26 April - 2 May 2023
Reduced to €2,500 per person
(based on two people sharing a cabin)
2 cabins available
Bicycle – €40 per person
Electric bicycle – €100 per person
Afternoon - Pick up in Reims and welcome aboard
If you are travelling from Paris we will be waiting on the platform at Champagne Ardenne train station at 2.38pm to meet you off the train (departs Paris Est at 1.58pm). Or if you are arriving by car or have stayed the night before in Reims we will meet you in Reims at 2pm.
From the station its just a 15 minute drive to where Serenity is waiting to for you in the middle of the countryside. You’ll be welcomed aboard by the rest of the crew with champagne and canapes on deck.
It’s a relaxed evening aboard with Graeme’s manning the grill for dinner tonight. Dinner is accompanied by your choice of champagne or wine – how about trying the Bouzy Rouge, a full bodied Pinot Noir just like this region produced for the Kings of France before Champagne was invented.
Morning - Cruise from Vaudemange to Conde
About 9.30am we’ll be taking off the mooring ropes to start our cruise along the canal.
Afternoon excursion - The villages of the Montagne de Reims (10 minutes drive from the barge)
Head out to explore the vineyards and villages of the Montagne de Reims. This north east facing hillsides here are famous for their Pinot Noir grapes, with many villages designated as ‘Grand Cru’ ie. the highest of quality. Our explorations take us to the pretty villages of Verzy, Verzenay and Mailly with a stop at the picturesque ‘Lighthouse in the vines’ and a tasting at a small producer.
Dinner tonight will be at a village restaurant that’s just a quick 5 minute drive in the car.
Morning - Cruise from Conde to Mareuil-sur-Ay
Today as we continue eastwards along the river, the banks become less tree-lined to reveal sweeping views of the rolling vineyards. 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.
Afternoon excursion - Explore the vines at Champagne Le Gallais (25 minutes drive from the barge)
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 Clicquot. 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 Napoleonic troop’s who liked to celebrate victory with champagne.
It’s about 5 minutes in the car to reach our restaurant for this evening, the Henri IV restaurant in Ay. This place is so popular with locals and visitors that they moved to a larger location a few years ago – guests often come home raving about the 12 hour lamb dish.
Morning - Market visit and cruise from Mareuil-sur-Ay to Vraux
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.
Afternoon excursion - Visit the historic city of Reims (35 minutes drive from the barge)
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. We’ll finish our walk at the magnificent gothic cathedral, where every king of France since Clovis in 1130 has been crowned. Today it is an UNESCO World Heritage site in recognition of this history, it’s architectural significance and the impressive beauty of the external sculpture work. If you wish there is also time for souvenir shopping and a stop at a patisserie.
Tonight we are moored in one of our favourite spots, on the edge of the village of Mareuil-sur-Ay. Right underneath the vineyards we always get beautiful sunsets over the canal here. You’ll have dinner at Les Avizes, a small restaurant housed in a chateau dating from the 1820’s. Run by a champagne family who were among the early leaders of the high quality grower movement the food is gourmet and the wine list divine.
Morning - Cruise from Vraux to Chalons-en-Champagne
Chalons has been an important city since medieval times and today the compact city centre boasts two beautiful cathedrals and many charming half timbered buildings. On todays cruise we are surrounded by trees and greenery and once we get close to the city there is a great view down the canal to the St Etiene cathedral.
Afternoon - recommended excursion: Cellar tour at Champagne Guy Charbaut and a stroll in the village of Hautvilliers (15 minutes drive from the barge)
Established in 1936, this family owned champagne house focus on bio-dynamic work in the vineyards and is 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 their range of vintage and non-vintage champagnes.
We’ll then 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 where he is buried.
As it’s Sunday and many restaurants are closed it’s a relaxed evening of dining aboard tonight.
Morning excursion - Walking tour of Chalons-en-Champagne (0 minutes drive from the barge)
Today is Le Fete du Travail or Labour Day. Beling a public holiday the locks are closed so the barge will stay in Chalons for the day.
We’ll start the day with a time travelling walking tour through the center of this historic city. We’ll see traces of Roman settlement, medieval merchant houses, a gothic cathedral and attractive neo classical public buildings as well as the small canals and pretty parks that criss-cross the city. There’s time to explore by yourselves if you like before heading back to the barge for lunch.
Afternoon excursion - Private tour of the Chateau Vitry la Ville (15 minutes drive from the barge)
Small, but perfectly formed Chateau Vitry-la-Ville looks like a chateau from a story book, surrounded by ponds, moats and bridges and an elegant French garden. Join us for a private tour of the reception rooms and gardens with the owner who’ll share with us it’s history and insight into life as the guardian of such a special place.
As a fitting end to your cruise, dinner tonight is at the Michelin starred restaurant of chef Jerome Feck. We love this restaurant for the interesting flavour combinations, beautiful presentation and excellent service to match and it’s just 10 minutes walk from the barge (or we can hop in the car if you prefer).
Morning - Au revoir!
After a relaxed breakfast it’s time to say goodbye to Serenity.
You’ll leave the boat at around 10am and we will take you to meet your train back to Paris at Chalons train station (you’ll arrive in Paris around midday)
Alternatively if you choose the Paris pick-up & drop-off option you’ll be dropped off at Paris Gare du Nord train station around midday, depending on traffic.