A barge holiday in France is an experience like no other, especially if you choose Burgundy, a region often described as the country’s heart. Well known for its stunning chateaux and celebrated for its wine and gastronomy, Burgundy has all the ingredients a luxury barge holiday in France needs to make it memorable. |
Days can be spent relaxing on board watching the rolling hills and oak forests as you float by, or exploring market towns, charming cities and local historical and cultural attractions. Evenings will see you enjoying the finest food and wine of the region, prepared by your own chef and served by the crew on board the barge.
A big part of the gastronomy in Burgundy, and something you will have the opportunity to enjoy daily on the vessel, is the cheese, and many visitors aim to leave this region laden down with the best the area has to offer.
There are many different types that are synonymous with the area, so here is a guide to the most famous three.
Époisses de Bourgogne
Simply divine in taste and texture, this unctuous, aromatic offering is named after the town in which it is made. Legend has it that in the sixteenth century, the creamery was established in the Abbaye de C?teaux. Washed in alcohol made with grape must (Marc de Bourgogne), the full fat cheese became a firm favourite among the noblemen of the time, and indeed when Napoleon I was King, he made sure everyone knew about it.
At the beginning of last century more than 300 farms produced Époisses, but due to the two World Wars decimating a significant number of the male population, the farms went into decline. Thankfully, in more recent years Simone and Robert Berthaut re-established the production and there are now many more makers of this wonderful variety once again.
When you get a chance to look round a local market on your barge holiday in France, make sure you look out for the delicious Époisses.
Made from goat’s milk, this cheese can be eaten young, half-matured or mature, with each imparting different levels of acidity. Back in the sixteenth century much of the land here was used by labourers and sharecroppers who came to graze their goats (considered the poor cousin to the cow). Women were the goat’s primary carers and they began to make the Charolais and sell it to supplement the household income.
Today the cheese has gained a little more prestige, and its subtle woody, almost mushroom flavour has afforded it a reputation as one of the best known goat milk varieties of the region.
A much more modern offering, the delicious Citeaux only came to fruition in 1925, which is surprising as the Abbaye of St Nicolas des Citeaux was founded in 1098. It is soft in every sense, from its ivory texture to its delicately pungent taste and, as a classic monastic French cheese, it makes a lovely complement to many others. Today the abbey is home to 35 monks who make around 300 rounds of cheese twice a week exclusively for the abbey shop.
Other options you will no doubt have the good fortune to taste on your barge holiday in France's beautiful Burgundy might include Langres, Plaisir au Chablis, Macconais, Montrachet and Soumaintrain.
Remember that when booking your barge holiday in France, it is advisable to go through a specialised tour operator. There is nothing quite like local knowledge, and if you want to make the most out of your trip, the experts will more than certainly be able to help, guide you and organise the logistics too. All that remains for you to do is sit back and look forward to your trip.
Paul Newman is the Marketing and E-Systems Executive for European Waterways, the UK's most respected provider if you're looking for an all-inclusive, luxury barge holiday in France or other great destinations. Part of a team of experienced barging aficionados, Paul is first in line to endorse the perks of a slow-paced barge cruise to anyone looking for a unique holiday experience.
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