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La Renaissance Food and Wine

From: A Barge Cruise in France

La Renaissance chef

ABOVE: Sylvain, our chef, serves a buffet lunch from the bar. INSET BELOW: The chef's onboard herb garden, a lunchtime cheese selection, filet mignon de porc, a superb tarte tatin, and one of the two wines served at lunch or dinner.

Dining

herb gardenBreakfast on La Renaissance consists of baguettes, croissants, and other pastries (obtained from village bakeries en route) plus two cereals, ham and cheese, and a simple fruit salad. The staff will cook eggs on request, but don't expect a full English breakfast: The chef wants you to have an appetite for lunch.

French cheesesLunch typically consists of something hot (such as a quiche or a whole salmon baked in rock salt) along with several different salads. A cheese course (with two different cheeses) rounds out the meal.

Dinner is a more elaborate affair that includes a soup or starter, a main course, two French cheeses, a dessert, and coffee. On our cruise, dinner usually started at 7:30 p.m. and lasted about two hours.

tarte tatinSylvain, the chef, was a young man of exceptional talents. He was also accommodating: If a passenger had a food allergy or simply didn't like something, he'd provide a substitute--such as individual cheese-free quiches and tarts for a passenger who couldn't tolerate cheese.

wineEuropean Waterways cruise fares include wine, spirits, and other beverages, with different red and white wine selections (and occasionally a rosé) at every lunch and dinner. The staff make a point of describing both the wines and the cheeses, so bring your pocket notebook if you're a connoisseur of vin or fromage.

  • Tip: You'll get the most value from a barge cruise if you're open-minded about food and wine, and if you enjoy new culinary experiences. If you'd just as soon have a steak and baked potato at every meal, you might be happier on a mass-market cruise ship.

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