Questor Insurance Travel Features

The Champagne - Ardenne Region

Date Created: 01 February 2014

Every year three billion glasses of champagne are enjoyed throughout the world. But to discover the legends, history and secrets behind this most romantic and hedonistic wine, try following the Champagne Trail.

ArdenneThe vineyards of the Champagne region start less than 200 kilometres north-east of Paris and so, thanks to the Eurotunnel Shuttle, they are easily accessible by car for a weekend break.

Stretching some 600 km. between Reims and the Côte des Bar, the trail comprises about 80 different welcome centres, most of which are Champagne cellars. There are five waymarked routes, four in the Marne and one in the Aube, which wend their way through the vines, taking you via magnificent viewpoints, authentic villages, ancient monasteries and imposing châteaux and churches.

As well as the most prestigious marques - Veuve Clicquot, Moët et Chandon, Ruinart, Krug, Pommery, Dom Pérignon - there are a host smaller producers who will offer you a sparkling welcome, personalised tours in a traditional family setting and competitively priced Champagne. However, almost all of the major Champagne houses also offer informative guided tours of their impressive cellars. It is recommended that you book your visit in advance to be sure of the availability of the owners. Tours may be free or a fee may be charged, depending on what is on offer.

Situated at the heart of the vineyards, Epernay is the Capital of Champagne. Home of world famous Champagne houses, the Avenue de Champagne is lined with numerous 19th century mansions. Beneath the avenue, more than 100 kilometres of tunnels dug into the chalk shelter millions of bottles in which champagne is slowly ageing.

Don’t miss a visit to Reims, the City of Coronations, with its stunning cathedral and 5 Michelin Guide-starred restaurants or Troyes, a living museum comprising 16th century half-timbered houses. Otherwise, out in the ravishing countryside, it’s simply a case of enjoying gourmet meals in charming villages - and lots of champagne.

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Written by Beverley Byrne.