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La Belle Epoque Review

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La Belle Epoque
-- / 5.0
3 reviews

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Jana Jones
Cruise Critic Contributor

La Belle Epoque Overview

The 13-passenger La Belle Epoque, sister barge to L'Impressionniste, was built in 1930 to carry logs from Burgundy to Paris and Amsterdam. The 128-foot long, 16.5-foot ship was converted to a hotel barge in 1995 and cruises through Burgundy on the Upper Burgundy Canal.

La Belle Epoque has seven cabins, including one single and two suites. Rooms range in size from 90 square feet for the single to 165 square feet for the larger of the suites. Three of the rooms can be configured as either twin or double. Guestroom decor is reminiscent of an Art Nouveau French country manor, with dark woods, toile fabrics and appointments from the Belle Epoque. Each guest room has a closet, reading lamp, hairdryer and at least one window or porthole that opens; the suites have small sitting areas. The en-suite baths are tiled in marble and have a toilet, sink and shower (the suites have a full tub). Amenities include towels, shampoo, shower gel and soap. All current is 220 to 240 volts (North American appliances need converters) with the exception of the bathrooms, which have a 110 outlet for shaving only. Rooms offer air-conditioning (individually controlled) and central heating.

The saloon, located above the guestrooms, is large and comfortable, with a curved sofa, armchairs, occasional tables, a bar, a stereo with CDs and a small library. Attractive and relaxing, the room is furnished with antiques and reproductions from the Belle Epoque. The dining table seats 14.

Forward of the saloon is the outside deck, with a covered portion, an open portion and a six-person hot tub. Tables, umbrellas, teak reclining chairs with pads and flower-filled pots create an inviting atmosphere. During nice weather, wine, snacks and occasionally full meals are served outside.

Meals are served in a single seating, with breakfast and lunch offered buffet-style. Breakfast is Continental with breads, croissants, yogurt, cereal, fruit, coffee and tea. Lunch is typically breads, cold-cuts, salads and cheeses, with the occasional hot entree or soup. The meal is served with wine and finished with dessert and coffee. Dinner is an elegant candlelit affair, with regional cuisine paired with wine, desserts, cheeses, coffee and liqueurs.

As on all of the hotel barges in European Waterways’ fleet, La Belle Epoque is an all-inclusive product, with wines, soft drinks, bottled water, beer, liquor and liqueurs, as well as all onboard meals and snacks, included. (Certain vintages of wine and Champagne -- except for the Welcome Aboard greeting -- are not included, but can be provided for a fee.) Shore excursions, usually lasting from two to four hours, typically take place once a day; all entry fees are included with your cruise fare. Optional activities, such as golf and hot-air balloon rides, cost extra. Two air-conditioned VW mini-buses follow the barge’s route and are available at designated times for transport.

Excursions on La Belle Epoque include private wine and fois gras tastings, a visit to the Abbey de Fontenay, a UNESCO world heritage site, and a trip to the village of Flavigny sur Ozerain, location of the film "Chocolat."

La Belle Epoque carries 10 bicycles. Because the boat travels so slowly, passengers can easily debark at a lock and catch up with the barge later. Board games, boules, and binoculars are available for guest use. Special family, wine or walking theme charter cruises are also available.

The barge has five crew members: a captain, chef, stewards and a tour guide, all of whom speak English and French.

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Awards and Recognition

European Waterways La Belle Epoque Member Reviews

La Belle Epoque
Sail Date: Jun 2017
So, let me give you a rundown of those six days on La Belle Epoque. Then you can judge for yourself. Sunday. With barge Capt.... Read More
La Belle Epoque
Sail Date: Oct 2014
Our trip started in Paris, meeting on a Sunday at the Hotel Westminster on Rue de la Paix at 1:45pm.... Read More
La Belle Epoque
Ed De Bevic
Sail Date: Apr 2009
Just ask ahead of time; out in the relaxed rural areas, the locals are very much less interested in stocking the LA Times daily. We asked for - and got - the papers of our choice.... Read More

European Waterways Fleet

4.5 / 5.0
Editor Rating

2 reviews

One of the longest barges in European Waterways' fleet, the 13-passenger L'Impressinniste sails small waterways in Provence, leaving from Avignon.

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With only eight passengers, Andjodi offers an intimate, all-inclusive barge experience on Southern France's Canal du Midi, with wine tasting, guided tours and bike trips.

La Belle Epoque

The 13-passenger La Belle Epoque barge cruises through Burgundy on the Upper Burgundy Canal, making stops in small villages and stopping for private wine and foie gras tastings.


One of widest barges in European Waterways' fleet, the all-inclusive Athos carries 10 passengers on the Canal du Midi in Southern France.


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Scottish Highlander

With roomy cabins compared to most hotel barges, Scottish Highlander carries eight passengers around the locks and canals of Scotland's Loch Ness, serving regional cuisine and designing local excursions - including golf.

Shannon Princess

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L'Art de Vivre

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Magna Carta

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La Bella Vita

The 20-passenger La Bella Vita was added to the European Waterways fleet in 2010. The refurbished barge sails from Venice to Mantua via Italy's famous Canal of the Orphans and Bianco Canal.


European Waterways' eight-passenger Rosa is a former Dutch "clipper" barge completely refitted in 2010.

Clair de Lune

The six-passenger Clair de Lune is a former freight barge that used to transport cocoa, and was converted into a luxury hotel barge in 1998.

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