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Cruises, Special Cruise Deals, Cruise Lines, Cruse Destinations, Luxury Cruises…Everything About Cruises by Travel Author/Editor Lillian Africano

French Country Waterways Launches its 30th season in April

Next Year Brings an Extended Route with New Excursions, a New Dining Experience and the Return of a Favorite Barge

French Country Waterways , the only American-owned company to offer luxury barge cruises along France’s canal system, has released its 2015 brochure, which provides three exciting changes for guests who want to explore the French countryside next year.

The company has lengthened the route of its Upper Loire Valley itinerary and added two new chateau visits to that trip; added a new on-shore dining experience to its Alsace-Lorraine itinerary; and is returning a fifth barge to its fleet to accommodate increased demand for these cruises that combine unique sightseeing opportunities, impressive culinary experiences and an unmatched level of guest service.

Pricing for these all-inclusive journeys, which operate from April through October, begins at $4,995 per person, based on double occupancy.

The Horizon II
, a 128-foot barge that hosts up to eight passengers in four suites, explores the picturesque Upper Loire Valley. The barge boasts cherry interiors, traditional furnishings and antique brass accents in its unique split-level design, and guests take particular pleasure in its expansive sundeck that offers incredible views of the medieval towns, churches, castles and gardens along this picturesque route.

The Loire Valley is the gateway from Paris to chateau country, and it’s home to some of France’s earliest canals – including some that date to 1604 and are still in active service. In 2015 the Horizon II’s route will extend from Chatillon-sur-Loire to Saint-Satur, and guests will get to visit two new chateaus along the way: Chateau de Sully-sur-Loire is a UNESCO World Heritage site and Chateau Guedelon is a transformation in progress, with workers using only medieval tools and techniques to restore the castle to its former glory.

The Princess
is a 128-foot barge that divides her time between two routes, Alsace-Lorraine from April through mid-July and Champagne from late July through October. This barge offers the ultimate luxury for up to eight guests, offering two grand king suites and two king suites, all with private bathrooms and double closets.

The Alsace-Lorraine tour begins and ends in Strasbourg, an attractive and very easy base now that France’s famed TGV train (which can reach speeds of up to about 200 mph) runs directly from Charles De Gaulle Airport to Strasbourg.

As part of every French Country Waterways’ itinerary, guests dine at a Michelin-starred restaurant on shore one evening. (All other meals are served on the barge, where passengers enjoy continental breakfasts, buffet lunches, and four-course, candlelit dinners prepared by the barge’s chef.)

A new addition to the Alsace-Lorraine itinerary is a dining experience at Au Soldat de L’an 2 in Phalsbourg, where Grand Chef Georges Victor Schmitt regularly impresses guests with his take on everything from foie gras to truffled blue lobster and local game. During the cruise, between this on-shore dining experience and the delightful meals on board, passengers will be offered more than two dozen different wines, many with well-known labels from Grand Cru or Premier Cru vineyards.

With experiences as unique – and delicious – as what’s offered by French Country Waterways, it’s no wonder that trips are in high demand. For the past few years, the company’s fleet was comprised of four barges that each house eight to 12 guests. To cater to increased demand, the company is returning the 18-passenger Esprit to its fleet. This two-deck barge features large windows ideal for viewing the countryside. Guests can stay in twin or double staterooms with private baths, dressing tables and plenty of storage space, and public areas include a cozy lounge, separate dining room and large, partially canopied sundeck.

Each of French Country Waterways’ barges is available for individual bookings and for charter groups. Special room rates are offered at the designated meeting point hotels in Paris and/or Strasbourg for guests wishing to extend their stay.

Information, reservations and the company’s 2015 brochure can be obtained from French Country Waterways, Ltd., P.O. Box 2195, Duxbury, MA 02331; calling 800-222-1236 in the U.S. and Canada and 781-934-2454 in Massachusetts; or visiting the website .

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