Madeleine is one of four newer 24-passenger hotel barges, launched by CroisiEurope (the first was Jeanine, the other two are Raymonde and Anne Marie). The ship plies the canals of Provence, following the wine route from Avignon to Sete, and stopping at villages along the way to sample traditional foods and local wines.
The two-deck ship has just 12 cabins, each 12-metres-square, which is generally comparable to other European river cruise ships, though the ship's decor is more functional than luxurious. All have windows, TV and ensuite bathroom with shower.
Madeleine has a spacious lounge area with bar, a separate dining room, a sun deck/barbecue deck with parasols, lounge chairs and a hot tub at the prow; and bicycles for guest use. The ship has air conditioning/central heating and Wi-Fi throughout.
Like most other European river lines, CroisiEurope does include wine, beer and soft drinks with lunch and dinner year-round and offers unlimited drinks (including house spirits) during the high season from April to October. Food and wine onboard is consistently good, and locally-sourced.
Itinerary options are varied, but note that CroisiEurope asks passengers to pay extra for shore excursions -- which many other Europe river cruise lines include within their fares.
The majority of Croisi's clientele is European, with a large percentage of passengers being French. But the line's reasonable prices -- and a recent marketing push into English-speaking markets -- is attracting Brits and a smattering of Americans.
CroisiEurope's La Belle de l'Adriatique, a 198-passenger oceangoing vessel, was purpose-built for coastal cruises and sails to Greece, Croatia, Montenegro and Cyprus.
The 142-passenger Infante Don Henrique is one of three CroisiEurope river vessels that sail on Portugal's Douro and measures 246 feet in length.
CroisiEurope's Princesse d'Aquitaine, a 138-passenger vessel based on the Gironde River, operates cruises through southwest France. It boasts spacious public areas and an emphasis on its French heritage.