Skip to navigation Skip to content
Skip to content
  • *
    Wine tasting
  • *
  • *
    Notre Dame de Reims
  • *
    Spot wildlife
River Cruise
River Cruise

Champagne on the Marne

Champagne on the Marne

French Waterways

  • A plane in a circle with a strikethrough No fly
  • A car with a tick VIP on selected river cruises
  • A plate with a knife and fork Full board

Explore the picturesque Marne Valley

This holiday features four day-cruises on the scenic French backwaters, while staying six nights in a 3Q-rated hotel. After breakfasts at your hotel, make yourself at home on the eco-friendly day-cruiser and admire the passing scenery as you cruise various stretches of the River Marne and the intricate canals which connect the champagne centres of Reims and Epernay. A light lunch of local specialities will be delivered to the boat each day for you to enjoy with included drinks as you cruise.

Our programme of included excursions take you through rural countryside to the historic attractions of the Marne Valley and include a visit to a family-owned Champagne House for a tasting. You’ll also have free time to explore Reims and Château Thierry, before you return to your hotel for dinner each evening.


Hands shaking Included travel insurance

Bed6 nights in a hotel

Dinner plate17 meals: 6 breakfasts, 5 lunches and 6 dinners

PersonSaga Cruise Escort


  • Return coach travel from Folkestone by Eurotunnel or ferry, and transfers
  • Welcome drink
  • Complimentary bar throughout your cruise

MapIncluded excursions

  • Visit to Noyon cathedral
  • Visit and tasting at a Champagne House
  • Free time to explore Reims and Château Thierry
  • Guided visit to the Marne American Memorial Belleau Wood
  • 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, Champagne Region

Marne Valley

Travel by ferry and coach to Château-Thierry (a journey of approximately 197 miles, which should take around four hours, excluding comfort stops. You will also pause en route to purchase lunch). There will be a short stop in the town of Noyon, home to a fine Gothic cathedral before continuing to the locally rated 3-star Best Western Île de France (3Q) in Château-Thierry where you’ll stay for the next six nights.

The hotel is set on a hillside overlooking the Marne Valley. Enjoy a welcome drink and dinner at the hotel tonight.

Day 2 Reims to Vaudemanges

Cruise the backwaters aboard Natalia

After breakfast, a short motorway journey by coach transfers you to Reims where your cruiser awaits.

Today, you will be cruising the summit canal which links the valleys of the great rivers Aisne and Marne, and your journey will take you southwards towards the Marne. Pass through parkland, ascending three locks in quick succession before the canal emerges into the countryside. The cruise continues through the villages of Sillery and Beaumont-Sur-Vesle, with a light lunch served on board and a complimentary bar in operation throughout your time on board.

Pause to visit a family-run champagne house. Then continue past the village of Sept-Saulx before travelling through the two mile summit tunnel of the Mont-de-Billy.  This is one of the great constructional achievements of the French canal network, having taken 15 years to dig before coming into service in 1866.

Day 3 Vaudemanges to Ay-sur-Marne (Epernay)


This morning you are returned to Vaudemanges to resume cruising as you begin our descent through a series of 8 locks over 4 miles to reach the canal’s junction with Marne’s Lateral Canal at Condé-Sur-Marne. There are good opportunities to stroll the towpath between some of the locks along this morning’s course.

Cruising continues in the afternoon as you turn westwards on to the Marne Lateral, passing the villages of Tours-sur-Marne and Mareuil-sur-Ay before concluding in Ay-Sur-Marne, on the opposite side of the river from the great Champagne capital of Epernay.

Day 4 Ay-sur-Marne (Epernay)


After breakfast you’ll be joined at the hotel by a military historian who will explain the course of the Battle of Belleau Wood, a decisive action in 1918 and one of the earliest actions in the history of the US Marine Corps. You will go on to visit the nearby American Aisne-Marne Cemetery and Memorial and the Belleau Wood Monument before a short motorway journey back into the city of Reims. Here you will dine as a group in a city-centre brasserie before spending the afternoon at leisure in the city.

You depart Reims at 5pm for your return to Château-Thierry.

Day 5 Ay-sur-Marne to Dormans


This morning, depart the hotel after breakfast and return to Ay-sur-Marne. Your cruise now journeys downstream, leaving the Lateral Canal to join the river proper just west of Epernay. The valley-side champagne vineyards are close by as you cruise, passing the villages of Cumières and Damery.

Cruise onwards through Reuil and Port-à-Binson before disembarking in Dormans. En route to Château-Thierry there will be a short stop just outside Dormans to visit the Memorial Chapel, built to commemorate the two Battles of the Marne fought in World War One, the first of which saw a strategic victory saving Paris from German capture.

Day 6 Dormans to Château-Thierry

Cruise the river Marne

After a short transfer by coach, board your Backwaters cruiser in Dormans to resume your journey downstream. This morning you’ll pass the towns of Varennes and Jaulgonne before pausing during lunchtime at the village of Mont St Père. The coach is available to take you across the river to the village of Mézy-Moulins where you can visit the 13th-century three-storey Church of our Lady, noted for its rose window.

Continue your cruise, during which you will have the opportunity to enjoy a champagne tasting, courtesy of one of the riverside producers. Your cruise concludes by mid-afternoon in Château-Thierry, where there should be time for some independent sightseeing before a dinner in the hotel.

Day 7 Château-Thierry to UK

Check out after breakfast and board your coach for your return journey to Calais (a distance of approximately 197 miles, which should take around four hours, excluding comfort stops).

You’ll pause en route to buy yourself lunch, before continuing to the UK via Eurotunnel or ferry.

Cruise the French waterways aboard Liliana

The building of Liliana is due to be completed in 2022. As a day-cruiser, there will be no cabins or restaurant on board. Due to her small size, Liliana will be able to navigate inland waterways and narrower rivers and canals not accessible to larger crafts. The 19-metre, air-conditioned lounge will have panoramic windows to frame the riverside scenery. The galley, where lunch will be served, will also feature a complimentary bar service, available throughout your cruise. There will be seating available on the viewing deck, but seating under the sun awning will be limited. There will be two toilets on board, one suitable for wheelchair users. Liliana will have a hybrid engine, using electricity 95% of the time, so you can expect your cruise to be mostly silent and without exhaust fumes.


Length: 38 metres
Breadth: 4.85 metres
Cruise line: Backwaters
Maiden voyage: 2022
Passenger capacity: 60
Officers and crew: 4
Passenger decks: 1
Lift: No

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
Tel: 0033 323 691 012

Champagne on the Marne

French Waterways