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Epernay-Paris Champagne 8-day Bike & Barge Tour (ZW)
Epernay to Paris - eight-day, seven-night Champagne, Marne River Valley and Paris tour onboard a barge is a cycle 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 wine. From the time the Benedictine monk Dom Pierre Pérignon invented the bubbly drink in 1670 at the Abbey of d’Hautvillers, the Champagne name has been synonymous worldwide with the very best of sparkling wines.
On a daily basis from your base on board your floating hotel for the duration for the tour you will have the opportunity to cycle to boutique wineries, sample a variety of champagnes, taste delicious Brie cheese and generally discover everything the Champagne UNESCO world heritage region, which is centred on the towns of Epernay and Reims, 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 on a full-day guided excursion. 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, the 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.
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 massive champagne cellars. The cycling tours are fully guided, but cannot be rated as easy: you need to be a fit and well-practised cyclist. Every day you will cycle small country roads (short distances: unpaved or semi-paved roads and tracks) that go up and down the beautiful slopes of the wide river valley, through the hills and the Champagne vineyards. Cycling distances vary from 30–50km per day.
On the lower deck are 12 cabins: 10 twins and 2 doubles. All with a bathroom, a window (can open only in the double cabins) and individual air conditioning. On the main deck, you can have a seat and a refreshing drink in the lounge corner of the cozy salon with its large panoramic windows. Or enjoy your breakfast and delicious three-course dinner in the adjacent restaurant area. And with a little bit of sunshine you should take a seat on the sun deck.
The cycling tours are fully guided, but cannot be rated as easy: you need to be a fit and competent cyclist. Every day you will cycle small country roads (short distances: unpaved or semi-paved roads and tracks) that – almost all day – have inclines and valleys the beautiful slopes of the wide river valley, through the hills and the Champagne vineyards. Cycling distances vary from 30–50km per day. This tour therefore is more challenging than tours in (flat) Holland or Flanders.
If you would like to rent a bike (85 EUR, 95 EUR 2021) or e-bike (185 EUR, 210 EUR 2021) please contact our office when booking: [email protected]
Slow Tours offers a number of other Bike & Barge tours in Europe
In the afternoon: Embarkation and check-in between 5pm and 6pm. Welcome by the captain, crew and tour leader. Dinner is on board. First briefing about the barge, bicycles and tour program.
Epernay round tour 19km or 25km
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 fitness and muscles for the first time) you will reach this picturesque village of Champagne with 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 centre of Epernay. Together with Reims, Epernay is the major wine centre 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 townhouses 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.
Epernay– Dormans – Château-Thierry 35km or 50km
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-Thierry, 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. A short bike tour - if possible - starts in Dormans.
Château-Thierry – La-Ferté-sous-Jouarre 40km
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 will meet the barge. Easier and shorter cycling options along the river and through the valley. Night in La-Ferté-sous-Jouarre or one of the villages nearby.
La Ferté-sous-Jouarre – Meaux 30km or 52km
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. After just a few miles you will enjoy a presentation and tasting of the famous Brie de Meaux and Brie noir cheeses (included). Then you will hop on the bicycles again and you can opt for a longer or shorter ride to Meaux. The short option will lead you over the hills and slopes of the Marne valley on the southern bank of the river through forests and small villages. The long tour follows a few large curves of the river to Lizy-Sur-Ourcq and Trilport. Today’s destination is the city of Meaux, famous for its “Brie de Meaux” cheeses and the magnificent Cathedral St.-Etienne. Visit the historical city centre of Meaux. Today there is no dinner on board. You can select one of the beautiful local restaurants in town.
Meaux – Lagny-sur-Marne 24km or 45km
Visit the beautiful city centre of Meaux. Then 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 afternoon you will meet the barge in Lagny-Sur-Marne, where you will stay for the night.
Paris: Lagny-Sur-Marne – Paris 38km or 51km
Visit the beautiful city centre of Meaux. Then you can take your bicycle for a last ride, mainly along the Marne river and its parallel canal. The longer option leads along the Canal de l’Ourq, that was built by Napoleon to transport wood, grain and drinking water to Paris. In the afternoon you will meet the barge in Lagny-Sur-Marne, an outskirt of Paris, where you will stay for the night.
After breakfast at 9am: the end of the tour and disembarkation in Paris.
If you would like to drive yourself before or after your tour, ask us for a quote on any brand new Renault, Peugeot or Citroen vehicle for driving in Europe.
Pick up your vehicle from most capital cities in Europe and return it to your drop off destination. Top insurance cover. Email [email protected] for a competitive quote
Shows in English in Paris: Paris offers a wide variety of shows accessible to English-speakers. One-man shows, classic & modern theatre, musicals, cabarets and more are all performed in the city every night. You can get the full programme of shows in Paris to fit your city break dates by emailing [email protected]