Beautiful vineyards as far as the eye can see and plenty of opportunities for a cheeky glass of bubbly – what’s not to love about Champagne?! This picturesque province in central France is famed for its fizzy wines and has been making some of the best bottles in the world for over 300 years.
It’s undeniably a fantastic destination for an adults-only road trip. Got kids or teetotallers in tow? We’ve got you covered with some great suggestions on things to see and do beyond the region’s pretty vineyards…
First things first. So, where can I taste some champagne in Champagne?
The Champagne region is pretty vast and it can be tricky to know where to start if you’re a first-time visitor. So, before you start dreaming of endless glasses of champers, it’s worth planning your route out.
The province is split up into five main wine areas, each one producing different varieties of bubbly. If you’ve not got time to get around all of them, why not pick out the best district for your tastes? Here we’ll give you a bit of a helping hand.
If your other half can’t resist a glass of chardonnay, set the satnav for the Côte des Blancs
Found just outside of Epernay and within the Marne Valley, the Côte des Blancs is one of Champagne’s most prestigious wine areas. It’s also where some of the biggest labels in the world source their chardonnay grapes. Think Möet and Chandon and Veuve Clicquot. Wow.
If you want to get away from the crowds, head for the Aube
The Aube wine area makes around 25% of the province’s champagne yet it’s still a little bit of a secret. You might have to travel a bit further out of the way to get to it, but it’s well-worth it if you want to visit a vineyard that makes small batches of artisan champagne. And let’s face it, who doesn’t?
Looking for a prime spot for a tasting session? The Côte des Bars just outside Troyes won’t let you down.
If pinot is calling your name, the Vallée de la Marne is the one
Love a bit of pinot? This lush area is spread out around the Marne River and its vineyards are mostly ripe with pinot meunier grapes. They’re usually mixed with pinot noir to make delicious bottles of blanc des noirs champagne. Like your bubbly to be bold and fruity? Book a tasting at one of the Vallée de la Marne champagne houses.
If you’re a fan of a vintage, Montagne de Reims is for you
Fond of a full-bodied wine with a few years on it? Montagne de Reims is known for its vintage champagnes that are mainly made from pinot noir grapes. The stunning mountainous area is sandwiched between Reims and Epernay and home to plenty of historic villages which have been producing champagne for decades.
If you like to be ahead of the game, check out Côte de Sézanne
Want something a bit more modern? Nestled beside the Côte des Blancs, this smaller wine area isn’t as old as the others, but it still produces some pretty good wines. The majority are made from chardonnay grapes which are allowed to ripen fully for a particularly rich and fruity taste. Ready to miss the crowds and check out an up-and-coming area? Côte de Sézanne is for you.
Top tips for champagne tasting:
To get that flute-in-hand feeling, first you’ll need to do a little bit of planning.
– Book your tasting tour in advance, especially if you’re heading to a smaller winery.
– Avoid visiting during the harvest season (September) if you can as a lot of the vineyards close to the public.
– Give yourself a few days if you want to visit all five wine districts. If you’re short on time, Montagne de Reims is a good area to focus on.
– Pack a jumper – champagne cellars can be chilly!
Uh, what about the driver?
Nominated as the designated driver for your Champagne road trip? Don’t despair just yet! The region offers up so much more than just wine, plus you can always pick up a bottle as a souvenir to drink later on…
In the meantime, non-drinkers and any under 18s in your group can soak up some of the province’s other treasures. Why not add pitstops to your Champagne itinerary in:
Epernay for a lesson in champagne production without the booze tasting
Still thirsty for more wine-themed fun? Epernay is a haven for champagne drinkers and even has a street running through its centre called the Avenue de Champagne! Yes there’s plenty of champagne houses along it where you can tempt yourselves with a tipple. And there’s also the brand-new Champagne Museum where you can learn all about the region’s history of creating fantastic fizzy wines.
Troyes for the perfect backdrop for all your Insta posts
Insta need a little love? Troyes 16th century Old City is littered with gorgeous timber-framed buildings painted in bold colours. They’re just screaming out to be featured on your feed!
Reims for a cathedral that rivals Paris’ Notre Dame
Thought there was only one Notre Dame? Built in the 12th century and featuring plenty of Gothic architecture, Reims’ Cathédrale Notre Dame has been the site of several royal coronations over the centuries. It was made a UNESCO World Heritage site in the 90s and is unmissable if you’re staying or stopping off in the city. Ready to test your stamina? Why not take a tour of the tower which takes you all the way up 250+ steps for panoramic views across the Reims rooftops?
Lac du Der for a back-to-nature moment
Want some peace and quiet away from the wine? This manmade lake is surrounded by dense forest and located 80 minutes from Troyes. And it’s an absolute haven for nature lovers! There are over 200 different species of birds as well as plenty of options for a workout. Why not get out on the water in a kayak or hire bikes and cycle around the pathways lining the outside of the lake?
Getting to Champagne
The Champagne Province is handily located a couple of hours east of Paris, making it an awesome area to explore after you’re done shopping and sightseeing in the capital. Consider getting a hire car in Paris and map out a route through the countryside to reach it. The best places to base yourself for a tour around the world’s top wine region are Epernay or Reims, although you’ll find plenty of accommodation outside the cities, too.
Prep yourself for an epic road trip by checking out our driving guide to France. Keen to extend your stay? Why not explore the Fontainebleau Forest just south of Paris or head down to Grenoble to begin the legendary Route Napoleon?