The people of Champagne have a lot to be proud about. Not only do they produce one of the world’s most celebrated fizzy drinks, the region was awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 2015, meaning it’s an even greater destination for foodies and culture vultures alike. But while it’s right at the heart of the country, the Champagne region offers more than an authentic drink – as our travel guide shows, there’s a little something for everyone if you’re thinking of booking one of our luxury villas and chateaux in Champagne.
The region of Champagne is inextricably tied to its most famous export, and much like the wine, it is a part of France that bubbles with life. From the sparkling lakes of its natural parks to the refined elegance of its cathedrals and castles, Champagne is a region that exudes class and appeals to the senses. Drinking the fizzy wine is de rigueur, of course, and the region has become well equipped to deal with the hordes of connoisseurs who visit. Head off the vineyard trails, however, and you’ll find beautiful undiscovered landscapes, pretty historic towns and a whole host of activities to delight kids and grown-ups alike. This is a region that favours the adventurous, so strike out of the main tourist trail to explore your own corner of the country.
- Reims – Start your exploration of wine country from this historic town, which is near some of the biggest and best vineyards.
- Cathédrale Notre Dame – Stand in awe of the spectacular Gothic façade of Reims’ mightiest monument.
- Épernay – Taste the sparkling flavours offered in the capital of the wine region.
- Museum of Modern Art – Browse modern masterworks in the confines of an old bishop’s palace.
- Troyes – Wander beneath the overhanging beams of Troyes’ quirky, colourful houses.
- Moët & Chandon – See the statue of Dom Pérignon at one of the most famous vineyards in the world.
When to visit:
The wineries of Champagne usually throw open their doors from February through to October. But even in the winter months (between November and January), most will allow you to visit with an appointment. As such, there’s no bad time to take a holiday in this region.
The season for harvesting grapes, usually in mid-autumn, changes every year according to the climate, and is always an exciting time to come. In summer, you’ll usually find the vines at their greenest and fullest. France’s peak tourist season between July and August strikes Champagne as with everywhere, so visit either side of those months to avoid the long lines of people who may disturb your rural idyll.
- Airports: You wont find direct flights to Champagne,though you’ll find plenty to Paris. From Paris airport you can travel directly on train to Champagne Ardennes TGV station
- By Bike:In summer, the best way to enjoy the rolling green landscapes of Champagne is on two wheels. That way, you can cut down farm roads and stop in otherwise undiscovered villages. Head to one of the local tourist offices for bike hire options near you.
- By car:The most flexible way of travelling in Champagne is by car; this allows you access to smaller, more out-of-the-way destinations unreachable by train. Major companies such as Avis and Sixt operate in the region, with a hub by Reims station.
- By Train:Train travel in Champagne is limited to the major towns, which are linked by the SNCF’s TER system. The main station is in Reims, which links Champagne to the rest of the country.
- By Bus:The bus system in France is coordinated by TEC and routes run throughout the towns and villages of Champagne.
- Art fans should seek out the quaint village of Essoyes, the home and burial place of Pierre-Auguste Renoir and his son, the film director Jean. Tour guides will be happy to take you around the key sites of the painter’s childhood. Alternatively, you can head for Espace Renoir, a museum dedicated to the family’s legacy. The village itself is a stunning, old-world settlement, and it’s clear why the painter was so inspired by the place.
- The Forest of Orient, in the south of the region, is a natural paradise. The lakes in the middle are a haven for wildlife and an ideal spot for birdwatching. The Regional Natural Park offers camping, adventure sports and quiet villages in scenic surroundings. Take a pair of binoculars to the wildlife park, where you might spot roe deer and wild boar.
- Watch crystal being shaped in the furnaces of Bayel, a village built around a glass industry, which began way back in the 14th century. The village is home to the Museum of Crystal, where you can admire the elegance and craftsmanship of the glass work. You can also tour the factory where the delicate flutes are made.
- One Champagne’s quirkiest attractions is the Museum of Marriage in Oger. Ephemera associated with wedding days have been brought together in one eye-catching collection. The strange traditions of 19th-century weddings, such as waiting by the nuptial bed, make for an amusing and enlightening exhibit.
- The province of Haute-Marne is not especially well known by many visitors to France, but it offers a tantalising escape from the grind of modern life. Thermal spas, typically excellent French cuisine and miles of empty footpaths in beautiful scenery await visitors to the province. The commune of Joinville is the best places for walkers, with numerous countryside trails leading off from here.
Given its famous links to alcohol, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Champagne is not exactly child-friendly. But the truth is that the bubbly stuff is just one small aspect of the region’s identity and there are copious options available for those who haven’t yet developed a taste for wine. The geography of these lands lends itself well to fun outdoor activities: kids can disappear into woods, swing around high ropes courses and kayak across lakes. And there are also adventure and theme parks aplenty, which are undeniably fun – no matter what age you are.
What’s more, adults travelling with kids don’t have to forgo the pleasures of the region’s wine; there are a number of attractions that make the world of viticulture accessible and entertaining to kids. Many of the wine houses welcome children and curious kids will have a ball riding trains through cellars and wandering among the grape-laden vines.Here are a few activities in Champagne that are fun for the whole family.
The Best Family-Friendly Activities in Champagne
- France is well served when it comes to amusement parks, and the Champagne region is no exception. Whether you want a day enjoying the thrill of roller coasters or splashing about in a water park, there’s plenty on offer and they’re all an easy car ride away.
- Couleurs Adventure Park is a day out with a difference – the family can take to the treetops and try out the high-altitude assault course complete with ziplines and rope bridges, or if they’re over eight they can strap on their camouflage and try their hand at paintballing.
- Terraltitude Adventure Park is another park where you can take to the heights, this time with bungee jumping, an impressive kilometre-long zipline and plenty of other attractions to keep the whole family entertained.
- If your kids are into cars, you’ll probably want to head down to Reims where you can find Musée Automobiles Reims Champagne. As you can probably guess, this museum boasts a huge collection of classic cars – and an even bigger collection of model automobiles to enjoy too.
Did you like these activities? You can see more with our best kid activities in Champagne.
Family-Friendly Wineries in Champagne
- While the little ones might not be the correct age to truly appreciate a glass of Champagne’s most famous export, they can still enjoy a trip to where the famous drink is produced. Champagne Mercier can introduce the family to the wonders of wine making, and the kids will be transfixed by the train journey through the 18 miles of caves where the Champagne is stored as it ferments.
- Champagne de Castellane isn’t actually all that far from the site of Champagne Mercier, and it offers a unique glimpse into the processes of making Champagne from historical artefacts right up to the present day. As there’s a fair bit of talking involved, this one’s better suited to older kids.
Making the most out of your time in Champagne while on a group getaway is not necessarily about what you do, it’s about how you do it. This isn’t to say there isn’t much to do, far from it; from World War I battlefield tours and engaging museums to immersive puzzle games and horseback riding, Champagne offers a plethora of grown-up group activities.However, the ‘how’ of the matter is what makes your stay in the region truly unforgettable.
You can travel between vineyards churning up mud on the back of a quad bike or drift serenely over the neatly patterned fields in a hot air balloon. There are any number of ways to get around the countryside, and your group could choose from excursions where you run, cycle, horse ride or cruise in a boat around the area. Discovering Champagne was always going to be memorable, but the variety of ways you can do that is what makes a group holiday to the region truly special.
Adrenaline-Fuelled Activities in Champagne
- If you really want to get your pulse pounding (and even enjoy a bit of the Champagne countryside while you’re at it), try going off-road. Arden-Rando-Quads hires out quad bikes and ATVs, and if you’re up for an afternoon of getting muddy there’s nothing to beat it.
- If you prefer to get wet instead of getting muddy, why not go on a boat trip? Champagne has literally nothing to offer in the way of coastline, but there’s a good few waterways and lakes where you can try out a range of exciting watersports.
- Blue Nautic hires out electric boats you can use to chug around the Marne River – there’s a variety of packages to choose from, and you can even ditch the motor and go canoeing if you’re feeling energetic.
- If you want to get a really good look at the landscape of Champagne – venerable vineyards and all – head up to the skies. A hot air balloon ride isn’t just a memorable way to see the sights. It’s a great way to spend time with your friends too.
- Les Montgolfieres Champenoises is the place to start if you fancy heading up to the wild blue yonder, offering flights over Champagne and other regions.
We’ve rounded up even more fun group activities in Champagne.
Laid Back Activities in the Champagne Region
- A tour is always a great way to spend a day. Not only will you get a little more information and insight into where you’re visiting, you can tailor your tour to your interests, whether that’s food, history, wine or nature.
- Instants Tours offer a range of tours that delve into Champagne’s, well… Champagne! Choose from a Grand Cru, Premiere Cru or a Private day tour.
- Or fancy a tour that’s a bit more hands-on? Escapium‘s tours are engineered to be challenging, with a Polaroid challenge and a gourmet tour full of puzzles awaiting adventurous travellers.
- With an impressive history behind it, it’s hardly surprising Champagne also has its fair share of museums to explore. Reims is particularly good, with contemporary and classical art galleries and other historical gems on offer.
- The Marne 14-18, Centre d’Interpretation Suippes near Reims takes a look at the role Champagne played in the First World War. It includes a fascinating and sobering collection of genuine relics too.
- For something a little more fashion-orientated, try Le Moulin de La Fleuristerie. It’s where handmade flowers and fruits are crafted to decorate some of the world’s finest haute-couture hats and dresses.
You can’t turn a corner in Champagne without running into a vineyard, which can make distinguishing the truly-great from the so-so fizz rather hard. The key to a positive experience on the wine routes is to determine the winemaker’s authenticity; look for those with the badge of approval from the Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne, or CIVC.Despite the hype surrounding the vineyards, it’s worth remembering that the culinary delights of Champagne do not begin and end with the legendary sparkling wine.
This region also offers a broad selection of gourmet restaurants and atmospheric dining venues as well as lots of delicious local specialties including soft and creamy Chaource cheese, pied de cochon (pig’s feet) from the town of Sainte Ménéhould and Reims vinegar (which is derived from Champagne). You can even visit a stubbornly different whisky distillery.From restaurants to Champagne wine tours, we’ve rounded up 10 of the top food and wine experiences in the region.
The Best Restaurants in Champagne
- The Café du Palais in Reims doesn’t just serve deliciously tempting French classics – the decor is stunning, with a stained glass ceiling neatly offsetting an Art Deco vibe.
- Restaurant Racine is also found in Reims and serves up an intriguing fusion of French and Japanese cuisine. Foie gras with passion fruit and orange and pepper ice cream are just two of the intriguing dishes you can expect.
- At Le Parc Les Crayères, you can choose between a brasserie meal or full on Michelin-star dining. Set in an impressive 20th Century mansion, both options are well worth the trip but the full on gourmand experience is not one to be missed.
We have even more treats for you! We have selected 10 of the best food experiences in Champagne.
Dishes to Try in Champagne
- Boudin Blanc de Rethel was traditionally eaten at Christmas in Champagne, but thankfully you can now find this white sausage all year round. Each butcher has their own sepecial recipe, so shop around and find your favourite!
- Fan of all things dairy? Chaource is a typical soft cheese from Champagne made from cow’s milk. Similar to brie, it has a salty and slightly mushroom-like flavour.
- You’ll doubtless be trying Champagne’s namesake drink while you’re enjoying your trip, but don’t pass up an opportunity to indulge in some Ratafia. It’s a sort of fortified wine made with brandy, and certainly packs a punch as an apératif or after a meal.
The Best Foodie Activities in Champagne
- Head to Verzy for a drink with a difference – Perching Bar lives up to its name, as you’ll find it perched halfway up a tree offering spectacular views of the Marne countryside.
- Raw France Champagne Visits in Sacy offer a far less formal and more intimate look at wine making in Champagne. Owners Rachel and Alexis will show you around their small, independent vineyard, as well as highlighting other local treats.
- And of course, it wouldn’t be a visit to Champagne without indulging in a little tasting! Champagne Janisson Baradon in Épernay can sort you out with an unforgettable tasting, and they can even give you a lesson on how to open a bottle with the tip of a sabre.