European Waterways has announced that it has updated its Champagne itinerary. A highlight includes an exclusive tasting at "the cradle of Champagne," the hilltop village of Hautvillers. It’s here that Dom Perignon discovered the "méthode champenoise," the process that produces what many consider to be the world's top Champagnes and sparkling wines through a secondary fermentation in the bottle.
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 eight-passenger La Nouvelle Etoile, which cruises the region through mid-August. Both Panche and La Nouvelle Etoile cruises to Epernay, a favorite destination for champagne aficionados (although the latter also moors in central Paris). Located in Epernay is the Avenue de Champagne, which includes Moët & Chandon and Perrier-Jouët. Here, European Waterways' guests receive a cellar tour and private tasting.
In addition to the cellar tour and private tasting at Epernay, guests are also treated to an exclusive tasting of champagnes and cheeses at a boutique in the village. They will then dine at a Michelin-starred restaurant nearby.
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. All hotel barges have onboard master chefs who pair every meal with local wines; however, these cruises will place more of a focus on the bubbly.
The Champagne region plays host to many popular summer festivals, which European Waterways guests will have the chance to experience. Top festivals include the 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 Champagne tastings; and music festivals such as the Here and Elsewhere Festival in July in Chalons-en-Champagne and La Fete de la Musique, held on July 21.