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To explore the Champagne Region, simply follow The Champagne Trail (Route Touristique du Champagne) which guides you through 5 discovery routes. Signposted from beginning to end, the trail winds its way through vineyards and across rolling hillsides dotted with traditional villages, chateaux and churches. Make a stop along the way at a winegrower or a Champagne house to find out the secrets of how this exquisite wine is produced. The Champagne Route begins 120 kilometres east of Paris, and stretches along the Marne Valley to the cities of Epernay and Reims and south towards Sezanne and the Côte des Bar.
The Champagne Routes start with Epernay and Reims, famed for their prestigious champagne houses such as Moët et Chandon and Veuve Clicquot. However, between these two towns and stretching south of Epernay, acres of vines covering gently rolling countryside can be explored. Here, the villages are dotted with ‘vignerons’, family run vineyards which delight in continuing a unique and long established tradition.
Each champagne is different, though all are produced using the same three varieties of grape (pinot noir, pinot meunier, and chardonnay) so take time to visit as many cellars as you can - but ensure you drink responsibly! Before your journey ends, you will easily be able to distinguish the subtle differences in each champagne as you learn about the history and centuries old process that produces the world’s most celebrated wine.
The Massif de St-Thierry route takes you on a circular tour to the north west of Reims, through villages lying deep amid the vines and dense forests. This route also takes you past some fine mediaeval churches, such as that of Cauroy-lès-Hermonville.
The Montagne de Reims route travels along the tranquil hillsides between Reims and Epernay, through one of the richest winegrowing areas in France. Enjoy panoramic views of the vineyards and explore small, unspoiled villages with such delightful names as Bouzy (famous for its red wine) and Dizy.
The Vallée de la Marne route follows the valley of the River Marne from Epernay to Dormans. For walkers, footpaths wind their way through the vineyards and wooded plateau above Epernay, with wonderful views across the valley. Not to be missed is Hautvillers, famous for its abbey where Dom Pérignon is said to have discovered the secret of champagne making in the 17th century.
The Côte des Blancs route stretches south from Epernay. This is the home of the white Chardonnay grape which gives elegance and finesse to champagne. The vineyard route passes through Oger, classified as one of the “most beautiful villages of France”.
The Côte des Bar route lies to the east of Troyes in the Aube and is an attractive area of vineyards, fields and forests. The village of Les Riceys is the largest champagne growing area and has three ‘Appellations d’Origine Contrôlée’, one of which is the famous ‘Rosé des Riceys’, known for its delicate bouquet of wild flowers, violets and hazelnuts and sought after by connoisseurs. Some 80 wine growers are affiliated with the Champagne Route. Their cellars are open to the public and can be visited throughout the year. Look out for the sign ‘point d’accueil’ (welcome point), indicating cellars that have been especially chosen for the quality of the visit. The wine makers will welcome you warmly to their cellars and talk to you with enthusiasm and pride about the creation of their wines.
This top drive was provided by Atout France.
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