Celebrating 40 years as a family run business
Our hotel barge accommodates fourteen passengers in eight en-suite cabins
Available for whole-boat charter or individual bookings
The itinerary balances cruising the glorious Nivernais Canal with daily excursions in our bus. Burgundy is a beautiful and culturally rich region with vineyards, chateaux and Medieval market towns. Our corner of France is historic and enchanting.
Barge Luciole is 114 ft (34 metres) long and 17 ft (5.18 metres) wide, with a flat base, straight sides and two decks. En-suite cabins are located on the lower deck. The saloon on the upper deck has large windows, allowing lovely views across the countryside. Our sundeck is raised, offering the perfect vantage point to sit and watch Burgundy slip by.
Aboard the Luciole, the crew of six are professional and relaxed. Captain Francisco has piloted the Luciole for the past six seasons. We are proud of our reputation, earned during the forty years we have been cruising.
Our eight en-suite cabins offer double, twin and single accommodation
The cabins include three doubles (that can be converted into twins, if the twins are taken), three twin bedded cabins and two singles. All have good storage and openable porthole windows. Newly installed air-conditioning units are individually controlled. In the en-suite shower bathrooms we provide towels, Molten Brown toiletries and hairdryers.
Our saloon is large and welcoming, with comfortable seating and dining areas. A light and bright place to relax and dine with fellow passengers. The wall to wall picture windows give an uninterrupted panorama of the Burgundian countryside as we cruise or when moored. The open-bar is well-stocked and there is a library and music system. We also offer free mobile Wi-Fi.
On the large raised sun deck, passengers can relax and enjoy the wonderful vista as we cruise, passing by tranquil pastures, quaint lock houses,12th Century farms and even a German World War II air base. It is the perfect place for morning coffee, afternoon teas or sun downer cocktails under the parasol. Bicycles and helmets are kept on the front bow deck just below, for passengers wanting to cycle the tow path and explore the local villages.
She has an upper and lower deck
Length 114 ft (34 metres)
Beam 17 ft (5.18 metres)
Large picture windows
Comfortable sofa & chairs
Open and well stocked bar
3 Doubles (or twins)
Molton Brown toiletries
Large raised sundeck
Table and chairs
Bicycles and helmets
Our barge began life on the French canals in 1926 as a mule-drawn freight vessel carrying coal. Her first name was the 'Ponctuel'. Later equipped with an engine, she carried a heavier cargo of up to 180 tonnes. In 1966 she was bought by the entrepreneur, Richard Parsons and taken to the French port of Dunkirk, where she was converted to become the first 'hotel-barge' and renamed the 'Palinurus'. She carried 22 passengers and cruised the waterways of France. American authoress Emily Kimbrough cruised on the barge in 1968 and published ‘Floating Island’ an affectionate account of cruising the Burgundy Canal on the Palinurus.
Acquired by our company Inland Voyages Limited in 1985, she was renamed 'Luciole' (Firefly). The bunk bedded cabins and two bathrooms became a thing of the past with a major redesign to accommodate fourteen passengers in larger en-suite cabins. The saloon roof was also raised. On the front bow deck the curved cargo hatch cover was retained, a reminder of her past cargo carrying days.
There are continuous upgrades to the Luciole. The hull was rebuilt and a new engine and generators installed in 2000. In 2010 the Luciole was 'stretched' in a Paris shipyard, when the barge was sliced in two and a new 17 ft section manoeuvred and welded into the bow, providing greater comfort throughout. Updating and improving the interior is an annual focus.
Each season we endeavour to retain the spirit of the early days. We salute and thank our old friend Richard Parsons, the pioneer of hotel barging, who began cruising all those decades ago…
The crew are all English speaking and do not wear uniforms. They play a large part in creating the special atmosphere on board the Luciole.
Francisco is our Captain. He was born in Chile and is tri-lingual speaking Spanish, French and English. Francisco joined the Luciole in 2010, following two years in Paris as pilot of passenger boats cruising on the River Seine.
Tom is the Luciole matelot (French for deckhand) He assists Francisco in cruising the Nivernais Canal while maintaining the exterior, including the shiny paintwork, bikes and deck flowers.
Andy joined us last season, assisting with tours and barge work. This year he is our full time Tour Guide and has been working hard this winter preparing for the new season.
Jade has joined us from Scotland, bringing with her, to the Luciole her tartan flair and Highland inspired, creative culinary style.
After some feet up time, Emma has returned to the Luciole for part two of barge life. An active traveller, in love with cake, skiing and horses, she delivers the best Yorkshirian French! Emma is very excited to be back in this fabulous region of France with the exquisite Luciole Crew.
Kimberley is a keen writer, traveller and foodie. Unable to keep still, she has recently spent many months in the far east sniffing out the best food and local experiences. Now exploring a little closer to home here in France, she is thrilled to be one of our hosts on the Luciole this season.
Penny is responsible for the overall running of the business. With her hands-on approach she divides her time between England and France.
Will has cruised on the boat since he was born. After two seasons as matelot he is now either working in the office or getting his hands dirty, helping to maintain the Luciole
The business was founded by John Liley, following a detailed exploration of waterways in Europe that began in the in the 1960s. At the time John was editor of a leading British yachting magazine. His books include 'France - the Quiet Way', an exploration of the entire French canal and river system. These early journeys inspired him to select the Nivernais cruising area and establish the present hotel-barge business in 1976. This was with another canal barge 'Secunda', fore-runner to Luciole. John's latest book 'Keeping Afloat' is a lively account of those early years. John is now semi-retired and able to spend more time writing and working towards his next publication.
Penny trained as a chef, cooking for schoolmasters at Eton College and Formula 1 racing drivers, before joining the Luciole in 1986. Since then she has played a major role in creating a warm, welcoming atmosphere on barge Luciole, where a feeling of calm with attention to detail is apparent as soon as one steps aboard. Nowadays, Penny is responsible for the overall running of the business having swapped apron for computer. With her hands-on approach she divides her time between England and France.