More than 60,000 international rugby enthusiasts will head to France this year to watch as the world’s top teams go head-to-head in the 2023 Rugby World Cup. Running for a total of 51 days, the tournament will see 20 teams play 48 matches in nine venues across ten host cities, kicking off on September 8th with a blockbuster match between France and New Zealand at the Stade de France, in Paris. Travellers heading to France for the cup can combine the excitement of the tournament with the best France has to offer on a European Waterways luxury hotel barge cruise. With barging already an established holiday choice for Europe bound Australians, European Waterways is the ideal choice for those seeking to wind down during or after the tournament with immersive private, and often exclusive, daily excursions, four-course gastronomic meals paired with fine wines and charming cruises along the picturesque canals and intimate waterways of the French countryside.
During the tournament
Those attending matches at the Stade de Bordeaux or Stadium de Toulouse are in prime position to sail away on luxury hotel barge Rosa. Cruising the canals of South-West France, the 8-passenger Rosa features a spacious sundeck with dining area for enjoying alfresco meals prepared by an onboard chef and comfortable loungers for guests to relax and take in the passing French countryside after a thrilling game.
Cabins and whole-boat charters are currently available for the September 3rd departure cruising the Bordeaux region, which includes an itinerary filled with immersive excursions that reveal the cultural, historical, and culinary traditions of the region, such as a visit to the world-renowned Saint Émilion and a tour on the Garonne River aboard a traditional flat-bottomed boat. Cabins are available at €5,050 per person, based on double occupancy. Whole boat charters are available at €37,500 based on 8 passengers travelling. Those sailing on the October 22nd Gascony departure can look forward to a private visit to the Château de la Motte, accompanied by the resident Countess and a guided excursion and private tasting at a renowned local Armagnac producer with cabins currently available at €4,350 per person, based on double occupancy and a whole boat charter available at €32,000 based on 8 passengers travelling.
After the tournament
With the majority of European Waterways luxury hotel barge cruises starting with a pick up in Paris, those attending games at the Stade de France can take their pick from an array of barges and cruise itineraries. Cabin space is currently available on the 12-passenger La Belle Epoque, 8-passenger L’Art de Vivre and 8-passenger Renaissance for October 29th departures, the day after the Rugby World Cup’s grand final.
Guests aboard La Belle Epoque are treated to the world-class cuisine of Northern Burgundy and explore UNESCO World Heritage sites that include the famed Abbaye de Fontenay, the oldest preserved Cistercian abbey in the world. Also on the itinerary is a visit to the family-owned champagne house Maison Taisne Riocour in the renowned wine growing region of Les Riceys, followed by a champagne aperitif and a private gastronomic lunch with the Baroness in the family’s chateau. Cabins on La Belle Epoque are available at €5,090 per person, based on double occupancy while a whole boat charter is available at €57,500 based on 12 passengers travelling.
Cruising the Canal du Nivernais in Burgundy, European Waterways’ L’Art de Vivre is one of the company’s oldest barges. Guests aboard 8-passenger L’Art de Vivre can celebrate the Wallabies or All-Blacks triumph or drown their sorrows with a visit to the renowned village of Chablis, enjoying a private wine tasting at the prestigious Domain Laroche, followed by a visit to the 1000-year-old Obediencerie, where the wines are aged. With cabins available at €4,450 per person, based on double occupancy and whole boat charters at €33,000 based on 8 passengers travelling, L’Art de Vivre features a spacious sun deck and spa pool, where guests can truly unwind after an action packed few weeks.
European Waterways’ flagship hotel barge, the 8-passenger Renaissance, cruises one of the country’s oldest canals, the Canal de Briare in Western Burgundy and the Loire Valley. A spacious hotel barge with beautifully appointed saloon, sun deck and spa pool, passengers are treated to a picture-postcard countryside dotted with sophisticated châteaux, quaint villages, and the rolling limestone hills of Sancerre, which many claim produce “the ultimate French Sauvignon Blanc.” Among cruise highlights is a wine tasting at La Perriere winery, known for its Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir. Cabins on Renaissance are available at €6,850 per person, based on double occupancy. Whole boat charters are available at €50,000 based on 8 passengers travelling.