River Seine ~ Rouen ~ Paris ~ Marne Canals ~ Champagne ~ Reims

Cruising up the river Marne from Paris then along the Aisne à la Marne to Reims follows a route whose rural simplicity belies the elegance of its associations. Starting in France’s glamorous capital where the Eiffel Tower, the Musee d’Orsay and the Louvre are among the irresistible magnets that attract the visitor, the hustle and bustle of the City of Light is quickly left behind.

The drowsy beauty of the landscape fringing the Marne has inspired artists from Cezanne to Corot and from Dufy to Pissaro. The river is the longest in France and meanders through golden fields of grain before it reaches the undulating vineyards of the most famous wine growing region in the world – Champagne, and part of the pleasure of the journey is to spot the names of famous producers on marker posts at the end of every row of vines. Epernay is certainly the place to learn about the world’s favourite drink and well-known brands from Moet to Mercier offer cellar tours and tastings. Reims is also a byword for champagne and for more than a thousand years French monarchs were crowned in its ancient cathedral.

There’s more to the region than its sparkling wine: both a succulent brie and a zesty mustard can be found in Meaux and further upstream La Ferte-sous-Jouarre is associated with the production of millstones – there is a different kind of grit to be found here too, at the imposing memorial to British soldiers who died during the Battle of Mons in the First World War.

► Hotel Barges cruising through Champagne

Wonderful Paris-Champagne Places

– [below] In the region: Paris, Reims, Epernay, La Ferte-sous-Jouarre, Meaux, the Marne –

louvre-pyramid-500x300  paris-eiffel-500x300  reims-cathedral-500x300
champagne-500x300  mercier-poster-500x300  champagne-vineyards-500x300
laferte-500x300  meaux-brie-500x300  marne-500x300

Reims ©Cezar Suceveanu | Others ©FW, wikimedia, n/a

Getting to Paris/Champagne
Hotel barges usually collect and return guests to a pre-agreed Paris hotel. The primary French international airport is at Paris-Charles de Gaulle. There are also TGV express train stations at Champagne-Ardenne (near Reims) and Chalons; and many other towns in the region have railway connections.

The Somme ~ Picardy

Picardy lies in northern France, skirting Paris to the south and the Champagne region to the east. It is forever associated with the First World War, as many of the conflict’s bloodiest battles were fought across its sweeping landscape. A voyage along the river Somme will take you through cornfields scattered with iconic red poppies and a number of the most evocative sights in the area hark back to those dark days – striking amongst them is Sir Edwyn Lutyens’ magnificent memorial to the seventy three thousand soldiers missing on the Somme, which towers high over the plain at Theipval.

The reach of history goes far beyond the early twentieth century, stretching back to medieval times and the flowering of ecclesiastical architecture. In Amiens, the capital of Picardy, marvel at the thirteenth century cathedral that has been granted UNESCO World Heritage status, as well as the former residence of science fiction writer Jules Verne (Around the World in Eighty Days) which has been converted to a fascinating museum. A particular treat for waterway enthusiasts is to sail through the Hortillonages, a network of small canals bordered by fertile market gardens that have been cultivated on reclaimed land since the middle ages. Stretching further back in time, the nearby city of Beauvais was founded by the Romans and claims links with Julius Caesar.

Other highlights include the narrow gauge railway that follows the canal between Cappy and Froissy and as with all French regions, Picardy has its own culinary speciality – delicious macaroons made from almond paste.

► A select few Hotel Barges cruise the Somme and Picardy

Memorable Somme~Picardy Places

– [below] In the region: Amiens, Thiepval, Beauvais, Cappy, the Hortillonages, Froissy –

amiens-cathedral-500x300 thiepval-500x300 beauvais-cathedral-500x300
bridge-cappy-500x300 hortillonages-500x300 somme-canal-500x300
froissy-train-500x300 craters-500x300 poppies-500x300

Thiepval ©ABP | Bridge ©Parce-Que | Others: wikimedia, n/a

Getting There
Hotel barges often collect and return guests to a pre-agreed hotel. The primary French international airport is at Paris-Charles de Gaulle. There are also TGV express train stations at Paris and Lille; and many other towns in the region have railway connections.

Style: 6* Supreme - average price per person from 6,150 USD

Pivoine (Peony)Belmond

Belmond Pivoine cruises the gorgeous Champagne route, through undulating striped hills of vines and pretty canal-side villages. Steeped in... Read more

La Nouvelle EtoileE W Fleet

La Nouvelle Etoile is a superbly furnished and decorated hotel barge with very spacious accommodation for just eight passengers. She offers a... Read more

Style: 4* Excellence - average price per person from 4,750 USD

PanacheE W Fleet

Panache is a stylish 12 passenger luxury hotel barge cruising all summer through Alsace and Lorraine, with some cruise in Champagne and Paris... Read more

SarocheOwner Operated

Saroche is a classic barge with those graceful lines that make hotel barge cruising superbly elegant and stylish. As one on the largest hotel... Read more

Style: 3* Premier - average price per person from 4,050 USD

JohannaOwner Operated

Johanna is a beautifully converted hotel barge for six guests cruising through the northern regions of Belgium and France. Available for charter or... Read more

AslaugOwner Operated

Aslaug is a handsome purpose-built and comprehensively equipped hotel barge that now offers cruises in two regions - along the river Marne in the... Read more

Style: 3* Smart - average price per person from 1,500 USD

RaymondeCroisiEurope

Guided by decades of river cruise ship experience, Raymonde is one of CroisiEurope's fleet of five up-to-the-minute hotel barges. She has eleven... Read more

JeanineCroisiEurope

Brightly and colourfully decorated throughout, MS Jeanine is one of CroisiEurope's fleet of five up-to-the-minute hotel barges. She cruises in... Read more

Style: Cruise + Hotel

Natalia ~ Hotel CruisingProfessional Fleet

  • Style: Cruise + Hotel
  • Capacity: 50 passengers
  • Cruising: Paris‑Champagne, West Burgundy‑Loire, Nivernais

Gentle Cruising in Burgundy  (no supplement for single guests) Join this cruise with a difference aboard the new river and canal boat, Natalia,... Read more

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