Champagne Ardenne is a northeast region of France and it is on the border of Belgium. It is a sparsely populated area, but merely 90 minutes from Paris, France. The towns of Troyes, Langres, Epernay and Reims are well known for their cultural artifacts, architecture, and early history. It is a perfect weekend, travel getaway from the congestion of Paris.
Since the 11th century, people congregated in the countryside for the bimonthly Champagne textile fairs. Art, music, literature, and religion were part of the local flow of ideas. Courtly poetry and gothic art were common practices in this region of France. During the 16th and 17th century, various industries flourished in Champagne-Ardenne. This included metallurgy, textiles, and glass-making.
A series of religious wars and political turmoil caused people to flee from the countryside in France. Wine, cider, and champagne making remaining as the only major industries in Champagne-Ardenne aside from tourism and travel. The process of champagne and wine making have been perfected since Medieval times. The vineyards in the countryside of France are among the world’s most highly regarded soils. Thousands of people travel to France for the champagne alone, and comeback with it full in their travel backpack with wheels.
The experience of wine-tasting invokes a free spirited way of life in Champagne-Ardenne. It is a sufficient reason to travel to the countryside of France even for a day trip. Wake up in the morning. Hike through ancient villages and stand in awe of former castles and city walls. The forests and lakes promote an active, balanced lifestyle. However, it may be difficult to stay on a diet with all the tempting, French produce on the roadsides. However, this is also quite true of travel anywhere in France. The food is generally delicious.
Things to Do
Wine tasting and local produce are the primary reasons to travel to Champagne, France. More than 5,000 vineyards populate Champagne-Ardenne. The inland sea mist and pastoral valleys form ideal conditions for growing wine and champagne grapes.
Local folk have been producing wine and champagne since Medieval times. Although the actual inventor of sparkling wine remains unknown, vintners may unlock other secrets to visitors. Travel to Champagne, France during the early summer or late spring for the most productive vineyard harvests.
While visitors are in the countryside of France, they should also travel into the villages. Basilique Musée de St Remi is a regional, historical landmark. The church was built in 1007. Several sections of the church conglomerated other styles over the years. The stained glass dates from the 13th century and the transept represents a late Gothic style.
The nearby former site of the royal abbey of St. Remi guarded the holy anointment vessel for the kings of France. The crowning of the Kings in Reims was a tradition that began with Clovis, France. Include the abbey in your Champagne-Ardenne travel itinerary if possible. The nearby cathedral contains a marvelous collection of exquisite tapestries.
Furthermore, travel to Troyes for more archaeological and religious sites within Champagne-Ardenne. Troyes contains numerous examples of architecture and art from the 16th century. Old houses made of wood and earthen plaster are remnants of the Middle Ages.
Although the fire of 1524 destroyed several of the houses, new ones arose in a more Gothic style. The builders shortened the wood beams and added gargoyles to the gutters. Similar wood beam homes are whimsical landmarks that can be found in many areas outside of Paris, France.
Lastly, add the Troyes Museum of Modern Art to your travel plans for a private collection of expressionist art. Its hosts more than 2,000 exhibits and specializes in Fauve and expressionist art. It certainly is not as impressive as the Louvre, but it is a delightful treat in the middle of rural France.
The Champagne-Ardenne region of France receives 20 to 40 inches of precipitation per year. Coordinate travel accordingly: snow, rain, and heat are all possibilities in Champagne-Ardenne. The average, annual temperature is 50 to 60 º F. Typically, the weather is similar to that of Paris, France and southern England. As travelers venture farther north the climate decreases with elevation. This climatology is typical for the entirety of France.
The fall season usually starts in September and remains quite sunny. The average low is 54º and the high is 76º. As the winter approaches, the temperature ranges from 36 to 60º. Frequent snowfall is common inland and the winters last until early March. When it is not snowing, the air is cold and crisp. A tour group may be better suited for winter travel so that you do not have to worry about driving in the snow.
Spring is the mildest season in Champagne. From April to May, the low is 48º and the high is 70º. Pack gloves and a hat for hiking in the remote regions between March and April. The early summer may also require packing of a light coat. The average summer extremes are 55 and 82º. I believe these are the best times of year to travel to the Champagne-Ardenne region of France.
Late spring and early summer are the height of the tourist season in Champagne. They are ideal months for wine tasting and vineyard tours. Expect to meet crowds of people in champagne houses and wineries. However, tourist attractions like Troyes and Reims, generally are less crowded. Although Autumn is not a high season, it is also an enjoyable time to travel to Champagne.