What to expect
Follow the river Marne from Paris to Epernay, the capital of France's Champagne region. Start with a full day guided tour of Paris and visit the city of Meaux, famous for its "Brie de Meaux" cheeses. Stop off in Château-Thierry, the scene of two important battles, before you cycle through vineyards, tasting champagne and enjoying stunning panoramic views along the way. End your tour in Epernay, where you'll enjoy a champagne tasting and take a tour in one of the major Champagne houses.
This tour operates in reverse on alternate weeks from Epernay to Paris.
At a glance
- Cycle through vineyards on the rolling banks of the Marne river.
- Enjoy a full day guided tour of Paris
- Taste champagne in the capital of the region
- Visit Château-Thierry, the scene of a major World War I battle
Day 1 (Sat):
Paris: Arrival day
After checking-in between 5 and 6 pm (you can leave your luggage from 1pm) on the Quai de Bercy on the Seine in Paris, you will be welcomed by the captain, crew and tour leader. Enjoy dinner on board and have your first briefing about the barge, bikes and tour programme.
Day 2 (Sun):
Paris: full day excursion
After breakfast leave the ship and enjoy a full day guided excursion to see some of the highlights of Paris. Visit attractions like the Eiffel Tower, the Sacré-Coeur Basilica in Montmartre, the Notre Dame cathedral, the Louvre museum, the Arc de Triomphe, the Centre Pompidou and the Musée d’Orsay. Your tour guide will take you by public transportation (day ticket not included) from the barge to the center of Paris and on some walking tours. Return by train to the barge in Lagny-sur-Marne.
Day 3 (Mon):
Lagny-sur-Marne | Lagny-sur-Marne - Meaux
21 miles (35 km)
In Lagny-sur-Marne, take your bike for your first cycle, mainly along the Marne river and its parallel canal. The first challenge is the hill near Chalifert. The barge will take the tunnel through the hill and the guests go over the hill by bike. Today’s destination is the city of Meaux , famous for its “Brie de Meaux” cheeses and the magnificent Cathedral St.-Etienne. Spend the night in Meaux.
Day 4 (Tue):
Meaux – La Ferté-sous-Jouarre
22 or 25 miles/ 35 or 40 km
After breakfast you will start by cycling through the center of Meaux. Today’s ride 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. On the way you may visit the Château de Montceau, which was started by Catherine de Médicis in the 16th century. During the day you will enjoy tasting the famous Brie de Meaux and Brie noir cheeses. Have dinner on board and spend the night in La-Ferté-sous-Jouarre or one of the villages nearby.
Day 5 (Wed):
La-Ferté-sous-Jouarre – Château-Thierry
32 miles/ 50km
Enjoy a challenging bike tour from La-Ferté-sous-Jouarre to Château-Thierry. The first part of the cycling path leads you along the Marne river. After a few miles you will take a side valley and follow country roads along the small river Ru de Bouillons 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 forests. Follow the valley of the small river Clignon. En route you visit the large World War I & American War Cemetery and monument near Belleau, then start your descent to Château-Thierry, your destination for the night.
Day 6 (Thu):
Château-Thierry – Dormans – Epernay
19-35 miles/ 30-50 km
Château-Thierrry is named after the castle that once sat on the slopes above the Marne. You can still see some remnants of it today. 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. Choose between a longer or a short bike ride. Today you will enter the official Champagne area and 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 some close battles. We will see the Château de Boursault, a large castle built in 1848 by the widow of Mr. Cliquot, who gave her name to the famous Veuve Cliquot Champagne. 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. Enjoy dinner on board and the night in Epernay.
Day 7 (Fri):
Epernay round tour | afternoon: visit Epernay and Champagne houses
16 miles/ 25km
The last half day 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 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. 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. The double fermentation process for making champagne, was also introduced by him. Return cycling to Epernay and 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 the Reims, the Côte des Blancs and the Vallée de la Marne. Epernay has many townhouses 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 based. Enjoy champagne tasting and take a tour in one of the major Champagne houses.
Day 8 (Sat):
After breakfast at 9am leave the barge in Epernay near the train station.
This tour operates in reverse on alternate weeks from Epernay to Paris.
Paris to Epernay – MS Zwaantje
The Zwaantje is 40 metres long and can accommodate 24 passengers. On the lower deck there are 12 cabins for guests: 10 twin cabins and two double cabins with an additional 3rd Pullman bed. All the cabins have a small ensuite bathroom with toilet, shower and wash basin, a fixed window (both double cabins have larger windows that also open) and individual air conditioning. On the main deck you can relax in the intimate saloon complete with air-conditioning, large panoramic windows, a restaurant area, lounge corner and a small bar. Free Wi-Fi is available in the salon (mobile internet, limited data). A great feature of the barge is the spacious sun deck complete with tables and chairs where you can relax. The new owners are experienced barge operators and will be delighted to welcome you on board. The enthusiastic and extremely motivated couple restyled the interior of the Zwaantje during the winter of 2014/15, resulting in a warm and inviting atmosphere.
Epernay to Paris – MS Zwaantje
This is the reverse itinerary from Epernay to Paris that operates on alternate weeks.
Dates & Prices
Please choose your route, then click on a departure date for price options at a glance
- 7 nights accommodation on the Zwaantje
- Board basis: Full board (7 x breakfast, 6 x picnic lunch during bike tours, 7x three course dinner)
- English speaking tour guide on board and on bike rides
- Full day guided tour of Paris (walking / public transportation)
- Brie cheese tasting, half day guided tour of Epernay incl. champagne tasting.
- Maps and route information
- Welcome meeting
- Daily cabin cleaning and towel change
- Daily coffee and tea until 4pm
- Flights and transfers
- Cycle helmets
- Bike hire
- Public transport in Paris and train ticket to Langny-sur-Marne
- Transfers to/from the docking
- Entrance fees & excursions
- Special dietary requests
- Drinks & tips on board
Bike Hire & Extras
Pannier, repair kit, inner tube, pump and lock all included at no extra cost when you hire a bike. Please note that for this tour due to limited space on deck it is not possible to bring your own bike.
Hybrid 21 speed
How to Get There
Fly or take the Eurostar to Paris
Take the train (SNCF) from Reims.
Fly or take the Eurostar from Paris
Reviews & FAQs
Simply click on a question to reveal the answers
What's the etiquette with crew tips?
Tips are at your own discretion, an envelope is always left in the cabins on the last day.
Can the boat cater for special dietary requirements?
Please advise us of any special requirements at time of booking and we will notify the boat operator in advance. Understandably, kitchen galley space is limited and it may not be possible to provide specialist products (eg. Gluten free). We suggest you bring a few items with you and, in some cases, these can be provided at a supplement.
Can I stay on the boat during the day and not cycle?
Yes, you can relax on the boat or explore when you arrive at each destination instead of cycling.
Can I book by myself?
Absolutely! Boat & Bike tours are very sociable and a good choice for single travellers wishing to mix with other guests and share your common interest of cycling.
Do I have to cycle as part of a group?
This tour is guided and self-guided, so you have the option to cycle with your guide or independently with the maps and route notes provided.
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Been on this tour? Add your review!
This was my first cycling holiday and unusually I was travelling alone. I didn't know quite what to expect but all my worries were soon dispelled from the moment I arrived at the boat. The MS Zwaantje is a purpose built barge with everything needed for a comfortable and pleasant stay. The cabins are quite sufficient for two people and I heard no complaints whatsoever about the size, facilities or comfort. The captain, crew and guide were cheerful, efficient and welcoming. Nothing was too much trouble for them and I felt that they enjoyed giving the best possible experience. The food served was plentiful and of a very high standard, my waist size grew despite all the cycling! The cycle trips and evening walks were well planned and flexible depending on the weather and the ability of the cycling group. Cycling with a group of people of different nationalities was enjoyable and as there were a few English speakers on the tour, it was conducted in English, an important point for me as I have no other language skills at all! Even the group of people on the tour went out of their way to speak English so that I was included in the evening gatherings. The tour involves some beautiful scenery, quiet roads and reasonable tracks, there was very little time spent on busier roads but even those had cycle lanes. The bikes were of good quality, well adjusted and well maintained. The pannier bag supplied was solid and more than adequate to carry the essentials (water, food etc.) and other items for the day or room for any items purchased during the day. Our guide was able to sort out any problems we did encounter (puncture). You need to be relatively fit to do this tour (or hire an e-bike) and there is always the option to stay on board and take a rest day. At the end of the tour I would have happily stayed on board and done the tour back again from Epernay to Paris! Give half a chance I would go back and do it all again.Jonathan Kirton, Bedford, July 2016