Whether you’re looking to book your first barge holiday or you’re an experienced cruiser planning your next trip, France should be at the top of your list. With beautiful canals, picturesque towns, breathtaking countryside and, of course, incredible food, it’s the perfect country to explore from the waterways. There are so many reasons why a luxury cruise through France is a great getaway option. Getting to know a place from a boat means you get to see it from a whole new perspective, making your trip one to remember from the moment you step on board.
But as well as getting you away from the crowds of the cities and taking you into the charm of the country, it’s the combination of adventure and comfort that makes a cruise on the water one of a kind – this includes Ensuite cabins, like-minded people and, of course, the full fine dining experience. Food is an integral part of French culture, so what’s a trip to France without trying all the wonderful cheese on offer?
As part of your barge holiday, you can expect a cheese course served with every meal, giving you a chance to try a host of local delicacies. Here’s a little introduction to some of the delectable delights you could try onboard.
The Best of Burgundy Cheeses
Let’s start with the little-known and very underrated soft cheese, Soumaintrain. This is a farmhouse speciality that’s been made in the northern part of the region for over a century. Its distinctive yellow rind is created by the maturation of at least six weeks and regular washing in brine and brandy. The flavour is creamy and complex, pairing wonderfully with a glass of Chablis.
You can’t visit Burgundy without trying this unique food. Known as “the king of cheeses” in the area, the flavour of this brick-red morsel is both salty and sweet, as well as pungent – making it quite moreish. You’d recognise this cheese a mile off with its strong smell, but don’t be put off by first impressions. Baked in the oven it makes the perfect evening snack to enjoy during your barge holiday.
For this goat’s cheese, we’re heading south where it’s been made since the sixteenth century. It might be small but that’s because its flavour is rich, pairing well with local white wines. If you’re a fan of goat’s cheeses, then you’ll love this.
You’re probably already familiar with this popular snack, but nothing compares to eating local Comte in France on your barge holiday, wine glass in hand. Compared to the other variations mentioned, this one has a hard texture and is made with at least 45% fat cow’s milk. The special thing about Comte is that every wheel is unique, presenting its own flavour profile that can vary from spicy and roasted to fruit and buttery.
This is just a small taste to whet your appetite, but there is so much more cheese (and other gourmet specialities) to try on a barge holiday in France. So if you’re looking to try something a little different on your next getaway, it’s worth considering a river cruise. Just be sure to book with a reputable company that has plenty of experience to ensure that you have the best time possible.
Paul Newman is the Marketing and E-Systems Executive for European Waterways, the UK’s most respected provider of all-inclusive, luxury hotel barge holiday itineraries in France and other great destinations. Part of a team of experienced barging aficionados, Paul is first in line to endorse the perks of a slow-paced barge cruise to anyone looking for a unique holiday experience.