Champagne-Ardenne is a region in the northeast of France, bordering Belgium and consisting of four departements, Aube, Haute-Marne, Marne and Ardennes. As the name suggests, the region is home to the champagne industry and there are many caves tourists can visit in the region – and have a taste of the produce. The area has plenty of outdoor activities on offer too and is full of historic towns and buildings.
The town of Epernay is the centre of the champagne industry, though there are chateaux and vineyards throughout the region where the drink is produced. Many offer guided tours explaining the process and the chance to sample the drink and even buy some bottle yourself, if your budget can stretch that far. Within the town of Epernay, you can take a walk down the Avenue de Champagne, so-called because of the stores belonging to Moet and Chandon, Mercier and De Castellane on the street. Out in the countryside, there are many smaller producers more likely to give you a more personal tour, though often these are only by previous arrangement.
Champagne-Ardenne is home to a number of medieval towns, such as Troyes, with its half-timbered houses and stained glass windows, Langres, where you can explore the remaining town fortifications, and Reims, the site of the coronation of French kings throughout history. Castles in the region vary from 18th century country homes to ancient fortresses. The writer Voltaire once visited the chateau at Cirey-sur-Blaise while the star-shaped citadel at Rocroi, dating from the sixteenth century, is still standing today. Reims Cathedral was built in the 13th century on the site of an older church destroyed by fire.
Explore the Outdoors
Those who prefer the outdoors can explore over 5,000 km of footpaths, particularly in the Foret d’Orient. There are also biking trails and many places where you can go horse riding for the day, for a more leisurely pace. On the lake in the forest, there is a kite surfing centre where adrenaline junkies can fly over the surface of the water or take a speedboat ride. There are plenty of other activity centres in the region offering quad bikes for hire, rock climbing, hang gliding and even parachuting. Families will enjoy the Nigoland theme park with fairground rides, live shows and a 50-metre big wheel offering a great view over the surrounding countryside.