Bike and Barge France: Paris – Epernay | Zwaantje

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.

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.

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.

Day to day program Paris to Eparnay

Parts that are printed in italics parts will be covered by the ship.

All distances are “approximate distances” of recommended bike tours.

The planned itinerary is subject to change due to nautical, technical or meteorological reasons and other unforeseen circumstances. If there is low or high water and a route cannot be shipped, the captain reserves the right to change the route in view of your safety (this cannot be accepted as a reason for free withdrawal).

Day 1 (Sat): Paris

Embarkation and check-in at 2 p.m. at the Quai de Bercy on the Seine river in Paris. After a welcome by the captain, crew and tour leader there is time for a walking tour through Paris. After dinner on board there is a first briefing about the barge, bicycles and tour program.

Day 2 (Sun): Paris – Lagny-sur-Marne (35 km/21 mi.)

 

You leave Paris by bike via the canal de l’Ourcq. A bike path leads from the place the la Bastille (close to the mooring place of the Zwaantje), via the basin of la Vilette to the banks of the l’Ourcq.  This canal was built by order of Napoleon Bonaparte. The canal provided the city with water and played an important role in the transportation of goods to and from the city. Destination of today is Lagny, a nice little town along the Marne.

Day 3 (Mon): Lagny-sur-Marne – Meaux (20 km/12 mi. or 37 km/22 mi.)

In Lagny-sur-Marne, you can take your bicycle for a first ride, mainly along the Marne river and its parallel canal. 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 4 (Tue): Meaux – La Ferté-sous-Jouarre (30 km/18 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 5 (Wed): La-Ferté-sous-Jouarre – Château-Thierry (42 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 6 (Thu): 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. Dinner on board and night in Epernay.

Day 7 (Fri): Epernay round tour (17 km/10 mi. or 25 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 8 (Sat): Epernay

End of your tour: Disembarkation after breakfast until 9.30 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. This tour therefore is more challenging than tours in (flat) Holland or Flanders.

  • The daily cycling tours will be accompanied by a knowledgeable and multi-lingual tour leader.
  • During the days when 2 bicycle options are possible, the tour leader will make a choice for the longer or the shorter option together with the group.
  • Not all mentioned highlights will be visited during the short bike option.
  • In case you prefer a day of rest, you can skip the bike tour and relax on board while cruising to the next town.
  • On the arrival day is it possible to bring your luggage on board from 11 a.m.

Day to day program Epernay to Paris

Parts that are printed in italics parts will be covered by the ship.

All distances are “approximate distances” of recommended bike tours.

The planned itinerary is subject to change due to nautical, technical or meteorological reasons and other unforeseen circumstances. If there is low or high water and a route cannot be shipped, the captain reserves the right to change the route in view of your safety (this cannot be accepted as a reason for free withdrawal).

Day 1 (Sat): Epernay

Embarkation and check-in at 2 p.m. in Epernay. After a welcome by the captain, crew and tour leader there is time for bicycle fitting and a short test ride.

After dinner your tour leader will take you for a walk through Epernay, the major wine center of the Champagne region. 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 many prestigious champagne houses are situated.

Day 2 (Sun): Epernay round tour (17 km/10 mi. or 25 km/16 mi.)

The first 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 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 (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 3 (Mon): Epernay – Dormans – Château-Thierry (35 km/19 mi. or 50 km/35 mi.)

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 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. The short cycling tour ends in Dormans, where you can join the ship. The longer option ends at the lock of Mont St. Pierre. 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.

Day 4 (Tue): Château-Thierry – La-Ferté-sous-Jouarre (42 km/26 mi.)

Enjoy a somewhat challenging cycling 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 to reach La-Ferté-sous-Jouarre in the Marne valley, where you will meet the barge and spend the night.

Day 5 (Wed): La Ferté-sous-Jouarre – Meaux (30 km/18 mi. or 52 km/32 mi.)

After breakfast you will start your cycling tour that will lead you over the hills and slopes of the Marne valley through forests and small villages on the southern and northern banks of the river. After just a few miles (uphill !) you will enjoy a very nice presentation and tasting of the famous Brie de Meaux and Brie noir cheeses at the family-run Fromagerie Ganot. 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 center of Meaux. Dinner on board and night in Meaux.

Day 6 (Thu): Meaux – Lagny-sur-Marne (20 km/12 mi. or 37 km/22 mi.)

Visit the beautiful city center 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. You can add an afternoon bicycle ride of 20 km through the valley of the Marne river to the castle of Champs-sur Marne. 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.

Day 7 (Fri): Paris: Lagny-sur-Marne – Paris (35 km/21 mi.)

Today we will bike further along the Canal d’Ourcq. This canal was built by order of Napoleon Bonaparte. The canal provided the city with water and played an important role in the transportation of goods to and from the city. We will enter the city along a bike path that leads via the basin of la Vilette all the way to the place the la Bastille (close to the mooring place of the Zwaantje). We will find the Zwaantje at Quai Bercy in the heart of Paris.

Day 8 (Sat): Paris

End of your tour: Disembarkation after breakfast until 9.30 a.m.



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Available ships for this tour

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Zwaantje

Zwaantje The Zwaantje, ‘little swan’, is the classic ship of captain Martijn and his spouse …

Zwaantje

The Zwaantje, ‘little swan’, is the classic ship of captain Martijn and his spouse Marjorie. 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.

Bicycles/E-Bikes:
Our bikes are modern unisex bikes with 21 gears, an easy and low entry, two handbrakes, a lock and pannier bag.
The E-Bike has hand breaks only, 3 gears and support levels, a lock and pannier bag. (limited available, only on request).

Please note:
Tours in The Netherlands/Belgium: Bicycle rental is optional. You can bring your own bike, but only after it has been previously registered and confirmed. Daily the crew brings your bike off and on board. Small scratches and damages on the bikes can’t be avoided. The crew nor the tour operator can be held responsible for that. The bicycle shed is not covered. Please bring enough repair material/repair set with you.
Tours in France:  During this tour you cannot bring your own bike. Exceptions are made for special bikes, but only after they have been previously registered and confirmed. Children till 12 yrs. are obligated to wear a bike helmet.

All details

Zwaantje

The Zwaantje, ‘little swan’, is the classic ship of captain Martijn and his spouse Marjorie. 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.

Bicycles/E-Bikes:
Our bikes are modern unisex bikes with 21 gears, an easy and low entry, two handbrakes, a lock and pannier bag.
The E-Bike has hand breaks only, 3 gears and support levels, a lock and pannier bag. (limited available, only on request).

Please note:
Tours in The Netherlands/Belgium: Bicycle rental is optional. You can bring your own bike, but only after it has been previously registered and confirmed. Daily the crew brings your bike off and on board. Small scratches and damages on the bikes can’t be avoided. The crew nor the tour operator can be held responsible for that. The bicycle shed is not covered. Please bring enough repair material/repair set with you.
Tours in France:  During this tour you cannot bring your own bike. Exceptions are made for special bikes, but only after they have been previously registered and confirmed. Children till 12 yrs. are obligated to wear a bike helmet.

Visit this ships page

Included, excluded & information

Included in this tour

8 days/7 nights

7 x breakfast

Packed lunches

7 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 (1 tour leader)

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

Wi-Fi

Excluded in this tour

Drinks

Bicycle rental or E-bike rental

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

Rental bicycle (incl. helmet and water bottle): €80 per period
Rental E-Bike (incl. helmet and water bottle): €175 per period (only on request, limited number of e-bikes available, early bookings strongly recommended.
You can find a description of the bicycles when you click on ship.

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.goeuro.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

www.agiltaxi.fr


Availability and prices

Tour dates 2019 – Zwaantje:
Paris – Epernay:
departure dates on June 15 and August 10
Epernay – Paris: 
 departure dates on June 8 and 22 and August 17

Cabin type For All departure dates
Twin cabin 2 pers. From €1129 Single use of cabin (max. 1 per departure) 1 pers. From €1469

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