Champagne Ardenne Holiday Travel Guide
Despite its accessibility to the Channel ports and Paris, many tourists merely pass through this region on their way to Belgium, Germany or the South of France. Yet Champagne Ardenne is well worth a visit, its name pointing out the region’s diversity, from the esteemed chalk-soil vineyards around Reims and Epernay producing the famous sparkling champagne - requested at all the best celebrations throughout the world - to the craggy hills and deep forests of the Ardenne (the word means ‘thick forest’ in Celtic) to the north and east. The latter has been a battleground en route to Paris, from Roman times to the resistance fighters of WWII. Today, the nineteenth century slate and iron works on a terrain unsuited to agriculture are long gone, and green tourism such as walking, cycling and boating have given the quiet and peaceful Ardenne a new lease of life.
Tour the champagne vineyards on foot or by bicycle along trails through the Montagne de Reims Regional Nature Park and learn about traditions of the land at the ecomuseum in Champagne-Ardennes’ Regional Nature Park of Foret d’Orient, west of Troyes. The region’s canals, rivers and lakes are a paradise for watersports enthusiasts and fishermen, and a haven for wildlife.
Champagne Ardenne’s rich heritage offers plenty for history lovers. From 987AD, French kings were crowned at Reims and in 1945 the WWII Armistice was signed there. Reims cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a great starting point for a tour of fortified churches around Thierache, timber churches, like Outines, roofed with wooden tiles, and the region’s decorated Romanesque abbeys. Take a guided tour around the fortified chateau at Sedan or visit Cirey-sur-Blaise where Voltaire lived and worked for a time. Walk the impressive ramparts of hill top Langres for breathtaking views. Fortified since Roman times the town is sometimes called the ‘Carcassonne of the North’. Lovingly restored medieval half-timbered houses, fine churches and museums and cut-price designer clothing outlets put Troyes, the historic capital of Champagne, firmly on the touring itinerary.
Sample Troyes’s regional speciality of andouillette or chitterling sausage, at restaurants in the town, along with truffles, cheese from Langres and rose pink biscuits from Reims. The highlight of any trip to Champagne Ardenne must of course be a guided tour through the maze of chalk cellars and tunnels under the champagne towns of Reims and Epernay where millions of bottles are stored - followed by a tasting of course.
Champagne-Ardenne is divided into 4 departments:
Champage Ardenne Regional Tourist Board
51013 Chalons-en-Champagne cedex
Tel: (00 33) 326 21 85 80