Champagne: what to do, what to see...

For those who don’t know, champagne comes only from Champagne. From wine tours to historic memory, people come here for its eponymous nectar, its captivating cellars, its famous dishes and simply to be swept up in its devotion to good living. This introduction to the land of champagne is much more than just a checklist, it's an introduction into the lifestyle champenoise! 

Not to miss sights in Champagne

• The hillsides, houses and wineries classified as World Heritage by Unesco

In 2015, 14 cellars, hillsides and sites were registered by UNESCO in the category "cultural landscape": in other words, th universality of heritage in Champagne lies throughout the region. It's up to you what to discover first: the gentle hills of Hautvillers, Haÿ, Mareuil, Saint-Nicaise, or the cellars of prestigious brands such as Pommery, Veuve-Clicquot, Ruinart, Taittinger. Of course, don't forget to check out the Institute Fort Chabrol for wine and oenological research.

• The Notre-Dame de Reims Cathedral

This gem of gothic style was the scene for the coronation of many French kings throughout history. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, you'll fall under the spell of its luminous interior, brightened by Chagall's contemporary stained glass windows, and its smiling angel amidst the 2,000 other statues adorning the facade.

• Roc-la-Tour

These two rock masses dominate the valley of the Semois at 400 meters (1,200 feet) above sea level to form the castle of the Devil—according to legend, they were the ruins of a castle destroyed by Satan's anger. Try to stay calm!

• The Champagne Houses

A 100 or so houses vinify their own selection of grapes and vintages here, adhering to a demanding traditional process. Some 20 of them organize visits to their cellars, dug into the chalk: Ayala to Aÿ, Mercier to Epernay, Duchêne Canard to the castle of Ludes, Taittinger in the crypts of the former Abbey St Nicaise, Ruinart in the crayers of Reims. It's enough to make you drunk before even sipping the bubbly!

• The sites of WWI

Due to its geographical location, the Champagne-Ardenne region was the scene of many battles during the First World War. Thirty sites, cemeteries and monuments of the region welcome visitors to come visit these moments of history.

• The castle of Sedan

It is the largest in Europe, with seven floors, 35 ,000 m² (105,000 ft²) of floor space and 7 meter (21 foot) high walls. At once a fortress and a princely residence, it overlooks the city with its impressive silhouette.

• The ramparts of Langres

From the top of these ramparts, the view extends to the Vosges and Jura! The walkway guides you through 2000 years of history, with seven gates and 12 towers to explore.

• Reims

There's no time to be bored in Reims! Start yourself off at the beginning: the Gallo-Roman remains of the Mars Gate, the Roman-Gothic St Remi basilica, the Palace of Tau, the Byzantine basilica Sainte-Clotilde, then the Carnegie Art Deco library, the modern chapel designed by the painter Japanese Foujita and the halls of Boulingrin.

• Mount-Malgré-Tout

Do you want to go for a nice walk? Climb to the top of Mont Malgré-Tout, Despite-All Mountain, standing at 450 meteres (1350 feet) on the heights of Revin, in the valley of Meuse. Bring along a copy of George Sand's eponymous novel to see the place it's named after!

• The historic heart of Troyes

The city has managed to preserve an astonishing heritage of half-timbered, brightly colored houses dating from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, once inhabited by rich merchants. At the bend of the cobblestone streets, raise your eyes to the mansions emblazoned with the coats of arms of noble families.

Things to do in Champagne

• Bathing on one of the six beaches of Lake Der

An inland sea in the heart of Champagne: the Der artificial lake was created to regulate the waters of the Marne, and occupies 4,800 hectares (over 11,000 acres) of the region. In addition to its six beaches, the lake is a paradise for sports like sailing, water skiing, rowing, and canoeing.

• Pair champagne and contemporary art at Maison Pommery

Tradition married with th avant-garde: this is the challenge of Domaine Pommery, which exhibits works by contemporary artists in the heart of its cellars. Maisons Ruinart and Louis Roederer also give carte blanche to renowned artists and young talents to showcase their work.

• Meet the winemakers

Many wine growers open their doors to share their passion, from the vine to the glass, through fermentation. Champagne unveils all its secrets in these informative and tasteful initiatives.

• Prepare a picnic basket to enjoy in the vineyards

Take advantage of the grape harvests to walk through the vineyards, enjoy a picnic among the vines, visit a farm, and enjoy a grand cru. It's an unforgettably rose-colored experience behind the scenes in Champagne.

• Go to Hautvillers to pay tribute to Dom Pérignon

It is here that the legend of Champagne was born, thanks to the Benedictine monk Dom Pérignon, who was said to have accidentally invented effervescent wine at the end of the 17th century. He's buried in the abbey of Hautvillers, leaving his name to a vintage produced by Moët and Chandon.

• Shopping outings in Troyes, cradle of brand factories

A 100 stores are waiting for you in three major brand centers, which sell discount sporting goods, crockery, leather goods and ready-to-wear pieces—it's the perfect place to shop till you drop!

• Walk on the Avenue de Champagne in Epernay

On more than a kilometer (around 0.5) miles, this chic avenue is lined with champagne houses and mansions. Below, more than 100 kilometers (62 miles) of cellars hide more than 200 million bottles—dream cache for lovers of fine bubbles!

• Take a tour of the Episcopal Palace of Troyes

Today housing the city's Museum of Modern Art, this beautiful structure from the 16th century contains 3,500 various works by Bonnard, Braque, Rodin, and Van Dongen.

• Immerse yourself in history at the Memorial of the Battle of the Marne at Dormans

The place symbolizes the two battles of the Marne of 1914 and 1918. The crypt, the chapel, the cloister, the ossuary and the museum are works of potent memory.

• Take your binoculars and observe the birds at the Horre pond

Throughout the year, the pond is home to various avian species, such as hawks, hobby falcons, cranes, and swans. L'étang de la Horre is a beautiful treat for wildlife lovers in a nature reserve.

• Be tempted by the andouillette

Troyes andouillettes consists of the large intestine and stomach of pigs, seasoned with onions and spices. The sausages are a real treat, especially those of the label AAAAA (Association Amicale des Amateurs d'Andouillettes Authentiques: Friendly Association of Authentic Andouillettes Lovers) at charcuteries!

Getting to Champagne 

More
ideas