9TH - 15TH september 2020
westbound: Sillery to Chateau Thierry
Join us for a late summer cruise - just one cabin remaining, priced at €2,950 per person (based on 2 people sharing a cabin).
Stained glass in Reims cathedral
Shopping in Reims
Stacks of champagne
Saturday morning market
Chateau Vaux le Vicomte
View over Epernay from the balloon
The ruined castle at Chateau Thierry
WEDNESDAY 9TH SEPTEMBER
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 at our home port of Sillery, 10kms southeast of Reims (typically 1.5 hours – 2 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 dinner at a Michelin starred restaurant in the nearby city of Reims.
THURSDAY 10TH SEPTEMBER
Morning – Cruise from Sillery to Isse
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. You can also see the vineyards in the distance. Around midday 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 claustrophic 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
Settled since Roman times, Reims is awash with history. On our walking tour you’ll get to discover both it's famous sites and some hidden gems, like beautiful art deco buildings. A highlight of the city is the magnificent gothic cathedral where almost every king of France since 1130 has been crowned. 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 will also visit the beautiful Romanesque San Remi Basilica, which is even older than the main cathedral and it adjoining museum. And don't worry there will also be time for a snack stop at a patisserie and some shopping if you wish. (25 minutes drive from the barge) .
Tonight we are moored in a peaceful spot in the middle of the countryside and you'll enjoy dinner at a local village restaurant.
FRIDAY 11TH SEPTEMBER
Morning – Cruise from Isse 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 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)
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 12TH SEPTEMBER
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.
Late afternoon/evening excursion: Candleight 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. Dinner tonight is at the al-fresco restaurant on the terrace overlooking the chateau. The evening ends with a firework display. Important: The chateau is around 1hr 30min drive 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) As a result you will be back at the barge around midnight.
SUNDAY 13TH SEPTEMBER
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 first lock we pass through this morning.
Afternoon excursion: Epernay, the Capital of Champagne
A highlight of the town 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 (at your own cost). 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)
Tonight dinner is a BBQ dinner onboard.
MONDAY 14TH SEPTEMBER
Morning - Cruise Courcelles to Chateau Thierry
Our final morning of cruising takes us through the more tree-lined winding section of the Marne river to the town of Chateau Thierry, which has been an important crossing point since Roman times. With the barge moored in the middle of town, you also have the opportunity to take a walk up to the ruined hilltop castle.
Afternoon - recommended excursion: The castles of Fere-en-Tardenois & Nesles
Built in 1206, today only the atmospheric ruined towers remain atop a dramatically steep mound - but what makes this castle unique is the monumental 5 arch bridge spanning what was originally the moat. On our way back to the barge we will stop at the Chateau de Nesles, which remains a family home, to admire the courtyard garden (20 minutes drive from the barge).
Tonight you will have dinner at a bustling brasserie on the quaiside, a short walk from the barge.
TUESDAY 15TH SEPTEMBER
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.