E-Bike and Barge France
2023: E-Bike special, tour 7 days/6 nights
The Champagne tour is a bike and barge touring classic that not only allows guests to explore the world famous city of Paris, but also the Champagne region, famous of course, for producing Champagne wines. From the time the Benedictine monk Dom Pierre Pérignon invented the bubbly drink in 1670 at the Abbey of Hautvillers, the Champagne name has been synonymous worldwide with the very best of sparkling wines.
Champagne: Paris – Epernay | MS Zwaantje
Every day you will cycle small country roads (including a few un- or semi-paved roads and tracks) that go slightly up and down the beautiful slopes of the wide river valley, through the hills and the Champagne vineyards.
2023: Biking in the hills will not take too much effort, as a comfortable E-bike is reserved for all guests.
On a daily basis you will have the opportunity to cycle to boutique wineries, sample a variety of champagnes, taste delicious cheeses of the Brie region and generally discover all gems that the Champagne region, UNESCO world heritage, has to offer. But more than just visiting the Champagne region, you will also have the opportunity to explore Paris, one of Europe’s most beautiful and beloved cities. Other highlights of the tour include a visit to the city of Meaux, well known for its Brie cheeses and a stopover in Château-Thierry, scene of major battles in World War I. Along the way you will cycle through almost endless vineyards on the rolling banks of the Marne river and visit a local wine farmer. The tour ends in the city of Epernay, the real capital of the Champagne region, where you will have the opportunity to visit one of the town’s imposing champagne cellars.
The ship – Your sailing hotel
In between cycling excursions, you cruise along with the ship, which travels to a new destination every day. You dine, sleep and eat breakfast on board. You’ll receive a packed lunch every day, and you can usually choose between a longer or shorter bike ride. It’s also possible to spend a day on board if you like. There are rental bikes on board, but you can also bring your own if you mention it when booking.
Accompanied by a competent, professional and multilingual tour leader, you and the group will visit interesting sights and places on the daily cycling tours. During the bike tour, they will explain the local history and culture behind the things you encounter along the way.
Day 1: Paris – Lagny-sur-Marne (38 km/23 mi.)
Embarkation and check-in at 11 a.m. on the Seine, in the center of Paris. After a welcome by the captain, crew and tour leader you leave Paris by bike via the river Marne. A bike path leads all along the river. You pass the chateaux of Champs-sur-Marne and bike through the surrounding gardens. The Château de Champs-sur-Marne is characteristic of the residences of leisure built in the countryside in the 18th century, giving rise to a new style of living. It is one of the most magnificently furnished châteaux in the Ile-de-France. Destination of today is Lagny, a nice little town along the Marne.
Day 2: Lagny-sur-Marne – Meaux (22 km/13 mi. or 42 km/26 mi.)
From Lagny-sur-Marne there are 2 bike options. The first kilometers of both options are uphill. In case you opt for the short ride, the first challenge is the hill near Chalifert. The barge will take the tunnel through the hill, but cyclists can test their fitness and muscles for the first time by climbing and crossing the hill by bicycle. Also on the longer option the first part is quite hilly, because you have to leave the valley of the Marne. Later you will follow the small Canal de l’Ourq that was built by Napoleon to transport wood, grain and fresh water to Paris. Today’s destination is the city of Meaux, famous for its “Brie de Meaux” cheeses and the magnificent Cathedral St.-Etienne. Night in Meaux.
Day 3: Meaux – La Ferté-sous-Jouarre (27 km/16 mi or 52 km/32 mi.)
There are a few cycling options today. The shorter option will lead you over the hills and slopes of the Marne valley on the south bank of the river through forests and small villages. The longer option stays in the valley of the river in the morning with a ride through Trilport and Lizy-sur-Ourcq. Later you will have to climb a few challenging hills, leaving the valley in the direction of Jouarre. In Jouarre, all cyclists can enjoy a very nice presentation and tasting of the famous Brie de Meaux and Brie noir cheeses at the family-run Fromagerie Ganot. Dinner on board and night in La-Ferté-sous-Jouarre or a village nearby.
Day 4: La-Ferté-sous-Jouarre – Château-Thierry (40 km/24 mi. or 44 km/26 mi.)
Enjoy a somewhat challenging cycling tour from La-Ferté-sous-Jouarre to Château-Thierry. The first part of the cycling track leads you along the Marne river. After a few miles you will take a side valley and follow country roads through various small villages and hamlets. 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. Follow the valley of the small river Clignon. En route you can visit the large WW1 American War Cemetery and Monument near Belleau on the D82. Start your descent to reach Château-Thierry. Dinner on board and night in Château-Thierry. Château-Thierry owes its name to the castle that once was situated on the slopes above the Marne. You can still see some remnants. The town was the site of two important battles: the Battle of 1814 in the Napoleonic Wars between France and Prussia and the Battle of 1918 at the end of World War I. Château-Thierry is also known as the native town of the world-famous writer of fables Jean de la Fontaine.
Day 5: Château-Thierry – Dormans – Epernay (35 km/19 mi. or 50 km/35 mi.)
During breakfast the ship will take us to the lock of Mont St. Pierre or even a bit further upstream to Dormans. Today we will enter the official Champagne area. Dormans is 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 intense battles. 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. During the cycling tour you 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. Today there is no dinner on board. You can select one of the local restaurants in town.
Day 6: Epernay round tour (19 km/11 mi. or 26 km/16 mi.)
The last half day’s cycling 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 ascent 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 (1638-1715). In charge of the wine cellars of a Benedictine abbey, Dom Pérignon pioneered a number of winemaking techniques, being the first to blend grapes in such a way as to improve regional wines 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 de 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 and Mercier, are situated. Enjoy a Champagne tasting and take a tour in one of the major Champagne houses.
Day 7: Epernay
End of your tour: Disembarkation after breakfast until 9.00 a.m.
Good to know
- Important remark: 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 – almost all day – go up and down the beautiful 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. Biking in the hills will not take too much effort, as a comfortable E-bike is reserved for all guests.
- Accompanied by a competent, professional and multilingual tour leader, you and the group will visit interesting sights and places on the daily cycling tours. During the bike tour, they will explain the local history and culture behind the things you encounter along the way.
- With 18 guests or more, the daily cycling tours will be accompanied by two knowledgeable and multi-lingual tour leaders. On most days, the tour leaders will offer a long and a short (or a quicker and a more relaxed) cycling option. The option for a long tour is also depending on weather conditions and wishes of the group.
When there are less than 18 guests aboard, the tours will be accompanied by one knowledgeable and multi-lingual tour leader. During days when two bicycle options are possible, the tour leader will make a choice to guide the longer or the shorter option after consultation of the group. Not all mentioned highlights can be visited during the short cycling option.
- Cycling route distances in the travel program are approximate.
- On some days you can choose between a longer and a shorter cycling route. Please note that on the shorter routes you may not be able to visit all the highlights mentioned.
- If you prefer not to cycle on a particular day, you’re welcome to stay on board and relax while the ship cruises to the next landing place.
- The tour itinerary and route are subject to possible changes due to nautical, technical or meteorological reasons, or other unforeseen events.
- On the arrival day, you can leave your luggage on board the ship from 11.00 am.
- Detailed cycling maps, route tips and a GPS app are available for guests who wish to cycle individually and at their own pace. The tour guide is always available via cell phone in case of questions, breakdowns or emergencies.
- 7 days/6 nights
- 6 x breakfast
- Packed lunches
- 5 x 3-course dinner
- Coffee and tea on board
- Welcome drink
- Use of bed linen and towels
- Daily cleaning of the cabin
- Climate-controlled cabin
- Daily briefings
- Fully guided cycling tours (from 18 guest: 2 tour leaders, 2 groups)
- Rental E-Bike
- Some short walking tours
- Maps for cycling tours (1 set per cabin)
- GPS tracks
- Use of a helmet
- Use of a waterproof pannier bag
- Water bottle
- Fees for ferries
- Brie cheese tasting in Jouarre
- Champagne tasting at local producer
- Visit champagne cellar in Epernay
- 1x dinner
- Personal insurances
- Gratuities (at your discretion)
- Entrance fees and excursions (not mentioned under included)
- Transfers to/from the docking place
- Parking fees
Additional options & information - 2023
- Rental E-Bike Premium: included
- Parking own bicycle/E-Bike: it is not possible to bring your own bicycle/E-Bike on this ship, due to a lack of space on deck.
Transfer from Paris: Nearby the docking place of the Zwaantje you can take the subway, tram or train to the airports Charles de Gaulle Roissy or Paris Orly.
More information and online route planner:
Transfer from Epernay: The SNCF train station is approx. 1 km / 0.6 mi. from the docking place of the Zwaantje. From the train station in Epernay you can travel with only one change in approx.. 1 hour and 20 minutes with SNCF to TGV Station Champagne-Ardenne, just a little South of Reims. There is also a good, direct (SNCF) connection to both Reims Centre (23 – 39 minutes) as Paris Gare de l’Est (1 hour and 16 min – 1 hour and 42 min). Plan your route at www.omio.co.uk of www.trainline.eu.
Taxi from Epernay to Reims or the TGV train station: We can recommend taxi company A’Gil. We strongly recommend you to reserve your taxi in advance, especially with a transfer from Reims or TGV station to Epernay.
Tel.: +33 326 59 01 44 Mobile: +33 6 80 30 55 89