Start with a couple of nights in indescribable Paris, `the city of Lights`, on your last day, pick up your rent a car and proceed to your chateau or inn of choice in the Champagne Region.
THE CHAMPAGNE REGION
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.
After your stay in Champagne, continue to the Alsace Region and a stay at another one-of-a-kind chateau or inn.
ALSACE WINE REGION
Alsace is like a fairy tale; half-timbered houses adorned with flowers, gabled roofs, and chimneys topped with stork nests. Alsace has a very individual personality - neither French nor German, but somewhere between the two. It is found in eastern France, on the border with Germany to the east and the Lorraine region of France to the west. It is the smallest region in France and very pretty in its location between the Vosges Mountains and the Rhine.
The famousWine Road winds its way through 75 miles of storybook villages The wines of the region are primarily white, with a strong Germanic influence. Alsace produces some of the finest dry Rieslings in the world, and is also well known for its Gewurztraminer wines, as well as Muskat and Pinot Blanc. Tourists can stop in a village "winstub?, a combination of restaurant and wine bar, to sample Alsatian wines and specialties, like baeckeoffe, sauerkraut and tartes flambees. Or there are many food markets and local shops to visit for specialty cheeses, meats, foie gras, cakes and honey.
The Romanesque Road of Alsace links both the well-known and the more secret examples of Romanesque architecture of Alsace, linking churches, abbeys and fortresses that range from the first Romanesque structures of Alsace at the abbey church of Saint Trophime, Eschau, to the 13th century, and the beginning of Gothic architecture in Alsace
Strasbourg is not only Alsace's capital, but is the heart of United Europe. Yet away from its modern buildings, down canals and pedestrian alleyways is the enchanting medieval section known as "Petite France."
Colmar, a lovely Renaissance town is home to the extraordinary Unterlinden Museum. A restored 13th Century nunnery, the Unterlinden's square courtyard is flanked by its former chapel where the Isenheim Altarpiece now hangs.
In Mulhouse, visitors find a museum dedicated to the automobile. Five hundred classic cars, including many rare Bugattis, are preserved inside.
Former fortresses like Riquewihr andKaysersberg have been bypassed by history, their streets and turreted walls once meant to repel invaders now invite children to discover that history is more than just museums.
And finally, and your vacation with a couple of days in Strasbourg.
Paris - Champagne and Alsace
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. Then continue for a stay at the Alsace wine region, then end with a couple of days in Strasbourg.
Loire Valley and Normandy; Paris - Alsace and Strasbourg; Paris and Normandy (D Day Beaches); more >>
France (291) Paris (265) Strasbourg (24)
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