27 APRIL - 3 MAY 2022

6 night / 7 day cruise from Sillery to Chateau Thierry

€3,050 per person

Optional extras

Bicycle – €40 per person

Electric bicycle – €100 per person

Hot air balloon flight over the vineyards – from €200 per person

WEDNESDAY

Afternoon - Pick up in Paris and welcome aboard

This afternoon we will meet your cruise group at the Gare du Nord station in Paris at 2pm and drive to where Serenity is moored in our home port of Sillery (typically 2 hours drive depending on traffic).   Upon arrival at the barge you’ll be welcomed aboard by the rest of the crew with champagne and canapes.  Afterwards there is time to take a stroll in the village or simply unpack and relax.

Evening - Michelin starred dining

We’re kicking off your cruise in style tonight with dinner at a Michelin stared restaurant in Reims. Holder of a Michelin Star since 2011, the father and son team of Laurent and Thibault Laplaige are in the kitchen, offering modern seasonal cuisine based on local products. We love this restaurant for the interesting flavour combinations, beautiful presentation and excellent service to match.

THURSDAY

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 takes us 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 claustrophobic 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 the next lock.

Afternoon excursion - Historic city of Reims (25 minutes drive from the barge)

Settled since Roman times, Reims is awash with history.  We’ll start our walking tour at the 13m high Porte de Mars archway, built by the Romans this was once one of the cities gates.  We’ll then  admire some of the cities beautiful art deco buildings whilst heading towards the magnificent gothic cathedral. Every king of France since Clovis in 1130 has been crowned in this cathedral. Today it is an UNESCO World Heritage site in recognition of this history, it’s architecture significance and the impressive beauty of the external sculpture work.  There’s time for a ‘re-fueling’ stop at a patisserie and a bit of souvenir shopping before we head over to the San Remi Basilica.  This beautiful 11th century church is totally different in style to the cathedral and the adjoining museum telling the history of the city from Roman times.

Evening - BBQ dinner aboard

Graeme’s manning the grill tonight for a BBQ dinner aboard. As we’re moored in the countryside tonight, it’s a great opportunity to really enjoy the peace and nature before ending the evening with a beautiful sunset over the hills. 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. And it’s from the very vineyards you can see in the distance from your dinner table atop the barge.

FRIDAY

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 take a stroll as there are lots of chances to get on/off the barge as we stop in each lock.

Afternoon excursion - Champagne Guy Charbaut and 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 will then drive to 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 villages small producers.

Evening

For 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.   For dinner this evening we’re heading to 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.

SATURDAY

Morning - Market visit and 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. You’ll enjoy views of the rolling vine clad hillsides and 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 - Champagne Le Gallais (10 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.  Whilst tasting the estates champagnes back on the terrace, 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. (10 minutes drive from the barge)

Evening

You’ll have dinner in the neighbouring village of Ay, at a restaurant popular with locals and visitors alike. Guests always come back raving about the lamb dish!

SUNDAY

Morning - Cruise from Damery to Courcelles

Today we continue to cruise west on the 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 excursion - Explore the vineyards (10 minutes drive from the barge)

We’ll have been driving through the stunning vineyard countryside all week, but today we’ll head out for a walk amongst the vines with a wine maker to learn what’s involved in taking care of these precious plants throughout the year. Planted mainly with Pinot Meunier grapes the vineyards here offer lovely view across the river valley and of course you’re afternoon will also include a tasting of his wonderful champagne. 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.

Evening

For dinner this evening we’re heading to the Auberge Le Relais which is recommended in the Michelin guide and just a 10 minute drive from the barge.

MONDAY

Morning - Cruise from Courcelles to Chateau Thierry

Our final morning 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 river crossing point since Roman times. With the barge moored in the middle of town, why not take the opportunity to take a walk up to the ruined hilltop castle.

Afternoon excursion: Feel inspired at two remarkable gardens (30 minutes drive from the barge)

The gardens of her small chateau have been the passion project of Bertrande de Ladoucette since 1991 and you’ll still find her busy in the flower beds most days. With a rose garden, English style cottage garden and a yew tree that is more than 300 years old this is a lovely place to relax and feel inspired. We will also visit the huge 7 hectare ‘Le Point du Jour’ gardens which are filled with sculpture and unique spaces.

Evening

We’ll finish our cruise with a relaxed BBQ dinner aboard – if before dinner you fancy seeing the view from the hilltop castle then we’ll take you up there in the car and we can walk back down to the boat.   

TUESDAY

Morning - Au revoir!

After a relaxed breakfast it’s time to say goodbye to Serenity. You’ll leave the boat at around 10am and you’ll be dropped off at Paris Gare du Nord train station around midday, depending on traffic.