Below you will find a series of questions and answers about the wine classes and the wine tours. If you have additional questions please contact us at 218-409-2540 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wine Class Questions
Q: I don’t know anything about wine. Can I still take a class?
A: Of course! We welcome beginners and experienced folks. All levels welcome here.
Q: What if I don’t like red/white wine?
A: That’s ok. It could be a matter of taste preference, or perhaps it is just a matter of educating your palate, pairing the wine with the right food, or drinking it at the right temperature. Sara didn’t like red wine before, but now she has learned to identify and appreciate the aromas and flavors in red wine and has come to like some reds better than whites.
Q: How do I schedule a tasting and what kind of things do you offer?
A: We offer a variety of set classes and can also customize a class for you (see this link for more info). We are happy to come to your place of business or your home for a tasting. Give us a call at 218-409-2540 or email email@example.com to schedule a tasting or with questions.
Q: Will there be food at the tasting?
A: This depends on the location/host of the tasting. We would like for some food such as bread and cheese to always be available but cannot guarantee this.
Wine Tour Questions (Canal Boating Questions)
Q: If I go on the canal boat trip will I get sea-sick?
A: Unlikely. The canals in France are narrow, calm, and flat and the pace we drive is around walking pace.
Q: Who drives the boat?
A: David and Sara will be the primary operators but you are welcome to take a turn at it too.
Q: Do I need to be athletic to go on a canal boat tour?
A: You need to be somewhat steady on your feet to navigate the small space and ladder style steps on the boat. You will need to be able to step on and off the boat, usually by walking on a 16 inch wide, 6 foot long gangplank (we all help each other by holding hands out or providing an arm). Walking one mile + without sitting to rest is necessary if you feel like exploring any of the quaint villages along the route, and for going to restaurants, markets, wine caves, historic sites, etc. If you are up for it, you can also toss and catch the lines (ropes) when we are in the locks and when we park on the canal’s banks. Line handling is not required, but it is fun. And if all that is not enough exercise for you, you can explore the country side by walking, jogging, or biking along the canal’s tow path between towns. 4 bikes are included on board. Morning yoga is optional.
Q: I was wondering about the meals. The itinerary doesn’t say much about the food, except that provisions would be put on in the beginning. Do we eat out along the way at the various stops? Do we cook on the boat? I’m just trying to figure out how much money I need to plan on for meals, etc.
A: Regarding food:
Yes, we will do the initial stocking of the boat with paper goods, cleaning products, general food supplies (oil, salt, pepper, coffee, tea, bread & crackers, cheese, jam/honey, fruit, veggies, juice, etc.). When these things are depleted, we have everyone chip in equally to buy groceries for on-board. This has worked out to about 25€ per person every other day. Breakfast is flexible. Some only want coffee, some want bakery items, some eat things we have (like fruit or toast). Either lunch or dinner will be on land (everyone buys their own) and then the other main meal will be on board as a picnic style meal (using the groceries we collectively bought from either a local market or grocery store and everyone chipping in on food prep). We like this collective buying and eating method because sharing meals makes for a unified group. That said, we know cooperative food sharing can be a big issue for folks so we are open to discussion.
Q: How many hours a day are we on the boat and how much time daily in each stop over? Any description of what the days will be like would be appreciated.
A: Regarding on-board/off-board timing:
This is not your typical cruise. It is more like a family style adventure. We cruise most of the hours of the day that we are allowed to cruise (9am-12:30pm & 1:30pm-7pm) but we stop when we want, where we want, and you have a say in that. We try to end up close to a town over the lunch break and before parking for the night so folks can get their walks and exploration in. There will be some days where we spend many hours on land and other days where we don’t. We will have 4 bikes on each boat available for excursions in the country or to farther away towns. We have a few bigger towns we plan to visit where we imagine people will want to stay longer and we have a few monuments/historical sites on route we will visit, and of course a few wineries too. We will also be offering yoga on board (or maybe off board depending on the terrain).
Q: Do you know if the boat will allow us to plug in our CPAP (breathing machine for sleep apnea) at night?
A: According to LeBoat there are people on just about every cruise who need to use a CPAP and it works just fine. On the newer boats (which we will be on) there is an on-board generator which automatically turns on to power up the battery bank if we start using up our power reserves (the battery bank runs the lighting, fridge, plugs and more). So we should have no trouble with power supply for the CPAP. We won’t need to plug in somewhere in a town. However, we are fairly certain that there is only one plug per bedroom/cabin. Plugs are standard French outlets, not 12 volt. We use an adapter which looks like this: http://www.adafruit.com/products/990?gclid=CP3etJbFybwCFYkWMgodoisAFA. Easy to find at an electronics store. All of our newer tech stuff (iPhones, etc) automatically convert the power. Your CPAP might auto convert too and it should say right on the machine.
On some of LeBoat’s older boats your CPAP will work on 220v while the boat is running or plugged in to shore power but will require a 12v adapter plug (the kind that plugs into a cigarette lighter) when the boat is not under power or plugged in to the shore. (Pretty much every night we are “camping” and do not have shore power.) Here’s a link to the 12v adapter needed for a CPAP:
Q: Can I charge my smartphone, camera, etc. on board the boat?
A: On Le Boat’s newer boats, yes. But you will need a “European plug” adapter. Adapters do not convert electricity, they simply permit you to plug units into a different type of wall socket found in other countries. Converters may still be needed to adapt current from 110 to 220 voltage, or vice versa. Check with the manufacturer of your appliance or travel item. Most newer devices automatically convert the power from 110 to 220. Here’s a link to adapters for the 220v power in Europe: http://www.cpapsupplyusa.com/Lenmar-World-Traveler-Power-Adapter-Set-AC5.aspx.
On Locaboat and LeBoat’s older boats, you will need a 12-volt adapter plug (the kind that plugs into a cigarette lighter). This will charge a smart phone or small device but is generally not enough power to charge a regular camera or even an iPad. We recommend that you bring extra batteries if you are on Locaboat or an older LeBoat boat. We will try to stop in marinas on occasion to power up but there is no guarantee that we can do so.
Q: Should I bring my phone? How will I make calls?
A: We see a couple of options for phones: leave it behind, bring it but leave it in “airplane mode” so you can use the camera function, connect to wi-fi when that is available, use it and pray the fees don’t pile up, buy an international plan for a short time, or buy a SIM card once you get to France. This last option will give you an in-country phone number plus data but will not help if you want to call home. Plans change all the time though so do check with your carrier for best options before we depart.
We will use David’s phone number as an emergency contact and as a hotspot so you can check your email occasionally. You can give your loved ones his number if you do not have a phone or do not want to use your phone while traveling. The hotspot will not have enough data for uploading or downloading large amounts of data. We will come across wi-fi hotspots but they are not everywhere like they are in the US and they are no good for making calls anyway – just for data.
Q: What should I do about credit cards and money?
A: Credit cards with the smart chip are preferable but it is also good to carry a few different cards. You must have a smart chip card to use the automated ticket vending machines for the train station and metro. If you don’t have a smart chip card, there will usually be a ticket teller somewhere, but they are not always around and are not always easy to find. You do not need a smart-chip card to use ATMs or for most transactions at shops, hotels, etc.
Just like the US, not all cards are accepted at all establishments. American Express checks are not widely used or accepted any more. Generally, it is easiest to get Euros at an ATM using your credit card. You will incur foreign transaction fees which is annoying, but that is just how it is. If you pay your card off in full immediately upon your return you will reduce your overall fees.
You can purchase Euros before you go but may not get the best rates. But maybe that is preferable to incurring credit card fees through cash advances. Just like in the US, only carry as much cash as you feel comfortable carrying. Money changing booths are no longer on every corner but ATM machines are easy to find.
There are 2 very important things to remember regarding using your credit cards over seas:
- You must know your credit card PIN numbers to get cash from the ATM’s.
- You must tell your credit card company before you leave that you will be traveling in Europe. Otherwise, they may think your card has been stolen and your account will be frozen and unusable while traveling.
Q: Can I bring my kids?
A: In general, no. This is considered an adult trip. We specialize in wine appreciation which is not a child’s opportunity. Also, there are many days where we walk for miles. Most younger kids would not be suited for this type of day. Safety-wise, some of the boats we rent have rails and would be fine, but others do not have any rails and are fairly easy to fall off of. All that said, if your kids are older (in their mid to late teens), and you are interested in introducing them to European culture, we are happy to talk about a cruise that would be suitable for the whole family.
Q: I don’t speak French. Is that ok?
A: It’s ok if you don’t speak French as long as you remember to always start with “Bonjour” (Good morning / good day) and end with “Merci” (thank-you). The French are formal, polite people. These two words are the magic gateway to pleasant interactions in France.
Q: Should I buy locks for my suitcase?
A: If you do, they need to be TSA approved so airport security can get in to your suitcase if they so desire. If your lock is not TSA approved it is possible that they will make their way into your bag with force.
Q: What should I pack? What clothes should I bring?
A: Of course it depends on what time of year and where in the country you will be, but here’s a general rule: bring what you are comfortable wearing, pack at least one nice outfit for fine dining, and don’t worry about looking “too American” – France has become much more casual in recent years, especially in the country side which is where most of the canal trips will be. DO bring a good pair of walking shoes. That said, in the past we walked many mini-outings – to the bakery, winery, and quaint villages – just in our sandals and that was fine. Only pack what you can comfortable carry or lift. Even though you can unpack on the boat for the whole week, you still have to haul your bag around at the airport, to the train, to the hotel, and to the boat.
Q: Will this be a non-smoking cruise?
A: Yes, this is a non-smoking cruise. Of course if anyone is a smoker they can smoke off of the boat. But France in general has become less permissive about smoking. There is no indoor smoking any more in cafes and other public places. Outdoor smoking is permitted.
Q: What is your reservation and payment schedule like?
A: (General) We reserve the boats 12-14 months ahead of the trip. We require 1/2 down at that time. Checks or cash only. 6 months before the trip, we purchase the airfare and require the remainder of the payment to be made. About 4-6 months before we leave, we reserve hotel rooms. 3 months prior to leaving we purchase the train tickets to and from the boat basin (train tickets are not available before 3 months out). When we reserve the hotel rooms we will also facilitate ordering museum passes and other extras. After all reservations are finalized, we will prepare a detailed itinerary for you with all of your reservation numbers, hotel address, directions to and from hotels, trains, and boats, and any extras you may have ordered.
Specific to our 2016 cruises:
1. At the time the canal boat travel is scheduled and approved a thirty-five percent (35%) initial payment of $1330 per person is due. Second payment of 35% ($1330/person) is due March 1st, 2016. Final payment of $1140 (plus any special request add-ons) will be invoiced in May/ June with the remaining balance due upon receipt of invoice.
2. All payments are based on double occupancy. If a single cabin is required for one individual, there will be an additional charge of $1000.
Q: I’d like to talk to you in person. Can I call?
A: Of course! If you have additional questions please contact us at 1-218-409-2540 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.