ArchivesOctober, 2014 | Blog

Celebrate Champagne’s Sparkling Wine and History on Barge Trips in France

October 24th, 2014

Barge trips in Champagne celebrate the only sparkling wine that can officially be called Champagne, as it was here that Champagne was born. The 514 kilometer long River Marne passes right though this wine growing region rich with history and refined culture.

The Village of Hautvillers

Wrought iron signs grace the buildings in HautvillersThe village of Hautvillers is a well loved excursion on Champagne barge cruises. Long considered by many to be the birthplace of Champagne, the village of Hautvillers is a centuries old site perched high on a hill with expansive views of the Marne Valley and vineyards. Many of the houses and buildings have wrought iron signs depicting the profession or activity of its inhabitants. It is a photographer’s dream to wander the streets and alleys to capture artistic photos.


The Abbey d’Hautvillers

The restored Abbey d’ Hautvillers dates back to 650 and includes a church, circa 1600s arcade entrance, gardens and two tombs. The church, affectionately known as Saint Sindulphe, boasts a great deal of handcrafted, artistic detailing and historical items. Among them is a 17th century gallery pipe organ that includes a trio of keyboards and more than 400 pipes. There are also outdoor sculptures onsite too but that’s not what draws foodies to this site.

The restored Abbey d'Hautvillers
At one time, it was home to Dom Perignon, the monk who gave the world its first taste of what would go on to be  one of the most beloved champagnes. He was born in the 1600s to family with strong ties to Champagne’s viticulture and died during the fall of 1715. Thus, it should come as no surprise that he had so much to contribute towards the perfection of both 18th century wine and champagne making techniques.

The abbey and gardens are private and can be visited by invitation only. The church is always open to the public.

Moet & Chandon Champagne House

Dom Perignon champagne is owned by Moet and Chandon in EpernayThe 270 year old house of Moet & Chandon located in Epernay now owns the Abbey d’Hautvillers. It is a perfect place to stop before or after a trip to the famed abbey. Barge passengers are typically invited to sample champagne flights and explore the site’s 28-kilometer long cellars with a guide. During the guided tour, you will learn about the adult beverage’s connection to the infamous Marquise de Pompadour, Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte and the brand’s founders.

To find out more about the barges which cruise the Champagne region such as C’est la Vie and La Nouvelle Etoile, please contact us today.

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Here to help you from booking to boarding. Happy travels,

Beth Hanson
Barge Cruise Specialist since 1988


When is the best time to book a barge cruise in France?

October 8th, 2014
Planning ahead for your barge cruise

Planning is part of the fun!

This is one of the most important questions about barge cruising. Oftentimes, people think they have plenty of time only to discover that their preferred dates and barges are already booked. This is especially true of September which is the most popular month for barging because of the mild weather, fewer young families and students traveling, and wine harvests in full swing. It is typical for the popular charter barges to be booked over a year in advance. Also, barge cruise vacations are very popular with baby boomers and retirees who love to travel and have the means. They plan ahead to experience everything they can on their bucket list.

Here is what I suggest for getting the best selection of barges and schedules, especially if you want to charter the entire barge. Cabin bookings are a bit more flexible.

  • If possible, put it on your radar one and a half years before you want to go. Check in with your favorite barge cruise specialist (like me!) to see if prices, itineraries and availabilities have been announced for the time you want to travel.
  • Oftentimes, you can book at the current year’s prices for the following year if you book in spring or early summer of the year before. It’s a win-win. You get current prices and have a good selection of barges and times available.
  • Booking one or two cabins on a hotel barge with other passengers on board is a bit more flexible, especially if your schedule is flexible.
  • Again, if you want to cruise in September, it is important to think ahead and book as early as possible, ideally 9-12 months prior to departure.
  • As with charter bookings, it is very typical to book at this year’s prices for next year if you book in the spring or early summer of the year before traveling.

To review, as soon as you know you would like to go on a barge cruise, contact your barge cruise specialist to talk about your plans and help you select and book the right barge cruise for you.

It’s worth planning ahead to experience the “vacation of a lifetime” as many of our clients say when they return.

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Whenever you’re ready to go barging, we’re ready to help. Happy travels,

Beth Hanson
Barge Cruise Specialist since 1988

Sample Autumn’s Bounty on French Canal Cruises

October 2nd, 2014

Autumn with its clear blue skies and cool nights is a splendid time to visit France. Our September and early October French canal cruises book quickly, and there’s a reason for this. Here are some of the seasonal delights you can experience when you book one of our autumn cruises.

Nivernais Canal in Burgundy

Colors changing on the beautiful Nivernais Canal in Burgundy

Amazing farmers’ markets

While local produce is available year-round at these markets, many of which have been happening in the same place for hundreds of years, unsurprisingly autumn is the best time for abundant produce. Whether you wish to sample freshly roasted chestnuts and mushrooms or photograph a pheasant—still dressed in its colorful plumage—the farmer’s markets are a feast for all the senses. All our barge cruises include side trips, whether into tiny medieval villages or large modern town, most of which have a farmer’s market to enjoy.

Mushrooms at a French market

Mushrooms are delectable in Burgundy and France

Fresh seasonal cheeses

There are many French fromages which are newly available in the fall. For example, the new season for the oozing Vacherin or Mont d’Or begins in September, and fresh goat cheeses are at their peak in September and October.

Cheese stores abound in France

Cheeses are served with lunch and dinner on French canal cruises

Tarte tatin and other apple delights

Apples are the quintessential fall fruit, and the French know how to take advantage of them. Whether you indulge in the caramelized flavors of tarte tatin, an upside-down apple pie, a rustic apple cake infused with rum or calvados, or the sculptural masterpiece called Tarte de Pommes a la Normande, the French know how to coax every bit of flavor from fresh autumn apples.

Tarte tatin

Tarte tatin, a yummy upside down apple pie. Photo by Robyn Lee on Flickr.

Seasonal chocolates

One of the joys of wandering through French towns is discovering the local chocolatier, who will be crafting gorgeous and scrumptious fall chocolates in the shapes of acorns, leaves, mushrooms and other iconic autumn images.

Chocolate dessert on barge Luciole

Luscious chocolate desserts by barge Luciole in Burgundy

So if you’re ready to savor France at its’ gastronomic peak, contact us today to plan ahead and reserve your spot for the most popular time for barge cruising!

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Whenever you’re ready to go barging, we’re ready to help. Happy autumn!

Beth Hanson
Barge Cruise Specialist since 1988