No.11 - Champagne On The Marne
Our cruise over 5 consecutive days will cover over 130km on the river and pass through 11 locks. Yet such is the river's meandering, as the crow flies we travel only about 90km in the week, hence we are able to stay in Château-Thierry throughout our holiday. Total cruise time is about 30 hours.
We will have exclusive use of our passenger vessel Natalia, designed to serve as an observation lounge for those who like the intricacy and charm of the smaller-gauge waterways where the neighbouring countryside and passing villages feel close enough to touch. Our hybrid-engined boat seats 45 in comfort and has a galley serving complimentary hot and cold drinks including wines and beers. There is outside seating space forward and the saloon is air conditioned for refuge on hot days.
PLEASE NOTE: Price is per person and based on two people sharing a twin/double room. Single room supplements and upgrades are not included.
We depart Folkestone by Eurotunnel mid-morning and pause for lunch in Amiens. We then follow a direct and scenic route to Château-Thierry via Roye, Noyon and Soissons, expecting to arrive at the hotel late afternoon.
Allowing time for a morning visit the underground cellars of the Mercier champagne house, the cruise departs Epernay at 12 noon with lunch on board and continues to the village of Port-à-Binson.
Allowing time for an initial visit by coach to the heritage museum La Maison Champenoise at Œuilly, we plan our cruise departure for 12 noon, again with lunch on board, and an afternoon cruise as far as Dormans.
Re-embarking at Dormans, we continue downstream with a pause around lunchtime at Mont-St-Père to visit the nearby 13th Century Church of our Lady in Mézy-Moulins. Our cruise concludes for the day in Château-Thierry, noted for its Gallo-Roman history and more recent Franco-American association along the crucial Marne front line where the allies defended Paris during the Great War. Château-Thierry is also celebrated as the birthplace of the poet and writer Jean de la Fontaine, and his house is now a museum dedicated to the life of "the eternal dreamer".
We are still in the heart of the Champagne vineyards as we continue westwards on the Marne, around lunchtime passing below the town of Charly, centre of the Omois vineyards and an area noted for its association with Napoleon's marches to war and the romantic life of Edith Piaf! Our cruise continues along a sequence of great meanders as the river picks its way through the forested slopes north and west of Saâcy-sur-Marne, before we conclude for the day in La-Ferté-sous-Jouarre, built around an ancient fortress erected in the 9th century to protect its inhabitants from Norman invasion.
For our final day of cruising we re-board at La-Ferté-sous-Jouarre and follow more of the great meanders of the Marne, through the villages of Arementères-en-Brie, Isles-les-Meldeuses, La Charmoye and Trilport before we conclude in the fine city of Meaux, notable for its 12th Century Bishop's Palace, now housing the regional museum, Cathedral of St Etiénne, and the most comprehensive Great War Museum in all of France.
After checking out of our hotel we make for Reims where we enjoy a free morning and time for a relaxed lunch in the city centre. We reassemble to depart Reims at 14:00 in step with an early evening return crossing.
6 nights at the 3*Best Western Île-de-France, Château-Thierry, Dinner B&B
A visit to the Mercier Champagne House in Epernay
A glass of champagne courtesy of Mercier
5 days cruising the River marne, with lunch and drinks included
Free time in Château-Thierry & Reims
The 3* Best Western in Château-Thierry is a well-reported mid-range Accor hotel, with facilities that include free wi-fi.
Our tour and cruise package includes all meals with the exception of lunch on our travel days outbound and homebound.
On Board Facilities:
Our boat has been designed to comfortably accommodate a coachload of passengers in lounge-standard seating and there is additional seating outside for those wanting to take in the views and fresh air. There are 3 bikes on board free of charge for anyone who would like to ride the towpath. The boats has two WC/washrooms and a galley. Tea, coffee, soft drinks, beers and wines are always available at no charge. There is no smoking on board.
Our boat is hybrid-engined and normally charges overnight from shore supply. Its diesel engines are only used if battery power is exhausted, so most of the time you can look forward to silent cruising. The saloon roof is bedecked with solar panels which reinforce battery endurance and support the boat's air conditioning system.
We also operate to a strict waste-avoidance policy. We try to completely avoid the use of single-use plastics and we operate to a responsible recycling code. All meals and drinks on board are served using normal crockery, cutlery and glassware. Our crew also has a brief to support the recovery from rivers and canals of floating litter whenever this is practicable.
Departure from Kent:
Anyone from further afield please feel welcome to join us on this or any other Buzzlines tour. We are happy to arrange parking for you here in Kent, or we can pick you up from Ashford International Station - only 37 minutes by HS1 from London St Pancras - and help you to find overnight hotel or B&B stops.
If you are an international visitor and you would like to book a cruise/tour with Backwaters whilst you are already in France, you are welcome to make your own way to the hotel and join the tour there.Back to top