Champagne barge cruise
Discovering tasty bubbles.
Champagne barge cruise on hotelship Johanna from Reims to Château-Thierry on the Marne river and canal. An enchanting journey between history and vineyards, amidst beauty and delightful bubbles.
Visit cathedrals and wine cellars or WWI memorials. Take your time and enjoy your canal cruise on the sundeck. Explore the region in the afternoon on your guided minibus tour. Finish the day with a sumptuous dinner on board.
The Champagne region is full of delicious contrasts. On one hand there’s the drink; that gold-hued, sparkling elixir eternally associated with decadence and luxury. Then there’s the countryside; 86,000 acres of sleepy, undulating hills striped with low-slung trestled vines of pinot-noir, pinot meunier and chardonnay grapes. They are tended to by families whose members are far more likely to greet you with fresh mud on their boots than adhere to the glamour their champagnes inspire. And in the valley is the meandering river Marne which gives the region it’s fertile soil.
- Day 1. Reims: Pick-up at central meeting point and transport to our mooring place in Reims. Welcome on board. Evening visit to Reims’ illuminated cathedral.
- Day 2. Billy-le-Grand: After breakfast, your hotelbarge sails to the tunnel of Billy-le-Grand. In the afternoon we visit the vineyards of the Reims mountains with the Verzenay Lighthouse and the dwarf beeches of Verzy (Les Faux de Verzy). Hidden gems of the region are an artisan whiskey distillery and a family run snail farm.
- Day 3. Condé-sur-Marne: Today the barge cruise descends into the Marne Valley, going down the 8 locks to Condé-sur-Marne where we arrive shortly after midday. Afternoon excursion to Chalons-en-Champagne with it’s collegiate church Notre-Dame-en-Vaux with a 56-bells carillon, the covered market and the XVII century Sainte-Croix gate.
- Day 4. Epernay: Today your floating hotel barge cruises to Epernay, capital city of the Champagne region. Here the big companies have their cellars. Excursion to Cumières and Hautvillers where Dom Perignon invented the bubbly drink. Visit one of the big cellars and a small champagne house for a personal tasting in a family environment, presenting you very special wines.
- Day 5. Dormans: Barge Johanna sails on the river Marne with the vineyards visible above us. At the foot of the statue of pope Urbanus II, who called for the first crusade, you have a wonderful view on the river with the Reims mountains in your back. We visit the Dom Caudron cooperative for a chocolate and champagne pairing. The memorial for the battles of the Marne at Dormans is close to our mooring place.
- Day 6. Château-Thierry: We enter Picardy region, following the meandering Marne to our final destination of Château-Thierry. To the West is the American WWI Monument. More to the North is the Belleau Wood memorial site. Alternatively you can choose for an excursion to Conde-en-Brie with its historic castle, halles, church and old washing facilities.
- Day 7. Château-Thierry: Farewell after breakfast. Return to central drop-off point in Reims.
On alternating weeks cruising in the opposite direction.
- From Chateau-Thierry, we visit the Belleau Wood memorial, American memorial of the Battle of the Marne, ruins of the medieval castle and the small and picturesque statues of the Fables of Jean de la Fontaine who was born here.
- The privately owned Castle of Condé-en-Brie is close by. Interesting history and architectural paintings.
- Champagne tasting with chocolate pairing at the Dom Caudron cooperation. They have a small museum on champagne production and a very interesting tour of the production site.
- Cumieres and Hautvillers: See the statues in Cumieres depicting all the steps in wine making and visit the grave of Dom Perignon, assumed to be the inventor of Champagne production.
- Epernay with the Avenue de Champagne where we visit either the caves of Mercier with it’s small train or the prestigious hous of Moët et Chandon.
- You’ll be impressed by the strange forms of the “Faux de Verzy” (beech trees) and the lighthouse in the middle of the vineyards of Verzenay.
- The French escargots” (snails) love vine leafs. So where could there be a better place for a snail farm then in the Champagne region? They taste just delicious!
- Afternoon visit of Chalons-en-Champagne with Notre-Dame-en-Vaux and St-Etienne cathedral, le Petit Jard (“small garden”), market place and shopping streets.
- Reims Cathedral, Palais de Tau, basilique St Remi, Carnegie library (art nouveau), shopping,…
- Fort de la Pompelle near Reims with a collection of 560 German helmets from World War I.
- Time permitting in Reims: Art Nouveau Villa Demoiselle (only open Friday – Sunday. Booking in advance only.)
- Ever wanted to explore the region in a Citroën 2CV “Ugly Duckling” car from he 60’s? This is your chance, excursion with private driver for 2 to 3 persons per car. (Option, only 2 cars available)
- Hot air ballooning over the Reims mountains and vineyards. Yet another special way to look at the beautiful nature of this region. (option)