A beautiful half-timbered shop in Troyes, selling Champagnes & wines of the region.

Champagne Region – Truths & Trivia

In Europe, France, Our Journeys, Road Trips, Trip-Types, Truths & Trivia, World Travel by JanisLeave a Comment

Just a little fun...

So this post is our light-hearted view of the Champagne region of France.
(Officially in Grand Est)

It has some of the interesting stuff, a few trivial facts, and our thoughts on this beautifully lush land of bubbles.

Quick Links

Let’s start with the Truths about the Champagne region of France.

The Champagne vineyards are nestled within rolling hills in the northeast of France.

Location

The 3 C's

Continent

Europe

Country

France

Capital

Epernay
(Possibly!!)

Once ruled by the Counts of Champagne this region became a province in 1314. However, it can trace its vineyards back to Charles the Great, when Charlemagne encouraged the planting of vines.
 
The city of Reims and its UNESCO Cathedral of Notre-Dame played a pivotal role in French history. Reims Cathedral was the ceremonial location for the coronations of the Kings of France.
 
On 1st January 2016, Champagne-Ardenne merged with Lorraine and Alsace to create a new region. This was given the very lacklustre name of ‘Grand Est’.
 
The Champagne appellation stretches 93miles (150km) north to south and approximately 75 miles (120kms) east to west.
 
The patchwork of rolling Champagne Hillsides, Houses and Cellars is now a UNESCO World Heritage site.
 
The Champagne wine harvest is controlled by Institution Comité Champagne. They instruct the Domaines on which date the grape picking will start. In 2018, the wine harvest began on 25th August, which became only the fifth vintage in the last 15 years to commence in August.

Touring the Champagne region of France is a delightful holiday all year round. We highly recommend embarking on a road trip around the lush countryside. However, basing yourselves in Reims or Épernay makes for an ideal mini-break.

 

National Flag

The national flag of France
 

It’s good to talk

What speaks?

Language

French (English is widely spoken)

International Dialling Code

+33-3

Currency

Euro (EUR)

What Time?

Timezone

Central European Time (CET)

Difference from UTC

+1 Hour

So what’s this Trivia then?

About Champagne the effervescent region of France.

Did you know?

  • Champagne is not Champagne unless it is from Champagne. The French are a bit protective over this.
  • It’s the Benedictine monks we need to thank for this delicious beverage, particular Dom Perignon.
  • Champagne is made predominately from red grapes, Pinot Noir, Meunier and the white grape Chardonnay.
  • The beautiful village of Essoyes is where the artist Renoir lived and is buried along with his wife and family.
  • Sabrage is the art of uncorking a bottle of Champagne with a single swipe of a sabre.
  • There’s a lighthouse in the tiny village of Verzenay. It was initially built by Joseph Goulet to promote his brand of Champagne. It’s now houses a wine-making museum.
  • There are 318 villages included in the Champagne appellation. They are quality rated under the system Échelle des Crus, ‘ladder of growths'. Once assessed, 257 rates between 80 and 89%. Then 44 are premier crus, which range in their classification from 90% to 99%. Top of the ladder is Champagne’s 17 grand crus villages, all rated 100%
  • René Lalique (the French glass designer) was born in Aÿ.
  • The French Grand Prix was held at the circuit of Reims-Gueux 14 times between 1938 and 1966.

It's famous for...

Food and Drink

Champagne

Yes, this has to be “top of the pops”. There are plenty of Domaines to choose from. Try one of the smaller Champagne houses, they are equally as good as some of the big boys & girls.

Biscuit rose de Reims

This crispy pink finger-shaped biscuit was created in Reims in 1690. Traditionally it is dipped into your Champagne, I couldn’t bring myself to do that, that would be sacrilege.

Andouillette de Troyes

I can honestly say I didn’t try this speciality, although, Gary did. This pork intestine sausage is not for the faint-hearted, the smell alone made me gag.

Brie de Meaux

This creamy soft cheese can be found in many places throughout France. However, an AOC cheese should be matured in specific regions a few of which are in Grand Est.

A helpful guide

If like us, you love visiting different regions of France then this Michelin guide will definitely assist in your planning.

We used a previous version of this book to plan our eastern France road trips, now you can grab the revised copy.


See and Do

Discover the vineyards

Head off on a mini road trip through the patchwork of vineyards. Winding your way through the tranquil tiny villages dodging the long-legged tractors.

Visit a Champagne house

Whether you’re in Reims, Aÿ or Épernay, book yourself onto a Champagne House tour. You’ll discover the art of Riddling.

Reims

Meander around the streets of Reims and explore the 800-year-old Cathedral Notre Dame. Here you’ll also stumble upon beautiful Art Deco architecture, the triumphal arch of Porte de Mars and The Reims Manège and Circus

Troyes

Visit the historic, picturesque town of Troyes and stroll amongst the 16th-century half-timbered houses.

Grand Cru

Keep an eye out for a ‘clos’ this is enclosed walled vineyard and often housing the crème de la crème in the grape world.

Verzenay

In Verzenay not only will you discover the Phare de Verzenay (lighthouse), but you’ll also spot a windmill. Moulin de Verzenay os owned by the Champagne House G.H. Mumm.

And our thoughts on Champagne?

(Would we return? Is it good value? And did we feel the love?)

Return-a-bility

or What are the chances of us revisiting?
90%
(0% - You'll have to drag us over hot coals to go back 100% - Why am I not there now?)

Notes:

I love this region of France; there are so many charming towns and villages with such fascinating history. There’s still more for us to discover.

 

Value for Money

Our value for money index. Don't forget we're Londoners, and that means our baseline is quite high.
65%
(0% - How much? I wanted to buy a drink, not the bar 100% - How much? I'll take two.)

Notes:

There will always be tourist spots that appear to be pricey; however, look out for where the locals eat and drink.
 
Nonetheless sitting in a bustling historic city square, sipping a glass of wine and sampling the regional fromage is hard to beat.

Behind the wheel - the driving karma

What's it like driving in the country.
 
Which side of the road do they drive on? They drive on the right.

90%
(0% - They're suicidal - they're out to kill us 100% - I'm in driving paradise.)

Notes:

Our experience of driving in France is pretty good, and the Champagne region was no different. As usual, you can often wonder where is everyone - the back roads can be spookily quiet, and we found the tractor drivers very respectful.
 

Janis's Hi's & Lo's

Highlight

It has to be touring through the vineyards, across the remote French countryside and winding our way through peaceful empty villages.

Lowlight

I’m struggling to think of a negative as France is one of my favourite countries to visit. From a locals point of view, it’s probably my pidgin French.

 
 

Gary's Hi's & Lo's

Highlight

I suppose it's wrong to pick the disused historic race circuit of Reims-Gueux, just outside the city of Reims. Troyes is always lovely, and the visit to a Champagne house.

Lowlight

I have to be honest, and I was a little disappointed with Reims. Part of that was my expectation, but the restoration of the Subé Fountain & La Porte de Mars, plus bits that needed repair like the beautiful art deco old theatre.

* This post may contain links to affiliated sites where we earn a small commission at no additional charge to you.

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About the Author

Janis

Janis, the co-founder of Our World for You, was born in London and raised in Kent and the Isle of Wight. Along with Gary her partner, they have been travelling part time since 1995. In 2016, they decided that enough was enough with the 9 to 5, so armed with the knowledge and experience that they had gained on their adventures, that they wanted to inspire others to travel the world near and far.

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