Aboard Renaissance: A visit to the famous faience factory in Gien

Wares at the Gien faience factory.
Wares at the Gien faience factory.

ABOARD RENAISSANCE-Cannot believe how fortunate we are weather-wise. Predictions had been for cool temperatures for one sunny day between rain and clouds. Instead it has been warm and sunny.

All the better to sun and lunch on the foredeck. We have been alternating morning excursions one day with afternoon ones the next. Quite civilized, especially when nothing except breakfast begins before 9 a.m.

Captain Hadrian and Chef Luke shop the market for lunch and dinner.
Captain Hadrian and Chef Luke shop the market for lunch and dinner.

Today we are moored, with a number of other barges, at the village of the seven step locks that we will take this afternoon in quick succession.

Alas, two of us have succumbed to, as the French say, crise-e-foie, crisis of the liver. Susan and Carol go to market and the famous faience factory in Gien; Max and I stay abed after a night of chills and shedding the rich excesses of the past few days. Gien photos courtesy of Carol.

Averse to missing anything, I make it on deck for the afternoon’s cruise, passing many more fields of rapeseed, waving at anglers and cyclists and feeding a begging goose.

We later learn that it is customary to give leftover food – cheese, breads, pastries, vegetables – to the lockkeepers. The goose was one of a pair that last year waited each week by the lock for Renaissance to stop and the treats to begin. This is the first time for 2015, and only one goose is waiting.

Dinner in the elegant surroundings of Auberge des Templiers.
Dinner in the elegant surroundings of Auberge des Templiers.

“Someone had a good Christmas dinner,” said Hannah, tossing the surviving goose a hunk of croissant.

We moor at La Gazonne, a reserve with stocked lakes and nary a soul to interrupt the serenity.

Shaky but ready to go, I join Carol and Susan for dinner at the Michelin starred hostelry Auberge de Templiers, in Boisemorand, one of the first eight Relais et Chateau properties.

The garden and surrounding outbuildings were charming and beautiful, a serene spot for an aperitif, although many of the French find such a custom barbaric. Of the five-courses – seven counting the amuse bouche and palate cleanser – the Rothschild soufflé was our favorite. All told, we’ll take Chef Luke.

April 22, 2015 Judy Wells

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