2Nd - 8th June 2021
EASTbound: Chateau Thierry TO SILLERY
Join us for an early summer cruise - currently 2 cabins available, priced at €2,950 per person (based on 2 people sharing a cabin).
View over Eperany from the balloon
Saturday morning market
Chateau Vaux le Vicomte
In the cellars at Champagne Guy Charbaut
The village of Hautvilliers
Shopping in Reims
WEDNESDAY 2Nd june
Afternoon - Pick-up in Paris
This afternoon we will meet your cruise group at a pre-agreed location in Paris and drive to where Serenity is moored in the town of Chateau Thierry (typically 1 hour – 1.5 hour drive depending on traffic).
Upon arrival at the barge you’ll be welcomed by the rest of the crew with champagne and canapes. Afterwards there’s time to take a stroll around to the ruined hill-top castle or just relax and unpack before sitting down to a three course dinner aboard.
THURSDAY 3rd June
Morning – Cruise from Chateau Thierry to Dormans
About 9.30am we’ll be taking off the mooring ropes to start our cruise along the river Marne. This tree lined winding river has for centuries been an important trade route to Paris and even today we will likely pass some cargo barges on our journey. Otherwise the river is a peaceful place with wildlife, fishermen patiently waiting for their catch, pleasure boaters and canoeists.
Afternoon excursion: Champagne Dom Caudron
A visit to this vilage co-operative makes an ideal introduction to how champagne is produced. We start our tour at the historic wine presses in the museum, before moving onto the modern cuverie. And your visit ends with a tasting of three champagnes, each paired with a different handmade chocolate. We’ll then take a short drive to the Memorial Chapel in Dormans, with its beautiful views over the Marne river valley, before walking back through the village to the barge. (10 minutes drive from the barge).
Tonight you will enjoy dinner at a popular local restaurant on the town square, just a few minutes from the boat.
FRIDAY 4TH June
Morning – Cruise from Dormans to Damery
Today as we continue eastwards along the river, the banks become less tree-lined to reveal sweeping views of the rolling vineyards.
Afternoon excursion: Epernay
Often called the Capital of Champagne, a highlight of Epernay is the famous Avenue of Champagne, the home of Moet & Chandon, Pol Roger, Mercier and Perrier Jouet. As we stroll down the hill into the city there are plenty of opportunities to stop for a tasting if you wish. You will enjoy a flight on a tethered balloon that climbs to 150m, offering fantastic views over the city, vineyards and the Marne river valley (weather permitting) and there is also time for some shopping if you wish. (15 minutes drive from the barge)
Tonight's dinner is at a local village restaurant a short drive from where the barge is moored.
SATURDAY 5TH June
Morning - Cruise from Damery to Mareuil-sur-Ay
It's an early morning start today if you want to join Claire for a visit to the bustling Saturday morning covered market in Epernay. The stalls are laden with fresh produce from across the region and you can choose the cheeses and charcuterie to enjoy as a platter style lunch today.
After we return to the barge, Serenity will continue cruising east along the river. As we pass the village of Cumieres, make sure you look out for the metal sculptures along the river bank, depicting different scenes from the vineyards. Soon afterwards we leave the river and turn into the man-made canal with its narrower locks, where Serenity squeezes in with centimetres to spare.
Late Afternoon/Evening excursion: Candlelight evening at Chateau Vaux Le Vicomte
Enjoy a night to remember at this picture perfect 17th century chateau. Upon arrival we will visit the interior of the chateau with it’s magnificent state apartments. There is then time to wander in the formal gardens by Le Notre (who also designed the gardens at Versailles) before enjoying dinner al-fresco overlooking the chateau. As darkness falls over 2,000 candles are lit throughout the gardens and chateau, a beautiful spectacle and a glimpse of how the chateau would have been felt in the time of Louis XIV. Important: The chateau is around a 2 hour from the barge. (This is significantly further than we normally travel for excursions, but previous guests who’ve chosen this option thought the unique experience was well worth the extra time in the car. If you are keen on this excursion and flexible on travel dates, consider taking a Westbournd cruise as the drive time is shorter).
SUNDAY 6TH June
Morning - Cruise from Mareuil-sur-Ay to Isse
We'll spend around 6 hours cruising today so the barge will probably already be moving as you sit down to breakfast. After passing through the pretty villages of Tours-sur-Marne and Bisseuil, Serenity starts climbing uphill through a chain 6 locks. With the towpath alongside and locks every kilometre of less this is the perfect opportunity to hop off the boat and get some pictures of her cruising along.
Afternoon excursion: Guy Charbaut and the village of Hautvilliers
Established in 1936, this family owned champagne house focus on bio-dynamic work in the vineyards and are experimenting with aging in oak barrels for their cuvees. On your tour, Marion will explain the complete process of making champagne as she shows you around the vat house and century old cellars dug into the chalk cliff above. Your visit ends with a generous tasting of a range of the vintage and non-vintage champagnes. We will then drive to the village of Hautvilliers, considered one of the prettiest villages in the region. Famous as the home of Dom Perignon, who is often credited with discovering how to make champagne, today this village is home to around 800 people and more than 30 champagne houses! On our guided walk around the village you’ll visit the abbey and enjoy another champagne tasting at one of the village’s small producers. (20 minutes drive from the barge)
Tonight we are moored in a peaceful spot in the middle of the countryside so we'll be enjoying a BBQ dinner onboard.
MONDAY 7TH June
Morning - Cruise from Isse to Sillery
About 9am we’ll be taking off the mooring ropes to start our cruise along the canal. Our journey this morning takes us through peaceful countryside, past occasional grain silos that are the canal’s original raison d'être. Around 10am we will reach the Mont Billy Tunnel. Built in 1860, this tunnel took 15 years to complete and takes the canal beneath the Montagne de Reims. Passage through the tunnel takes around 35 minutes - if anyone is claustrophobic or doesn’t want to travel through the tunnel, the vehicle is available to take you for a visit to the nearby Phare de Verzenay, a lighthouse built in the vineyards as an eye catching landmark, which now houses a modern museum about the vineyards, before meeting the barge at a later lock.
Afternoon excursion: The historic city of Reims
We start our visit at the magnificent gothic cathedral. Every king of France since Clovis in 1130 has been crowned in this cathedral, today it is a UNESCO World Heritage site in recognition of this history it’s architecture significance and the impressive beauty of the external sculpture work. We then cross the road to the Musée Beux-Arts where five-centurys of French and European art are on display, from the Renaissance to Impressionism, Le Grand Siècle, Impressionism and the unclassifiable work of the French-Japanese artist Léonard Foujita. Then we will head off for a walking tour of the city centre. Settled since Roman times, Reims is awash with history and you'll get to discover of it’s hidden gems and beautiful art deco buildings. There is also time for souvenir shopping and a stop at a patisserie (25 minutes drive from the barge).
As a fitting end to your cruise, dinner tonight is at Le Millienaire in Reims. Holder of a Michelin Star since 2011, the father and son team of Laurent and Thibault Laplaige are in the kitchen, offering modern seasonal cuisine based on local products. We love this restaurant for the interesting flavour combinations, beautiful presentation and excellent service to match.
TUESDAY 8TH June
Morning - Return to Paris
After a relaxed breakfast it’s time to say goodbye to Serenity. You’ll leave the boat at around 10am and should be in Paris around midday, depending on traffic.