Champagne Ardenne is a region located in the northeast of France and borders Belgium. The region is split into divisions Ardennes, Marne, Aube and Haute-Mare.
This beautiful region is of course known for its unique production of champagne. There are plenty of sparkling wines and champagne lookalikes around the world, but no producer is allowed to call his drink “champagne” if it has been grown or produced outside of the real Champagne. Interestingly, the noun “champagne” is masculine whereas the area Champagne is feminine.
A love of champagne may attract visitors to the area, but there is so much more to see here – especially for lovers of nature, gastronomy and history. Champagne-Ardenne is easily accessible from the UK and remains one of the most popular parts of France for British visitors and property hunters. The area benefits from beautiful landscapes and stunning architecture as well as a notable historical heritage.
There are many fabulous towns and villages in this region. Of particular note are Troyes, Chaumont, Reims and Epernay. Unlike some parts of the south of France, Champagne-Ardenne attracts people all-year round as there’s plenty of things to do and monuments to visit.
Troyes is a stunning town located on the Seine River in the Aube department. It’s of great historical note and has several museums and churches and much of the old town is still intact with its half timbered buildings, narrow streets and pretty cafes and restaurants. It is also home to the Lacoste clothing brand as well as the award winning chocolatier Pascal Caffet.
Chaumont is the prefecture of the Haute Marne department. It literally translates as “bald mountain”! It is located on the edge of a plateau between the Suize and Marne rivers and was actually built around a 10th century castle. Of particular note is the fantastic, 2000ft long viaduct built in the mid 19th century. As well as being a delightful town for a visit (and in which to sip champagne!), it has good rail connections over to Paris and further south to Dijon and Mulhouse.
Reims is situated in the Marne department and, along with so many other cities in France, was founded by the Gauls. It is most famous for its magnificent cathedral where the kings of France were crowned. The gothic architecture is outstanding: the hugely ornate door alone is worthy of inspection!
Around the cathedral and in the centre of town at the Place Drouet d’Erlon there are plenty of restaurants, cafes and bars. Reims is also justifiably proud of its reputation as one of the centres of champagne production. Underneath the town lie tunnels and caves carved out of chalk where the champagne ages.
Epernay is also in the Marne department: a smaller but nevertheless charming town and a few kilometres south of Reims, it is probably the best universally known town for the production of champagne. Surrounded by hills of vines, Epernay hosts the most famous champagne producers.
The Avenue de Champagne is home to the famous champagne houses such as Mercier, Moet et Chandon and Perrier Jouet. All of the houses host wine tastings but even if champagne is not your main interest, some of the houses and gardens along this grand avenue are incredibly imposing and impressive. A stroll along this fabulous street makes you feel as if you were once part of the French aristocracy!
The famous route
Driving or cycling along the Champagne route is a wonderful way of experiencing not only the beautiful countryside and vineyards, but trying the libation that makes this area so famous. There are countless small wine producers who will welcome you to their homes, offer you a taste of their champagne and even invite you to stay a while. Although a tour of the larger champagne producers is fascinating, particularly when it comes to the method of producing champagne and witnessing how it is kept in the deep cool caves, some of the smaller producers’ wines are equally as good.
The Champagne route goes across the Marne, Aube and Aisne departments and is clearly signposted along the way. This is a truly lovely way to sample the delights of this beautiful area!
Properties in the Champagne-Ardenne area
Properties in this beautiful region are still affordable with prices slightly above the average for the country as a whole. The area appeals to British buyers since it is relatively easy to get to with the high speed TGV train line. It is also a sound place in which to buy a second property from the investment point of view due to its excellent transport links, its closeness to Paris and of course its world renowned champagne industry.
The best value properties lie in the rural parts of the region where you can find either a farmhouse or village house with some land for a budget of around €200,000. The most expensive department is the Marne but even here there are some lovely countryside properties for upwards of €200,000.
The climate is oceanic in this area with warm summers and cold winters. There is a significant amount of rainfall in the winter months but it is mostly very sheltered and thus is rarely windy.
Access from the UK
This is one of those trips where the journey may be as much fun as the destination! The best way is to take your car on Eurotunnel and then drive down to the Champagne region – a journey of about 3 hours. Alternatively you could take the Eurostar to Paris, rent a car and drive over which will take about an hour and a half.
Where to stay
There are plenty of hotels and B&Bs in Reims, Epernay and Chalons. For a luxury break, you cannot beat Hostellerie de la Briqueterie just outside Epernay.
Whether you are looking to buy a French property, have a taste of bubbly or simply want to try living like the French without going too far afield, the Champagne-Ardenne is your perfect getaway.