When Megan and her girlfriends wanted a pampered getaway to celebrate a some milestone birthdays they choose a weekend charter barge cruise.
See how much they packed into a 3 night cruise – and don’t forget that if there’s something you’d like to change, that’s fine too – we create bespoke itinerary’s for all of our charter groups so get in touch to start designing your trip.
Afternoon – Paris pick-up and a champagne tasting
To make the most of the time you have here we’d recommend we pick your group up in Paris around 2pm. You can choose the location eg. the Gare du Nord if you’re arriving by Eurostar, the airport or a cental Paris hotel.
After around an hour in the car we’ll arrive at Champagne Dom Caudron, where you’ll enjoy a tasting flight of 4 champagnes, each paired with a handmade chocolate. This co-operative was originally set up by the village priest in 1920. Today over 80 local wine growers use the co-operative’s state of the art facility to press their grapes and a small percentage of each growers juice is blended to make the co-operatives own champagnes.
From here it’s around another hour in the car to get to where Serenity is moored in perfect isolation in the countryside. The rest of crew are waiting to greet you with more champagne and canapes, and there’s time to relax and unpack or maybe hop in the hot tub before dinner is served.
Evening – dinner aboard
As you may have spent much travelling we’ll enjoy a relaxed dinner onboard the barge tonight.
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. As Serenity descends downhill through a chain 6 locks we’ll be passing through peaceful countryside and small villages, with views of the vineyards in the distance.
With the towpath alongside and several nearby villages this is the perfect opportunity to take a stroll as there are lots of opportunities to get on/off the barge as we stop in each lock.
Afternoon – Cellar tour and the Avenue of Champagne
After lunch onboard it’s time to head out for an excursion to Champagne Boizel. Founded in 1834, the current generation of the Boizel family still lead the brand. On our tour you’ll discover how champagne is made as we see the steel tanks and vast oak barrels in the vat room before descending into the cellars where the champagne is aged. Unsurprisingly your visit concludes with a tutored tasting of some of the Boizel range.
After you drain your glasses we will walk towards the city centre, down the world famous Avenue of Champagne and you’ll learn the story of some of champagne’s most iconic names including Moet & Chandon, Pol Roger and Perrier Jouet. There is also time for some souvenir shopping if you’d like.
Evening – Dinner at Henri IV restaurant
Tonight we are at one of our favourite mooring spots, opposite the vineclad hillsides on the edge of Mareuil-sur-Ay, where we often get a fantastic sunset over the canal. Dinner this evening is just a 5 minute drive away in the village of Ay. It’s a rotisserie restaurant, but also does offer fish and vegetarian options, and guests always come back raving about the lamb dish!
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 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.
Afternoon – Excursion to Champagne Le Gallais and the village of Hautvilliers
We start the afternoon at Champagne Le Gallais, where 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. We 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.
Read more: Excursion profile: Champagne Le Gallais
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.
Evening – Michelin starred dinner and Reims cathedral son et luminere
As a fitting end to your cruise, dinner tonight is at Le Millienaire in Reims, approximately a 35 minute drive from the barge. 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. We’ll finish the evening with the stunning sound and light show projected on the front of Reim’s 11th century cathedral.
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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