Regions - Eastern France - Champagne
Regions — Eastern France — Champagne
Region at a glance
Major City: Reims
Region known for Champagne production.
Picturesque rolling hills and vineyards.
90 minutes from Paris, making it an easy day trip or overnight from Paris.
Historical gothic cathedral where France's kings were crowned
Champagne, the very symbol of sophistication, graceful living and celebration, is produced nowhere else in the world. All champagnes are made within a few miles of each other outside Reims and Epernay, near the Abbey of Saint-Pierre where the legendary Benedictine monk, Dom Pérignon, supposedly invented the bubbly by accident in the early 18th Century (some would say by divine inspiration). Just as still wines have different characteristics and tastes, so do champagnes, and the great houses of Mumm, Piper-Heidsieck, Taittinger, Veuve Clicquot and Moët & Chandon, among more than 100 others, want to prove this with guided tours (in English) of their cellars and tasting of the current vintage.
Sightseeing centers around Reims and its Notre-Dame Cathedral, the heart of France's royal history where twenty-five kings were crowned. This Gothic structure is one of France's most magnificent churches, and some would place its rose windows among the best in the world.
South of the Champagne vineyards is Troyes, once one of Europe's most magnificent cities. This capital of the Counts of Champagne, who ruled the region before there was a France, is lined with beautifully-preserved half-timbered houses built during the 16th Century. North of Reims are the French Ardennes where Europe's sometimes bloody history has been decided on the fields of Sedan, Argonne and Châlons-sur-Marne, along the rivers Meuse and Marne.
The Champagne region is only a 90-minute drive from Paris, making it an easy day trip.
Places of interest
Asfeld Baroque church
Charleville-Mézières Place Ducale, Rimbaud Museum
Chalons-sur-Marne St. Etienne Cathedral, Cloister Museum of Notre-Dame-en-Vaux
Colombey-les-deux Eglises General de Gaulle house and memorial
Epernay Champagne vineyards and cellars
L'Epine Notre Dame Basilica
Fère Bridge and 13th century medieval castle
Hautvillers Town where Champagne was invented, reconstruction of Dom Pérignon's cellar and laboratory in the abbey museum
Langres Home of Diderot, Renaissance houses, ramparts
Mouzon Notre Dame Abbey
Nogent-en-Bassigny Museum of the "Espace Pelletier"
Novion Porcion Three Wars Museum
Reims Champagne cellars, Notre Dame cathedral, St. Remi Museum and Basilica, Palais du Tau, Surrender room, Fine Arts Museum, La Pompelle Fort
Renwez Forest Museum
Rethel St. Nicholas Church, Ardennes canal
Revin View of the Ardennes forest
Rocroi Museum of the Battle of Rocroi
Saint Ménéhould City Hall, walks in the Argonne forest
Sedan Largest fortified chateau in Europe
Signy-l'Abbaye "Gouffre" de Gibergeon (natural cave)
Troyes Museum of Modern Art, Workers Tool Museum, churches, Pharmacy Museum
Varennes-en-Argonne Town where Louis XVI was arrested in 1791, fleeing from Paris
Verzy Spectacular view of the city of Reims
Villy-la-Ferté Last fort on the Maginot Line
Vouziers St. Maurille Church.
Technical tourism and sports
The Montagne de Reims route (47 miles) starts in Reims and goes to Epernay, home of the famous Moet & Chandon and Perrier-Jouët vineyards. The Marne Valley route (33 miles) begins in Epernay and extends past Hautvillers, Ay, Dizy, Cumières, Chatillon and Vincennes. The Côte de Blancs route (68 miles) goes from Epernay south to Verus and Villenauxe la Grande, an area planted almost exclusively with Chardonnay white grapevines.
River cruises, barging, ballooning, cooking classes.
Biking, hiking, horse-back riding, horse-drawn carriages
Champagne-Ardenne's refined cuisine incorporates the region's native sparkling wine whenever possible. Whether accompanying the meal (before, during or after) or used in the meal itself (in anything from seafood to chicken), champagne is a very important part of the region's culinary tradition.
Champagne derivatives such as, "Ratafia", "Marc de Champagne" and "Fine de Marne" are also quite popular, as well as other spirits and wines including "Côteaux Champenois" (available in white and red), "Bouzy rouge", "Riceys rose", cider and fruit liqueurs. Desserts include sugar tarts, massepains & croquignoles (from Reims), and Haute Marne's meringue caissettes.
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