Champagne Explorer

Chaumont to Reims (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 her mooring in the Champagne town of Chaumont. I recommend 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 this evening

In the morning on Sunday, we have an early start and full days cruising through to Joinville. The voyage will involve lunch on the hoof as we follow a meandering passage through small canal side villages and the short 'Tunnel de Condes'. We'll arrive in the pretty floral town of Joinville quite late in the day. 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'. You are of course welcome to self cater aboard.

Monday's cruising takes us through the large industrial city of St. Dizier before meandering along the Canal de la Marne a la Saone, 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. 

On Tuesday we pass through the town of Vitry-le-Francois joining the 'Canal lateral a la Marne' through to the delightful town and pleasant shady moorings offered by Chalons-en-Champagne. It's situated 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 final 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 Wednesday after a leisurely breakfast, we'll depart Chalons-en-Champagne 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! Tonight, I shall cook you a hearty dinner aboard. 

Champagne tasting at the Mercier house in EpernayWe depart the small port of Conde-sur-Marne on the 'Canal de l'Aisne a la Marne' and passing through the two kilometre 'Mont de Billy' tunnel, we'll enjoy a gentle but full days cruising through to the fabulous City of Reims. Reims is 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 yet more 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 round off 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'll try to get you into Reims as early in the day as possible in order that you to have time enough to fully appreciate all the city has to offer.

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