Any week for a charter group
In the footsteps of pilgrims - walk the ancient Way of Saint James
We on La Luciole have always known that the Nivernais Canal lay at an ancient crossroads. More than two millennia ago the Romans sent their Via Agrippa this way and 1000 years later pilgrims en route to Santiago de Compostella, in northern Spain came pouring through from eastern and northern Europe.
Auxerre and Vezelay were major landmarks for pilgrims and there are many who still tread these ancient and atmospheric by-ways. So we have carefully put together an all-inclusive week of walking the Way of Saint James that combines relaxing cruising, our usual guided visits, gourmet meals and fine wines with gentle sections of the Way of Saint James. Of course, if you want a little less activity you can relax on board while the others explore.
Rendezvous in Paris at the Hotel Mansart before making the journey to La Luciole, moored at Auxerre, for a welcome aboard champagne reception.
Cruise: from the city of Auxerre we cruise southwards stopping for lunch in Champs-sur-Yonne. After lunch the barge continues to Vincelles where we moor overnight.
Walk (10km): crossing the river Yonne we take up the Way of Saint James and climb through the Irancy vineyards on hillside tracks. Winding between the rows of vines and cheery trees we reach the top of a natural amphitheater and are rewarded with views across the picturesque Burgundy countryside. From here we descend into the village of Irancy.
Tour: we will rendezvous with the bus in Irancy and make our way to the nearby Chablis vineyards for a wine tasting at the world-renowned Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard.
Cruise: from our overnight mooring in Vincelles, we cruise past the remains of a German WW2 airbase before turning up the ‘Vermenton Arm’ to moor in the village of Accolay, by the river Cure.
Walk (9km): continuing southeast from Irancy we climb a little before descending into the medieval fortified town of Cravant. In 1423 during the Hundred Years war the English defeated a large Franco-Scottish force. At Cravant there is the option to continue walking or rejoin the barge.
Visit: After lunch we return to Auxerre for a tour of the city. There is also time to shop and relax in a cafe before returning to La Luciole.
Visit: we travel by bus to Noyers-sur-Serein for market day. The delightful village is designated as of one of the prettiest in France. Much of the village is built using stone from the once very important but now ruined 12th century chateau.
Walk (11km): before the Roman invasion France, or Gaul as it was known then, was a land controlled by warring tribes. In 121BC, to make good their conquest the Romans began building a 13,000-mile network of roads known as the Via Agrippa. Today we walk part of the Roman road that ran from Lyon to the south-east to Boulogne on the Channel coast. Typically straight, the road passes through woodland and a patchwork of sunflower, rapeseed and wheat fields.
Cruise: the barge cruises to Mailly-le-Château. On a clear night the starry sky and the clifftop chateau is a spectacular combination.
Walk: today our walk is in two halves. Before lunch we trace the footsteps of pilgrims to the basilica at Vézelay from the village of Asquin. Vezelay was an important staging post on the way to Santiago and is a pilgrim destination in its own right. So, for many pilgrims the climb up the ‘Eternal Hill’ to the basilica to venerate relics of Saint Mary Magdalene would have been the climax of their journey.
Visit: once the center of medieval Europe Vezelay is now a World Heritage UNESCO site and remains the starting point of the Via Lemovicensis route to Santiago. The hilltop basilica is a remarkable not only for its religious significance but also its ingenious architecture. We lunch at a restaurant in Vezelay.
Walk: after lunch we continue with the pilgrims who walked on from Vezelay towards Santiago. We however only go as far as Saint-Pere and our walk ends at the villages impressive 13th century church where we confront its many grimacing gargoyles.
Cruise: from Mailly-le-Château we cruise along wide river stretches and sweeping bends past the imposing limestone cliffs of Saussois to moor at Chatel Censoir.
Cruise: final cruise into Clamecy, and our mooring in the port alongside the river Yonne. The town lies on the edge of the Morvan forest. Here, trees felled in the Morvan were formed into great rafts and floated downstream onto the river Seine and all the way to Paris -mostly to keep the city warm.
Walk: from the fortified village of Pierre Perthuis we take the old Roman road that follows the banks of the river Cure. The highlight of the walk is the stunning ‘Deux Ponts’ – the old and ‘new’ bridges that could be said to mirror each other. Our walk ends with a guided tour of Vauban’s Chateau Bazoches.
Visit: an afternoon tour of the Château of Bazoches, once home to the Marquis of Vauban, France’s great military engineer. Vauban was born in the Morvan region and under Louis XIV became Marshal of France. Captain’s Dinner in the evening is hosted by the Luciole Captain and Paul, your walking guide.
Morning departure at 9.30am, arriving in Paris at lunchtime.
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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
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