Charter cruise group with the grapes they picked infront of the Chateau Boursault at Champagne Le Gallais

Memorable moments of 2019

With the new year almost here it seemed like a good time to look back at some of the most memorable moments from this year….so in no particular order:

Picking grapes at Champagne Le Gallais

Harvest time is always fun as we get to duck in and watch the grapes being pressed in traditional wooden presses and taste the juice. But this year was even better as we helped pick the grapes with the guys at Champagne Le Gallais……total respect to the 90,000+ pickers who pick every grape that goes into every bottle of champagne by hand.

Guests picking grapes in Champagne Le Gallais

Swinging through the trees like Tarzan

In June we had three generations of the Matthews family from Australia onboard, so their bespoke cruise itinerary had some more unusual excursions to suit the younger members of the group. One afternoon we found ourselves swinging through the trees on ziplines and climbing rope ladders on a high ropes course! It scored big grins and thumbs up all round, but I don’t think it will make it onto our standard itinerary!

Teenage guest zooming along a zip-line at the high ropes adventure course

Meeting HUGE ships on the Belgian canals

We started 2019 in Belgium as we were getting some engineering work done to Serenity in Mechelen (Malines). The Belgian canals, and locks, are much wider than in France, meaning that Serenity gets dwarfed by much bigger ships passing us. Definitely a bit daunting at first!

Huge container ship, guided by a tug, passing Serenity Barge

Discovering the village of Vertus

Sometimes things just don’t go to plan. On Karl and Sharon’s cruise in July we’d planned to visit Chateau Pierry. As usual I phoned the owner the week beforehand to confirm our visit and was told ‘oui, oui bien sur’…..but when we pulled into the courtyard they were setting up for a wedding the next day and Madame refused to let us in – apparently I shouldn’t speak to Monsuier as “he has no idea what it going on around here”!! So a new plan was needed and we decided to divert to the the village of Vertus, which a local friend had told me was nice. What an unexpected surprise – a photogenic 14th century church built above a natural spring, one of gates from the village’s 13th century defensive walls is still there, lots of lovely flower displays around the place and a very friendly welcome at a champagne house.
We’ve added Vertus to our excursion options so I’m looking forward to bringing more guests here for a village walking tour in 2020 – but I’ll be watching out for that swan who tried to grab my handbag!!!!
Old fortified gateway in Vertus - a walking tour of this pretty village is an excursion option on your barge cruise

Arriving back in Sillery in April

We were happy to finally arrive ‘home’, particularly because we were 3 months late leaving Belgium due to engineering delays. But what made it so memorable was the welcome we received. From the ladies in the supermarket and the bakery to the local dog-walkers, everyone recognised us and asked where we had been etc. It really made us feel part of the community, even though Graeme sometimes struggled to understand what they were asking!

Arial shot of Sillery Marina - the start/finish point for our 6 night barge cruises

And there was another moment from that journey that’s memorable for all the wrong reasons, when Serenity came to an unexpected halt (luckily quickly resolved), but if you want to hear that story you’ll have to come visit us in person!

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Serenity barge cruising along he tree lined canal