Royal history at Château de Fontainebleau
Art and culture in Sens and Auxerre
Enjoy Burgundy’s magnificent wines
Premium Barges with max. 24 passengers
On this cycling cruise through the heart of France, the Seine and Yonne rivers invite you on a journey through Northern Burgundy, a land of rolling green hills, pretty medieval villages, bustling market towns and beautiful vineyards.
The Seine Valley south of Paris boasts a rich royal history and the Palace of Fontainebleau is a magnificent example of this impressive past. Cruise through Fontainebleau’s idylic woodlands, visit the 19th century artist village of Barbizon and spend the night in Moret-sur-Loing, a charming medieval fortified town strategically situated on the banks of the Loing.
The river Yonne then leads you into Burgundy, a region well-known for its friendliness, easy pace of life and mild climate. The Yonne was an important trade route for centuries, transporting wine, timber, and stone to ever-expanding Paris. Now it’s one of the most characterful and unspoiled waterways in the whole country.
Art, history, wine and culture lovers should not miss Sens and its gothic cathedral, or Auxerre and Joigny, with their many layers of art and history. And do you enjoy a good glass of wine? Famous local drops such as Chablis, Saint-Bris AOC and Irancy will delight your taste buds. This area is the cradle of a large number of wine appellations, with vineyards spread throughout a dozen villages that have kept their traditional winegrower’s architecture.
And the cycling? Sometimes you’ll follow the banks of the river, but some paths lead through the surrounding green hills to the local producers of honey, cider, cheese or wine. These parts may be a bit more challenging, but the spectacular views and personal encounters with local producers will certainly make up for that.
Day 1 (Tue): Auxerre
Embarkation and check-in at 2 pm. After a welcome by the captain, crew and tour leader there’s time to find your bike and give it a try. After dinner on board, you can take a stroll through Auxerre, the most beautiful of all river towns, with a skyline punctuated by church spires and streets lined with 16th century timbered houses. The cathedral of Saint-Étienne is magnificent, a masterpiece of gothic art.
Day 2 (Wed): Auxerre (30 km/18 mi or 42 km/26 mi)
Today you have several options. If you feel like relaxing and just want to discover Auxerre, please do and enjoy this beautiful city with the Abbey St Germain, the Cathedral St Étienne and the clock tower. If you’re ready for cycling, then explore the area around Auxerre together with your guide. Cycle along the Yonne to visit Caves de Bailly, a vineyard famed for its sparkling Cremant de Bourgogne and its dramatic entrance into the limestone hillsides – yes, real caves. St Bris and Irancy, also well-known vineyards, are close by on the hilltops. Also in Bailly you can admire the paintings of local painter Georges Hosotte, which are on display in the Chapelle de Bailly. Just walk up the little street of the church to discover his lush landscapes depicting this region’s beautiful countryside.
Day 3 (Thu): Auxerre – Joigny (26 km/16 mi or 38 km/23 mi)
Today’s bike tour leads along the Yonne river valley in a northern direction. Later, the longer cycling option leaves the valley and leads through charming countryside to Brienon-sur-Armançon. From there you bike along the beautiful Burgundy canal for a while to the town of Migennes, sitting at the junction of the Burgundy canal and the river Yonne, once a center of shipping industry. Close to Migennes the ship will be waiting for you for an afternoon sail to Joigny. This picturesque little town has a very long and successful wine history. It has several historical monuments, ancient churches and unique townhouses from the 16th-17th centuries, with carved renaissance facades.
Day 4 (Fri): Joigny – Villeneuve-sur-Yonne (21 km/14 mi or 42 km/26 mi)
Today’s bike tour starts with a circuit through local vineyards. The tour leader will show you some local producers where you can sample Burgundy’s fine wines. Around lunchtime we return to Joigny and you have the choice to join the ship sailing to Villeneuve-sur-Yonne, or opt for a pleasant afternoon ride to Saint-Julien-du-Sault. With its beautiful stained-glass windows, the town’s Saint-Pierre church dating back to the 13th century is worth a visit. Our day ends in Villeneuve, a very lovely French town on the banks of the Yonne, which remains undiscovered by many tourists. You’ll come across medieval gate towers and a romantic string of gardens while exploring this delightful place.
Day 5 (Sat): Villeneuve-sur-Yonne – Sens (28 km/18 mi or 52 km/33 mi)
From Villeneuve there are again two bike options. The shorter one stays close to the river, while the longer option takes you through the hills to the Musée de la Pomme et du Cidre, a museum where you can taste and learn about the fine cider they produce here. Close to Sens, today’s destination, you’ll come across the Parc du Moulin à Tan, a lush park bordered by two rivers. Sens is one of the oldest towns in France, dating back to Celtic Gaul. Its Saint-Etienne Cathedral is the first of France’s great Gothic cathedrals and served as inspiration for many others. A guided visit of the cathedral is on the program. You’ll also have time to shop, visit the local indoor market or stroll around town. Today there is no dinner on board, instead you can select one of Sens’ many local restaurants to dine in.
Day 6 (Sun): Sens – Pont-sur-Yonne (20 km/13 mi or 42 km/26 mi)
Today you can choose to follow the river valley again for a short cycling option or take a longer ride into the countryside and visit a local honey producer. If you decide for the short option, you can spend some more time in Sens before you start biking. Today’s destination is Pont-sur-Yonne, a small friendly town on the river.
Day 7 (Mon): Pont-sur-Yonne – Montereau – Moret (33 km/21 mi or 40 km/24 mi)
We set off today cycling in the direction of Montereau-Fault-Yonne, a town situated at the confluence of the Yonne and Seine rivers. In Montereau the Notre-Dame-et-Saint-Loup collegiate church, built between the 12th and 14th centuries, has been classified as a historic monument and is worth a visit. From Montereau we rejoin the ship for a dinner cruise to the day’s final destination, Moret-sur-Loing, a charming medieval fortified town, strategically situated on the banks of the Loing, where painter Sisley found inspiration for his beautiful impressionist paintings.
Day 8 (Tue): Moret-sur-Loing (40 km/25 mi)
Today you’ll explore the valley of the Loing river. First up is a visit Grez-sur-Loing, which flourished as an international artists’ colony in the early years of the 20th century. You then continue to Bourron-Marlotte, where you can admire a few magnificent impressionist paintings in the town hall. We then return to Moret-sur-Loing where we stay overnight again.
Day 9 (Wed): Moret-sur-Loing – Melun (40 km/25 mi.)
Today you’ll cycle through the wonderful forests of Fontainebleau. First destination is the town of Fontainebleau, a pleasant town for exploring or shopping, but which is most famous for its magnificent palace, which was highly favored by the French kings thanks to extensive hunting possibilities in the surrounding forests. One of the largest royal palaces in France, the château also houses a museum dedicated to Napoleon. After this, you’ll continue to the artistic village of Barbizon, where many 19th century painters found inspiration. In the local museum you can learn about the “Barbizon School”, an art movement founded by a group of landscape painters in the 1830s. The final destination of today’s bicycle tour is Melun, a town known as “le domaine des reines blanches”, as it used to be the retreat of widows of the French kings.
Day 10 (Thu): Melun – lock of Évry | lock of Évry – Paris (31 km/19 mi.)
We are now getting close to Paris, which means there’s a bit more traffic to deal with. In the morning enjoy a short bicycle ride following the banks of the Seine river to the lock at Évry, from where you’ll rejoin the ship as we sail into Paris. We lunch on board before reaching the ship’s mooring place in the center of Paris, not far from Notre Dame. After dinner you can join the tour leader for an evening walking tour through the city of light.
Day 11 (Fri): Paris
End of the tour: breakfast, goodbyes and disembarkation until 9.30 am.
Day 1 (Sat): Paris
Embarkation and check-in is at 2 pm at the Quai de Bercy on the Seine river in the center of Paris. After a welcome by the captain, crew and tour leader, there’s time for a walking tour through Paris. After dinner on board, you’ll hear the first briefing about the barge, bicycles and tour program.
Day 2 (Sun): Paris – Evry | Evry – Melun (30 km/19 mi)
Breakfast while sailing. You’ll spend the morning on board, enjoying views of Paris from the river. Around 9 am there’ll be a safety lecture. After lunch, the bicycle tour starts from the lock at Evry. We start by following the banks of the river Seine. The destination of the first bicycle tour today is Melun, a town known as “le domaine des reines blanches”, because in former years it used to be the domain of the widows of the French kings.
Day 3 (Mon): Melun – Moret-sur-Loing (40 km/25 mi)
Today you’ll cycle through the wonderful forests of Fontainebleau. First destination is the artistic village of Barbizon, where many painters have found inspiration since the first half of the 19th century. In the 1830s, a group of landscape painters including Jean-François Millet and Théodore Rousseau formed the “Barbizon School”. You can learn about this in the local museum. Afterwards, we continue the tour to the Palace of Fontainebleau, once of France’s largest royal châteaux. The palace was much in favor among French kings because of the extensive possibilities to hunt in the surrounding forests. The castle itself houses a museum of Napoleon, among other things. The town of Fontainebleau is also very pleasant for a stroll or shopping. You then rejoin the barge again in Moret-sur-Loing, a charming medieval fortified town, strategically situated on the banks of the Loing river, where painter Sisley found inspiration for his beautiful impressionist paintings.
Day 4 (Tue): Moret-sur-Loing (34 km/21 mi)
Today we stay in the valley of the Loing and visit Grez-sur-Loing, where many artists used to live and work in the early 20th century. In the charming town hall of Bourron-Marlotte you can admire a few magnificent impressionist paintings. The ship will stay in Moret today.
Day 5 (Wed): Moret – Montereau | Montereau – Pont sur Yonne (33 km/21 mi or 40 km/24 mi)
Breakfast while sailing. You’ll start the bike tour from Montereau-Fault-Yonne, a town situated at the confluence of the Yonne and Seine rivers. In Montereau, the Notre-Dame-et-Saint-Loup collegiate church, built between the 12th and 14th centuries, has been classified as a historic monument and is worth a visit. From Montereau we follow the canalized river Yonne that features several locks, to the small friendly town of Pont-sur-Yonne.
Day 6 (Thu): Pont sur Yonne – Sens (20 km/13 mi or 42 km/26 mi)
Today you can choose to follow the river valley to the town of Sens, or to take a longer ride into the countryside and visit a local honey producer. Sens is one of the oldest towns in France. A guided visit of Cathedral Saint-Etienne is on the program. This cathedral is the first of the great Gothic cathedrals in France and an inspiration for many others. You’ll also have time to shop, visit the local indoor market or stroll around town. At the south of Sens you’ll find Parc du moulin à Tan. This long, verdant park, bordered by the Vanne and Lingue rivers, is a precursor to plans for a green belt, which is intended to eventually encircle the whole town. The park is named after an obscure local mill from 1887 that ground oak bark to make tanbark, a powder used in leather tanning. These days the park includes a rose garden, arboretum, children’s farm, playground and landscaping.
Day 7 (Fri): Sens – Villeneuve sur Yonne (28 km/18 mi or 52 km/33 mi)
From Sens there are again two cycling options. The shorter one stays closer to the river, while the longer one takes you through the hills to the Musée de la Pomme et du Cidre, a museum where you can learn about and taste the fine local cider. Our day ends in Villeneuve, a very lovely French town on the banks of the Yonne, which has remained undiscovered by many tourists. You will find medieval gate towers and a romantic string of gardens around this pleasant place.
Day 8 (Sat): Villeneuve sur Yonne – Joigny (21 km/14 mi or 42 km/26 mi)
Today’s bike tour leads you in the morning to the charming town of Saint-Julien-du-Sault. The Saint-Pierre church is worth a visit, founded in the 13th century it has beautiful stained-glass windows. We then continue to Joigny, from where we cycle an afternoon loop through local vineyards. The tour leader will point out producers where you can sample the fine wines of Burgundy. Joigny is a picturesque little town with a very long and successful wine history. It has several historical monuments, ancient churches, and also some unique townhouses from the 16th to 17th centuries that feature carved renaissance facades.
Day 9 (Sun): Joigny – Auxerre (25 km/16 mi or 38 km/23 mi)
During breakfast the ship sails to Migennes at the Yonne river junction with the Burgundy canal, once a shipping industry hub. From here the bike tour leads you along the beautiful Burgundy canal for a while. Later on, we head south to Auxerre, the most beautiful of all river towns, whose skyline is punctuated by church spires and streets are lined with timbered 16th-century houses. There’s time to visit the cathedral of Saint-Etienne, a masterpiece of Gothic art, to stroll along the old port or visit the 15th-century clock tower. Today there is no dinner on board. You can dine out at one of Auxerre’s many local restaurants.
Day 10 (Mon): Auxerre (30 km/18 mi or 42 km/26 mi)
Today you can choose from several options again. If you feel like relaxing and just want to stroll around Auxerre please do and enjoy this beautiful city with the Abbey St Germain, the Cathedral St Etienne and the clock tower. If you can’t get enough cycling, then explore Auxerre’s surrounding area together with the tour leader. Ride along the Yonne to visit Caves de Bailly, a vineyard famed for its sparkling Cremant de Bourgogne and its dramatic entrance into the limestone hillsides – yes, real caves. St Bris and Irancy, also well-known vineyards, are close by on the hilltops. You also have the chance to admire the paintings of Georges Hosotte, a well-known local painter, in the Chapelle de Bailly. In the hamlet of Bailly just walk up the little street to the church to discover his lush depictions of this region’s splendid countryside.
Day 11 (Tue): Auxerre
Final morning of your tour: breakfast, warm goodbyes and disembarkation until 9.30 am in Auxerre.
11 days/10 nights
10 x breakfast
9 x 3-course dinner
Coffee and tea on board
Use of bed linen and towels
Daily cleaning of the cabin
Fully guided cycling tours (from 18 guests: 2 tour leaders, 2 groups)
Some short walking tours
Use of a helmet
Use of a waterproof pannier bag
Entrance Château de Fontainebleau
Entrance Living Museum of Apiculture
Visit Sens Cathedral
Wine tasting Bailly
Bicycle rental or E-bike rental
Gratuities (at your discretion)
Entrance fees and excursions (not mentioned under included)
Transfers to/from the docking place
Bike divinely beautiful countryside
Art and culture in Sens and Auxerre
Enjoy great Burgundy wines
Premium Barges with max. 24 passengers
Bike in the Forest of Fontainebleau
Royal history of Fontainebleau Castle
Impressionist Barbizon & Moret-sur-Loing
Barge with max. 20 passengers