Saturday: Epernay, embarkation
In the afternoon: Embarkation and check-in between 05:00 and 06:00 PM. Welcome by the captain, crew and tour leader. Dinner on board. First briefing about the barge, bicycles and tour program.
It is possible to load your luggage on board from 1 pm.
Sunday: Epernay round tour, afternoon: visit Epernay and Champagne houses
The first 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 first ascent of the slopes and through the vineyards (cyclists can test their shape and muscles for the first time) 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 a Champagne house on the famous Avenue de Champagne.
Monday: Epernay - Dormans - Château-Thierry
Start the first full day cycling tour along the canal and Marne river. 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. Today we will leave 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. Dinner on board and night in Epernay. Today’s destination is Château-Thierrry, that owes its name to the castle that once was situated on the slopes above the Marne. The town was the site of the Battle of 1814 in the Napoleonic Wars between France and Prussia and of 1918 in World War I. Château-Thierry is also known as the native town of the world-famous writer of fables Jean de la Fontaine. Short bike tour – if possible – starts in Dormans.
Tuesday: Château-Thierry – La-Ferté-sous-Jouarre
Enjoy a somewhat challenging bike tour from Château-Thierry to La-Ferté-sous-Jouarre . The first part of the cycling tour leads you along the Marne river. After a few miles you will take a small side valley and follow country roads through various small villages and hamlets. En route you can visit the large WW1 American War Cemetery and Monument near Belleau. Follow the small river Clignon and 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. Start your descent along the small river Ru de Bouillons to reach La-Ferté-sous-Jouarre, where you meet the barge. Easier and shorter cycling option along the river through the valley. Night in La-Ferté-sous-Jouarre or one of the villages nearby.
Wednesday: La Ferté-sous-Jouarre – Meaux
After breakfast you will start your cycling tour that 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. After just a few miles you will enjoy a presentation and tasting of the famous Brie de Meaux and Brie noir cheeses (included). On the way we may visit the Château de Montceau, the building of which was started by Catherine de Médicis in the 16th century. Today’s destination is the city of Meaux, famous for its “Brie de Meaux” cheeses and the magnificent Cathedral St.-Etienne. Visit the historical city center of Meaux. Dinner on board and night in Meaux.
Thursday: Meaux – Lagny-sur-Marne
Visit the beautiful city center of Meaux. Then you can take your bicycle for a last ride, mainly along the Marne river and its parallel canal. Last challenge is the hill near Chalifert. The barge will take the tunnel through this hill, but cyclists have to ride up to take the hill by bicycle. In the afternoon you will meet the barge in Lagny-sur-Marne, where you will stay for the night.
Friday: Paris, full day excursion
After breakfast you will leave the ship and enjoy a full day guided excursion to many highlights of Paris. Take the regional train (30 min.) to Paris and visit some of the many highlights that the “City of Light” has to offer. To mention just a few: the Eiffel Tower, the Sacre Coeur 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.
Saturday: Paris, disembarkation
After breakfast at 9 AM: end of the tour and disembarkation in Paris.