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Barges In Holland, Barges in France: Savoir Faire
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Cruise In Holland, Belgium And In France in the Upper Loire and Champagne Aboard The Deluxe Hotel-Barge SAVOIR FAIRE


The 12-passenger Savoir Faire offers luxury barging as it its best, as it criscrosses Europe to offer cruises in both Holland and France. It offers a 12-day/11-night cruise between Belgium and France in May and October. In the spring she travels to Holland for the colorful tulip cruises, then heads to France where she tours in the Upper Loire region and Champagne, before returning to Holland again in October.

The Savoir Faire cruises in June and July in the Upper Loire region, east of the Loire Valley and west of Northern Burgundy. You will cruise on the beautiful Canal de Briare and Canal Lateral a la Loire; excursions include wine tasting in the Sancerre wine region and a visit the lovely Chateau of Saint-Fargeau. From August to October it will be cruising between Paris and Champagne on the Seine and Marne Rivers, including visits to the Moet et Chandon champagne house, the famous Chateau of Vaux le Vicomte and the town of Meaux, famous for its Brie cheese.

The Savoir Faire dates back to 1932 when she was built as a transport barge in the Belgian estuaries. During World War II, her bow was replaced with a landing bow so she could sail upon the beaches. She was sunk during the war but later lifted from the river bottom and completely refurbished. In 1979, the barge was brought to Holland where she underwent a total metamorphosis and was converted into the elegant three-decked hotel barge that she is today. Carrying just 12 passengers and built on the largest hull that can cruise the waterways, the former "Etoile de Champagne" was substantially refurbished in 2005 and renamed the "Savoir Faire." She continues to maintain the very high standard of excellence in cuisine, accommodations and service that she has been known for. As an owner-operated luxury barge, the Savoir Faire prides itself in customizing your cruise week to your desires.

Chris Bennett has been the Captain and owner since the end of 2004. His extensive experience on the waterways of France has included operating a successful hotel barge in Burgundy that received rave reviews from its passengers, setting the stage for his operations aboard the Savoir Faire. He is a gracious, attentive and knowledgable host, and is accompanied by a crew of four, including a master Chef.

Savoir Faire's master Chef selects only the freshest ingredients to prepare the subtle sauces and the delicate pastries that are so much a part of exceptional French cuisine. A grand selection of fine, regional wines accompanies both lunch and dinner, beautifully complementing the superb cuisine.All meals are served in Savoir Faire's elegant mahogany panelled dining room with the finest crystal, Christofle silver and Wedgwood china.

The Savoir Faire features six staterooms. Each can be configured with two twin beds or with one queen bed. Cabin #1 has a large bathroom with shower, sink, vanity, and toilet. The five other cabins have a separate toilet and shower rooms. All cabins offer good lighting, a large number of electrical outlets, and include 220v European standard and 110v U.S. standard power outlets.

There are five separate public areas on the Savoir Faire for our passengers' enjoyment. Regardless of whether you need a place for a personal retreat, a place to have a quiet conversation or a small group get-together, the Savoir Faire has room to accomodate all of our passengers. The salon, dining area, and bar are finished in mahogany, teak and brass and decorated with antiques and paintings that were collected over the years. Many new original works of art have been introduced by Chris.

The main lounge has a panoramic view, comfortable custom-made furniture, upright piano, game table, and library. Adjacent to the lounge is an elegant dining room, large enough to double as a dance floor on festive evenings, and a writing desk in its own quiet corner. The aft area of the barge has a cozy cocktail lounge that always becomes a favorite meeting place for aperitifs or quiet conversations, with stereo and CD player. Outside there are two spacious decks: a fore deck that opens directly from the main lounge, and an elevated observation deck that offers a magnificent view of the passing countryside.


  • Size of barge: 129 ft by 16.5 ft
  • Number of Passengers: 12
  • Number of Cabins (all with private bath): 6
  • Crew: 6
  • Air Conditioning and Central Heating: Yes
  • Salon: The main lounge has panoramic views with eight large windows and comfortable custom-made furniture, upright piano, dining and library areas. The aft cocktail lounge has a bar, French doors and comfortable seating.
  • Bar: Open bar
  • Deck: There is a forward sundeck off the main lounge as well as an observation deck on the upper deck, both with comfortable deck chairs and tables.
  • Spa Tub: No
  • Cabin Features: Six suites on the lower deck: forward suite is 142 sq ft with ensuite bathroom with shower, sink and toilet. Five suites are 116 sq ft, with separate ensuite toilet and shower facilities. All cabins with twin beds or queen bed.
  • Vehicle for Transfers/Excursions: Air-conditioned 9-seater (including driver) long wheelbase minibus with an additional minibus if there are more than 8 guests.
  • Accessibility: Steps from lounge to cabins and to upper observation deck.
  • Bicycles: 12 bikes
  • Wi-Fi: Yes - limited in some areas

Savoir Faire's Deck Plan

Savoir Faire's Deck Plan

Dining Aboard The Savoir Faire:

A taste of the gourmet cuisine served aboard the Savoir Faire. BREAKFAST
Our Continental & hot breakfast offerings include pancakes, Belgian waffles, eggs, bacon, fresh breads, pastries, cereals, fresh fruits and yogurt.

  • Swordfish nicoise
  • Fresh lobster and crab cocktail with avocado over salad with mango dressing 
  • Traditional French chocolate custard pots
  • Traditional French onion soup
  • Beetroot carpaccio with St Agur cheese, pistachios, haricots verts and baby leaf salad
  • Chicken fermier with wild mushroom and tarragon veloute sauce
  • Duck confit with pomme fondant, cabbage and greens accompanied by a sauce l’orange
  • Profiteroles with a trio of ice creams and raspberry coulis
  • Trio of sorbets
  • Crème brulee
  • Assorted cheese selections

Passenger Comments:

We thoroughly enjoyed our barge experience on the Savoir Faire. The food and wine were excellent; the attention of the crew to the passengers' needs was graciously responsive, from the captain to the chef and deck crew [servers and jacks of all trades] and the van drivers and Tom, the tour guide. The meals were very good, sometimes too much food for our own good!And the wine flowed with abundance. The wines were superb and I think, showed the love of the captain for the " good life " and " good wine " .
M&A K. NY USA September 2015

This was our 3rd barge trip. The barge itself was by far the best of the 3. Very spacious; Our 11 people had plenty of room both to be together and to find a quiet nook to relax. Champagne region during harvest/crush spectacular.
P.C., CA, USA, September 2014

Wonderful barge trip! The barge was beautiful with excellent service, they really took good care of us! Exceeded our expectations!
C.D. & L K., OK, USA, October 2012

A pleasurable and relaxing experience. Cruising the canals of Holland was a trip we had wanted to do for awhile, the experience proved to be memorable and enjoyable. The Savoire Faire seemed like our comfortable refuge, floating castle and entertainment palace all in one! Thanks tSPT for your help in making the canal trip seamless and full of memories.
P & T P., IA, USA, April 2012

Tulip Cruise in Holland
Haarlem to Haarlem 2015

Sunday - Haarlem to Leiden
You are met at the designated meeting point in Amsterdam and transferred to Savoir Faire, moored at Haarlem. Once aboard your Captain and host welcomes you with a Champagne welcome and an introduction to your crew and hotel barge. Then we cruise to Leiden, where we moor overnight. This evening enjoy your first dinner on board.

Monday - Leiden to Delft
After breakfast, enjoy a peaceful cruise along the canals out of Leiden and through the oldest lock in Holland at Leidschendam. After lunch, we drive to the world famous Keukenhof Gardens with the largest display of flowers in the world. Here you will see hundreds of varieties of tulips, hyacinths and other beautiful bulbous plants. Return to the hotel barge for a cruise into Delft. Dinner on board.

Tuesday - Delft to Gouda
After breakfast, we take a walking tour of the Delft Royal Porcelain Factory, where beautiful hand-painted ceramics are still made. We then take a stroll around the cobbled streets of Delft before joining the hotel barge to begin your cruise through the port of Rotterdam and onto Gouda. Dinner on board.

Wednesday - Gouda to Uithoorn
This morning your tour guide will escort you through the streets of medieval Gouda, where you will see the most famous of all stained glass windows in Holland. A leisurely stroll through town is a must, with its "Disneyesque" main square and small boutiques. After lunch we cruise through towns clinging to the canal sides to our overnight mooring at Uithoorn. Dinner on board.

Thursday - Uithoorn to Zaandam
Early visit today before breakfast to Aalsmeer Flower Auction where some 17 million cut flowers from all over the world are traded each day. Return to the hotel barge and cruise along the winding Amstel River into Amsterdam and then through the very heart of this enchanting city, where small canals and unique architecture take you back to a bygone era. You can literally reach out and touch the passers-by. Leaving Amsterdam we join the mighty North Sea Canal and head west towards our overnight mooring at Zaandam. After lunch, your tour guide drives you to Zaans Schans to see the clog-makers and working windmills. Dinner on board.

Friday - Zaandam to Haarlem
Our final cruise takes us to Haarlem, a town of exceptional beauty with its main square, once used for jousting. We visit the famous Frans Hals Museum, founded in 1862 with its vast collection of Old Masters. There will be plenty of time to enjoy this wonderful place and to shop around its many boutiques. Captain's Farewell Dinner on board.

Saturday - Haarlem
After breakfast, disembark Savoir Faire and transfer to the designated drop off point in Amsterdam.

Note: On alternate weeks the cruise will be in reverse direction. All itineraries are subject to change.

Holland and Belgium:
Haarlem to Bruges 2015

Sunday - Haarlem to Ouderkerk
You are met at the designated meeting point in Amsterdam and driven to Savoir Faire for a champagne welcome and a cruise through the heart of the city to the quaint town of Ouderkerk. Dinner board.

Monday - Ouderkerk to Gouda

Morning cruise along the canals to the town of Gouda, famous for its cheese. Afternoon visit to the Keukenhof Gardens, the largest display of flowers in the world. Here you will see hundreds of varieties of tulips, hyacinths and other bulbs. After we return to the Savoir Faire there will be time for a stroll around Gouda, where we will find the most magnificent stained glass windows in Holland. Dinner on board

Tuesday - Gouda to Willemstad
A cruise out of Gouda to the River Ijssel and across the Holland’s Diep, part of the Dutch estuaries, to the charming old fortress town of Wilemstad. This town is preserved in its original state, with windmill dykes, an old church and a 15th century arsenal. There will be an optional visit to the famous Delta Project, which is one of the greatest feats of water engineering in the world involving damming the great estuaries. Dinner on board.

Wednesday - Willemstad to Antwerp

Today we will leave Holland and cross the border into Belgium and travel to Antwerp. Antwerp is also the home of Rubens, where we can take a tour of Rubens' house, then a walk in the old quarter of this beautiful Flemish city. Dinner on board.

Thursday - Antwerp to Ghent

We catch the flood tide up the winding "Sea Schelde", which takes us to the town of Ghent. You will have plenty of time to visit this beautiful town in the afternoon. Dinner on board.

Friday - Ghent to Bruges

You cannot pass through this part of the world without a visit to the beautiful little town of Bruges, known as the "Venice of the North". The chef will pack a picnic lunch, so there will be plenty of time to explore the many museums, buy some of the handmade lace or take a boat trip in the small canals that wander through the town. Rejoin the Savoir Faire in late afternoon to cruise along the River Schelde to the French/Belgian frontier. Captain's Farewell Dinner on board.

Saturday - Bruges

After breakfast, disembark Savoir Faire and transfer to the designated drop off point in Bruges.

Note: This is a sample itinerary and is subject to change.

Upper Loire: Canal Lateral a la Loire & Canal de Briare
Marseilles-lès-Aubigny to Rogny-Les-Sept-Ecluses 2015

Sunday - Marseilles-lès-Aubigny
Guests are met at 2.00pm at the designated meeting point in Paris and transferred to Savoir Faire, moored at Marseilles-lès-Aubigny, once a busy little port for small working barges, or "Berrichons". After a champagne welcome and an introduction to the crew, you are free to enjoy an aperitif on deck and perhaps a stroll along the canal towpath, before your first of many splendid dinners on board.

Monday - Marseilles-lès-Aubigny to Passy
This morning, we visit Apremont-sur-Allier to tour the stunning Floral Park inspired by the landscape gardens of England. We also explore the medieval village of Apremont, with its pink-stoned houses, listed as one of the "loveliest villages in France". Upon our return to the hotel barge, we embark on our first cruise to the little rural hamlet of Passy. Dinner on board.

Tuesday - Passy to Ménétréol-sous-Sancerre
After breakfast, we continue our gentle cruise along the canal to our mooring at Ménétréol-sous-Sancerre. After lunch we drive the short distance to the attractive town of La Charité-sur-Loire, an important site of Burgundian Romanesque art. The Clunisian ensemble of La Charité was a hugely important spiritual centre in the early Middle Ages and a renowned stopping place for pilgrims on the road to Santiago de Compostela. Dinner on board.

Wednesday - Ménétréol-sous-Sancerre to Léré
This morning, our cruise takes us further along the canal and we moor at the village of Léré. In the afternoon, we visit the hilltop village of Sancerre with its wonderful views over the Loire valley and visit a winery such as the family-run Henri Bourgeois, which produces fine Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé wines, for a tour and private tasting. Dinner on board.

Thursday - Léré to Châtillon-sur-Loire
Today we visit the beautiful Château de Saint Fargeau, a handsome, moated château with a history spanning 1,000 years.  Returning to the Savoir Faire for lunch, we cruise through delightful countryside to Châtillon-sur-Loire with plenty of opportunity to walk or cycle along the ever-present towpath. Dinner on board.

Friday - Châtillon-sur-Loire to Rogny-Les-Sept-Ecluses
This morning, we cruise along the canal towards Gustav Eiffels's magnificent 662 metre aqueduct, the Pont Canal de Briare, which connects the Canal Latéral à la Loire to the Canal du Briare. After lunch, we take a short drive to Gien, home of the famous Faience pottery, then return to the hotel barge to descend the flight of locks at Rogny-Sept-Ecluses to our final mooring. Captain’s Farewell Dinner on board.

Saturday - Rogny-Sept-Ecluses
After breakfast, disembark Savoir Faire and transfer to the designated drop off point in Paris.

Note: The designated meeting and drop off point is Paris. Other options are available for charter groups as agreed with the operator of Savoir Faire.This is a sample itinerary and is subject to change. On alternate weeks the barge cruises in the opposite direction.

Champagne: Seine River, Marne River
Paris to Cumieres (Epernay) 2015

Sunday - Paris
Guests are met at the designated meeting place and transferred to Savoir Faire moored in the heart of Paris. Your Captain welcomes you aboard and introduces you to the crew and then we enjoy a cruise through Paris. Your crew will serve champagne and canapes on deck as we cruise past the monuments and romantic bridges of this delightful city. Dinner on board.

Monday - Paris to Meaux
A morning cruise out of Paris onto the River Marne. After lunch, we visit the magnificent Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte and its gardens, location of the film "The Man in the Iron Mask". Return to the Savoir Faire in Meaux in time for a stroll along the river bank before dinner on board.

Tuesday - Meaux to La Ferté-sous-Jouarre
A morning tour of Meaux, the capital of Brie de Meaux, a delicious creamy cheese exported throughout the world. Here we visit the cathedral and a local cheese supplier. We then cruise to La Ferté-sous-Jouarre where we moor overnight. Dinner on board.

Wednesday - La Ferté-sous-Jouarre to Château Thierry
We are now in the heart of the Champagne region as we cruise upstream to Charly-sur-Marne. We visit one of the small family vineyards, to taste their wonderful champagne and visit their cellars. Lunch is followed by an idyllic afternoon cruise to Château Thierry, a pretty town that offers a promenade along the original walls of the town with views over the Marne Valley. The area was the scene of American battles in World War One. Nearby is the American Monument that was built in 1929 at an altitude of 660 feet to commemorate the American troops who fought in World War One. (Optional visit to Belleau Wood battlefield and the American cemetery). Dinner on board.

Thursday - Château Thierry to Damery
Today, our cruise along the River Marne winds its way through vine-covered hills dotted with small wine villages to the delightful little town of Damery. After lunch we visit the vast cellars of Moet et Chandon for a private tasting, followed by a stroll around Epernay. Dinner on board.

Friday - Damery to Cumières
After breakfast, we cruise the last stretch of the River Marne before arriving at our mooring in Cumières. We visit the outside of the Abbaye Saint Pierre d'Hautvillers where the monk Dom Perignon first made champagne. After lunch, we drive to the majestic Reims Cathedral, where the Kings of France were crowned. We return to Savoir Faire for cocktails on deck, surrounded by stunning scenery. Captain's Farewell Dinner on board.

Saturday - Cumières

After breakfast, disembark Savoir Faire and transfer to the designated drop off point.

Note: This is a sample itinerary and is subject to change. On alternate weeks the cruise is in the reverse direction.

Savoir Faire
2016 Season Cruise Schedule*
Week Route Season
Apr 3 Haarlem-Haarlem Value
Apr 10 Haarlem-Haarlem Value
Apr 17 Haarlem-Haarlem Value
Apr 24 Haarlem-Haarlem Value
May 1 Haarlem-Haarlem Regular
May 8 Haarlem-Haarlem Regular
May 15 Haarlem-Bruges Regular
May 22 Bruges-Paris Two Country Cruise
May 29 Bruges-Paris Two Country Cruise
Jun 5 Paris-Rogny
Jun 12 Rogny-Marseilles Les Aubigny Regular
Jun 19 Marseilles Les Aubigny-Rogny Regular
Jun 26 Rogny-Marseilles Les Aubigny Regular
Jul 3 Marseilles Les Aubigny-Rogny Regular
Jul 10 Rogny-Marseilles Les Aubigny Value
Jul 17 Marseilles Les Aubigny-Rogny Value
Cruise Schedule* ... continued
Week Route Season
Jul 24 Rogny-Marseilles Les Aubigny Value
Jul 31 Marseilles Les Aubigny-Rogny Value
Aug 7 Rogny-Paris
Aug 14 Paris-Chateau Thierry
Aug 21 Chateau Thierry-Maizy Regular
Aug 28 Maizy-Chateau Thierry Regular
Sep 4 Chateau Thierry-Maizy Regular
Sep 11 Maizy-Chateau Thierry Regular
Sep 18 Chateau Thierry-Maizy Regular
Sep 25 Maizy-Chateau Thierry Regular
Oct 2 Chateau Thierry-Maizy Regular
Oct 9 Maizy-Chateau Thierry Regular
Oct 16 Epernay-Paris Regular
Oct 23 Paris-Bruges Two Country Cruise
Oct 30 Paris-Bruges Two Country Cruise

The Savoir Faire's routes through Burgundy, from Paris, to Auxerre to Ancy-le-Franc.

The Savoir Faire's routes through Paris and Burgundy. For a more detailed look at the cruise route, and the Savoir Faire's route through Holland, view our map of the Canal de Bourgogne and the Canals of Holland and Belgium.

*Note: Cruise directions and sample itineraries may be in reverse and are subject to change and may depend on bookings and local navigation conditions. Alternate excursions of equal appeal are substituted when needed. For charter cruises special itineraries can be arranged.

Apr 3 thru Apr 30
Jul 10 thru Aug 6
May 1 thru May 21
Jun 12 thru Jul 9
Aug 21 thru Oct 22
May 22 thru Jun 4
Oct 23 thru Nov 5
Cabin (per person, double occupancy)
Single Occupancy Supplement
Charter for 8
Charter for 9
Charter for 10
Charter for 11
Charter for 12

What's Included for 2016
- 7 days and 6 nights on the barge in six cabins, each with private bath*
- Transfers from Paris, Bruges or Amsterdam (depending on cruise route) to the barge and return
- All meals beginning with dinner on Sunday through breakfast on Saturday*
- Open bar and all wines with lunches and dinners
- All escorted side-excursions
- Use of bicycles

What's Not Included for 2016
- Overseas air transportation to Amsterdam, Bruges or Paris and return
- Hot air ballooning option, typically 200 euros per person, 4 person minimum, when available, dependent on weather
- Suggested minimum 5% gratuity for the crew, to be paid in equivalent Euros to the captain

NOTE: Two country cruise is 11 days/10 nights, departing Sunday and concluding Thursday.

Please visit our Special Offers page to see potential discounts for this barge or many others.
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Last Update: October 15, 2015

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Accredited, Better Business Bureau. Member, ASTA-American Society of Travel Agents, 
CLIA-Cruise Lines International Association, OSSN-Outside Sales Support Network. 
Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover Cards Welcome