Sunday, 23 September 2012

9th - 15th September

Yet another great week with a fantastic visit to the 12th Century chateau of Noyer-sur-Serein. The chateau was once the biggest of Northern France but destroyed by Henry IV, abandoned to nature, the chateau was gradually swallowed by woodland. A steep off road track takes us from the town up to the site on top of the hill - out of the bushes comes Willem - a Dutchman dedicated to putting this chateau back on the map. Behind him crumbling old walls that 15 years ago were buried under debris.
Willum the Dutchman of Chateau Noyers and Neil
A further 50 metres on and we find ourselves in a Medieval building site, a tower is taking shape once more. Over the last 10 years it has been rebuilt, and it looks fantastic. Willum leads the way, pausing at the stone mason's workshops and then into the tower and up the stairs. The guests follow him, he explains the history of the chateau and process of rebuilding along the way. It is well understood that this will take hundreds of years to complete, but Willem has started something great and we feel fortunate to see 'the work in progress' .

Willum explains to our passengers the brief history of the 12 Century Medieval chateau
and how he is reclaiming it from the grips of wild wilderness

Keep in touch with Willum and the progress of the chateau via the website:

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

2nd - 8th September

The weather is glorious at the moment.  Perfect temperature, with a hint of late summer, early autumn feel.  Some of the trees are beginning to turn and the grapes are ready for harvesting. Up in the vineyards the wine makers inspect the vines, waiting anxiously for the day when regulations say the picking commence.

Earlier in the season, like last year, in the lock outside Auxerre, horses crossed the bow of the Luciole to reach their pastures on an island.  The lock keeper stops the lock filling at exactly the right moment, so the deck is level with the land and the horses hastily cross, they are used to the exercise now. It is a thrill to see.  The picture below is the spring shot, as you can see they are happy to be there, I am scrubbing the deck down!

The horses are pleased to be on their summer residence, an island between the River Yonne and the Nivernais Canal
Stuart arrives on horseback!
Stuart our chef saw an opportunity for a quick ride and appeared along the side of the Luciole in the next lock.  A real 'Luciole moment'!  We had a wonderful week on board with a fantastic family charter, celebrating a 60th wedding anniversary.  Many congratulations encore to Jim and Carolyn

26th August - 1 September

Our cruise this week finished in the pretty village of Gurgy, just south of Auxerre.  It was an exciting cruise down the River Yonne, through the larger river locks.

Passengers race up on deck when they realise a hot air balloon is about to land nearby

Earlier in the week, we watched one of the hot air balloons, belonging to France Montgolfier, land very close to the Luciole.  Passengers rushed on to the deck to take pictures, in between the supper courses.  Seeing a hot air balloon at close range is always a thrill.

The balloon lands in a nearby field