7TH  - 12TH  OCTOber 2020

westbound: POGNY to COURCELLES

This extra sailing date has just been added, so by booking first you get to choose the daily excursion.  This is a beautiful time of year to cruise as the weather is still mild and the leaves are just starting to change colour on the trees and vines.    

 

Three cabins available at €2,600 per person (based on two people sharing a cabin)

Shopping in Reims

Stacks of champagne in the cellars

Chocolate workshop

Saturday morning market

Champagne Le Gallais

Try Segway riding

WW1 American Memorial

WEDNESDAY 7TH OCTOBER

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 village of Pogny (typically 2 hours – 2.5 hours 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 in the village or just simply relax and unpack before you enjoy a three course dinner aboard.

 

THURSDAY 8TH OCTOBER

 

Morning – Cruise from Pogny to Chalons-en-Champagne

About 9am we’ll be taking off the mooring ropes to start our cruise along the canal.   Here the canal passes through peaceful countryside, past occasional grain silos that are the canal’s original raison d'être.  

Afternoon - Recommended excursion: Chateau Vitry-Le-Ville 

Join owner Patrick for a very personal tour of his gorgeous 17th/18th century chateau.  Today the chateau is a private home as well as a popular venue for events and weddings.  You'll learn the secrets of the chateau and the families who have lived here since 1264, before exploring just some of the 17-hectare estate and gardens. (5 minutes drive from the barge)

 

Alternative excursions

The villages of the Cote des blancs - Famed for it's chardonnay vineyards and chalky soils, the Cote des blancs is one of the three major growing areas for champagne.  Claire will take you to Vertus, a pretty village with over 1000 years of history.  On a walking tour you'll hear stories of a colourful past whilst visiting the church, the one remaining gate from the 13th century defensive walls and admire the public and private floral displays that have earned this village a 3 flower rating.  Our stroll concludes with a champagne tasting at a small producer.  (45 minutes drive from the barge).

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.  You can then choose from the following options.

  • Option A - Walking tour of Reims city-centre – Settled since Roman times, Reims is awash with history.  On our walking tour you’ll get to discover of it’s hidden gems and beautiful art deco buildings. With this option there is also time for souvenir shopping and a stop at a patisserie.    NB. We can combine this with optional B to make a longer excursion if you would like.

  • Option B - Musée de la Reddition - The school which served as the Headquarters of General Eisenhower, and where he received the German surrender that ended combat in WW2 (24 hours before it was re-signed in Berlin) is now a museum dedicated to this historic event and the city’s role in the closing stages of the war.

  • Option C - San Remi Basilica and Musee San Remi – Built in the 11th century the beautiful Romanesque San Remi Basilica is even older than the main cathedral.  Next door we will also visit the 17th century abbey which now houses a museum telling the history of the city from Roman times.

 (50 minutes drive from the barge)

 

Cook a meal with a French Chef - Join Chef Eric for a fun and educational evening in the kitchen – learn pro tips and techniques as you help prepare a starter, main and dessert.  Then sit down to dinner and enjoy the fruits of your labour!  Example menu: turbot with kaffir lime and ginger, duck cooked at low temperature with foie gras two ways and chestnut macaroon (50 minutes drive from the barge). 

Evening

Tonight we are moored in the town of Chalons-en-Champagne and you'll be enjoying dinner at the Michelin star restaurant of up and coming local Chef Jérome Feck (unless you choose the cooking class excursion).  If you'd like you can walk to the restaurant (about 15 minutes), guided by one of the crew who will show you the cities cathedral, historic houses and winding miniature canals on the way.

 

FRIDAY 9TH OCTOBER

 

Morning – Cruise from Chalons-en-Champagne to Mareuil-sur-Ay

We will spend around 6 to 7 hours cruising today so the barge may already be moving as you sit down to breakfast.  Serenity will be descending downhill through a chain 6 locks, before passing through the pretty villages of Tours sur Marne and Bisseuil.  With the towpath alongside and several nearby villages this is the perfect opportunity to hop on one of our bikes or take a stroll as there are lots of opportunities to get on/off the barge as we stop in each lock.

 

Afternoon - Recommended 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)

 

Alternative excursions

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)

 

A stroll in Ay - Join Claire for a walking tour of this charming village, with its 14th century half timbered houses, winding lanes and gothic church. After a 're-fuelling' stop at the patisserie we visit Champagne Collet, with its Art Deco villa and museum of champagne production. (5 minutes drive from the barge)

 

Chocolate workshop - Get hands on and learn how to make filled chocolate champagne corks with Xavier at his artisan chocolate shop.  We will then head to the city centre, where on a walk down the famous Avenue of Champagne you’ll learn the story of some of champagne’s most iconic names including Moet & Chandon, Pol Roger and Perrier Jouet.  (20 minutes drive from the barge)

 

Evening

For tonight we are moored in one of our faveourite spots, on the edge of the village of Mareuil-sur-Ay.  Right underneath the vineyards, we always get beautiful sunsets over the canal here.  Dinner tonight is at an excellent local restaurant.

 

SATURDAY 9TH OCTOBER

 

Morning - Cruise from Mareuil-sur-Ay to Damery

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.

 

When we return to the barge we’ll enjoy the short cruise to Damery.  As lunch is served we leave the manmade canal and descend onto 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 - Recommended excursion: Champagne Le Gallais 

At this winery not only are their vineyards blessed with beautiful views down the Marne valley but the grapes also go right up to the turreted Chateau Boursault, built in 1843 by Madame Cliquot. Join the lovely Florie for a walk in the vineyard and learn how they care for the vines throughout the year.  And whilst tasting the estates champagnes, one of the group will be taught how to open a bottle using a sword!  Called ‘Sabrage’ this technique dates back to the Napoleanic troop’s who liked to celebrate victory with champagne.  (10 minutes drive from the barge)

 

Alternative excursions

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)

Chocolate workshop - Get hands on and learn how to make filled chocolate champagne corks with Xavier at his artisan chocolate shop.  We will then head to the city centre, where on a walk down the famous Avenue of Champagne you’ll learn the story of some of champagne’s most iconic names including Moet & Chandon, Pol Roger and Perrier Jouet.  (20 minutes drive from the barge)

A stroll in Ay - Join Claire for a walking tour of this charming village, with its 14th century half timbered houses, winding lanes and gothic church. After a 're-fuelling' stop at the patisserie we visit Champagne Collet, with its Art Deco villa and museum of champagne production. (5 minutes drive from the barge)

 

Evening

Tonight you are dining at one of our favourite restaurants in Epernay - the cheese cart here is always a talking point with guests.

 

 

SUNDAY 9TH OCTOBER

 

Morning - Cruise from Damery to Courcelles

This morning we continue along the river, past the town of Dormans to our peaceful mooring spot in Courcelles.   Keep an eye out for the resident peacocks at the second lock we pass through this morning.

 

Afternoon - recommended 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.  You can then choose from the following options.

  • Option A - Walking tour of Reims city-centre – Settled since Roman times, Reims is awash with history.  On our walking tour you’ll get to discover of it’s hidden gems and beautiful art deco buildings. With this option there is also time for souvenir shopping and a stop at a patisserie.    NB. We can combine this with optional B to make a longer excursion if you would like.

  • Option B - Musée de la Reddition - The school which served as the Headquarters of General Eisenhower, and where he received the German surrender that ended combat in WW2 (24 hours before it was re-signed in Berlin) is now a museum dedicated to this historic event and the city’s role in the closing stages of the war.

  • Option C - San Remi Basilica and Musee San Remi – Built in the 11th century the beautiful Romanesque San Remi Basilica is even older than the main cathedral.  Next door we will also visit the 17th century abbey which now houses a museum telling the history of the city from Roman times.

  • Option D - Champagne Pommery - One of Champagne’s ‘Grande Maisons’ it was Pommery champagne that first developed the modern “Brut” style of champagne in 1874.  Your guide will show you around the beautiful natural chalk cellars which were originally dug out by the Romans, which today house an eclectic collection of modern artworks as well as million of bottles of maturing champagne.  You visit ends with a tasting of two of their champagnes.

  • Option E - Villa Demoiselle -  Originally built for the directors of Pommery Champagne, in the last five years this Art Deco house has been lovingly restored before being opened to the public.  The result is a real architectural jewel with floral paintings climbing the walls, stained glass windows, period furniture throughout, sweeping central staircase and superb Baccarat chandeliers.  We'll tour the villa before repairing to the garden for a glass of champagne. 

 (50 minutes drive from the barge)

 

Alternative excursions

Ride a Segway through the vineyards - On this fun excursion we’ll explore the vineyards above the Marne valley in the company of Bruno, the winemaker at Jacques Copin Champagne.  Segways are easy to ride and mean we can cover a greater distance than walking.  And ofcourse your visit ends with a tasting of Bruno’s champagne.  (10 minutes drive from the barge)

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. (30 minutes drive from the barge)

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.  On our way back to the barge we'll take a stroll in the village of Dormans and visit the Memorial Chapel, with its beautiful views over the Marne river valley. (10 minutes drive from the barge).

 

WW1 History - This area was a key strategic location during the Aisne Marne Offensive during the closing stages of World War 1.  We start our tour at the statuesque Franco-American Memorial atop Hill 204, with its sweeping views over the champagne hillsides of the Marne valley.  We will then drive a short way to Belleau Wood were the trench lines and shell holes remain as scars of the fierce fighting that took place here, famous as the first significant engagement of the newly created US Marine Corps - who earned the nickname 'The Devil Dogs' from the assulting German troops.   We will also visit the adjoining American and German cemeteries (35 minutes drive from the barge).

 

Evening

Alternatively if you choose to visit Reims for your excursion and want a bit more time to shop or explore the city, we can stay in Reims for dinner before returning to the barge.

 

 

MONDAY 9TH OCTOBER

 

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.

Chateau Vitry-Le-Ville

Reims Cathedral

Cellars at Champagne Pommery

Stained glass in Reims cathedral

The village of Ay

Champagne welcome aboard

Mareuil-sur-Ay

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