Eastbound: Chateau Thierry to Pogny

Join the barge in Chateau Thierry

Champagne Dom Caudron

WW1 history

Try Segway riding

Chateau at Champagne Le Gallais

The historic village of Ay

Damery village

Hautvilliers

Champagne Guy Charbaut

Enjoy a cooking lesson

In the vines

Champagne Pommery

Art Deco Villa Demoiselle

Chateau Vitry-Le-Ville

Our countryside mooring

Reims Cathedral and Archbishop's Palace

WEDNESDAY 30th 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 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 1st octoBER

 

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 - recommended 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).

 

Alternative excursions

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 (40 minutes drive from the barge).

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)

 

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).

 

Evening

Tonight you will enjoy dinner at a popular local restaurant on the town square, just a few minutes from the boat.

 

FRIDAY 2ND octoBER

 

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 - 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)

 

Champagne Guy Charbaut - 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.  (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. (15 minutes drive from the barge)

 

Evening

Tonight's dinner is at a local village restaurant a short drive from where the barge is moored.

 

 

SATURDAY 3rD octoBER

 

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.

 

Afternoon - Recommended excursion: A stroll in the village of Hautvilliers

We'll drive through the vineyards 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)

 

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.  (20 minutes drive from the barge)

 

Champagne Guy Charbaut - 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.  (1 minute 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

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 this evening is at an excellent restaurant in Epernay, offering modern, refined French cuisine.

 

 

SUNDAY 4TH octoBER

 

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

We'll start our morning passing through the pretty villages of Tours-sur-Marne and Bisseuil, before continuing along the canal to Chalons-en-Champagne.  Dating back to Roman times, Chalons is a charming small city with two large gothic churches, medieval half-timbered buildings and a network of small canals criss-crossing the town-centre.  With the towpath alongside and frequent locks today's cruise is the perfect opportunity to hop off the boat and get some pictures of her cruising along.

 

Afternoon - Recommended excursion: Visit Reims cathedral and take a cooking class with a French ChefWe 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.  Then we cross the square to 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 (40 minutes drive from the barge).

Alternative excursions

Champagne Pommery and Villa Demoiselle

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.   After your cellar tour we'll cross the road to visit 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.  (40 minutes drive from the barge)

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.  (35 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.

 (40 minutes drive from the barge)

 

Evening

Tonight it's dinner aboard with a relaxed BBQ evening on the top deck.

 

MONDAY 5TH octoBER

 

 

Morning - Cruise from Chalons-en-Champagne to Pogny

As we should be moored just by the cathedral (space permitting!), there is time to explore Chalons this morning before we depart - either independently or guided by a member of the crew.

 

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.

 (50 minutes drive from the barge)

 

Evening

As a fitting end to your cruise, dinner tonight is at the restaurant of Jerome Feck in Chalons.  Awarded a Michelin Star in 2018 Jerome offers modern seasonal cuisine based on local products.  We love this restaurant for the interesting flavour combinations, beautiful presentation and excellent service to match.

 

 

TUESDAY 6TH 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.

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