: Former bishops' resident housing a magnificent collection of religious and private art collection. In the cellar, you will find an impressive Gallo-Roman archeological treasure.
- Nemours: Discover archeological gems in the Departmental Museum of Prehistory with its vast collections. Other highlights include the Castle Museum, built in the early 12th century, St. John the Baptist Church founded in 1170, and plenty of old ancient houses, mills, bridges, and washhouses enclosed by ditches.
- Shopping available!
As the boat navigates, you can bike following the river to Sens.
Once in Sens, bike to the 10-hectare Parc du Moulin a Tan, through which the Vanne and the Lingue run. The Parc du Moulin a Tan is a precursor of the town’s project for a green belt, which should ultimately go right around Sens. It’s named after an obscure type of mill that dates back to 1887 and was used to grind oak bark to make tanbark, a powder used in leather tanning. The Parc du Moulin a Tan includes a rose garden, an animal enclosure, an arboretum, and a playground.
Day 5: Sens - Villeneuve Sur Yonne
Located on the banks of the river, the village of Villeneuve houses are nestled together around the Bell Tower of Notre-Dame church. The houses date mostly from the 17th and 18th century but the area was inhabited as early as the Palaeolithic period. The “Joigny gate” on the south of the ancient fortress dates from the late 13th century and today parts of the exhibits of the Museum of Villeneuve are housed here. On the second floor, you can visit the “Knight’s Room” where temporary exhibitions are held.
Next to the Joigny Gate you can visit the “Museum Art Galleries”, including the paintings and sculptures from the 19th century. “Sens’Gate” is a north gate almost identical to the one at the south and eventually the entire archaeological and historical collections of the “Museum of Villeneuve” shall be housed within its walls.
The town hall was built on the vestiges of the town’s ramparts by a rich Army contractor and down by the banks of the Yonne river one can see the ruins of the “Rousson Tower”, one of seven original cylindrical defense towers along the walls. Impressive fortified towers and a moat still guard the village.
- Picnic and extensive visit and wine tasting of the most famous Chardonnay in the pretty village of Chablis called the “golden gate” of Burgundy with narrow stone streets and houses dating from the 14th to 16th century. A must for all wine enthusiasts and connoisseurs
Day 6: Villeneuve Sur Yonne - Joigny
Joigny is a picturesque village, spilling down the terraces and slopes of Côte St-Jacques, overlooking the river. Much of it was destroyed and then rebuilt after a fire in the 16th century. Some of the houses have retained the carved wooden decoration. It is a lively Burgundian town with a good market, contemporary art museum, and plenty of waterway activities. The Lorain family, of restaurant fame, have done much to resuscitate and promote regional wines and their three-star Michelin restaurant on the river in a lovely setting brings much renown to the town. For golf-lovers, the Domaine du Roncemay at Aillant-sur-Tholon is closeby. Among the oaks, maples, and beeches in the nearby forest are much sought after mushrooms in autumn and it is a glorious area for all nature lovers in terms of hiking, walking, cycling, riding, and birdwatching.
- Auxerre: a beautiful medieval city, once a busy port on the wine route, filled with timber houses, church spires, an impressive 15th-century clock tower. and a pleasant port on the Yonne river. The old town starts right behind the quay and from there the steep narrow cobbled streets with their timbered houses will guide the visitors to newly restored “Cathedral St-Etienne. The “Tour de l’Horloge” ,a magnificent sundial, leads into the pedestrian shopping area.
- Montargis: also known as the French Venice of the Gatinais region. Montargis’s rich historical heritage as a medieval town is best discovered on foot where you start with the feudal castle, constructed in wood in the 12th century. The castle was later demolished after the French Revolution and then partially rebuilt in the 19th century. It overlooks the town’s pedestrian streets with half-timbered houses and famous landmarks: the 15th century City Hall, the Courthouse (a former Visitation Order convent), Hôtel Prévost (a beautiful Renaissance home), and Saint Madeleine’s church with its Renaissance choir and 19th century stained glass from the workshop of master glazer Léopold Lobin. Pralines, the crunchy confection made from almonds in cooked sugar, were first confected in Montargis in the time of Louis XIII. The original shop is still in business on Place Mirabeau.
You can follow the river from Villeneuve Sur Yonne to Joigny for about 18 km of cycling.
Day 7: Joigny, breakfast on board, and late morning return to Paris (hotels or airport) by private van.
Day 1: Arrival in Paris. Group transfer to Joigny
Day 2: Joigny - Villeneuve Sur Yonne
Day 3: Villeneuve Sur Yonne - Sens
Day 4: Sens - Courlon sur Yonne
Day 5: Courlon sur Yonne - Montereau
Day 6: Montereau - Samois Sur Seine
Day 7: Group transfer to Paris
- Accommodation for 6 nights in king suites with large, private bathroom
- All meals with beverages included
- Open bar with a large selection of delicious wines & cocktails
- Support vehicle
- Arrival group transfer from hotel in Paris to the barge
- Departure transfer from barge to hotel or airport in Paris
- Transfers as needed within the itinerary
- Onboard tour guide
- Use of bicycles
What’s Not Included
- Gratuities (5% on tour price is advised)
- Extra activities
- Travel Insurance (mandatory)
Dates & Pricing
This tour will run in two different directions.
Paris to Joigny and Joigny to Paris
Please ask us which itinerary is offered on the date you are interested.
July 3 or July 10 through October 2 (last departure), 2022
The minimum number of bookings to confirm a departure: 5
Ask us about chartering the entire ship!
Suite: $ 9053 £ 4787 $ 8,394 € 5500 ₪ 21092 NZ$ 9345 kr 57127 $ 6,578 Single supplement: $ 13580 £ 7181 $ 12,591 € 8250 ₪ 31638 NZ$ 14018 kr 85690 $ 9,867
Charter price: on request
Skill Level — Easy
This small ship cruise is an exclusive experience that can be tailored to suit the interests of your family, friends, or group. Bicycles are available for those who want to explore on two wheels. There are a few set self-guided cycling excursions. In addition, you are always welcomed to hop on a bike to pedal a towpath as the barge navigates the canal or cycle into villages as the locals do. Please keep in mind that the cycling offered is very leisure-focused. If you want to cycle more, we advise downloading your favorite biking app so that you can research the wonderful cycling opportunities.
Fly to Paris Charles De Gaulle International Airport
Assuming that you will want to arrive to the City of Lights a day or so early (or extend your travels after your tour), the following information is how to travel from the airport to the city center. To get from Charles de Gaulle airport (CDG) to the center of Paris, you have three transfer options: train, bus or taxi. One cheap transfer option is taking the regional RER train. This takes around 50 minutes to reach the city and costs only 10€. Another cheap transfer option is the bus. Bus tickets cost approximately 11.50€ and the journey time is around 70 minutes. There is also Le Bus Direct, a faster service that is direct and costs 17€. The fastest way to reach the city center is by taxi. A taxi from Charles de Gaulle airport to Paris is charged by a flat rate and will cost you 60€.
Famous for its vineyards, Burgundy has a climate that is perfect for grape growing. Considered, semi-continental, the climate is warm and temperate.
Important to know
Due to the changing requirements for entry, it is imperative that you stay up to date on requirements set by the country/countries that you are visiting. Please visit our Travel Restrictions Tool page and the country/countries government webpage for this information.
US citizens: A good website to research the requirements of the Schengen Agreement and entry into other countries is travel.state.gov.
Non-EU and EU residents: Please research the requirements of your country of residence for international travel and your destination country or countries.
*Important note: Please check on the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) status as once implemented, this will be required to visit any of the 26 Schengen-member countries for tourism, business, medical, or transit. This is an additional check on security rather than a visa.
Life on board
Food & beverages
All food is freshly prepared by your private gourmet chefs. You will be offered an extensive list of his specialties to enable you to choose your menu. All guests have the choice to eat their favorite food or experience new flavors based on a la carte menus. Products used are local and many times organic, bought daily to ensure freshness. Each meal is accompanied by a selection of the finest wines from France and all over the world.
Daily included excursions
You will have the opportunity to visit many museums and historic and cultural sites during your time aboard and to enjoy walking excursions with the guide, shopping in the towns, and much more. An excursion vehicle is available to provide transportation and to cater to the varied interests of the guests onboard.
Many activities and excursions are possible such as biking, golfing, tennis, shopping, antiquing, museum hopping, exploring the local culture...just ask!
This tour is run by Steve and Karina.
We value the strong relationship we have with our local partners and the services we provide.
We are not a broker.
We do not inflate tour prices.
We are simply travelers helping travelers.
Have you been on this tour?
Please leave your feedback