Ranch & Coast Magazine

February 2024

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@ranchandcoast RANCH & COAST MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 2024 75 Lobster tails are the overture to another night of fine dining aboard the 12-passenger Adrienne, one of the luxury barges belonging to French Country Waterways. We dine as we glide along the rivers and canals that thread through Burgundy, known for picturesque, sloping vineyards and church steeple villages. e region is home to some of the finest pinot noirs and Chardonnays on the planet. Walsh not only captains Adrienne, he leads shore excursions, describes each of our meals and wines in rich detail, and shops village markets for the day's menus. Mostly plain-Jane on the outside, but with comfy interiors, spa- cious staterooms, and a doting staff, French Country Waterways' barges mosey among canals and rivers throughout four winemak- ing regions. An extended peak cruising season runs from April to October. is is France as it was meant to be seen: slow-going and intimate, with nary a tour bus in sight. Hotel barges are remarkably narrow in order to navigate through the dozens of locks that operate on Burgundy's 600-mile web of waterways. We rise. We fall. It's a rush. Aboard a bike or à pied, France's pastoral charms unfold. Canal- side, villagers walk their dogs, anglers fish for carp and catfish, church bells toll, a frantic world seems to drop away. Some stretches allow passengers to step off the barge and walk the towpaths or grab a bicycle and pedal to an onward lock, rejoining the barge. One necklace of locks allowed me just that. On a quiet morning, biking from one village to the next, I arrived at a pâtisserie just in time to enjoy fresh-from-the-oven croissants. Fine cuisine is a religion in France. Gourmet lunch buffets and four-course candlelit dinners onboard are a celebration of the great gastronomic centers that surround us. French Country Waterways even takes the elegant dining experience ashore. Along each route, one night is set aside for a meal at a celebrated restaurant. Ours is in the village of Chagny; it's the famed Lameloise of Chef Eric Pras. By night's end, the three stars Michelin bestows on Lameloise will get no quarrel from us. Cheese options alone are displayed like gems in a jewelry store. We savor cheeses preferred by Napoleon, a cheese Louis XIV the Sun King was partial to, cheeses that date to Pliny the Elder, Morbier (soot in its aging history — talk about unique), and award-winning Époisses, a cow's milk cheese sourced from this region. Each three-cheese course becomes more than a bridge between dishes. It is a celebration of France. Centuries of French history also come alive in the walking tours Walsh leads. In picturesque Chalon-sur-Saône, we stroll and shop the narrow winding lanes leading from the historic main MAIN Adrienne underway. Burgundy boasts a 600-mile web of waterways past historic towns, vineyards, and forestlands OPPOSITE BOTTOM LEFT Architectural centerpiece in Burgundy's wine capital of Beaune is the Hospices de Beaune, one of the finest examples of 15th century Burgundian architecture. With their ornate rooftops with dormer windows, twin buildings surround a stone courtyard. Now a museum, it was founded in 1443 as a hospital for the poor OPPOSITE BOTTOM RIGHT Aboard Adrienne, salads and a daily quiche were the supporting cast for Chef Tadek Zwan's delectable luncheon entrees. Avec wine, of course BELOW Le porteur de benaton, by sculptor Henri Bouchard, stands on the grounds of Château du Clos de Vougeot, once home to monk-tended vineyards in honor of the abbot of Citeaux and today a 12th-century center for social activities, to promote Burgundy wines throughout the world >> << ADRIENNE: PHOTO COURTESY OF GILLIES AND ZAISER AGENCY ALL OTHER PHOTOGRAPHY BY RICK SYLVAIN

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