L’Etoile was moored in the sea-harbour of Sete, waiting to go in drydock when suddenly:

a big boat coming in

a big boat came in

dropping his anchor behind L'Etoile

dropping his anchor behind L'Etoile









To moor right behind L’Etoile

L'Etoile in the sea-harbour of Sete
L’Etoile in the sea-harbour of Sete

Really, L’Etoile is 111 feet long and 15,85 feet wide!















This season we cruised again with families. Already for years we propose a special ‘children’s itinerary’ for groups up to eight on L’Etoile. A big hit, and I really enjoy to do these cruises myself. L’Etoile has a little plunge pool on deck, lot’s of games, and the atmosphere is casual. When I purchased the 20 pax barge L’Estello last year, I hoped it would be possible to cruise with families on this barge too. I imagined three-generation parties, grandparents, their children and grand children meeting on L’Estello, using the barge as their home in France for a week…

L'Estello on the River Rhone

It worked, and I hope you enjoy reading this comment:

‘In a word, it was PERFECTION! Cobie and her team were warm and welcoming from the moment we boarded the barge. The accommodations were excellent and the beds were very comfortable. The food was well prepared, beautifully presented and plentiful. Cobie prepared platters for the children so that each parent could serve their own children, taking into account their likes and dislikes and portion sizes. Adults were served individually.

The sightseeing and biking activities were perfectly tailored, taking into consideration that we had three children between the ages of three and four children ages seven to twelve. Cobie, Nico, her assistant, and Christian, the captain, were always flexible with regard to meal times and sightseeing requests. They even babysat the children for one night when we had an adult dinner at a local restaurant in Arles.

When we left this morning Cobie asked if there was anything that she could have done to make the trip any better. I’m sorry to disappoint her but our trip was 110%! And you can certainly share this email for marketing purposes).

Our family would happily and unconditionally recommend your services and L’Estello with enthusiasm. Good luck with your business and the impending new addition to your family. And a very big “thank you” for arranging this wonderful holiday for us.’

L’Etoile collision with Bull

One of our guests reported this very special and exciting event, while cruising with us on L’Etoile.
I wish I had a picture. I don’t, you have to try to picture it yourself!

As we arrived in Aigues Mortes to moor for the night, I saw that a bull was loose and running along the park next to the canal. People were chasing and yelling and the horsemen were running up and down to try and head him off and the bull was darting in and out of traffic and down the side of the hill. The shore had small groups of onlookers cheering and yelling. I watched it with interest, meanwhile checking out our mooring spot.
Suddenly the bull plunged into the canal and began to swim towards L’Etoile. It rammed horns-first right into the side of our barge and tried to swim in front of it. I think I yelled something, because suddenly our guests left their lunch and came on deck to see what was going on. I tried to direct captain Christian to miss the bull. Really, I am born on a barge, have been around on barges for all my life, but being broadsided by a bull, that was another first-one!

This is what our guests reported:
‘The bull climbed up out of the canal into a section of the park that was gated on both ends. That meant that the chasers could not get in unless they climbed over the gate. We watched this spectacle take place over the next half hour from the safety of our barges across the canal. The bull was literally a hundred feet from us. We had a front row seat and took a ton of pics.
The boys chased and taunted the bull and scattered to the trees and up onto walls whenever the bull made to chase them. At one point the bull was taunted, bull-fighter-style, by a young man holding something like a cape. The bull fiercely bobbed its head and horns and stomp its hooves in warning to keep your distance.
The police came. They saw the situation and drove off to find tools to dismantle the gate so they could drive a livestock truck into the area and capture the bull. They finally got the gate open. The horsemen came in first riding their proud, gray Arabians. There were eight of them and another dozen or so chasers. They hemmed and hawed and waited for the truck to arrive. Meanwhile the bull was going back and forth and stomping and bobbing and the chasers were taunting and running away.
Finally the trucks came. There were two. They parked side by side right near the edge by the canal. The horses went around the bull and began to herd him towards the trucks. We took bets as to whom would go into the canal first, the bull, the horsemen, or the chasers. Within a minute, with a lot of yelling and horses chasing, the bull came running up one of the ramps of the truck.
They quickly closed it…and that was that.’

Happy New Year!

HB Cruises added a new boat and now has a fleet!

The barge L’Estello can accommodate up to 20 passengers in 10 comfortable cabins. Cruising in year 2010 will be mainly in the South of France, the beautiful region of Provence.

This is the perfect boat for family reunions, three-generation parties, meeting up with all your friends, or business meetings!

If you go to http://www.hbcruises.com, you can read all about this new boat, and if you have more questions, feel free to e-mail me on hotelbarges@orange.fr

We look forward to cruising with you on this new boat!

I am once again leaving the US again today. But before I go, I want to express my gratitude to everyone who made this visit so enjoyable and such a success. I love to talk about my barge, french cuisine and France and you were a wonderful and willing audience – from Jennifer at Belle Epoch Travel in San Diego, to all the agents at Casto Travel in San Francisco and to everyone who opened their homes to me. I enjoyed being with you so!

I would also like to thank all people from The Landings on Skidaway Island for coming to my reception. I felt honoured by your interest. After running an advertisement for several weeks in a local newsletter, the plan was made to give a reception, including wine and cheese, and provide an opportunity to meet and ask about ‘barge cruising in France’. Lots of people showed up! It was great to understand,that most of you had already looked at my web site www.hbcruises.com Thank you also for all your questions about the food, the itineraries, the crew, the en-suite cabins, private parties and more! You made it easy for me to talk about it, so far away from it!

One frequently asked question I would like to explain here: ‘What is actually a barge?’

For me, the term “barge” does not adequately describe the comfortable living quarters guests enjoy.  This former steamboat, built in the late 19th century, has been lovingly restored, keeping as much as possible, her traditional look. Guests enjoy our flat screen TV, I-pod docking station, a library of books and DVD’s and bicycles to ride along the footpaths that are part of the French country lifestyle.

I personally emphasize the fact that barge cruising on L’Etoile is customized, and catered to your needs, a personal approach, it is all about you, and for you!

I would like to thank all people helping me to make this reception possible, including the Savannah Sommelier Kevin Smith for being so kind to put up a flyer for this reception. When I walked into his shop, I was greeted with ‘Hi Cobie’, now, that feels very welcome! I was impressed by his very good selection of French wines and was excited to see wines in his shop from the Burgundy region where L’Etoile cruises! A very nice Meursault, Volnay, Santenay, Puligny-Montrachet, all places we can go touring while cruising this itinerary!

A big ‘Thank you all for coming.’ I certainly hope to receive you on my barge!

Happy Holidays!

Bottle Tree

Bottle Tree

HB Cruises of France would like to wish our friends, our guests and our agents, avery happy holiday season and a successful New Year!

We are looking forward to the 2009 season!



Climbing in Sete

Climbing in Sete

Last summer we cruised several times with children on board. These cruises were delightful and very much appreciated. I so much enjoyed to cruise with these happy families, that I decided to write a special itinerary for families with children. You can check this out on our  cruise itineraries. We already booked our first family cruise 2009!