Cruise the Champagne Region of France
Châlons to Bar-le-Duc, France
June 30 - July 6, 2019
Sunday, Day 1 : Paris / Châlons-en-Champagne
Guests are met early afternoon in Paris and transferred to the hotel barge moored in Châlons-en-Champagne. Enjoy a Champagne welcome while your Captain introduces you to the crew. Dinner on board.
Monday, Day 2 : Châlons-en-Champagne to La Chaussée-sur-Marne
After breakfast we head into the "Champagne Capital" of Epernay, home to the Avenue de Champagne, the prestigious address of Moët & Chandon and Mercier, one of which we will visit for a cellar tour and private tasting. Following this, it's off to the historical hilltop village of Hautvillers, colloquially known as the "cradle of champagne", here you'll enjoy a private tasting, with cheeses to match. After lunch on board we cruise past the pastoral scenery of Sarry and St Germain la Ville to La Chausée sur Marne. Dinner on board.
Tuesday, Day 3 : La Chaussée sur Marne to Vitry le Francois
Today we continue our cruise along the Marne, with the opportunity to explore the vineyard-carpeted countryside by bicycle or on foot. After lunch aboard we visit the beautiful town of Vitry le Francois, home to Armes square and the 17th century Collegiate Church of Notre Dame, which houses its own museum comprising many fascinating French historical artefacts such as an 18th century altar and the "great organs" of Louis XV. Should you wish for a stroll before your evening meal, the busy river port has been active since the 17th Century and is a lovely spot to work up an appetite before dinner on board.
Wednesday, Day 4 : Vitry le Francois to Pargny sur Saulx
After breakfast we visit the Joseph Perrier Champagne house, famous for its light-reflecting cellars which were constructed in 1825 to allow light into the depths of the foundation where the vintages are shelved to reach maturation. With 21 hectares of south facing slopes, the view is just as delightful as the vintage! After sipping champagne we travel to the UNESCO world heritage site of Notre Dame en Vaux; constructed around 1217 this Catholic Church was given world heritage status in 1998 as it was one of the stops on the religious pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. In the afternoon, we leave the River Marne to cruise the Canal de la Marne au Rhin to Pargny sur Saulx, along the way passing the tiny village of Ponthion, which was once the palatine crown estate under the Merovingian and Carolingian dynasties. Dinner on board.
Thursday, Day 5 : Pargny-sur-Saulx to Revigny sur Ornain
After breakfast, we visit the medieval fortified city of St Dizier, site of Napoleon's final victory before his abdication and eventual downfall at Waterloo. Originating as a fortified settlement around a 13th century château, during World War II, it became a base for German troops and the château now houses the municipal museum. We can also make an optional visit to the nearby scenic National Park of Lac du Der Chantecoq, the largest artificial lake in Western Europe, an ideal spot for walking, birdwatching or just enjoying the view. Lunch on board is followed by a serene cruise as we enter the ancient region of Lorraine, home of the eponymous quiche - to our mooring for the night at Revigny sur Ornain. Dinner on board.
Friday, Day 6 : Revigny Sur Ornain to Bar-le-Duc
This morning we cruise to Bar-Le-Duc, a town overflowing with renaissance architecture and art, the elegant Place Saint-Pierre is occupied by some fine Renaissance houses, including the Florainville mansion, now the Law Courts, and the Grangettes belvedere provides a spectacular view across the town. Enroute we pass the postcard perfect village of Laimont, the surrounding countryside and its glorious floral arrangements are ideal for a leisurely stroll or bike ride. Lunch aboard is followed by a visit to the truly historic town of Vaucouleurs, for it was here that Joan of Arc began her mission, upon asking the local military captain to escort her as far as Chinon. The local museum and castle chapel are a cornucopia of canonical history, from the 14th century statue of Our Lady of the Vaults (before which Joan meditated) to a 1945 statue of Joan which sits atop the high altar. Dinner on board.
Saturday, Day 7: Bar-le-Duc
After breakfast, guests are transferred by private chauffeured minibus to Paris.
Note: This is a sample itinerary and is subject to change.