Culinary Barge Cruise in Provence

Fall, 2010


Join us on our exclusive Culinary Barge Cruise in Provence.  Board Le Phenicien for an amazing week discovering the secrets of Provencal cooking from local chefs, while enjoying the natural beauty of the region, its vibrant markets and meeting local food heroes! This is a wonderful time to enjoy Provence as we sail from the medieval citadel of Aigues Mortes on the coast, through the Camargues to the ancient Papal city of Avignon.





Le Phenicien is a beautiful canal barge (121ft) that has been equipped to provide the luxuries of a small comfortable hotel for 18 passengers.  We've chartered the full barge for this trip.

The Upper Deck is home to the common areas: the dining room, bar, lounge, kitchen and rear sundeck.  There are large panoramic windows inside to enjoy the views and the teak viewing deck is equipped with director’s chairs and leather benches to enjoy the midday sun.

 The vessel boasts one of the most beautiful and dramatic salons in barging with its "Casual Chic" decor and interesting local pottery accents and art lining the walls.

The Lower Deck houses the nine guests’ cabins. Six are furnished with queen beds and three with twin beds.  All the cabins have en suite bathroom with shower and air-conditioning with independent controls. The lower deck is reached by three staircases. All the cabins have been refurbished in 2009.

Particular note must be made with regard to the friendly service and great food and wine on board.  In addition to the three fantastic cooking lessons already arranged, there will be an opportunity for you to prepare the food on board in small groups of four with head chef Thierry.



All food on board is freshly prepared using local ingredients which celebrate the rich culinary traditions of Provence, served in the elegant dining room. All meals will include a wonderful cheese selection.


Matching the wonderful local flavors, you can also enjoy an excellent selection of wines (red, white and rose) from the Rhone, Provence and Langue D’Oc paired to the courses.  During the cruise, your host Bertrand will introduce over 20 different wines, all of which are included in the price of the cruise.


Day 1: Arrival, Aigues-Mortes

Join the cruise party on Sunday afternoon either at Nimes railway station or Marseilles airport for our transfers to our barge Le Phenicien. On arrival freshen up and enjoy the beautiful city of Aigues-Mortes, a 14th century walled city rising from flatlands, close to the Mediterranean sea.

Stroll through town before dinner served on board, including wines.

Day 2: Aigues-Mortes & Arles

This morning relax, explore Aigues-Mortes or do some shopping.  

There will be the opportunity to join an optional excursion to the salt flats that produce the wonderful Camargue salt including the delicate “Fleur de Sel” salt crystals prized by chefs.  The Salins are renowned for their beauty and wildlife.

Lunch will be served on board, including wines, as we sail to Arles, passing along the canal, in the heart of the Camargue.  This is a region of wetlands with wonderful birdlife where you can spot Marsh harriers, Bitterns and even flamingos among the reed beds. 


Passing on to the petit Rhône and river Rhône we reach Arles, the poster child of Provence. Celebrated in the paintings of Van Gogh, the city seems instantly familiar. Enjoy exploring the bars and cafes of the Place du Forum depicted in Van Gogh’s Le Café la Nuit. 
Dinner will be served on board, including wines.

Day 3: Arles

This morning there will be an unforgettable cooking lesson with Chef Jean Luc Rabanel whose restaurant L’Atelier in Arles has fast become one of the most celebrated in Provence. His superb organic cuisine is a riot of colour and flavor.

After lunch, which is included with wine, enjoy free time to explore and shop in the picturesque historic centre, which can be easily reached on foot from the boat. The city also boasts impressive Roman monuments such as the former Roman necropolis (Les Alyscamps), a Roman theatre and the Roman arena which still hosts bull fights. Be sure not to miss the Romanesque Church of Saint-Trôphime, patron saint of Arles.

Dinner will be served on board, including wines.



Day 4: Saint Remy & Vallabrègues

This morning there will be an excursion by coach to the wonderful village market at Saint Remy, one of the best in Provence. 
We then enjoy a cooking lesson at the Moulin de Calanquet olive estate based on the secrets of olives and olive oil in Provencal cuisine.  Lunch is included with wine.
On return to the boat the boat will sail along the Rhone to Vallabrègues, a typical village of narrow streets where you can admire the local craft of basket weaving and watch the village elders play petanque.  There will be free time to explore. For those who wish, you can even borrow one of the eight bicycles on board to explore the surrounding countryside under looming Mont Ventoux.
Dinner will be served on board, including wines.

Day 5: Villeneuve market & Pont du Gard

This morning we sail to picturesque Villeneuve lès Avignons, dominated by the 14th century castle which overlooks the palaces of the Cardinals who served at nearby Avignon. Stroll through town and enjoy the picturesque weekly market before lunch served on board, including wines.
This afternoon there will be an excursion departing by coach for the Pont du Gard.  There will be a visit to the beautiful site of the ancient Roman aqueduct over the River Gard and a visit to the site museum.
Dinner will be served on board, including wines.


Day 6: Avignon

Sailing to Avignon, we will walk to the Place de La Mirande to meet chef Jean-Claude Altmayer at the prestigious relais La Mirande (1 Michelin star) for a cooking lesson in the 19th century kitchens of the historic hotel.  Lunch is included with wine.

Our barge, Le Phenicien, will be moored a short distance from the city ramparts, an easy walk to the historic centre, famed for the Palais des Papes built by the Popes.
This evening enjoy a party on board with dinner served on board, including wines.

Day 7:  Departure

This morning after breakfast we check-out of the barge. We transfer by coach to Nimes or Marseilles airport where the trip ends.


Pricing of $3995 per person is based on shared accommodation of a double room, including:

  • 6 nights bed and breakfast on board the Le Phenicien
  • 4 cooking lessons (listed below):
  • 1 cooking lesson with JJean-Claude Altmayer, Avignon
  • 1 cooking lesson at Moulin de Calanquet, Saint Remy
  • 1 cooking lesson with Jean Luc Rabanel, Arles
  • 1 cooking lesson with Le Phenicien chef, Thierry on board
  • 5  lunches with wine and mineral water
  • 6 dinners with wine and mineral water
  • Open bar on board Le Phenicien
  • Complementary usage of bicycles
  • Food visits as listed below:
  • Moulin de Calanquet olive estate (for cooking lesson)
  • Saint Remy markets
  • Excursion to Pont de Gard including entrance tickets
  • Coaching throughout
  • Cruise coordinator: Michel

Not included:  Flights, insurance (required), meals not listed, extras and personal spending such as optional excursion and gratuities.

Minimum number: 14 people

Maximum number: 18 people



Comments from those who joined us on the 2010 Provence Barge Cruise:

We just returned home safely after our wonderful France Culinary Barge Trip!  Thank you so much for organizing everything.  We had a superb time and we even appreciated the nice weather you ordered for all of us.

The staff of Le Phenicien was great and the accommodations and barge were beyond our expectations.  And, a special thank you goes to Thierry, the barge chef who prepared so many delicious meals for us in such a small kitchen.  He certainly is a miracle worker and he's definitely an inspiration to all of us who like to cook.

We really enjoyed our experiences with the other chefs as well. They were a very talented group of men with interesting and fun personalities and we all learned a few new cooking tips along the way.  I think "our" favorite chef had to be Jean-Claude from La Mirande.  What a beautiful setting for a cooking class and wine tasting.  Jean-Claude and his staff were extremely delightful and they extended a warm welcome to our group.

Overall, this once in a life time trip for us rates a 10+++++++  I think I took over a thousand photos so I know we'll always have many fond memories of this very special vacation.

This is the third "Tastes of Italy" trip I've been on so far, and I only have one question.....Where are we going next? 


We did indeed have a wonderful holiday in provence. The barge was lovely and the food and service first class. We would not hesitate to use your services again and will pass on our great experiences to friends. Thanks to all involved  for a great holiday. 


The Provence barge trip was fantastic and well beyond anything I had anticipated.  And I agree, every one of the bargers and the entire crew were fantastic. Thank you both for a great experience. 


Our hats fo off to you for providing yet another fantastic and memorable Chez Cherie culinary vacation.  Just when we think you can't top the last Chez Cherie trip we went on, you actually do!  There aren't enough 'thank yous' to express our sincere appreciation for the superb time we had and all of the very special things we did.  None of this would have been possible if we had done it on our own.  So with great pleasure and anticipation, we're looking forward to the next Chez Cherie culinary vacation.... wherever that may be!



If you missed our 2009 Culinary Tour of Sicily, or our 2007 Culinary Tour of Tuscany, this video slideshow of our recent Provence cruise will give you a feel for the flavor of our tours, and the sorts of (foodie) things you can expect on our Provence trip:




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Phone:  818-952-7217

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