This Tasting Cruise Lets You Experience France’s Champagne Region in More Ways Than One

Unlimited bubbly, waterside vineyards, and culinary delicacies: This new European river cruise is a Champagne lover’s dream.

French Waterways has just unveiled its newly renovated barge, which will have its inaugural sailing on May 19 and take travelers on week-long private river cruises through France’s Champagne region. Dubbed Kir Royale, the vessel can accommodate up to eight guests with four cabins each with an en suite bathroom. The latter sports his and hers sinks and luxurious rainfall showers. Plus, the barge itself is kitted out with two sun decks (one with a heated spa pool), a bar, a saloon, and a separate dining area.

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“Kir Royale is all about experiencing Champagne in its home terroir and celebrating everything that its vineyards have to offer,” said James Newcombe, cofounder of French Waterways, in a statement. “Aside from enjoying the bubbles, Champagne’s countryside is magnificent, blanketed with rolling vineyards and dotted with ornate châteaux and churches.”

kir royale french waterways champagne cruise
The newly remodeled Kir Royale features four cabin suites.

The seven-day, six-night voyage begins in Paris, where you’ll be chauffeured from Hotel Westminster to Châlons-en-Champagne. Travelers will be welcomed onboard the eight-person barge with a glass of bubbly and treated to a seasonally inspired dinner. The next day, the boat will make its way down the Marne Valley with stops at Maison Pannier for a tour and private tasting.

The third day kicks off with an excursion to the World War l battlefield at Château-Thierry and the Belleau Wood memorial. After, you’ll enjoy lunch and dinner back onboard until Kir Royale reaches its mooring at Damery. The next morning, head off on a private Champagne tasting and tour at the boutique Grand Cru winery of Frerejean Frères, followed by lunch in the salon. When the boat arrives in Dizy, your group will visit the world-renowned Moët & Chandon. The festivities continue with guided tours of Moët & Chandon’s underground cellars and a tasting hosted by a cellar master. On the final day, you’ll pay a visit to the historic, 800-year-old Reims Cathedral.

“The barge’s season runs from May, when the grapes are growing, through the harvest period in September and right to October when the leaves fall and regeneration begins,” Newcombe explained. “But no matter what time of year you visit, the experience will be fantastic.”

The week-long itinerary through France’s Champagne region starts from $8,550 per person for by-cabin bookings. Kir Royale can also be chartered with prices starting from $58,700 for up to six guests. The rate includes transfers to and from Paris, all meals and wine (onboard and ashore), daily tours, and a dedicated crew.

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