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Learn French Cooking On A Luxury Barge

Author : Crystal Groome


One way to immerse yourself in French culture is to sample the many flavors of its cuisine. An even better way is learning how those delectable dishes are created. What could possibly top that scenario? Combine a luxury all-inclusive barge cruise through the canals of France with cooking classes focusing on that area’s regional dishes. Learn to select the proper ingredients and then turn them into artistic creations to please both the eye and the palate, all under the watchful eye of an experienced French chef.

Your time away from the kitchen will be spent in luxurious comfort, floating quietly past the French countryside as you sip a glass of local wine or enjoy a gourmet meal prepared just for you. Operating like an intimate floating boutique hotel, your barge offers an attentive crew, comfortable cabins, inside and outside dining areas and plenty of deck space to relax and enjoy the view.

Bicycles are kept on board for passenger use. The barges travel at such a slow speed that it is easy to hop on and off for a quick ride or walk along the waterway. Daily excursions are included, giving you the chance to see even more of France’s captivating countryside.

Le Phenicien is one of the larger barges that offer Cooking and Wine Cruises is the spacious Le Phenicien. Her nine cabins can accommodate up to 18 people in well appointed comfort. With a ceiling height of seven feet, five inches, there is plenty of headroom for even the tallest of guests.

Measuring 127 feet from stem to stern, the barge houses an open sundeck, perfect for working on that tan while you take in the view. A comfortable salon, complete with a library of books and games, dining room and bar take up much of the main deck. Large windows run the length of the barge, assuring you will have a great view whether inside or out.

The Phenicien cruises the waters of Provence between April and the latter part of October. The entire barge may be chartered for a cooking cruise for groups of 10 or more. A special six-night, seven-day cruise departing on June 10th 2012 plies the Rhone River from Avignon to Aigues Mortes. Individual cabins are offered for this voyage. Meet new friends and enjoy your cooking classes at the same time. The owner-operators are from the area and love to share their culturally rich homeland with you.

Le Phenicien – Culinary Cruise Highlights

Your cruise itinerary on Le Phenicien can vary, but it starts with a Sunday transfer to the vessel in Avignon. This is your time to get settled in, meet your crew and start to relax. Indulge in some fine local wines and dine on delicately prepared dishes created by your onboard chef.

Cooking lessons begin on your first full day, usually with a class at the restaurant La Mirande, followed by wine tasting at the Domaine Beaurenard in Chateauneuf-du-Pape. It is a good introduction to the pleasures that await during your culinary adventure.

Find yourself exploring Roman ruins, quaint museums or taking one of the onboard bikes for a spin around towns like Vallabregues or Saint Remy de Provence. One highlight is the cruise through the 36 foot tall lock at Beaucaire enroute to Arles. It’s quite an impressive show to see Le Phenicien guided through this massive structure.

You may find yourself in the company of one of Provence’s premier chefs, such as Jean-Luc Rabanel. These highly trained individuals will speak about their experience as a culinary artist and give you an insider’s view of the profession, a rare treat.

Cruises end with an elegant cruise dinner and a bit of wine tasting. One locale is Le Domaine de JARRES in the city of Aigues-Mortes. Reminisce about your experience and say fond farewells to your cooking class cruise-mates as you enjoy an exquisite meal.

Alouette is offering a more intimate barge cruise experience, the Alouette is a luxurious 5-Star craft offering charter only culinary cruises throughout 2012. The 97-foot long craft has two cabins that accommodate up to four passengers. Each cabin is roughly 270 square feet and offers a queen bed that can be converted to twins, private bath, satellite TV, a DVD player and a phone-type intercom. Cabins, dining area and lounge are all on one deck.

The Alouette cruises the Canal du Midi and offers the standard six-night cruises as well as specially requested three-night itineraries. Since this is a charter, the itinerary can be tailored around the interests of the passengers. Youronboard cooking classes are fun and informative, including lessons on presentation, safe food handling and knife skills. Site-seeing and shopping excursions are included.

Alouette – Culinary Cruise Highlights

A typical cruise begins with boarding the Alouette in Beziers on Sunday. Meet your chef and find out what sort of lessons you have to look forward to. Classes are held in the barge’s onboard kitchen. Relax at the champagne reception, enjoy your first onboard gourmet meal and get ready for your culinary adventure.

Your week aboard the Alouette will include preparation of dishes such as French Quiche Lorraine, lemon tarts with caramel sauce, delicate French soups and main dishes created from ingredients found on one of your shopping excursions. Perhaps you will visit Narbonne’s covered market to find fresh vegetables and fish to make Bourride, a local dish.


Or you may cruise to Trebes where your Mediterranean cooking lesson will include pointers on the use of fresh vegetables, herbs and olive oil. Finish your week in Carcassonne where you will not only tour one of the largest medieval forts in Europe, but learn the delicate art of pasta making.

Other Culinary Cruise Options

Another part of France that is known for its wine and culinary creations is Burgundy. You may be familiar with the name because this is the birthplace of the deep red wine known as Burgundy. Hotel barge cruises are also available along the 150-mile long Canal de Bourgogne. It is possible to charter one of these hotel barges for a tailor made culinary cruise, designed with your tastes, skill level and interests in mind. Depending on the vessel, barges can accommodate groups of up to 20 people.


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THE BARGE CONNECTION is a leading tour operator in the United States specializing in barge vacations since 1998. Unparalleled experience in providing the best in luxury barge vacations for individuals, groups and travel agents, http://bargeconnection.com.

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Tags:   luxury European barge cruises, luxury European river cruises, luxury barge cruising, luxury river cruising, barge trips, barge vacations

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Submitted : 2012-04-18    Word Count : 1102    Times Viewed: 916