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Barge Cruises Break out the Bubbly in France's Champagne Region

Tuesday Feb 20, 2018

European Waterways announced that it is enhancing its itinerary in the Champagne region of France to better reflect the cultural and gastronomic traditions of this legendary destination.

According to Managing Director Derek Banks, the company is 'popping the cork' for the 2018 season with onboard menus and wine tasting excursions that already include an exclusive tasting at "the cradle of Champagne", the hilltop village of Hautvillers. It is here that monk Dom Perignon discovered the "méthode champenoise", the process that produces what are considered to be the world's best Champagnes and sparkling wines, through a secondary fermentation in the bottle.

"All our hotel barges feature onboard master chefs who are constantly experimenting with new ways to help our guests to better experience the native cuisine of the cruise regions," said Banks. "Every meal is paired with exceptional local wines, but we are always keen on breaking out more of the 'bubbly' in Champagne because so many of the legendary vintages are here."

European Waterways' deluxe 12-passenger hotel barge Panache cruises Champagne between Château-Thierry and Châlons-en-Champagne from mid-June to mid-July. It is joined in mid-July by the 8-passenger La Nouvelle Etoile, which cruises the region through mid-August. La Nouvelle Etoile holds the singular distinction of mooring in central Paris, one of the cruise route's termination points. It cruises between Paris and Epernay, a favorite destination for champagne aficionados. Epernay, also on Panache's route, boasts the Avenue de Champagne, the address for many of the legendary Champagne houses that include Moët & Chandon and Perrier-Jouët. European Waterways' guests enjoy a visit to the town that includes a cellar tour and private tasting.


"What's a good wine without a cheese to match?" said Banks. "In addition to the cellar tour and private tasting at Epernay, our guests are treated to an exclusive tasting of champagnes and cheeses at a boutique in the village. They also have the opportunity to sample some Haute Cuisine, as they dine at a renowned Michelin starred restaurant nearby. It's all part of our on-going commitment to giving our guests exclusive, immersive experiences that more completely reflect the cultural, historical and culinary traditions of the destination."

Other itinerary highlights include a wine excursion to La Maison Pannier as part of the Panache cruise. Guests cap a tour of the house's renowned labyrinth of medieval underground cellars with a private tasting.


'Fete' Complete

The Champagne region plays host to many popular summer festivals, which European Waterways guests will often have the chance to experience. Food and wine festivals are some of its biggest attractions and include The Fine Food and Sparkling Excursion Through Champagne in June, which features tastings at various vineyards in the Marne Valley; historical festivals such as the Henry IV Festival in Ay, featuring costumes, parades and, of course, Champagne tastings; and music festivals such as the Here and Elsewhere Festival in July in Chalons-en-Champagne, where emerging world music talents take the stage. La Fete de la Musique - translated to Make Music Day - is a celebration of the Summer Solstice on July 21 that is observed in Champagne and throughout France and many countries around the world.

"La Fete de la Musique is a rare delight for the music lover," said Banks. "On virtually every street corner, music is played in all shapes and forms - from rock to opera - always to an exacting standard. It's a unique experience for our guests, who truly feel part of the vast and beautiful culture that is the Champagne region."


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