1 Independent arrival Epernay
Day 1 (Sat): Epernay: embarkation
In the afternoon: (optional, included) bus transfer from Reims city center via TGV train station Champagne-Ardennes to Epernay. 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.
2 Epernay 25 km / 16 miles Epernay
Day 2 (Sun): Epernay round tour (ca. 25 km / 16 miles) | 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.
3 Epernay 30 - 50 km / 19 - 35 miles Château-Thierry
Day 3 (Mon): Epernay- Dormans - Château-Thierry (ca. 30 - 50 km / 19 - 35 miles)
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.
4 Château-Thierry 50 km / 32 miles La-Ferté-sous-Jouarre
Day 4 (Wed): Château-Thierry - La-Ferté-sous-Jouarre (ca. 50 km / 32 miles)
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. Night in La-Ferté-sous-Jouarre or one of the villages nearby.
5 La Ferté-sous-Jouarre 35 - 40 km / 22 - 25 miles Meaux
Day 5 (Wed): La Ferté-sous-Jouarre - Meaux (ca. 35-40 km / 22 or 25 miles)
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. 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, the Cathedral St.-Etienne. During the day you will enjoy a tasting of the famous Brie de Meaux and Brie noir cheeses. Visit the historical city center of Meaux. Dinner on board and night in Meaux.
6 Meaux 35 km / 21 miles Paris
Day 6 (Thu): Meaux - Lagny-sur-Marne (ca. 35 km / 21 miles) | Lagny-sur-Marne - Paris
In Meaux 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 early afternoon you will meet the barge in Lagny-sur-Marne. The barge will sail from Lagny-sur-Marne on the Marne river to Paris. On this last part of sailing, the barge will pass another tunnel, the tunnel near Saint-Maurice, which is a very impressive experience. Dinner on board and night in Paris.
7 Paris Paris
Day 7 (Fri): Paris: full day excursion
After breakfast you will leave the ship and enjoy a full day guided excursion to many highlights of Paris. Visit some of the may highlights that the "City of Light" has to offer. To mention just a few: the Eifel Tower, the Sacre Coeur in Montmartre, the Notre Dame cathedral, the Louvre museum, the Arc de Triomphe, the Centre Pompidou and the Musée dOrsay. 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.
8 Paris Paris
Day 8 (Sat): Paris: disembarkation
After breakfast: end of the tour and disembarkation in Paris.
2016 PRICES - “CHAMPAGNE, MARNE RIVER VALLEY AND PARIS", BARGE ZWAANTJE
per person, all departure dates:
Twin cabin 2 pers. € 999
Single use of cabin 1 pers. € 1,399
Reservation fee € 15 per booking/group (obligated)
Rental bicycle 21 speed, hand brakes,
pannier bag: € 70 per week (optional)
Rental E-Bike: € 165 per week (only on request, limited number available, early bookings strongly recommended) limited number of single cabins (twin cabin for single use) available: booking of single cabins only on request.
Paris to Epernay - Boat&Bike - FAQ1
- Tour and accommodation on board in the booked category 8 days / 7 nights (Sat.-Sat.) from/to Paris or Epernay;
- Full board; 7 x breakfast, 6 x picnic lunch during bike tours, 7x three course dinner
- Use of bed linen and towels (change of towels daily possible); daily cleaning service of the cabin,
- Welcome drink, presentation of barge + crew and briefing on the first evening;
- Tour leader (multilingual) for fully guided cycling tours, daily briefings of the bike tours,1 full day guided tour of Paris (walking / public transportation), Brie cheese tasting, half day guided tour of Epernay incl. Champagne tasting;
- Bus transfer between Epernay and Reims (incl. TGV station) on sat. at end or start of tour;
- Printed instructions and maps for daily bike tours, 1 set per cabin;
- daily coffee and tea till 4 PM
NOT INCLUDED: Transfers to/from the docking places Paris and Epernay (other than bus transfer as mentioned under "inclusions"); reservation fee €15,00 (obligatory surcharge), rental bicycle, other transfers, parking fee, entrance fees & excursions, drinks on board, personal insurances, gratuities (at your discretion). Special diets on request / surcharges may apply.
Paris to Epernay - Boat&Bike - FAQ2
YOUR SHIP: BARGE "ZWAANTJE"
The "Zwaantje" ("Little Swan") is a fully converted passenger barge under Dutch flag and management with a length of 40 meters (131 ft.) that can accommodate 24 passengers. On lower deck the barge has 13 sleeping cabins: 10 twin cabins with two single beds each and two cabins with a double (French) bed and an additional 3rd bed as Pullman bed. The tour leader will be accommodated in a single cabin. All cabins have a small en-suite bathroom with toilet, shower and wash basin, a fixed window (both double cabins have larger windows that also open) and individual air conditioning.
On the main deck you will find the nice and cozy salon with air conditioning and large panoramic windows, a restaurant area, lounge corner and a small bar. Depending on the quality of the network connection (mobile internet, limited data amount) the salon offers free Wi-Fi. The barge has a very spacious sun deck (90 square meters / 860 square ft.) with chairs and tables and a beautiful view, where you can relax or join the skipper in the wheel house. Bicycles will be stored in a separate area on the sun deck.
Since September 2014, the „Zwaantje" has new owners and operators: Martijn van Tatenhove and Marjorie Kersten, who are experienced as operators of a passenger barge for more than thirteen years. Martijn is your experienced captain on board; he grew up in a family in the hotel and restaurant business and is also a licensed chef. Marjorie graduated in Tourism at the Breda High School and has been working in public relations. The sympathetic and very motivated couple have slightly restyled the interior of the "Zwaantje" in winter 2014-2015 and have created a warm and cozy atmosphere.
Paris to Epernay - Boat&Bike - FAQ3
CYCLING IN THE MARNE - CHAMPAGNE AREA
The cycling tours are fully guided, but cannot be rated as easy: you need to be a fit and well-practiced cyclist. Every day you will cycle small country roads (short distances: un- or semi-paved roads and tracks) that go up and down the slopes of the wide river valley, through the hills and the Champagne vineyards. Cycling distances vary from 30 - 50 km (19 - 31 miles) per day and tours are much more challenging than tours in Holland / Belgium!
The bicycles on board are 21-speed touring bicycles with hand brakes and a pannier bag. A limited number of e-bikes (electrically assisted bicycle) are available on request (early booking is strongly recommended). Other bikes (e.g. children's bikes, tandems, etc.) are not available in this area and cannot be ordered for these tours. Bike rental is optional. Guests are also allowed to bring their own bicycles or E-bikes at no extra cost, but only in exceptional cases and in limited numbers: storing space on the barge is very limited. Therefore please let us know well in advance when you would like to bring your own bicycle/e-bike. This is only possible after reconfirmation by us. Neither crew nor tour operator are liable/ responsible for any damage, loss or theft of own bicycles. In France cyclists are not obligated by law to wear a bike helmet. In France it is mandatory for all bicyclists to wear a bike helmet. We urgently recommend you to bring your own (well fitting) helmet. There is a very limited number (only standard size) bike helmets available on board.
Paris to Epernay - Boat&Bike - FAQ4
The General Conditions (travel conditions) of Boat Bike Tours apply to cycling cruises, as well as to confirmation and cancellation of such tours. First of all:, children are very welcome on board. However, before booking, we advise you strongly to check whether your child is able to manage a cycle trip of ca. 50 km in hilly surroundings with up to 350 meters of altitude (aggregate) on two cycling days. Of course you may stay on board and skip cycling for one or more days; children under the age of18 years must be under supervision. For this tour a child discount is NOT available. The interior of the ship is a non-smoking zone: smoking is only allowed on the sun deck. As a safety measure, a statutory smoking ban applies in all cabins; this means that all cabins and rooms on board are non-smoking areas.
On selected dates mid-May and early August the barge offers some special long cycling cruises (14 days) between Ghent/Bruges (Belgium) and Paris (France) or vice versa, or Bruges to Amsterdam (7 days): info on request.