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Champagne Canal Voyage: The Spirit of France by Barge

Program Number: 21555RJ
Start and End Dates:
4/20/2015 - 4/29/2015; 5/2/2016 - 5/11/2016; 9/19/2016 - 9/28/2016;
Duration: 9 nights
Location: France
Price starting at: $3,685.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Adventure Afloat Study Cruise; Barge Activity Level: t (see description)
Meals: 21; 8 Breakfasts, 6 Lunches, 7 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian; Gluten Free; Low Salt; Low Fat    

The province of Champagne is known around the world for the sparkling wine whose popping signifies a celebration. But you’ll find that there’s much more to Champagne during this voyage aboard a “hotel barge” exclusively chartered for a small Road Scholar group. Begin with two nights in Paris, then board the barge to visit important World War I battlefields, learn about the coronations of the French kings at the Reims Cathedral and learn how champagne is produced at picturesque vineyards.

Activity Particulars

Walking up to four miles per day; some uneven terrain and cobblestones.

The 5/2/16 and 9/19/16 departures sail from Paris to Epernay.

Itinerary At-a-Glance

Paris, 2 nights; aboard Raymonde, 6 nights.

Day 1: Overnight flight from the U.S.A.

Days 2-4: Arrival Paris (France) / embark Raymonde:

Join a local expert to discover the Île de la Cité, the medieval heart of Paris, including Notre Dame and the Sainte-Chapelle. Explore Montmartre, the neighborhood where Dalí, Monet, Picasso and van Gogh lived and worked. Visit the grand Palais-Royal with its covered passageways. Lodging: Stylish Latin Quarter hotel.

Day 5: Nogent-sur-Marne:

Navigate the Canal Saint-Martin, whose construction Napoleon ordered to supply Paris with fresh water, en route to Nogent-sur-Marne.

Day 6: Meaux:

Absorb the beauty of the Marne Valley as you sail toward Meaux. Go ashore to examine the city’s magnificent medieval architecture and visit the outstanding World War I Museum.

Day 7: Château-Thierry:

Journey nearly 100 years back in time on battlefields where the American Expeditionary Forces and the French clashed with the Germans on the Western Front. Pay your respects at the American cemetery in Belleau Wood.

Day 8: Sail from Chateau Thierry to Dormans:

Follow the Champagne Route to picturesque vineyards and the Abbey of Saint Pierre, where a monk named Dom Perignon helped to create the champagne production process. Visit the spectacular Reims Cathedral.

Day 9: Dormans to Epernay:

Discover the village of Hautvilliers, birthplace of Champagne. Visit a major Champagne house followed by a tasting of champagne.

Day 10: Disembark / coach to Paris for departure

MS Raymonde

This brand-new two-deck barge will be launched for the 2014 season. It can accommodate up to 22 Road Scholar participants on an exclusive sailing. Each cabin has a window, private bath with shower, TV and independent temperature control. Amenities include a spacious lounge with a bar, a sun deck and a Jacuzzi. Bicycles are available for you to borrow.


The epicurious and the curious find much to admire in Western Europe’s largest nation, whose agricultural riches and terrain of beaches, mountains and fertile fields have drawn residents for thousands of years. The northern region hosts the nation’s Parisian capital, as well as unique Breton culture, while the sun-drenched Mediterranean coast sports the chic beach-goers and the terraced vineyards of the interior.

Meals and Lodgings
   Central Saint Germain
  Paris, France 2 nights
   CroisiEurope Raymonde
  Chalons-en-Champagne, France
Epernay, France
Chateau Thierry, France
Saint Jean les Deux Jumeaux, France
Meaux, France
Lagny sur Marne, France
6 nights
 Central Saint Germain
Type: Hotel
  Description: The Hotel Central Saint Germain was recently renovated in 2009 and is centrally located in the Latin Quarter and in Saint Germain des Prés near the Seine.
  Ship Information: N/A
  Contact info: 3 Rue Champollion
Paris,   France
phone: +33 1 46 34 14 20
  Room amenities: There are 35 renovated and air-conditioned rooms, decorated in a typically romantic Parisian style. All rooms are equipped with a private shower or bathtub, toilet, hairdryer, safe, TV with international channels, and WiFi.
  Facility amenities: The hotel has a reception with a luggage room, lounge, buffet breakfast offering coffee, tea, cereal, yogurt, and bread), elevator, and WiFi.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes

 CroisiEurope Raymonde
Type: Barge
  Description: The Raymonde barge travels along the Marne Canal. Croisi vessels do not have life boats on board, as the bodies of water on which we travel are small, and life jackets provide appropriate flotation and protection in case of emergency. Croisi vessels also do not have medical staff on board. In case of an emergency, the purser will immediatley contact a doctor or nurse on land and the ship will stop at the nearest possible landing point to facilitate emergency medical attention. Every ship has a defibrillator on board and at least two people on the vessel are trained to use it.
  Ship Information: Decks: 2 Total Cabins: 12 (11 cabins on the lower deck, 1 cabin on the upper deck) Total Passengers: 24
  Contact info: 12, rue de la Division Leclerc
Strasbourg,  67000 France
phone: +0033 3 88 76 44 44
  Room amenities: All cabins have individual controls for AC and heat. Cabins are equipped with satellite television, a radio, a hairdryer and a safe for your valuables. The private en-suite facilities include a shower, toilet, sink, and include towels, but not washcloths. There is no iron available on the ship. Each cabin is provided with two adult and two children life jackets.
  Facility amenities: Amenities include: lounge with bar, restaurant, sun deck with loungers and umbrellas, barbecue deck, jacuzzi at the prow (front) of the barge, bicycles on board available for use by passengers, and free WiFi on board. Please note that the WiFi will be slow and often spotty and may be limited to the reception area. Laundry facilities are not available on board.
  Smoking allowed: No

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
The program starts with orientation at the hotel in Paris at 5 p.m. You will be staying at Central Saint Germain that night.
  End of Program:
Program ends after breakfast and disembarkation (no later than 9 AM) followed by a coach transfer to the Paris CDG airport. You will be staying at CroisiEurope Raymonde the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required.
  Parking availability:
No parking available
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
To Start of Program
  Location:  Paris
  Nearest airport:  Charles de Gaulle (CDG)
  Transportation to site: An arrival transfer is organized for all participants who purchased an air inclusive program and arrive on the group date. Transfers are organized by shared shuttle. Participants who plan on arriving early and make their own way to the hotel in Paris should notify Road Scholar prior to departure. Taxis are available readily at the Paris-DeGaulle airport and shared shuttles can be reserved ahead of time. Paris Shuttle, a third party service, offers a discounted shared shuttle and private transfer rates to Road Scholar participants. The rate they offer is about 10% discount off their published rate. Use the website below to take advantage of these rates and book your transfers for arrival and departure from Paris. You will need to pay in advance with a credit card to confirm reservations and print your own voucher. (Please note when using this link that the website does not indicate that the prices are discounted.)
  From End of Program
  Location:  Lagny sur Marne
  Transportation from site: A group departure transfer is organized for all participants to travel from Paris to the Charles de Gaulle airport. Independent travelers may also take a taxi or Parishuttle.
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Departures from the U.S.
(Monday, April 20)
 In Transit Overnight: International flights to France.

Day 2: Arrival in Paris and Orientation
(Tuesday, April 21)
 Afternoon: Arrivals and transfers to the hotel. Check-in and take time to relax and freshen up before orientation. We will gather in our private meeting room where the Group Leader will greet you with a warm welcome and introduce everyone. We will review the up-to-date daily schedule and any changes, discuss responsibilities, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer any questions you may have. Please be aware that program activities and scheduled times could change due to local circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.
 Dinner: Welcome Dinner near the hotel.
Accommodations: Central Saint Germain
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 3: Discovering Paris' L'île de la Cité - Notre Dame Cathedral and the Sainte Chapelle
(Wednesday, April 22)

Note: Today's activities include walking up to two miles in the morning over cobblestone streets. This day also includes use of the Paris metro. This underground public transportation system is accessed by going up and down flights of stairs; elevators or escalators are NOT available in the majority of stations.

 Breakfast: At the hotel
 Morning: Enjoy a morning walk and metro ride to L'île de la Cité, the historical heart of Paris. With your local expert, explore the two best examples of gothic architecture, the Sainte Chapelle and the beautiful famed Notre Dame cathedral.
 Lunch: At a restaurant in the historic center of Paris.
 Afternoon: Spend some free time to discover the parts of Paris you have not yet seen or head over to the Musée d'Orsay or the Louvre.
 Dinner: On your own. Recommendations will be provided.
Accommodations: Central Saint Germain
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 4: Discover Montmarte and Embarquement
(Thursday, April 23)

Note: Today's activities include walking up to two miles in the morning over cobblestone streets and using the metro.

 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: Enjoy a late morning. Check out must be completed by 10:00 a.m. and luggage can be stored in the lobby. After checking out, we will head over to Montmarte, the artistic Heart of Paris. Led by your expert, learn what made this little hill in Paris so famous.
 Lunch: On your own to enjoy an opportunity to have a quick lunch at your choice of the many cafés on Montmarte.
 Afternoon: We will continue exploring the Butte Montmarte, ending our afternoon by taking the coach to embark on our barge.
 Dinner: Welcome dinner on board the MS Raymonde.
Accommodations: CroisiEurope Raymonde
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 5: Epernay
(Friday, April 24)

Note: Today's activities include walking up to two miles in the morning over cobblestone streets.

 Breakfast: On board the MS Raymonde.
 Morning: We will discover the rarely visited town of Chalons-en-Champagne, known as the bubbling Venice. We will next board a small boat to see the city from its many canals. We will then end the visit with a tasting of regional specialties.
 Lunch: On board the MS Raymonde.
 Afternoon: Enjoy sailing on the Marne and taking in the vistas as we leave Chalons-en-Champagne for Epernay. There will be a presentation led by your Study Leader on the history of the Champagne region and the rise of Champagne production.
 Dinner: On board the MS Raymonde.
Accommodations: CroisiEurope Raymonde
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Château Thierry / Discover the Champagne Wine Road
(Saturday, April 25)

Note: Today's activities include walking up to two miles in the morning over cobblestone streets.

 Breakfast: On board the MS Raymonde.
 Morning: We will leave for an exploration of the Champagne Wine Route. You will discover the region's picturesque vineyards and explore Hautviller, where Dom Perignon is believed to have invented the method of turning wine into champagne. We will end the day with a visit to the Royal Cathedral of Reims, which was saved from the bombing of WWI and remains a jewel of Gothic Architecture.
 Lunch: On board the MS Raymonde.
 Afternoon: As we sail toward château Thierry, learn about the Marne valley. It was a major tether for the American Dough Boys during WWI and the sites offer beautiful monuments honoring the sacrifice made by troops in the 14-18 conflict.
 Dinner: On board the MS Raymonde.
 Evening: Enjoy an evening of French and regional trivia.
Accommodations: CroisiEurope Raymonde
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: La Ferte-sous-Jouarre
(Sunday, April 26)
 Breakfast: On board the MS Raymonde.
 Morning: Our journey will transport you back almost 100 years to the battlefields of the Western Front. Learn about some decisive battles that turned the war around and remember the sacrifice made by our heroes during a special wreath laying ceremony at the American WWI cemetery in Belleau Woods.
 Lunch: On board the MS Raymonde.
 Afternoon: Sail through the heart of the Seine-et-Marne countryside for La Ferte-sous-Jouarre. Enjoy a presentation by your Study Leader on the history of the Champagne region.
 Dinner: On board the MS Raymonde.
Accommodations: CroisiEurope Raymonde
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Meaux
(Monday, April 27)
 Breakfast: On board the MS Raymonde.
 Morning: As we sail towards Meaux, enjoy another presentation by your Study Leader. You also will be able to admire the beauty of the Marne valley before we arrive in Meaux.
 Lunch: On board the MS Raymonde.
 Afternoon: Experience a visit to Meaux, a beautifully kept city offering a wonderful blend of medieval, Gothic, Baroque, and modern architecture. This city was home to a large religious community that was said to have created the method to make brie cheese. We will end our visit of Meaux at the new WWI museum.
 Dinner: On board the MS Raymonde.
Accommodations: CroisiEurope Raymonde
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: Paris
(Tuesday, April 28)
 Breakfast: On board the MS Raymonde.
 Morning: Enjoy the final cruising and take in the vistas as we approach Paris.
 Lunch: On board the MS Raymonde.
 Afternoon: Enjoy the highlights of Paris. We will start by driving around the French capital to see the main monuments before disembarking near the Palais Royal to enjoy a walk around the covered passageways, not often used by visitors.
 Dinner: Farewell gala dinner on board the MS Raymonde.
Accommodations: CroisiEurope Raymonde
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10: Departure from Paris
(Wednesday, April 29)
 Breakfast: On board the MS Madeleine.
 Morning: Disembark no later than 9 AM and transfer to the Paris CDG airport for your flights home. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please be in touch via the Road Scholar Social Network, where you can share memories, pictures, and comments. Best wishes for all your journeys.
Meals Included: Breakfast

Free Time Opportunities
  Paris Musee Jacquemart-Andre
The Jacquemart-André Museum, founded by collector Édouard André and his portraitist wife Nélie Jacquemart, is in an opulent mid-19th-century residence on one of Paris’ posher avenues. It has furniture, tapestries and enamels, but is most noted for its paintings by Rembrandt and Van Dyck and Italian Renaissance works by Bernini, Botticelli, Carpaccio, Donatello, Mantegna, Tintoretto, Titian and Uccello. Don’t miss the Jardin d’Hiver (Winter Garden), with its marble statuary, tropical plants and double-helix marble staircase. Just off it is the delightful fumoir (the erstwhile smoking room) filled with exotic objects collected by Jacquemart during her travels. The salon de thé is one of the most beautiful in the city. For additional information, visit
  Musee National du Moyen Age
The National Museum of the Middle Ages is housed in two structures: the frigidarium (cooling room) and other remains of Gallo-Roman baths dating from around AD 200, and the late-15th-century Hôtel de Cluny, considered the finest example of medieval civil architecture in Paris. The spectacular displays at the museum include statuary, illuminated manuscripts, weapons, furnishings, and objets d’art made of gold, ivory and enamel. But nothing compares with La Dame à la Licorne (The Lady with the Unicorn), a sublime series of late-15th-century tapestries from the southern Netherlands now hung in circular room 13 on the 1st floor. Five of them are devoted to the senses, while the sixth is the enigmatic À Mon Seul Désir (To My Sole Desire), a reflection on vanity. For additional information, visit
  Musee de L’Orangerie
Located in the southwestern corner of the Jardin des Tuileries, this museum, with the Jeu de Paume, is all that remains of the once palatial Palais des Tuileries, which was razed during the Paris Commune in 1871. It exhibits important Impressionist works, including a series of Monet's Decorations des Nymphéas (Water Lilies) in two huge oval rooms purpose-built in 1927 on the artist's instructions, as well as works by Cézanne, Matisse, Picasso, Renoir, Sisley, Soutine and Utrillo. For additional information, visit
  Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré
The rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré is a street in the 8th arrondissement. Although relatively narrow and nondescript (especially in comparison to the avenue des Champs-Élysées), it is cited as being one of the most fashionable streets in the world, thanks to the presence of virtually every major global fashion house.
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List

A Moveable Feast

Author: Ernest Hemingway

Description: A treasure for anyone interested in Parisian cafe society and its luminaries circa 1925. Hemingway includes sharp portraits of Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ford Maddox Ford and others who idled on their way to greatness.

A Short History of the First World War

Author: Gary Sheffield

Description: An admirably concise introduction to the Great War, from the shot that claimed Franz Ferdinand to the ill-conceived Treaty of Versailles.

A Traveller's History of France

Author: Robert Cole

Description: This fast-moving survey covers the conquests of ancient Gaul through the heady days of revolution to modern times.

Adventures on the Wine Route, A Wine Buyer's Tour of France

Author: Kermit Lynch

Description: A delightful and warmly anecdotal book highly recommended for anyone touring the wine regions of France. Lynch brings the domains and appellations of French wine to full-blown life and his portraits of the grand personalities who make the wine are priceless.

Champagne Regained

Author: Jacqueline Widmar Stewart

Description: With its deep and storied history, the beautiful Champagne region of France is easily one of the most pleasant places in Europe. With more than 100 color photographs and a history of the area, Stewart provides a great introduction.

Champagne-Ardennes Map 514

Author: Michelin Travel Publications

Description: A regional map at 1:200,000 scale, with topographic details, city plans and attractions.

Eyewitness Guide Paris

Author: Eyewitness Guides

Description: Gorgeous, well-illustrated and filled with maps, this compact book provides an excellent overview of the French capital, its history, traditions and sights.

Gothic: Architecture, Sculpture, Painting

Author: Rolf Toman

Description: A marvelously illustrated, oversized survey of Gothic architecture, cathedrals and castles across Europe.

In Montmartre: Picasso, Matisse and the Birth of Modernist Art

Author: Sue Roe

Description: Beginning with the teenaged Pablo Picasso’s arrival in Montmartre in 1900, this multi-faceted biography takes on the extraordinary men and women, including Henri Matisse and Gertrude Stein, who transformed the European art world.

Mapping the First World War, Battlefields of the Great Conflict from Above

Author: Simon Forty

Description: This incredibly handsome book delivers more than 100 large-format maps and charts selected from the Kew National Archives in London. The maps are accompanied by informative text exploring what each reveals about a world at war.

Michelin Green Guide Alsace, Lorraine, Champagne

Author: Michelin Travel Publications

Description: A guide to Alsace, Champagne and Vosges in the classic Michelin style.


Author: Edward Rutherfurd

Description: Edward Rutherford's sweeping tale traces Paris from Roman occupation to the building of Notre Dame, the machinations of Cardinal Richeleu, glittering court of Versailles, Revolution, the Belle Epoque, the Lost Generation, Nazi occupation and the Resistance all the way up to student revolt in the tumultuous 1960s.

Paris 1919, Six Months that Changed the World

Author: Richard Holbrooke (Introduction), Margaret Macmillan

Description: A vivid, comprehensive analysis of the Paris Peace Conference of 1919, the treaty to end the war that was supposed to end all wars.

Paris Map

Author: Borch Maps

Description: A sturdy laminated map of the city center at a scale of 1:12,000 and all of Paris at a scale of 1:15,000.

Paris at the End of the World, The City of Light During the Great War, 1914-1918

Author: John Baxter

Description: John Baxter (The Most Beautiful Walk in the World) explores how the city of light managed to shine even brighter during the four years when WWI threatened her destruction.

Paris in Mind

Author: Jennifer Lee (Editor)

Description: With selections spanning 300 years, this wonderful anthology reflects America's long connection to Paris and the French. The 30 American writers tapped include Benjamin Franklin, Ernest Hemingway and David Sedaris.

Paris to the Moon

Author: Adam Gopnik

Description: Gopnik writes with candor and humor about Paris and Parisian ways in these charming reflections on adapting to life in glorious exile.

Paris, The Biography of a City

Author: Colin Jones

Description: Jones writes with obvious affection in this entertaining, ambitious history of Paris, its architecture, culture and politics, from the late Stone Age to Jacques Chirac.

The Finest Wines of Champagne

Author: Michael Edwards, Hugh Johnson (Introduction)

Description: Much more than a guide to 90 cuvees, houses, and growers, this astute guide includes a history of champagne (the region and the wine), individual chapters on visiting Reims, Epernay and other regions, detailed maps and an annotated A-list of the finest wines.

The First World War

Author: John Keegan

Description: Keegan, a well-known British military historian, paints in visceral detail the major campaigns and battles of the war in this popular history.

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