Barging in France — Champagne — French Barge Cruises
Discover the Wonders of the River Marne
The River Marne has inspired artists, such as Cézanne and Pissarro, for years, and continues to inspire all who encounter it today. A champagne barge cruise in France is an ideal way to experience the Marne's rich history, as well as learn more about the feats of engineering which helped make it an important trade passage across the country.
The River Marne
The River Marne is a French waterway that is 514 kilometres (320 miles) long and begins in the Langres plateau. The river makes its way westward, joining the famous River Seine upstream of Paris. On its journey through the French countryside, the Marne passes through charming locations such as Meaux – renowned for both mustard and brie cheese – and the village of Jouarre, which houses a fascinating 12th-century Benedictine abbey. Along with its centuries-old heritage, this region of France has an impressive wine-growing tradition.
The oldest canal in France
The Canal de Cornillon in Meaux was built around 800 years ago at the beginning of the 13tb century. This canal is the oldest in France and was constructed as a 500m short cut, by-passing a particularly generous meander of the river. In the 19th century, the Marne became an important trade route connecting Paris with eastern rivers, therefore many lateral canals were built to aid its navigation. The most impressive canal is the 64-kilometre-long Canal latéral à la Marne, which tackles a height difference of over 30 metres with 15 locks.
If you are fortunate enough to be cruising along the Marne during your barging vacation in France, there are a few sites you shouldn't miss. The countryside surrounding the river was of great importance in both World War I and World War II. In fact, Château-Thierry – notable for several war cemeteries and memorials – was at the center of the last German offensive of WWI. Visit the moving memorial in Belleau Wood, erected in honor of the 4th Marine Brigade of the U.S. Army’s 2nd Division. The remains of trenches and shell holes nearby serve as a visual reminder of the battles that took place in this area.
On a lighter note, you must visit the delightful town of Epernay – the capital of Champagne. The famous Avenue de Champagne is lined with impressive mansions and is home to the most prestigious wine producers in the region, if not the world. You’ll discover the likes of Moët et Chandon, Mercier, Veuve Clicquot, Pol Roger, and de Castellane. As you wander around the town, remember that over 200 miles of underground caves are beneath your feet. Stocked with some of the world’s most covetable bubbly. Some of these cellars are open for tours; a wonderful introduction into the magic world of Champagne.
Another place to visit is Reims - not pronounced "Reemz"... Watch this. Reims was once the capital of France. It has impressive architecture, including the Gothic cathedral where 30 French kings were crowned. In World War II, Reims was also the location that the German Wehrmacht surrendered at 2.41pm on 7th May 1945, thus ending the war.
If this glimpse into the culture and history of the River Marne has encouraged you to venture onto its waters for your next barging cruise in France, contact us.