As the world breaks out the champagne to toast the New Year, European Waterways invites travelers to “break out the bubbly” in the land where it all began – Champagne, France. For the 2020 season that launches in March, the luxury hotel barge cruising specialist is offering excursions in Champagne that now include a tasting of various vintages and a gastronomic lunch at the 18th century Château Les Aulnois in the village of Pierry, just south of Épernay – the birthplace of champagne. The opportunity is available aboard European Waterways’ Panache luxury hotel barge and also includes a tour of the original Champagne Henriot vineyards, one of the oldest family-owned domaines that traces its origins to the late 1700’s.
European Waterways is offering 10 percent off on cruises aboard Panache in Champagne for select departures in May and June 2020, valid when booked before January 6, 2020. Cabins are available at $5,931 per person, based on double occupancy, for departures on June 7 and 28. This is a savings of $659 off the regular price of $6,590. Twelve-passenger whole boat charters are available at $63,450 for the May 31, June 14, and June 21, 2020 departures. This is a savings of $7,050 off the regular price of $70,500.
Panache cruises through the heart of Champagne from mid-June to mid-July, between Château-Thierry and Châlons-en-Champagne, just weeks before the start of France’s famous grape harvest. The vessel’s six-night, all-inclusive cruises aim to immerse guests into the history of the sparkling wine and the famous houses that include Moët & Chandon, Henriot and Pannier.
In Épernay, the champagne house of Moët & Chandon has the largest vineyard in the region. Guests will enjoy a guided tour of its vast underground cellar, carved into the white chalk under L’Avenue de Champagne, and taste some of Moët’s vintages in a private salon with the cellar master. A separate excursion to the Domaine of Champagne Henriot includes a stop at its famous vineyard, where a viticulture expert explains their grape selection process. Guests are then treated to a private tour of the Château Les Aulnois that includes a tasting of the various Henriot champagnes, followed by a gastronomic lunch in the chateau’s dining room.
In addition to champagne tastings, Panache visits the 800-year-old Reims Cathedral, a Gothic masterpiece and now a UNESCO World Heritage site where the coronation of the kings of France once took place. Guests will also visit Château-Thierry, the scene of many fierce battles in WWI and where American Expeditionary Forces first saw action. Guests will also visit the American cemetery at Belleau Wood, where the combined U.S., French and British forces fought against the Germans.