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, all wrapped up into one delightful experience. You will meander French canals and explore the narrow alleys and cobblestone streets of authentic France, 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, and of course Paris, the city of lights will be included as well.
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
- All-inclusive itinerary and accommodations
Take a look at all our bike & boat tours (in Europe & beyond).
Day 1: Paris - Samois Sur Seine, 10 or 22 mi. (16 or 35 km)
Day 2: Samois Sur Seine - Montereau - Fault - Yonne/Cannes ecluse (lock), 11 or 21 mi. (17 or 34 km)
Day 3: Montereau - Courlon sur Yonne, 27 mi. (43 km)
Day 4: Courlon sur Yonne - Sens, 22 mi. (36 km)
Day 5: Sens - Villeneuve sur Yonne, 11 or 34 mi. (17 or 55 km)
Day 6: Villeneuve sur Yonne - Joigny, 14 mi. (22 km)
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, 10 or 22 mi. (16 or 35 km)
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 and would like to bike, you can follow a 16 km route that will lead you to the beautiful imperial town of Fontainebleau and visit the world-renown Chateau of Fontainebleau, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is one of the largest royal castles in France and today a national museum. It is important to keep in mind that the Chateau is open until 5 pm so it will be crucial to leave the ship as soon as possible in order to visit it.
If anybody would like to go on a longer ride, you can cycle a 35 km loop which leads through the forest, past the chateau, and into Barbizon, “the village of painters”, onward through Chailly en Biere, Fay, Brolles, then Bois le Roi and finally back to Samois sur Seine.
Day 2: Samois Sur Seine - Montereau - Fault - Yonne, 11 or 21 mi. (17 or 34 km)
You begin your morning cycling route from Samois Sur Seine towards Moret Sur Loing, a charming medieval town where Impressionists once lived and worked. You will have ample time to see the major highlights: Sisley’s house/ Villa Sisley, the Barley Sugar Museum of the Nuns of Moret, which began as a hospital in 1638, and the Grange Bateliere, house of Clemenceau, Pere la Victoire. There are numerous architectural landmarks including the fortified gateways, half-timbered houses, and the façade known as “Francois 1er”, a Renaissance house with an interesting history. This postcard-pretty town is very photogenic and the most beautiful view is from the old bridge on the right bank of the Loing river!
After some sightseeing, you will cycle north about 3 km to the village of Saint Mammes where Aurora will wait for you with your lunch. Afterward, there are several options. Stay on board so you can relax and enjoy the short cruise past Montereau fault Yonne to moor for the night in front of the Cannes Ecluse Lock or if you want to add more cycling kilometers you can continue biking pass Moret sur Loing straight east until your reach Cannes ecluse which is approx. 17 km. You could also head south and follow the canal past Montigny sur Loing, La Genevraye, Episy, Ecuelles to end up back in Moret sur Loing and turn east and follow the route to the Cannes ecluse. This longer route is approx. 34 km and is part of Euroveloroute and is a beautiful ride.
Contrasted with the glitter and glitz of Paris, Montereau-Fault-Yonne, your day's destination 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. Tomorrow you will have more time to explore!
Day 3: Montereau-Fault-Yonne/Cannes ecluse - Courlon sur Yonne, 20 mi. (32 km)
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.
You will begin your cycling in the morning in the direction of Montereau fault Yonne so you can discover the town at a peaceful pace and admire the most prominent highlights of its rich historical past, the Notre-Dame-et-Saint-Loup Collegiate Church classified as a Historic monument and constructed in flamboyant Gothic and Renaissance style. Inside you will be surprised by the sword of John the Fearless. See the Faience Earthenware Museum, the old houses in the city center such as the former home of the Grand Cerf, the former salt granary of Preuilly, the Hospice de la Charité (17th-century. Hospice of Charity, nowadays a surviving corbelled house) and also the priory of Saint Martin dating back to 908. Not to be missed is the equestrian statue of Napoleon I with reliefs depicting the Battle of 1814.
Leaving town, you will have the opportunity to purchase delicious Brie de Montereau cheese and some chocolates: so-called pebbles of Montereau and boulets of Napoleon. Then you start cycling in earnest, heading south direction of Esmans, then via Montmachoux, where you can visit "the ostrich farm". As you continue via La Brosse-Montceaux, you will pass the eighteenth-century castle and the memorial of 5 Oblates killed during the Resistance (1944). Via Villeneuve-la-Guyard and across the river onto Misy-sur-Yonne, you continue towards Vinneuf until you reach Courlon sur Yonne, the mooring spot for the night.
Lunch will be served aboard Aurora and in the afternoon there will be a visit scheduled to Provins, a magnificent medieval fair town, a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Champagne region with 12th and 13th century fortified walls, medieval ramparts, the historic upper town and typical picturesque wooden houses. You can stroll around fortified walls with many gateways and towers, then enter the old town and admire Caesar’s Tower, Saint-Quiriace Collegiate church, Tithe Barn, Romanesque house, Holy Spirit Cellar, and the Old Hospital. A visit to the medieval and Renaissance Museum is possible.
There are plenty of choices for shopping available.
Day 4: Courlon sur Yonne - Sens, 22 mi. (36 km)
This morning the Aurora sets sail on the peacefully meandering Yonne River. You can enjoy another pleasant bike ride from Courlon sur Yonne to Sens, via Champigny onto Pont sur Yonne. You can admire the Vieux Pont (Old Bridge), the vestiges of fortification, and Notre-Dame church from 1180. Heading towards Saint-Serotin, Villebougis, Nailly and Saint-Martin du Tertre, you will cross the river Yonne and head for Sens. Aurora will be moored up by the bridge, just a five-minute walk to the town center.
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 with flamboyant facades. 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. Both Cathedral and Palace were former bishops’ residences and they house a magnificent collection of religious and private art collection. Here you can also see beautiful Byzantine reliquary, tapestries, chalices, and impressive Gallo-Roman archaeological treasure. “Orangerie” garden with colorful flowers on the south side of the Cathedral is not to be missed. The 19th century covered market hall is located opposite the cathedral (market day is Wednesday!) and the charming Italian-style theatre dating back to 1882 is also worth a visit.
Shopping possibilities are numerous! On the Brennus trail (marked with arrows on the ground) one can admire the splendid Abraham House, a 16th-century half-timbered house carved with numerous motifs that trace the genealogy of Christ.
Once in Sens, bike to the unmissable 10-hectare Parc du Moulin a Tan (labeled as Jardin Remarkable), 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 will 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, 11 or 34 mi. (17 or 55 km)
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.
Two options for today:
1. Enjoy a picnic and extensive visit and wine tasting of the 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!!!! If all agree to a wine tasting in the afternoon, you can either take a day off from your bike, enjoy a three hour morning cruise on the Aurora or you can cycle at a leisurely pace mostly following the paths along the river and go for a stroll in the town before the ship arrives in the port. You will enjoy a prepared picnic lunch!
2. If there is a group consensus that there is no wish to do any wine tasting, you can venture out into the countryside and go for a long bike ride of about 55 km: Sens-Saligny – Fontaine-la-Gaillarde – Les Clerimois – Foissy-sur-Vanne – Molinons – Villeneuve l’Archeveque (pretty place with old fortifications and Notre-Dame church) and then head back via Molinons – Chigy – Vareilles – Thell – Les Bordes – Talouan and finally end up in Villeneuve sur Yonne. There will still be time to go for a stroll around the picturesque town. Lunch will be en route at a carefully selected restaurant.
Day 6: Villeneuve Sur Yonne - Joigny, 14 mi. (22 km)
Your last cycling day will begin with a morning bike tour to the town of Saint-Julien-du-Sault just outside of Villeneuve. Here you can visit the 13th-century Saint-Pierre church with magnificent stained-glass windows, then head south through La-Petite-Celle, La-Celle-Saint-Cyr, Cezy, and Saint Aubin- sur- Yonne before you the day's destination, Joigny. Joigny is a picturesque quaint town, 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.
The Aurora will arrive to Joigny around 1 pm, so lunch will be served right away.
In the afternoon a trip to Auxerre is on the agenda. It is a beautiful medieval city and capital of Yonne, 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 the newly restored “Cathedral of St-Etienne” a Gothic masterpiece and historic monument. The “Tour de l’Horloge” - a magnificent sundial clock tower formerly called Gaillarde, leads into the pedestrian shopping area. This City of Art and History boasts exceptional heritage with a number of majestic religious buildings and treasures. Of course, we mustn’t forget the gastronomical specialties of the region, gougeres, sausage of Chablis, Burgundy snails, beef Bourguignon, kir, and the Burgundy truffle
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
- Cycling tour guide
- Bicycle rental (modern touring bicycle or electric-assist bicycle)
What’s Not Included
- Gratuities (5% on tour price is advised)
- Extra activities
- Bike protection
- Travel Insurance (mandatory)
Dates & Pricing
Paris to Joigny
July 3*, July 17*, July 31*, August 14*, August 28*, September 11, September 25, 2022
Joigny to Paris
July 10*, July 24*, August 7*, August 21*, September 4, September 18, October 2, 2022
*Now offered at 10% discount. Valid for new bookings after March 17, 2022.
Suite: $ 8581 £ 4842 $ 7,537 € 5500 ₪ 20627 NZ$ 9416 kr 60277 $ 5,841 Single Cabin: $ 12871 £ 7262 $ 11,305 € 8250 ₪ 30940 NZ$ 14124 kr 90415 $ 8,761
The minimum number of participants to confirm a departure is 5 (3 cabins). Be sure to inquire about the status of your preferred tour date before making any air travel arrangements.
Consider chartering the entire vessel to have more control of your daily itinerary including cultural excursions, cycling distances, and more.
Skill Level — Easy–Moderate
This is an easy to moderate bike and boat tour with cycling that alternates between easy stretches of free-wheeling alongside the river Yonne with more challenging uphill sections that lead to spectacular views. Available for most days are cycling options varying in length. Your tour guide will cycle with the majority of the group but for those who would like to cycle shorter (or longer), your tour guide will be able to assist you with route descriptions.
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. The regional RER takes around 50 minutes to reach the city and costs approx €10.
The journey time by bus is around 70 minutes and cost €12. 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 approx €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
Before you travel, please check the passport and visa requirements of the country/countries you plan to visit. Please be informed that it is your responsibility to ensure that you have proper identification. For US citizens, the U.S. Passports & International Travel website is a good source of information. The Country Information tab provides details about passport validity, blank passport pages required, etc. It is important to research before you travel as airlines will not permit boarding if you do not have the required valid documents.
*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.
Cultural excursions possible
You will have the opportunity to visit museums, to enjoy walking excursions with the guide, shopping in the towns, and much more. A support vehicle is available to provide transportation. If you charter the entire vessel for your family, friends, or colleagues, the itinerary may be adjusted to suit your interests.
Besides cycling, other activities may be possible. Just ask!
Country Entry Requirements
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.
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.
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