Board the barge in Château-Thierry, where you're welcomed aboard with an effervescent champagne reception and the chance to meet your captain and crew. Dinner tonight is prepared on the boat by your own gourmet chef and hosted by Pascal Wagner, our resident Wine Academy expert.
With over 30 years’ experience, Pascal is often referred to as a walking encyclopaedia of oenology. After introducing you to the famous champagne houses, he will guide you through the curated list of cuvées you will sample during your idyllic week on the waterways.
This morning, linger over a typical French breakfast as your leisurely cruise takes you along the beautiful Marne River towards the village of Courcelles. En route, admire hills swathed in vines. Savour a delicious lunch on board before disembarking and accompanying your guide on a short drive to Château de Boursault. This magnificent neo-Renaissance castle was built by Madame Clicquot Ponsardin in the mid-1800s. The ‘Queen of Reims’, as she was known, spent her life here hosting memorable dinners and lavish high-society gatherings. As part of your visit, step back in time for a traditional horse-drawn calèche ride through the vines. Sample some of the estate’s fantastic champagnes before returning to the barge. This evening you are joined for dinner by a critically acclaimed independent producer of rare and highly desirable champagnes, who will share his passion for working in harmony with nature and the vineyards.
Spend a relaxing morning relishing life on the water as the barge winds its way past celebrated vineyards. After lunch on board, embark on a scenic drive to the abbey in Hautvillers where Dom Pérignon’s tomb lies. Our chef will prepare a sumptuous picnic for you to enjoy as you admire the spectacular views over the vines. Afterwards, enjoy a private tasting and tour of the cellars of this revered champagne. You then have time to explore Epernay, the jewel of Champagne. Wander down the Avenue de Champagne, an elegant street lined with prestigious champagne houses and swish courtyards. As the time for aperitifs draws near, prepare to soar gently up into the air with a glass of chilled fizz in hand. Aboard a private hot-air balloon, toast the breathtaking views below as you drift past fairytale châteaux and vineyard-clad hilltops. Return to the boat for dinner. Perhaps sip a digestif beneath the stars as you reflect on the day’s highlights.
Having left the River Marne, the boat is now gliding along the canal. Take advantage of the slow pace and wide towpaths to alight for a walk or cycle ride alongside the barge. After lunch, arrive at Mareuil-sur-Ay, your mooring for the night. You are invited to accompany your guide on an exclusive tour of the Ruinart cellars and taste their exquisite champagnes. The oldest established champagne house, dating from 1729, Ruinart embodies the French spirit of savoir faire and art de vivre. Tonight, you dine at a local Michelin-rated restaurant. Discover some of the most imaginative cuisine of the region as you are treated to a series of unforgettable dishes. Each masterpiece is paired with a carefully selected cuvée. Return to the barge and relax with a nightcap on the tranquil deck.
Today your guide will accompany you to the city of Reims, an important centre of champagne production, but also the place where some 34 French sovereigns were crowned. Take the time to explore the beautiful gothic cathedral, the Musée des Beaux-Arts and the bountiful shops. Enjoy a private visit to Veuve Cliquot to discover the heritage and production processes of its vintage cuvées. The experience provides the perfect prelude to tonight’s activity on board, an unforgettable dinner hosted by Veuve Cliquot. Treasures from their cellars are presented for your leisurely discovery and delectation.
The final leg of your journey brings you to the picturesque town of Châlons-en-Champagne. Today you are offered the unique privilege of being invited to lunch at the Krug family house. Since 1979, Krug has created ‘the most generous expression of champagne’ exclusively from grapes harvested from the Clos du Mesnil walled vineyard. An invitation to the inner sanctum is a rare privilege, granted to a select few. Anticipate an unparalleled experience.
Back on board, your chef is preparing your farewell gala dinner. Why not toast the end of your adventure with a glass of your favourite champagne of the week?