Chalons to Rethel

Reims to Chaumont (Cruise runs Saturday to Friday)

Highlights: The Champagne Capital of Reims - Mont de Billy Tunnel - Chalon-en-Champagne

You'll be joining Barge Nilaya at our mooring in the fabulous City of Reims, famed throughout the world for its involvement in the Champagne industry! It is highly likely that you'll visit the 'odd' Champagne cave in town, possibly even forcing yourselves to drink some of the celebrated liquid? The champagne houses of GH Mumm, Taittinger, Veuve Clicquot and Piper-Heidsieck offer guided tours and degustations. 

There is so much to see and do here. Reims' Notre- Dame Cathedral is spectacular with a facade containing some 2300 statues! It's 38 metre high nave has borne witness to the coronation of French Kings from Clovis in 498 AD until Charles X in 1825. It contains no less than two UNESCO world heritage monuments, the stunning 'Palais du Tau' and interior of the 'Basilique St. Remi'. I have details of a self guided 2 hour walking tour if you are interested in following it. Reims is a wonderful city to explore at your leisure and you might decide that tonight's the night to kick start your week and splash out on a meal out in one of Reims' very chic and fashionable restaurants. 'Foch' and 'Le Millenaire' are but two of Reims three fork Michelin rated establishments. I would recommend that you consider arriving a day or so earlier to fully appreciate all the city has to offer, maybe booking a hotel in town?

On Sunday, after a leisurely breakfast, we'll depart from Reims and enjoy a gentle days cruising through to either the village of Vaudemanges with its ten or so Champagne houses, or Conde-sur-Marne with just one, which according to a Swiss boat owner I met, after ten years of cruising and tasting in the region produces what he considers to be the very best! During the day we'll pass through the two kilometre 'Mont de Billy' tunnel before mooring in our chosen destination. Tonight, I shall cook you a hearty dinner aboard.

Champagne grapes at HautvillersExiting the 'Canal de l'Aisne a la Marne at 'Conde-sur-Marne', on Monday we follow the 'Canal lateral a la Marne' through to the delightful town and pleasant shady moorings of Chalons-en-Champagne. It's located in the heart of the Champagne region and the library, located inside a magnificent seventeenth century mansion displays Marie-Antoinette's prayer book, baring the farewell to her children. It was written on the day she went to the guillotine, but alas, her children never got to see it. Chalons has a lovely choice of eateries and with its huge park, broad avenues, St. Etienne Cathedral and 17 & 18C timber framed houses provides a pleasant evenings stop. Why not dine out at the 'Auberge du Cloitre' this evening or maybe splash out by taking an 8.5km taxi ride out of town to the highly acclaimed 'Aux Armes de Champagne'.

On Tuesday we enjoy another full days cruising along the Canal de la Marne a la Saone, through the town of Vitry-le-Francois towards a semi rural mooring not far from the village of Orconte. Tonight I suggest we soak up the surroundings, maybe sparking up the barbeque or self catering aboard. 

Wednesday's cruising sees us pass through the large industrial city of St. Dizier before cruising a meandering stretch of canal to this evenings mooring in or near the pretty floral town of Joinville. The town has  a number of old mills and the ruins of a feudal castle to explore. Maybe enjoy a walk taking in the town's beautifully restored Chateau du Grand Jardin, visiting its Renaissance style gardens. Tonight's dining possibility is a 2 fork Michelin rated family run restaurant known as 'La Poste'.

On Thursday we have an early start and full days cruising through to Chaumont. The passage will involve lunch on the hoof and a meandering passage through small canal side villages and the short 'Tunnel de Condes'. Arriving late in the day, you'll still have time for a walk to the main square from where there is a great view across the ramparts towards the domed town hall. 'Les Remparts' offers traditional French cuisine should you wish to dine ashore rather than self cater.

On Friday morning, you are due to depart Barge Nilaya after breakfast. Trains from Chaumont to Paris take about 90 minutes and from Paris to Reims by TGV, just an hour.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Unforeseen circumstances sometimes affect our cruising schedule. These can include, but are not limited to: illness, floods, weather, canal closures, canal maintenance, lack of moorings, bureaucracy, strikes, civil disturbance, acts of god, the engine, and whims and fancies of both skipper, guests and crew. All of these things might cause last minute changes to the above and cruise routes. Although rare, we reserve the right to alter any and all routes accordingly. Flexibility is the name of the game and any such changes cannot be considered grounds for cancellation of the cruise.

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