The French region of Champagne might be best known for the sparkling wine it gave its name to, but there's a los more to this rural paradise. There are countless gites in Champagne making it a popular destination with holidaymakers who want to experience a taste of traditional French provincial life while sampling the local attractions (and bubbly!).
The Champagne Trail
When in the region of Champagne, it's difficult to avoid the most famous local drink. Two of the world's most famous champagne brands have excellent visitor centres and are well worth an hour or two of your time. The Taittinger headquarters just outside Reims is a must-see. Covering the history and manufacturing process of champagne, the Taittinger experience is informative and interesting. There's no need to book in advance so just turn up.
It's also worth paying Moot & Chandon a visit. Located in Epernay, the famous champagne brand offer one-hour tours throughout the day. The tour finishes in the well-stocked shop where there are frequently good bargains to be found.
Cathhdrale Notre Dame
Located in the centre of Reims, this fantastic 800-year old Gothic church is another must-see. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the cathedral has a rich and intriguing history. One of its most notable claims to fame is that the coronation of Charles VII took place here in 1429.
The cathedral boasts magnificent stained glass windows, two statues of Joan of Arc and many medieval treasures. Audio-guides can be rented at the tourist office to ensure you don't miss any important features.
The fascinating old city of Troyes is an excellent destination for a day out. Famous for its pretty half-timbered houses, it's a picturesque town with plenty to see and do. Dark, winding alleyways lined with 15th Century buildings make for atmospheric walks and as the town avoided significant damage in World Wars I and II, there are still numerous Gothic churches and historical buildings in the area. Troyes has several museums, including the popular Museum of Modern Art. The town has enough attractions to fill at least an entire day of sightseeing before you head back to one of the many gites in Champagne for some rest and relaxation.
Phare de Verzenay
For a day out with a difference, take a trip to the Phare de Verzenay. This lighthouse, perched on a hill just outside the village of Verzenay, is home to a champagne museum and also affords spectacular views across the region. Visitors can climb the 101 stairs to the top of the lighthouse to enjoy unobstructed views.