Saturday: Paris, embarkation
Embarkation and check-in between 05:00 and 06:00 PM at the Quai de Bercy on the Seine in Paris. Welcome by the captain, crew and tour leader. Dinner on board. First briefing about the barge, bicycles and tour program.
On the arrival day is it possible to load your luggage on board from 1 PM.
Sunday: Paris, full day excursion
After breakfast you will leave the ship and enjoy a full day guided excursion to a choice of the various highlights of Paris. Visit some of the highlights that the “City of Light” has to offer. To mention just a few: the Eifel Tower, the Sacré-Coeur Basilica in Montmartre, the Notre Dame cathedral, the Louvre museum, the Arc de Triomphe, the Centre Pompidou and the Musée d’Orsay. Your tour guide will take you by public transportation (day ticket, not included) from the barge to the center of Paris and on some walking tours. For safety reasons, no cycling tour in Paris is planned. Return in 30 min. by regional train to the barge in Lagny-sur-Marne.
Monday: Lagny-sur-Marne – Meaux
In Lagny-sur-Marne, you can take your bicycle for a first ride, mainly along the Marne river and its parallel canal. First challenge is the hill near Chalifert. The barge will take the tunnel through the hill but cyclists can test their fitness and muscles for the first time by climbing and crossing the hill by bicycle. Today’s destination is the city of Meaux, famous for its “Brie de Meaux” cheeses and the magnificent Cathedral St.-Etienne. Night in Meaux.
Tuesday: Meaux – La Ferté-sous-Jouarre
After breakfast you will start your cycling tour through the center of Meaux. Today’s cycling tour will lead you over the hills and slopes of the Marne valley and through forests and small villages on the southern and northern banks of the river. On the way we may visit the Château de Montceau, the building of which was started by Catherine de Médicis in the 16th century. During the day you will enjoy a presentation and tasting of the famous Brie de Meaux and Brie noir cheeses (included). Dinner on board and night in La-Ferté-sous-Jouarre or a village nearby.
Wednesday: La-Ferté-sous-Jouarre – Château-Thierry
Enjoy a somewhat challenging bike tour from La-Ferté-sous-Jouarre to Château-Thierry. The first part of the cycling track leads you along the Marne river. After a few miles you will take a side valley and follow country roads along the small river Ru de Bouillons through various small villages and hamlets. Continue riding uphill until you finally reach the plateau above the northern part of the Marne valley. The side valleys are mainly covered with forest, on the plateau agriculture is predominant. Follow the valley of the small river Clignon. En route you can visit the large WW1 American War Cemetery and Monument near Belleau on the D82. Start your descent to reach Château-Thierry. Easier and shorter cycling option along the river through the valley. Dinner on board and night in Château-Thierry.
Thursday: Château-Thierry – Dormans – Epernay
Château-Thierrry owes its name to the castle that once was situated on the slopes above the Marne. You can still see some remnants. The town was the site of two important battles: the Battle of 1814 in the Napoleonic Wars between France and Prussia and the Battle of 1918 at the end of World War I. Château-Thierry is also known as the native town of the world-famous writer of fables Jean de la Fontaine. Choose between a longer and a short bike ride. Today we will enter the official Champagne area. Cycle along the Marne river or cruise to Dormans, a quiet village on the Marne with a castle and chapel in memory of the battle of the Marne. During World War I this area was the scene of close battles. We will see the Château de Boursault, a large castle built in 1848 by the widow of Mr. Cliquot, who gave her name (Veuve Cliquot) to a famous Champagne wine. A ride up the northern valley slope to the village of Châtillon-sur-Marne rewards the cyclist with a stunning panoramic view over the Marne valley and the Champagne vineyards. Dinner on board and night in Epernay.
Friday: Epernay round tour. Afternoon: visit Epernay and Champagne houses
The last half day’s bike tour takes you along the quiet canal parallel to the Marne river to Ay and Mareuil-sur-Ay. Return via Dizy to visit Hautvillers. After a somewhat challenging ascent you will reach this picturesque village of Champagne wine growers on the southern slopes of the Montagne de Reims. Highlight is a visit of the chapel with the tomb of the monk Dom Pérignon. According to tradition, Dom Pérignon (1638-1715), who was in charge of the wine cellars of the abbey of Benedictine monks, was the first to succeed in blending various kinds of wine into a wine of superb quality. Double fermentation, characteristic for the making of champagne, was introduced also by him. Return cycling to Epernay. After lunch, visit the center of Epernay. Together with Reims, Epernay is the major wine center of the Champagne region, where three extensive wine regions meet: the Montagne the Reims, the Côte des Blancs and the Vallée de la Marne. Epernay has many town houses dating in neo-renaissance style or classical style dating from the 19th century, especially around the beautiful Avenue the Champagne where prestigious champagne houses such as Moët & Chandon are situated. Champagne tasting and tour in one of the major Champagne houses.
Saturday: Epernay, disembarkation
After breakfast at 9 AM: end of tour and disembarkation in Epernay near the train station.