We love the Champagne region, not just for the wine but for the perfect combination of rolling hills and peaceful countryside, charming villages and historic cities. Travelling at around 6km/h (3 mph) Serenity is in no hurry, giving you the opportunity to truly get away from it all and enjoy the beautiful surroundings. Typically we moor in a village or town, however on at least one night we will be on a rural mooring - a really special experience with just the vast sky above and the sounds of nature.
You'll quickly slide into the relaxed routine of cruising and excursions, punctuated with delicious meals. With just your group onboard the pace is totally up to you. Feeling energetic? - then borrow a bike and explore before meeting Serenity further down the canal. Want to just while away the afternoon soaking up the sun and enjoying a good book? - no problem.
We passionately believe that eating in local restaurants is the only way to really experience French cuisine - that's why you'll enjoy a meal at one of our favourite local restaurants each day. Depending on the day's itinerary you'll either have lunch or dinner onboard, typically a relaxed affair at the deck-top dining table. One guest described eating aboard as like the perfect dinner party - tasty food, great wine and no washing up! A different wine will be served with each meal, sourced directly from small independent vineyards, meaning even the most dedicated oenophile will discover new styles and flavours during a cruise. And if you're not a wine drinker we also offer beer or a range of soft drinks.
As well as cruising, each day you'll enjoy an excursion via private minivan with a member of the crew. Serenity isn't a tour bus and we don't have a set schedule of excursions. After you book your cruise we'll send you a selection of options to chose from and work with you to create a bespoke itinerary for your group. Below are some of the more popular excursion choices enjoyed by previous guests.
We typically spend 3 to 5 hours cruising per day, passing through numerous locks and even going through a tunnel. Our journey takes us through the varied landscape of the French countryside past vineyards, châteaux and through woodland and charming villages. Still an important trade route used by barges carrying grain to Belgium, the canal is a peaceful place with wildlife, fishermen patiently waiting for their catch, pleasure boaters and canoeists.
While we're travelling, relax on the deck and soak in the scenery, lose yourself in a book, take a nap in the sunshine or, if you want, 'join the crew' and help Graeme with the ropes. You can even soak in the jacuzzi with a glass of something as you watch the champagne countryside sliding past.
You'll taste a minimum of 12 different champagnes during your trip, whether it's a tutored tasting with a winemarker, a glass of vintage Moet at the end of your tour or an evening aperitif onboard. Over the week you'll get to appreciate the wide range of champagne styles and terroirs, but which will be your favourite? - the award winning100% pinot noir, a demi-sec, a brut aged in oak barrels, a biodynamic rose.......
Although you can occasionally see the vineyards from the canal, to truly appreciate this region's beauty you'll travel by private mini-van to one of the many villlages in the heart of the vineyards. Meet a third generation winemaker to learn about how the experts take care of the vines, many of which are over 40 years old. You can also try your hand at saberage - the art of opening a champagne bottle with a sword (definitely one for the photo album!)
Join Graeme for a tour of Reims, France's city of kings - we start at the towering gothic cathedral, where a walk through history takes you from King Louis the Pious in 816AD to WW2, via Joan of Arc and the stained glass artistry of Marc Chagall. Afterwards choose between the a visit to General Eisenhower's HQ where the surrender of WW2 was signed or the gorgeous Art Noveau Villa Demoiselle. A stop at a artisan paterisserie offers the chance to try some delectable treats and the city is also a great place to squeeze in some souvenir shopping. There's also the opportunity to return in evening for the stunning sound and light show at cathedral.
The fresh produce markets are one of the joys of any visit to France. You can indulge your eyes and mouth on a visit to the city's fantastic weekly covered market - help the crew pick out the fresh fruit for breakfast, choose the pates for lunch or pick up a little something for an on-deck aperitif.
Founded in 1743, Moët et Chandon's incredible history includes connections with Madame de Pompadour, Napoleon and Queen Victoria. You'll tour a small portion of their 28km long cellars where many millions of bottles lie slowing maturing. After your tasting we drive along the impressive Avenue of Champagne to Chocolaterie Thibaut. Here Xavier and his team demonstrate the art of making delicious filled chocolates.
Enjoy a private guided tour of Chateau Montmirail, a medieval fortress restored by the Princess of Conti during the eighteenth century. We begin in the two magnificent arched arms rooms, before descending to the dungeons. Upon returning to daylight, we explore the eighteenth century building and the heritage drawing rooms of the Princess of Conti offering views of the park and the surrounding countryside. After you visit we offer a gourmet cheese tasting, either in a fromagerie or in the chateau’s park (depending on the day of the week).
With over 300 champagne houses just in the small area we cruise, the highlight of any visit to the Champagne region is the opportunity to discover small producers, whose wine you won't find in the shops at home. You'll learn the secrets of making champagne at a one of these small family owned producers. From pressing to blending, cellaring and disgorging, a lot goes into making a bottle of bubbly. And of course you'll get to taste their wonderful range of champagnes.
Our suggested excursions offer a great overview of the champagne region but we know that some of you might want something a bit different. Having spent several seasons in this region we can arrange a myriad of excursions and activities from golf, to hot air ballooning, a tour of the WW1 battlefields to a cooking class, meaning a cruise can be totally customised to your group's interests. Or for the champagne connoisseur - we can also make arrangements for a tasting or tour at your favourite champagne houses, even those that are not normally open to the public.