Located in the north-east of France, just a few hours’ drive from Paris, the Marne is a magical territory that has long embodied French art of living by the mythical magic of a single word: champagne! But this département is not content to bottle the bubbles and offers an infinity of unforgettable experiences within a bucolic landscapes and stories with a capital S. So alone, as a couple, with friends or in family, dare to meet the Marne for these 10 good reasons.
1. Champagne: what else?
Let’s start with the star of the area, king of wines and international festive symbol: champagne. More than 500 sparkling wine tours and outings will introduce you to the heart of this know-how, whether along hundreds of kilometres of cellars dug in stone, by the light of a winegrower’s flashlight, or following the touristic champagne road winding its way through the vineyards. The more curious of our visitors can learn to sabre their own bottle or to pick grapes for a perfect immersive experience!
2. UNESCO heritage sites that will leave their mark
In addition to its vineyards, its houses, hillsides and its champagne cellars, recognized for their exceptional heritage, the Marne has many architectural and cultural treasures listed as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO for their exceptional character. Gaze upon the majesty of Notre-Dame de Reims Cathedral, the grandeur of the Basilica of the Thorn, or the charm of the Way of Saint James, all unique places in the world.
3. A preserved nature on the doorstep
Lovers of wide open spaces and fresh air will be won over by the wealth of the Marne’s natural heritage, skilfully protected and safeguarded. The Lac du Der, one of the largest artificial lakes in Europe, has an air of the seaside and an exceptional ornithological reserve, haven of more than 300 species of birds which you can observe alone or with guides. But the Marne has also more than 2,000 km of hiking trails that cross vineyards, forests, the Natural Regional Park and the natural region of the Argonne: perfect for recharging your batteries on foot or by bike along the many bucolic cycle routes!
4. Enough to charm both the athletes and the flâneurs
Why limit yourself to cycling? The Marne may be far from the coast, but it has a lake which will appeal to adventurers as well as those looking for a bubble of calm. Indulge in the pleasures of water sports: canoeing, kayaking for a truly refreshing day! But the holidays are also an opportunity to let yourself go with the flow: picnic in the vineyards, a nap in the sun… Epicureans have plenty to do. In the event calendar, the Eau’dyssée by boat from Châlons-en-Champagne or Regalia in Reims are shows that will captivate you without rushing you: just sit back and enjoy!
5. A territory full of flavours
It is good to be epicurean when you come to the Marne: many gourmet stops will punctuate your stay, from Michelin-starred restaurants to prestigious local products, such as the famous pink biscuit or the Reims ham. Local flavours worked by real culinary artisans will whet your appetite and introduce you to the taste of Champagne cuisine… To be enjoyed with a glass of champagne of course!
6. The mythical lighthouse of Verzenay
It’s not every day that you see a lighthouse so far from the coast… However, that is indeed the surprise that awaits you in the middle of the Champagne vineyards! Built by the winemaker Joseph Goulet in 1909 to promote his champagne, this lighthouse can be visited and will give you access to a unique panorama of the Natural Regional Park of the Reims Mountain: a real sea of vines that surrounds you, from a 25 metre-high viewpoint!
7. A land of celebration
There is no shortage of opportunities to celebrate in the Marne. This year, the region celebrates the 70th anniversary of the Champagne Route, with a selection of unmissable events around the vineyard. Those most in love with nature can also take advantage of the ‘Fascinant Week-End’ at the end of October to spend unique evenings dancing in the vineyards. Mid-December, you can also see the Christmas colours dress the majestic avenue of champagne in Epernay during its Habits de Lumières festival.
8. Spend luxurious or unusual nights
Want to sleep in the front row in the vineyard? So why don’t you go to bed directly in the heart of the vines, in unusual and creative lodges that will make you discover wine tourism in a new light (and a new night!). But if you prefer the refinement of a prestigious hotel, many estates such as the Royal Champagne offer a luxurious decor and access to the comfort of magical rooms, a relaxing spa and a Michelin-starred restaurant.
9. A journey through history
The Marne has gone through the ages and the revolutions and it preserves the memory of all these epics. Take a journey through time with its stories and museums, from the Shell Cellar which traces the area’s prehistoric past, to the Dormans memorial, a place of memory dedicated to the soldiers of World War One. It is even possible to project yourself into authentic reconstructions of the trenches of the time or to visit the room of the Surrender, where German capitulation was signed, for a testimony larger than life.
10. Unusual experiences
If all these reasons have not yet won you over, it is because you are looking for something a little different. That’s good, the Marne will also surprise you with activities that are out of the ordinary: want to go around Champagne in a vintage van? Or to discover the aquatic fauna and flora of the Seine or Aube rivers on a snorkelling trip with Blue Life? Everything is possible here!
For more information, visit www.tourisme-en-champagne.co.uk
Lead photo credit : Vineyards in the Marne © Ben Becker ADT Marne
Leave a reply
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *