Champagne in France is one of the most spectacular regions for wine lovers. Known for its sparkling varietals that go far beyond bottles of high-end Champagne, there’s so much to experience for those who have the desire to learn.
It’s like no other wine making region in the country, and although many associate it with big name players such as Moët & Chandon, Laurent-Perrier, Veuve Clicquot and Tattinger, there’s so much more to its story.
Our luxury river cruises will take you to all the undiscovered corners of this region, from the elegant commune of Epernay to the historic Chateau Thierry. What’s particularly interesting on a wine tasting experience in these parts is the intricate processes used to make ultra-premium sparkling varieties. And cruise boats can be the best way to get around, visiting multiple wine towns and foodie destinations.
If you’re traveling for the wine, you’ll get to witness the big difference between rural growers and luxury champagne houses, both with their own unique way of doing things. But the price tag isn’t the only distinction to look for. Blending is the hallmark of Champagne wine, with most combining grapes from several vineyards and numerous vintages. There are over 19,000 vineyard owners in the region, but only 5,000 are owned by Champagne producers. And as you spend more time here, you’ll pick up the nuances and learn everything there is to know about flavor profiles.
As well as wine tasting, you’ll also get to enjoy amazing food and service – on and off board. Wine Paths can create memorable holidays with the most magical views, and there are many activities that can be organized on your behalf.
There are many waterways worth exploring in France, but we highly recommend the River Marne if you’re after unbelievable food and wine. The Marne is an eastern tributary of the Seine and it stretches 514 kilometers in length. Four departments were named after it; Haute-Marne, Marne, Seine-et-Marne and Val-de-Marne. Gliding through the opulent Champagne region, this river and its connecting canals form a scenic network for cruising.
You may recognize some of the epic sights along the way, as the Marne has been depicted by many artists across the centuries. Theses painters include Camille Corot, Paul Cézanne, Pierre Emmanuel Damoye, Henri Rousseau, and Camille Pissarro.
The best way to experience the Marne is on the Belmond Pivoine, a luxurious sanctuary on the water. This boat journey also travels along the Canal Lateral de Marne and stops at key destinations such as Chalons-en-Champagne, Hautvillers, Damery, Reims, Courcelles, Chateau-Thierry, Epernay, and Couvrot.
Immerse yourself in the land of sparkling wines, savor fine foods and discover new towns along the way. There are fantastic restaurants and wineries around the river and its tributaries, and you’ll have plenty of opportunities for your own exploration.
River cruises in Champagne can be as relaxed or action-packed as your desire. We can help you arrange all sorts of activities so you’ll be able to create your own perfect itinerary. Activities range from hot air ballooning and water-skiing to truffle hunting in the forest or vintage champagne tasting. No two days will ever feel the same.
When you stop off in destinations such as Reims, the unofficial capital of Champagne, you’ll be able to find a number of great wineries to visit. But there’s just as much fun to be had on and off the boat.
On board you will get to sample luxury truffles and artisan cheese, paired with organic wines or rare vintages. And every dining experience will be unforgettable as expert chefs create unique dishes made from local ingredients sourced from artisan sellers along the way. Every plate will impress with its freshness, creativity and refined style.
The best time of year for a river cruise in Champagne is the summer as this is when the weather is at its most wonderful. The summer lends itself to al fresco dining and spending more time on deck, as well as lovely walks in all the towns and communes.
However, the spring and autumn seasons are just as great. If you want to arrive during the grape harvest season, travel from late September onwards. However, this is when Champagne houses will be at their busiest.
Our luxury river cruises are ideal for foodies, wine enthusiasts, high culture seekers, as well as first timers. If you’re cruising in France for the very first time, here are some tips to help you make the most of your trip.
Make your bookings for activities, wine tours and tastings in advance as these tend to get booked up fast.
Champagne is a region made for the adventurous. Don’t rule out varietals or flavors until you’ve given it a go.
The wine menus are extensive on board river cruises, so don’t be afraid to ask questions, discuss your likes and dislikes, and get expert recommendations to pair with your dinner.
Wine Paths can help you build bespoke wine and gastronomy holidays in France, including combined river cruises, winery visits and vineyard stays.
Q: Is Champagne suitable for children?
The region of Champagne has plenty of things to do, including historic sights and museums, and kids are always made to feel welcome. Children are only allowed on a river cruise when booked as a private hire though. Get in touch with Wine Paths and we can help you arrange this.
Q: Will there be help choosing and booking restaurants?
Yes, most river boat crews, including the crews we partner with, help with bookings off the barge. They can make recommendations and organize reservations for you.
Q: What is the dress code for a Champagne river cruise?
River cruises tend to be smart/casual, but the most important thing is that you are comfortable.
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