|12 May 2019||
Chateau Thierry, France
|13 May 2019||
|14 May 2019||
|15 May 2019||
|16 May 2019||
|17 May 2019||
|18 May 2019||
6 Night Cruise sailing from Chateau-Thierry to Chalons-en-Champagne aboard Belmond Hirondelle Barge.
Venture into the heart of the Champagne to sample local flavours and sparkling delights as you cruise in ultimate luxury.
Day 1 Chateau-Thierry
Our crew welcome you aboard the barge at Chateau-Thierry. Your journey begins in sparkling style with a champagne tasting session. Meet your captain and crew as you settle in to your luxurious surrounds. Tonight, Chef serves a gourmet feast to celebrate your first evening on board.
Day 2 Chezy-Sur-Marne
This morning breakfast is followed by a scenic drive to Belleau Wood. It was here during World War I that American troops halted the progression of the German Army. 2,288 American casualties were buried in Aisne-Marne nearby. Today, the cemetery is a peaceful space to reflect on lives lost. After an emotive morning, follow your guide to the enchanting medieval town of Chezy-sur-Marne. Sample the famous Brie de Meaux in a local fromagerie, or enjoy an exclusive champagne tasting at the House of Pannier. A delectable lunch is served back on board the barge. The afternoon is yours to spend relaxing on the deck as we glide past picturesque rural villages.
Day 3 Hautvillers
Enjoy life at a gentle pace this morning as we sail alongside the stunning vineyards of Champagne. Step from the barge onto the towpath for a stroll or cycle, or sink into a deck-chair and soak-up the sun. After lunch, take a scenic drive to the abbey at Hautvillers. Here lies the tomb of Dom Pérignon overlooking breathtaking views of the vineyards. After, head to the house of Champagne J de Telmont. Their unique oenological workshop promises a merry introduction to the champagne making process. Tonight, we berth in Mareuil-le-Port, while Chef prepares a sumptuous dinner on board.
Day 4 Epernay
This morning you’ll visit the jewel of the Champagne region, Epernay. Stroll along the Avenue de Champagne and admire the many elegant champagne houses. Founded in 1743, Moet & Chandon is one of the region’s oldest and finest. Step through the hallowed courtyard and enjoy an exclusive tasting session before you return to the barge for an indulgent lunch. This afternoon, tasting at a local family-run champagne house. Sample a range of wonderful wines at a family-run establishment. Savour a dinner of sublime French cuisine back on board the barge tonight.
Day 5 Reims
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast and a gentle cruise along the canal this morning. After lunch, join your guide on a tour of the city or Reims. Famous for its royal connection, 34 of France’s sovereigns were crowned here. Explore the impressive gothic cathedral and the Musée des Beaux-Arts. You’ll have free-time to wander among the many boutiques, each brimming with artisanal delights. Return to the barge this evening for a delicious dinner on board.
Day 6 Chalons-en-Champagne
Rise this morning for an indulgent breakfast as we sail along the final section of the canal. After lunch, set off to explore Chalons-en-Champagne at leisure. Uncover the town’s architectural heritage with a visit to Saint-Etienne Cathedral and the museum of Notre-Dame-en-Vaux Cloister, or browse the many boutiques and pavement cafes. Back on board, Chef prepares a farewell feast for your final evening on board.
Day 7 Chalons-en-Champagne
Awake to enjoy an indulgent breakfast. After, the crew bids you a fond farewell as you disembark for your onward travel arrangements.
Decorated in soft country shades, The Hirondelle’s relaxed atmosphere is perfectly in tune with the gentle scenery outside. Large picture windows and skylights flood the airy lounge with natural sunlight, making it the ideal spot to relax and watch rural France pass by.
Spend leisurely hours on the sun deck and sip Champagne as day fades into night. Enjoy a gourmet supper in the dining room, and then return outside to gaze at stars sparkling in the navy sky above.
Your day draws to a close in one of four spacious cabins, each with an en suite shower. This spacious barge can comfortably welcome eight people on board: it is the perfect place to reconnect with family and friends in true Orient-Express style.
Ship Profile & Stats
- Length: 39.01 metres
- Maiden Voyage: 1928
- Refurbished: 2002
- Passenger Capacity (dbl): 8
- Crew Nationality: British
- Sun Deck
- Lounge & Bar
- Exercise Equipment
- Dining Room
- Outdoor Dining
Discover one of the most relaxing and luxurious ways to explore France—’cruising its beautiful canals and rivers in Belmond style with Belmond Afloat in France barge’.
Carrying between four and 12 guests, these five spacious craft are perfect for a group of family or friends. Charter your own barge or reserve a cabin with other guests.
Renowned as among the finest craft plying the European waterways, these exceptional péniche-hôtels take you from great cities to remote landscapes of forests, fields and hidden villages. Gourmet dining on board and visits to local sights are all part of the experience.
The Rhythm of Life There is a way of ghosting through the best of France, virtually unnoticed. A way of avoiding all the charivari of modern living, from hypermarkets to bypasses, from bus passes to one-way systems. A way that is so unobtrusive that it puts the merest crease in the environment, and yet will still give you access to markets and city centres, and unfold quilts of vineyards and sunflowers before your very eyes.
That way, in case you haven’t already guessed, is travelling by canal.
France has the most developed waterway system in Europe, with nearly 50 canals linking to the rivers and making it possible to cross the entire nation from north to south and west to east. But this kind of travel is not about covering huge distances—it’s all about pace of life, and waking up on beautiful mornings on placid water brimming with fish.
Boat speed is never more than slow and pastoral as you drift past Romanesque churches and Cognac’s distilleries, your bows burbling onwards down canyons of poplars from village to village, town to town, and transiting cities through giant naves of plane trees, whose branches touch fingertips over your head. And wherever you go, there’s always some tranquil spot where you can tie up by lichen-coated mill buildings and go for a stroll along the leafy towpath, set off by bike for market day, or indulge in a lazy game of boules. Of course, you don’t have to leave the water at all.
By day you can fish for perch alongside the local anglers, whose wives bring them elaborate picnics at lunchtime. By night the riverbanks smell of wild mint, and the owls come and sit in the trees to stare rudely at you while you’re savouring the last of a candlelit dinner, watching the satellites dawdle across the Milky Way.
Your crew is always on hand to help organise any activities you wish to pursue—including piloting the barge if the fancy takes you! And then there’s the entertainment value of your fellow watermen, for the French waterways are a true international community.
British mingle with Italians, French with Dutch and all have their own quirks when travelling by barge. Nowhere is this more apparent than at the locks, where there’ll be a couple of elderly messieurs in residence under the willows for the spectator sport of watching visitors get their mooring ropes in a twist.
But even here everything stops for lunch. The lockkeepers shut up shop and it’s time to throw a rope around a tree and uncork something nicely chilled. What better way is there to experience France?
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Select the Cabin to view detail.
The Hirondelle can accommodate up to eight passengers in its four luxurious state cabins. Each of the cabins features double or twin beds, with decorative wallpaper and matching bed linens. The cabins each have an en-suite with shower.
All of the accommodation features large windows well above the water line that perfectly frame the picturesque French landscape.
The large windows, well above the water line, and the sun-deck on the top deck of the boat make it easy for you to enjoy the passing scenery of the of Burgundy and Franche-Comté: renowned for their vineyards, Gothic churches and abbeys, Renaissance châteaux and picturesque villages.
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