Champagne, the very symbol of style, refined living and merriment, is produced nowhere else in the world. All champagnes are made within a few miles of each other outside Reims and Epernay, near the Abbey of Saint-Pierre where the legendary Benedictine monk, Dom Pérignon, supposedly invented the bubbly by accident in the early 18th Century (some would say by divine inspiration). Just as still wines have different characteristics and tastes, so do champagnes, and the great houses of Mumm, Piper-Heidsieck, Taittinger, Veuve Clicquot and Moët & Chandon, among more than 100 others, prove this.
First stop for champagne enthusiasts will surely be Epernay - the center of the champagne world - where you can visit caves and sip champagne to your heart?s content. The local tourist authorities also suggest several driving tours that explore the vineyards and chateaux of the region around Reims and Epernay and in the villages south-east of Troyes:
The Montagne de Reims route (47 miles) starts in Reims and goes to Epernay, home of the famous Moet & Chandon and Perrier-Jouët vineyards.
The Marne Valley route (33 miles) begins in Epernay and extends past Hautvillers, Ay, Dizy, Cumières, Chatillon and Vincennes.
The Côte de Blancs route (68 miles) goes from Epernay south to Verus and Villenauxe la Grande, an area planted almost exclusively with Chardonnay white grapevines.
Elsewhere in Champagne-Ardenne you will enjoy exploring the rolling forests of the Ardenne to the north and the peaceful, unspoiled villages in the southern part of the region.
Be sure to visit the 'largest castle in Europe' at Sedan.
Reims with several important monuments including the cathedral, also the Palace of Tau and Reims basilica, and an important Museum of Fine Arts.
The lovely medieval town ofTroyes, and the ancient ramparts ofLangres, while the Chateau de Motte-Tilly is a listed national Monument in the Aube department.
An interesting architectural feature of the region can be seen in the villages betweenTroyes and Saint-Dizier, where there are about 10 half-timbered churches, mostly built from the 16-17th centuries, which are both interesting and attractive.
Paris and Champagne
Spend a few days in Paris, then rent a car, and follow that with a sumptuous stay at one of the charming chateaux or inns in the Champagne wine region. Return to Paris for your last night.
France (289) Paris (259)
Recomended for 6 to 9+ nights.
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