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Champagne Region Map and Travel Guide

From James Martin,
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The Champagne region of France - map, travel tips, major cities and transportation routes

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The Champagne Region of France: General Information

The Champagne region of France is less than 100 miles east of Paris and is made up of the Aube, Marne, Haute-Marne, and Ardennes departments. It is easily accessible by car or train. There is a small airport at Reims (Reims-Champagne Airport) and Troyes, and both cities have rail access.

Champagne Region Travel Information

Champagne Travel Information

Champagne Open Air Market Days

The Vineyards of Champagne

If you drive through Champagne from the north (Belgium) you'll be amazed at the lack of vineyards. The Ardennes consist of mostly farmland. The main vineyard areas are shown in purple on the map with the largest concentration--the Marne Valley, the Mountain of Reims, and the Cote de Blancs--around Reims and Epernay.

The the vines of Champagne take root in a great layer of chalk under a thin layer of fertilized soil. The Champenois vineyards are planted only with Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay by law. It wasn't until the late 17th century that the tart wines of Champagne became sparkling wines.

How do you find artisanal champagne? Look for a bottle marked "R.M." (Recoltant-Manipulant) or "S.R." (Societé-Manipulant). Those initials signify that the grower vinifies, bottles, and markets Champagne from grapes he grows.

For more about the wines of the Champagne region, see About's guide to Champagne and Sparkling Wine Basics.

Major Tourist Sites and Cities

Sedan has the largest chateau Fort in Europe. It's worth a visit, especially if you stay in the hotel in the castle. There is a Medieval festival the third weekend in May.

Reims is the capital of the region, and you'll find many opportunities to taste champagne here, as well as visit the renowned Notre-Dame Cathedral with its circular stained glass window, called a rose window, and the 1974 set of stained glass windows by Marc Chagall. (pictures).

There are 11 champagne houses in Reims that you may visit. In 2003, four of them were free to visit and taste: Maxims, Mumm, Piper-Heidsieck, and Taittinger. We visited Maxims, which produces champagne for their restaurants in Paris (pictures). Maxims is right in town, a short walk from the center.

Reims is accessible from the A4-E50 (Paris-Strasbourgh), the A34 (Ardennes - Belgium) tollway, and the A26 - E17 (Calais - Troyes - Dijon - Lyon) highways. The TGV high-speed train links Reims to Paris in 45 mins. The tourist information center is near the cathedral at 2 Rue Guillaume de Machault.

Troyes is one of my favorite cities in the south of the region of Champagne. Troyes' old quarter, with well-preserved and sometimes slanting 16th-century half-timbered houses lining the pedestrian streets, is quite charming, and the restaurants and bars offer a good value in this rather expensive region.

Lodging in the Champagne Region

For lodging in Reims, see the user-rated Reims Hotels (book direct). I generally trust Logis de France for lodging with restaurants which offer a good value, and even more so in wine regions like Champagne, since the hotel restaurants are usually selected for food representative of the region.

In Troyes, we spent a few days at Hotel Les Comtes de Champagne, a two star hotel in the old quarter that offered good value and aging, settled floors so that you could walk like a drunken sailor even when sober. The hotel has been recently updated with modern floors, and is a good value in the heart of Troyes.

You may also wish to consider self catering lodging in the Champagne-Ardenne region. HomeAway lists over 100 Vacation Rentals in Champagne-Ardenne.

Other French Wine Resources on Europe for Visitors

Visiting the French Wine Regions shows a map of the major French wine regions and leads to an article on Burgundy Uncorked: Beaune and the Burgundy Wine Region.

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