We cruise the Nivernais Canal in Burgundy, central France
Our hotel barge accommodates twelve 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 seven seasons. We are proud of our reputation, earned during the forty years we have been cruising.
The Luciole is spacious and tastefully designed
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.
The Luciole is attractively designed with an upper and lower deck
Length 114 ft (34 metres)
Beam 17 ft (5.18 metres)
Large picture windows
Comfortable sofas & chairs
Open and well stocked bar
3 Doubles (or twins)
USB charging points
Heated towel rail
Molton Brown toiletries
Large raised teak sundeck
Table and chairs
Bicycles and helmets
Hotel barging is celebrating 50 years of cruising
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 twelve 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…
Together they create the ambience the Luciole is renowned for: professional yet relaxed - and always on hand to look after you
The crew are all English speaking and do not wear uniforms. They play a large part in creating the special atmosphere on board.
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.
Jack is a long time friend of the Luciole and has visited on numerous occasions. Jack joins having worked in the South of France and Brittany. Jack is a keen and talented fisherman who looks forward to sharing knowledge with passengers along the canal.
Dean is the Luciole tour guide. He originally trained as a fireman in the North of England, but more recently during winter seasons he has resided in the French ski-ing resort of Meribel, Dean and Captain Francisco also previously a fireman are the perfect team for a smooth cruise.
Jay joins us from Morzine, a ski town high up in the French Alps. A keen musician, his dulcet tones can be heard above the sound of food preparations and delicious presentations.
Cerys is from South Wales and joins us as Luciole host. A keen worldwide traveller, since her father worked for airlines, Cerys is happy to put down some roots in Burgundy and take the slow cruising path of hotel barging on the Nivernais Canal.
George is returning to the Luciole as a host. He first cruised with us in 2014 and we are delighted to have him aboard again. George was born in France and is totally bilingual, his father is Richard Parsons…
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 Luciole is privately owned and celebrating over 40 years as a family-run business
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.
Hotel barge Luciole
Cruising since 1976
Phone: 00 44 1625 576880
From USA: 011 44 1625 576880
23 Adlington Road, Bollington
SK10 5JT England
1-2 Quai de la Republique, Auxerre