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  • Writer's pictureLinda De Angelis

An enchanted Nivernais boating adventure.

Our Nivernais sojourn begins late spring.  Imagine the serenity of meandering through the sparkling rivers and canals of Burgundy in the French countryside. Seeing picturesque hilltop vineyards and green meadows; with its elegant châteaux, charming cobblestone medieval villages, ancient Roman towns and historic, iconic locks.  The Nivernais in Burgundy is said to be the prettiest canal in all of France.  

Unsplashed image by Mr Xerty

This part of the Burgundy wine region is known as “Côte Chalonnaise” and is a gourmet traveller’s treasure trove with flourishing vineyards. Famous for producing world-class wines dating back for centuries, growing Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Aligoté and Gamay grape varieties. There are also fabulous French Michelin starred restaurants and fresh farmers markets to discover.

Burgundy is a nature lovers paradise, with the riverbanks, woodlands and meadows full of colourful flowers growing wild. The pristine countryside is rich in wildlife. Grey herons, kingfishers, wagtails, kites & more than 180 species of birds live on these dreamy waterways, woodlands, and meadows. It’s heaven for such a keen bird-watcher as we all were on this trip. It was a whimsical experience to hear all the particular bird species cheeping, cooing, and calling each other to communicate secret bird business! Our navigation started from Migennes, a town situated at the top of the Canal de Bourgogne, the Yonne and Armançon Rivers. This is where our beautiful self-drive boat was ready to pick up from my favourite houseboat company Le Boat.

The top 12 treasures to visit in Burgundy:

Migennes: is a gorgeous town with flower-lined streets and wonderful green public spaces to walk along. The town has a pretty church, Christ-Roi to visit.

Monéteau: is a picturesque town with the amazing 1913 bridge designed by Gustave Eiffel. The town has a 12th century church, and you can hear the chimes of Colbert Castle from the river.


Unsplashed image by Denis Lorain

Auxerre is the largest city of the area, rich in history, with vibrant markets, lovely shops and delicious French pâtisseries. A wonderful place to explore the old winding streets with shopping, alfresco dining, and the traditional French timbered buildings. You can visit the majestic cathedral and historic churches which dominate the skyline as you arrive to this elegant city.

Auxerre is where Vititours have wonderful “wine- and vine-themed” guided tours, a definite highlight when visiting Burgundy. The local tour guides come right to your boat to pick you up to discover this world famous wine growing area. It is fascinating to learn from the wine aficionados about the unique characteristics and traditions of the Chablis wine region. The Chablis' Grand Cru vineyards and Premier Cru vineyards are mainly planted on the unique Kimmeridgean soil made up of limestone, clay and fossilized oyster shells. Chablis' is characterized by citrus fragrance, purity, crispness, sophistication and minerality. It’s also distinct for its unoaked Chardonnay style wine.

Chardonnay sweet grapes Unsplashed image by Manuel Venturini

Vincelles-Vincelottes: is a pretty village famous for its good restaurants that feature the superior wine of the region. There are wonderful walking paths on the edge of town.

Cravant: a picturesque medieval village with well preserved old streets, where you can find the old wash house and wood framed houses. A marvellous church stands aside a walkway built in the unique Burgundy style architecture the 9th century, expanded in the 12th century, then rebuilt at the end of the 16th century.


Unsplashed image by Debbie Molle

This picturesque little village of Vermenton, with winding streets is typical of this region. There is much to discover; including a charming 12th century church, town square two faced sundial built in 1790, the old wash basin that people used here in a bygone era and fortress ruins. On the outskirts of town, is where you can experience stunning views along the verdant vineyards.

Prégilbert: a peaceful hamlet and is a charming place to moor and walk downtown to see the old Roman church on the outskirts of town. A perfect place for a serene walk to contemplate.

Mailly-le-Château: is a friendly quaint and quiet town. It has beautiful hiking paths on the outskirts of the town, especially La terasse, leading to lookouts with stunning views over the valley.

Châtel-Censoir: the village is a welcoming peaceful and inviting place to visit. There is a 15th century church, beautiful natural landscapes all around, and the great restaurants to experience.

Vézelay: is a gorgeous village 16km southeast of Châtel-Censoir. On our boat charter we took a short taxi ride to this stunning hill town, it was well worth the trip. Vézelay renowned to be one of France’s most beautiful villages. It’s home to the Basilica of Sainte-Marie-Madeleine and is listed as an UNESCO World Heritage Site and acknowledged as one of the great masterpieces of Burgundian art and architecture.

Clamecy: is a beautiful and flower-filled city. There are lovely sites to discover such as the pretty City Hall, gothic church Saint-Martin and its great tower. Also home to the church Notre-Dame-De-Bethléem.

Unsplashed image by Denis Lorain

Tannay:  is a pretty little ancient village. After it was destroyed during the 14th century, people decided to build fortifications around it, amazing that they can still be seen to this day. Tannay vineyards have been around for since the Middle Ages. Today superior wine of “Coteaux de Tannay IGP” is produced on an area of 30 hectares by around ten exceptional winemakers.

I was so lucky to experience a beautiful Bourgogne boating adventure with a few friends in early summer not so long ago, aboard a beautiful Vision 4 self drive charter with Le Boat. It was wonderful to discover the treasures of this Côte d'Auxerre waterway with its elegant cities, magical meadows and historic hilltop vineyard towns. We marvelled as we cruised down the canal discovering new places with its ever changing dream-like scenery as we meandered through the land. We all agreed it looked like we had been here a long time ago, once upon a time in a lullaby!


Ernest Hemingway sums this up perfectly ...

“Wine is one of the most civilized things in the world and one of the most natural things of the world that has been brought to the greatest perfection, and it offers a greater range for enjoyment and appreciation than, possibly, any other purely sensory thing.”

Ultimately wine makers have to respect Mother Nature, make hundreds of small decisions at the right time along the process to get the best out of the grapes that eventually tune into the optimum possible wine; if we manifest this process it can help us take our talents we have been given to make the best possible life for us all.



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Welcome to Destination Serendipity for inspired travel journeys. I’m Linda De Angelis and I have travelled all over the world as a professional travel advisor. Remember to sign up for my inspired travel blogs. Just click on the button below.

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