Champagne, chateaux and cheese
Cruise through Champagne country from Epernay to Paris along the scenic Marne, aboard a comfortable river barge with just 11 cabins. MS Raymonde is the perfect size for navigating narrow waterways and canals and provides a friendly, relaxed environment for a small group of like-minded travellers. You’ll voyage along the Marne River which has been ‘canalised’ from close to Epernay to Charenton, east of Paris, where it joins the Seine. This helps regulate the flow of both rivers and maintain a navigable depth.
- 17 meals: 6 breakfasts, 5 lunches and 6 dinners
- Optional travel insurance and additional cancellation rights, or a reduction if not required
- UK travel service
- Return Eurostar travel
- Free bar open 12 hours a day†
- Wine, beer and soft drinks with lunch and dinner
- Gala dinner
- Entertainment and activities on the<nbs/>ship
- Hautvilliers visit
- Tour of Reims
- Tour of Chateau Thierry
- Tour of Meaux
- Tour of Paris.
†The free bar excludes Champagne, branded spirits and drinks from the wine list. Bar opening times may vary, subject to the daily programme on board.
UK to Epernay
Travel to Paris by Eurostar and transfer by coach to Epernay, where you board the MS Raymonde. Look forward to meeting your fellow guests and the crew over a welcome cocktail then enjoy dinner on board. Your barge remains moored in Epernay overnight.
Epernay to Dormans
Epernay is surrounded by chalky hills cloaked in vineyards and the Champagne houses of Moët & Chandon and Perrier-Jouet as well as many smaller producers, are based here. This morning an included excursion visits the village said to be the birthplace of Champagne, Hautvilliers. The Abbey Saint-Pierre, a former Benedictine Abbey, was where the monk and cellar master Dom Pierre Perignon established many of the principles of sparkling wine production before he died in 1715. Visit the Abbey and enjoy a tasting. Afterwards return to your ship and cruise to Dormans, arriving in the evening and mooring overnight.
Dormans to Chateau Thierry
After breakfast, join an included excursion to Reims, the unofficial ‘capital’ of Champagne. You’ll take a guided tour of the historic city centre, including the Place Royal and the Notre-Dame Cathedral, one of the finest examples of the ‘French Gothic’ style. It was here that in an attempt to unite France, the Dauphin Charles VII was crowned on the July 17, 1429, proudly led by Joan of Arc after the ending of the siege of Orleans. An equestrian statue of Joan stands outside the cathedral to mark the event. The city was very badly damaged in World War l. Much was rebuilt in the early 1920s meaning you’ll see a range of architectural style of the times including some fine Art Deco buildings. This afternoon your barge cruises through the leafy scenery of the Marne Canal to the town of Chateau Thierry. Arrive early this evening and moor overnight.
Chateau Thierry to Saint-Jean-les-deux-Jumeaux
An included tour of Chateau Thierry reveals the ruins of the castle that gives the town its name, and the old centre. The French poet and author Jean de La Fontaine, famous for his books of Fables in verse published in 1668, was born in the town and you’ll visit the museum dedicated to him in his former home. This afternoon, relax and enjoy cruising through the Seine-et-Marne countryside to Saint-Jean-les-deux-Jumeaux for an overnight mooring.
Saint-Jean-les-deux-Jumeaux to Meaux to Lagny-sur-Marne
Spend the morning cruising to Meaux, where you’ll arrive for an afternoon included tour. This 2000 year-old city became an important trading centre thanks to its location on the River Marne. Admire the 12th-15th century Cathedral of St Stephen, and the fine Bishop’s Palace, part of which is now a museum dedicated to the bishop, Jacques Benigne Bossuet. You’ll pass the huge Gallo-Roman stone ramparts around the historic heart of the city, and see the magnificent Bossuet Garden. Laid out in a classical symmetrical design resembling a Bishop’s mitre it’s reputedly by Le Nôtre, who landscaped the gardens of Versailles. Conclude your tour with an introduction to, and tasting of, the ‘king of cheeses’, the famous Brie de Meaux. Rejoin your barge at Lagny-sur-Marne, where you’ll remain moored overnight.
Lagny-sur-Marne to Paris
This morning you’ll cruise to Paris. An included excursion will take you to see the main sights, including the Place de la République, the Opera and Place de la Madeleine. At the Place Vendome see Napoleon’s bronze column built from enemy cannons, then admire the Musée du Louvre, home to 35,000 works of art, including Leonardo da Vinci’s, La Joconde – better known as the Mona Lisa! Walk through 19th-century arcades lined with shops and restaurants and view the Palais Royal and its gardens, where royal families lived until the Palace of Versailles was completed. Back on board MS Raymonde you’ll enjoy a gala evening to mark the last night of your cruise.
Paris to UK
Disembark after breakfast and transfer by coach to Paris Gare du Nord station for your return Eurostar journey to London.