An introduction to the region of Champagne Ardenne

Bordering the Belgian border, up in the north-east margins of France, is the region of Champagne-Ardenne: a land of quiet contrasts and unspoilt French charm. Staying in one of the many gites in Champagne-Ardenne is an excellent way to appreciate the nuances that this region has to offer the visitor. Picardy lies to the north, Burgundy to the south, Lorraine to the east; and the Ile de France, and Paris, a short jaunt to the west.

The north of this region is marked by the River Meuse, marking the border with Belgium. It is here that the forested hills of the Ardennes lie, which are sparsely populated, but starkly beautiful. Further south, the rugged landscape gives way to the rolling hills and valleys of the heartland of Champagne. Here the rural beauty is gentler, but rich with vine and grape, and there are numerous self catering gites and villas, that are perfect accommodation, for those wanting to be close to the land of Dom Pérignon.

Things to do and places to see

Up in the northern Ardennes, the gites are mainly to be used as bases to launch oneself into the adventures of that wilder part of the region. Hiking, rock climbing and canoeing are all staples for the adventurer – but don't neglect taking in the charms of pretty river towns like Sedan and Dinant. In Champagne itself, Troyes is also often overlooked, which is a shame, as it has a wonderful medieval old town.

But if you are staying in the rural gites in Champagne-Ardenne farther south, one of the main purposes must be to sample the pleasures of that celebratory staple, the king of sparkling wines, champagne. Two of the best towns to tour are Reims and Epernay - all champagne is grown and crafted within a few miles of these towns. They host many excellent champagne cellars open for tasting - so you can visit the splendid houses, and cellars, of Taittinger or Piper-Heidsieck, or maybe Veuve Clicquot or Moët & Chandon. And no pilgrimage to the region would be complete without visiting the Saint-Pierre Abbey, where Dom Pérignon, the Benedictine monk, was credited with discovering champagne.

Making the most of your holiday in Champagne Ardenne

If champagne-tasting is your reason for travelling to Champagne-Ardenne, by all means visit and try out the sessions at the bigger champagne houses, but perhaps a more rewarding, and authentic, experience can be had with the smaller growers. If you were to look for an English guide-book of the region, and visit those advertising as speaking English, you may be surprised at the warmth of your welcome and the quality of your bubbly.

Travel to Champagne Ardenne France

Being so close to Paris, Champagne-Ardenne is easily reached by most means. The main international airports serving Paris are close by, and well linked by rail and road. The high-speed TGVs will get you to the region in no time, travelling from Paris to Reims. The regional trains of the SNCF also have a decent network, if you want to move around between the different areas.

Because the area is so rural, and relatively poorly supported by public transport, if you are determined to seek the lesser-known sights, a car rental hire would be advisable. That would also ensure that you can select from the widest possible range of gites in Champagne-Ardenne and not just the more expensive ones close to Reims or Troyes.

Holiday Gites Champagne Ardenne, Self Catering Accommodation in Champagne Ardenne France
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