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River Cruise
River Cruise

Champagne on the Marne

French Waterways

from £1,799 per person 7 2
Including optional travel insurance or a price reduction of £20 if not required
  • VIP travel service included on selected European tours VIP on selected river cruises
  • Full Board Full board

Explore the picturesque Marne Valley

Discover river cruising with a difference… This holiday offers a five day-cruise on the backwaters of France, while staying seven nights in a welcoming hotel. After breakfast at your hotel, make yourself at home on the award-winning day-cruiser ‘Natalia’ and admire the passing scenery as you cruise various stretches of the River Marne. A light lunch of local specialities will be delivered to the ship each day to enjoy with included drinks as you cruise. Our programme of excursions then takes you through delightful rural countryside to the historic attractions that abound in the Marne Valley, before returning to your hotel for dinner each evening. Magnifique!


7 nights in a hotel

20 meals: 7 breakfasts, 6 light lunches and 7 dinners

Excursions and visits

  • Visit to Mercier Champagne House with tasting, followed by lunch in a local auberge
  • Visit to Ecomusée d’Oeuilly
  • Free time to explore Reims and Château Thierry
  • Visit to Memorial Chapel of the Battles of Marne
  • Visit to Church of Our Lady in Mezy-Moulins

View Full Itinerary

Day 1 UK to Château-Thierry, France

Marne Valley

Travel by coach from Folkestone to Château-Thierry via Eurotunnel or ferry. Pause en route in the town of Noyon, where you can admire the fine Gothic cathedral. Continue to the locally rated 3-star Best Western Île de France in Château-Thierry where you’ll stay for the next seven nights. The hotel is set on a hillside overlooking the picturesque Marne Valley. Enjoy a welcome drink and dinner at the hotel tonight.

Day 2 Reims to Vaudemanges


After breakfast, board your coach and travel to your smart day cruiser, Natalia. Settle down and make yourself comfortable in the spacious lounge or on the outside viewing deck as you take a leisurely cruise from Reims along the Canal de l'Aisne à la Marne to Vaudemanges. As you depart Reims, pass through the Mont-de-Billy tunnel, a 2.3-kilometre tunnel which took 15 years to construct. Enjoy lunch on board as you journey through 7 locks and nearly 28-kilometres of pleasant parkland, open farmland, and woodland ideal for spotting local wildlife. Keep your eyes peeled for heron, kingfisher and cormorant by the waters edge, and buzzards soaring overhead. From Vaudemanges, travel back to the hotel by coach, and relax before dinner.

Day 3 Vaudemanges to Ay (Epernay)


Today you’ll rejoin your day cruiser Natalia at Vaudemanges and cruise to the village of Ay, which claims to be the original home of Champagne. The small town is home to the Church of Saint-Brice, built in the 16th-century with a deeply ornate facade. Ay is connected to the town of Epernay, on the opposite bank of the River Marne, where the Champagne houses of Moët & Chandon and Perrier-Jouet as well as many smaller producers, are based.

Day 4 Ay to Dormans

Cruise the river Marne

Depart by coach for Ay where you’ll join your cruiser for a morning sailing the River Marne to the town of Dormans. Pause outside the town to visit the poignant Memorial Chapel, built to commemorate the two Battles of Marne fought in WWI, the first of which saw a strategic victory saving Paris from German capture. Enjoy lunch on board as you cruise a 30-kilometre stretch of the river, and return to your hotel for dinner this evening.

Day 5 Epernay and Reims


Spend today touring the local region by coach. Travel to back towards Epernay, pausing en route at the small village of Oeuilly to visit the Ecomusée d’Oeuilly to get a taste of winegrowers life a century ago. This small museum features a fully-furnished, typical Champagne wine growers home showcasing traditional viticulture methods, and a 20th-century school room. On arrival in Epernay, visit the underground cellars of the great Mercier Champagne House and enjoy a tasting course. Lunch follows in a local auberge, before you continue by coach to Reims, the unofficial ‘capital’ of Champagne, for an afternoon of exploration at your leisure. Highlights include the Place Royal and the Notre-Dame Cathedral, one of the finest examples of the 'French Gothic' style. Return to the hotel for dinner.

Day 6 Dormans to Azy-sur-Marne

Cruise the backwaters aboard Natalia

This morning your coach will return you to Dormans for your morning cruise to the village of Mont-St-Pére. Board your coach here and travel to the 13th-century Church of Our Lady in Mezy-Moulins. After lunch on board, continuing cruising past Château-Thierry, where a stop will be made for anyone wishing to spend time in the town. Perhaps explore the ruins of the castle that gives the town its name, and the old centre. The French poet and author Jean de La Fontaine, famous for his books of Fables in verse published in 1668, was born in the town and you can visit the museum dedicated to him in his former home before returning to your hotel by coach. Those choosing to remain on board continue cruising to Azy-sur-Marne before returning to the hotel for dinner.

Day 7 Charly to Ferté-sous-Jouarre


For your last day of cruising, you’ll travel a little further downstream to Charly where you’ll board Natalia. Relax on board as you meander along 23-kilometres of winding river, passing sleepy villages, vineyards and wooded hillsides. Your destination is Ferté-sous-Jouarre, a 9th-century fortified town. On the edge of the town you can find La Ferté-sous-Jouarre memorial, which commemorates more than 3,000 British soldiers from WWI with no known grave. Travel back to the hotel by coach for dinner this evening.

Day 8 Château-Thierry to UK

Check out after breakfast and board your coach for your return journey. You’ll pause for a while en route so you can buy yourself lunch, before setting off again to the UK via Eurotunnel or ferry.

A few details about your hotel

The locally rated 3-star Best Western Île de France is a comfortable hotel set in a rural location on the outskirts of Château Thierry in the picturesque Marne Valley. You can unwind in the spa which has an indoor pool, sauna, massage treatments (extra cost) and fitness centre, relax with a drink at the bar, or drink in the panoramic views from the terrace. Breakfast at the hotel is buffet-style and you can enjoy regional cuisine for dinner in the bright restaurant. There are 37 rooms, all with satellite television, free wireless internet access, hairdryer, safe, iron, and tea and coffee-making facilities. Accommodation is arranged over three floors. There is a lift.

Accommodation contact details

In case you need to leave contact details with a friend or relative…

Best Western Île de France
02400 Château Thierry
0033 323 691 012

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Champagne on the Marne

French Waterways

from £1,799 per person 7 2
Including optional travel insurance or a price reduction of £20 if not required