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E-bike Touring through the Champagne Region of France on MS Zwaantje

For lovers of sparkling wine throughout the world, French champagne is the ultimate symbol of sophistication, celebration and good living.

Such is the popularity of sparkling champagne, that it is said a bottle is opened somewhere in the world every two seconds! In the wine industry there is simply no other style of wine that is so feted and universally enjoyed.

France’s Champagne region is centered around the towns of Epernay and Reims. The Abbey of Saint-Pierre, not far from Epernay, is where the legendary Benedictine monk, Dom Pérignon, supposedly invented the bubbly drink by accident in the early 18th century. This region is so intimately linked to the vineyards that by law they can only be planted with Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay grapes.

Given that the Champagne region is less than 160 kilometers (100 miles) east of Paris, the area is a popular destination for tourists keen to discover all they can about the region. Yet the vast majority of tourists travel quickly by car or bus through the region. We have a far better way to explore: a Boat Bike Tours guided e-bike tour aboard the passenger barge MS Zwaantje.

Our 7-day/6-night Paris-Epernay (or vice-versa) tour on board the Zwaantje follows the beautiful valley of the river Marne, with guests on a daily basis given ample opportunity to cycle to boutique wineries, sample a variety of champagnes, taste delicious Brie cheese and generally discover everything the Champagne region has to offer.

Quite simply there is no better way to see the Champagne region. Cycle all day and your floating hotel is there at the end of the day with your own room, a shower, a delicious meal and the company of your new-found cycling friends.

Along the way you’ll discover everything there is to know about the ‘real’ Champagne region as you cycle the gentle slopes of the Marne River valley. You’ll follow your tour leader along small country roads, sometimes not well paved, but riding an e-bike means it’s not too much effort. What you will quickly realize is that the region is a perfect destination for cyclists given the wide open landscapes and the kilometers and kilometers of vineyards that are punctuated by charming, picturesque villages, grand houses, gothic churches, canals and lakes.

A particular feature of the tour onboard MS Zwaantje – a small and cozy barge with 12 twin cabins with en-suite facilities and air conditioning for a maximum of 24 passengers – is the emphasis on service.

Every guest is treated as a VIP guest where nothing is too much trouble, with the crew only too happy to respond to all your needs and queries.

If you’re considering taking this trip, be aware that the Paris-Epernay tour is fully guided, meaning a tour leader accompanies you while you cycle. On our 3-point scale, the difficulty level is 2 because of the sometimes-challenging slopes, and the routes are between 30 and 50 kilometers per day (19-31 miles). On the other hand, the e-bike rental included in the tour definitely helps.

That said, one of the attractions of a cycling holiday on board MS Zwaantje is the fact that if you decide the cycling itinerary for the day is not to your liking – for whatever reason – you have the option of staying on board as the boat motors along the Marne River.

You’ll still have the opportunity to see the countryside along the way, but can pick and choose when you cycle.

Paris-Epernay itinerary

Each week the tour alternatively starts in Paris or Epernay, with guests given the opportunity to discover the “City of Light” and enjoy the city’s many highlights during a full-day guided excursion.

But invariably it will be the UNESCO-listed Champagne region that is the real highlight for guests. As you cycle through a sea of vineyards, you’ll discover why the Champagne name refers equally to the region and the wine it produces, why champagne only comes from Champagne and why the world’s most feted wines are so intimately linked to their land of origin.

After leaving Paris, you’ll visit the city of Meaux, which is well known for its Brie cheeses. You’ll spend a night in Château-Thierry, the scene of major battles in World War I. Along the way, you’ll visit a number of small-volume champagne producers who’ll be proud to let you taste their best Champagne wines. You’ll tour the city of Epernay, where you can walk down the Avenue de Champagne with its magnificent mansion façades: opulent middle-class homes occupied by famous Champagne Houses. You’ll find out why Epernay competes for the title of ‘Capital of Champagne’.

Our guarantee is that by the end of the tour you’ll have discovered the heart of the Champagne area, its history, arts and culture. You’ll have met wine makers who are happy to share their passion and love of the region and their knowledge of champagne.

Quite simply, exploring the Champagne region by e-bike is a journey rich in diversity and one not to be missed.


We’re happy to help!

If you have any questions about our offerings, mail or call us at +31 (0) 2072 35 400. We’re happy to help you choose which boating and biking vacation would suit you best. No obligations!

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