Condé-sur-Marne & Châlons-en-Champagne

While Marcia supervised rogue captain Aussie’s navigation, Peter and I took to the ropes ascending the volatile locks of the Canal de l’Aisne à la Marne. Our new crew did well mastering locks and the Mont-de-Billy Tunnel, and so we arrived by lunchtime in Condé-sur-Marne. Although it was Sunday, tractor loads of grain continued to arrive at the nearby silos until late at night. It must have been the rush to get the harvest in before the next rain. We checked the phone weather and, yes, rain is afoot in the next couple of days. Condé is a very sleepy and desolated village on a Sunday, and probably not much different during the week, but it has a perfect example of a romanesque church surrounded by a lovely garden. We met a group of English cyclists at the town square who had cycled 90 miles through the Champagne hills that day.

Exhausted by the thought of such feat, we had an early night and the next morning set off turning into the Canal Latéral à la Marne towards our favourite town: Châlons-en-Champagne.<Last Years Visit> After mooring in the boat harbour of Châlons we walked into town and lunched on yummy, savoury crêpes. An afternoon stroll through the park and a nice hot shower at the port and we were ready for cheese, baguette and a glass of wine/beer to end a busy day.

Unfortunately the predicted rain came in the early morning hours, but we braved the heritage walk.

We passed many old half-timber and renaissance houses, a 16th century stone bridge and the UNESCO world heritage church of Notre-Dame-en-Vaux. The carved wooden inner portal and organ, a large carillon of 56 bells and many great oil paintings and sculptures, all make this church special. In front of the church is the impressive statue of Jean Talon. 

He became the intendant of “New France”. His cloak bears the globe and maple leaves representing Canada. He eventually returned to his home town and on his request was laid to rest in this church.

It was still raining in the afternoon so we took the covered tourist train around town. 

Our next destination was the small Champagne village Mareuil-sur-Ay which lays along “The Route de Champagne" in midst of wine covered hills west of Condé on the Canal latéral de la Marne. Champagne vintners are competing here in close vicinity.

Mareuil is a lovely mooring with all facilities we remembered well from our last trip. And of course, there were a couple of Aussie boats to be found whose owners had already sampled several Champagne houses.

We decided to save the Champagne tasting for Épernay and watched the sun set over Mareuil staying fairly sober.

© Austin Robinson 2019