Reims and its region
Between history, nature and out-of-the-ordinary experiences
Champagne wine trail
Full immersion in the history of France
Discover the places that gave birth to the Champagne legend and enjoy truly out-of-the-ordinary experiences as you get to know Champagne in unexpected ways.
From Reims and its emblematic cathedral, which hosted the coronations of France’s Kings for several centuries, to the National Forest of Verzy, set off on a trail that will help you learn more about the Champagne region and its iconic wines.
The Champagne wine trails are a great way to get to know our region. Take your time meandering along them, one day won't be long enough! If you’d like to take advantage of the things to see and do along them, why not plan a trip over several days and book accommodation nearby? If you’re short of time, you can also select the activities that appeal to you the most to make your stay in Champagne a memorable one!
A trail combining history, nature and out-of-the-ordinary experiences
Along this wine trail, which takes you through Reims and its surroundings and down to Épernay in the south, there are no few activities and sites well worth going out of your way to see, some of them out-of-the-ordinary to say the least! You’ll also come across plenty of Winegrowers and Houses ready to welcome you, invite you to taste their wines and show you round their estates and emblematic wine cellars.
Our visit starts in Reims itself, a city steeped in history that played a prominent part in creation of the "Champagne legend". Nicknamed "City of Coronations" and "City of Kings", it has played a key role in the history of Champagne and its wines, and, more generally, of France as a whole. Once you’re in the city, you can’t ignore its majestic Notre-Dame de Reims Cathedral. Although its construction in the purest of Gothic styles dates back to the 13th century, its history began well before that. It was where Clovis was baptised by Saint Remi, Bishop of Reims, in the year 496. Thereafter, nearly all France’s kings were crowned in this cathedral, from Pepin the Short in 754 to Charles X in 1825. The legend of Champagne as the "Wine of Kings" has its roots here. Reims’ Cathedral is also famous for its 2,303 statues, the best known of which is the Smiling Angel. It has more statues than any other religious building in the world.
Another of the city of Reims’ unmissables: its emblematic "crayères". These former chalk pits were quarried for the city’s construction from the 10th century onwards. Nothing less than underground cathedrals, they’re connected to each other by huge galleries. A number of Champagne Houses had the good idea of using these areas to store their bottles. The chalk pits are also amazing places to visit. Some of them are really enormous, up to 50 metres high! When you enter them, you’re immediately struck by how cold it is (10-12°C) and by the ambient humidity (90-100%), providing the bottles with ideal ageing conditions throughout the year. These wine cellars are emblematic of the Champagne appellation and have been inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List since 2015, testimony to how truly remarkable they are.
It’s nearly lunchtime: time for a gourmet break. The city has more than its fair share of restaurants ready and waiting to delight the most demanding palate. One among many is the Café du Palais, where you’ll be welcomed beneath an Art Deco glass roof created by Jacques Simon. It serves true bistro cuisine and, of course, has a selection of Champagnes on offer. And for anyone with a liking for great restaurants and Japanese cuisine, we cannot but recommend 2* Chef Kazuyuki Tanaka’s restaurant, Racine. From brasserie to bistro by way of far-famed gourmet restaurants, you’re certain to find what you’re looking for in Reims. And always with excellent selections of Champagnes to accompany your meals.
After lunch, there’s no lack of ideas for activities and outings to choose from. Feel like a walk in the park? Off to Parc de Champagne. Or would you rather continue exploring the city’s emblematic monuments? Then rendezvous at the Foujita Chapel, Saint Remi Basilica or Tau Palace. An excursion across the city will give you an opportunity to understand how richly endowed and diverse it is. A city steeped in history while being firmly anchored in the present day!
Now that the city of Reims has revealed all (or almost all) its mysteries to you, it’s time to hit the road and set off to explore its surroundings. A dozen kilometres further on, you come to the village of Hermonville. This little village is well worth a visit as it’s where Champagne’s one and only cooperage is to be found! Champagne isn’t only fermented in stainless steel vats. Depending on the style of wine sought, many winegrowers and houses also use oak barrels. Making them requires a good deal of traditional artisanal knowhow. Rendezvous at the local "La Vauvarée" in order to find out more!
On the other side of Reims now, we’re off to the village of Verzenay and its emblematic lighthouse. No, you’re not dreaming, we really did say "lighthouse"! Its location in the middle of the vineyard is surprising to say the least. It was built by Joseph Goulet, as a way of highlighting the brand of Champagne he created in 1909. This edifice and the fascinating story behind it well deserve a visit. A climb up its 101 steps takes you to the top of the lighthouse, which provides a magnificent 360° panoramic view of Champagne’s vines.
The National Forest of Verzy lies in the midst of Montagne de Reims Regional Nature Park. An unspoilt haven of nature, it’s also the world’s main reserve of dwarf beeches, a variety with convoluted, strangely shaped boughs and branches. A unique outing taking you along various signposted pathways and immediately immersing you in an atmosphere right out of a fairytale.
Champagne’s viticultural heritage is not only composed of religious monuments and prestigious residences. It also includes rather more modest constructions, such as the "Loges de Vigne". These little huts that you can see here and there in the vineyards were once used by winegrowers to store their tools. They also provided them with shelter when it rained or got too hot. Although they’re less in use today, due to the mechanisation of much of the work carried out in the vineyards, winegrowers and communities do their best to preserve them as they’re an integral part of Champagne’s heritage. The ideal way to get up close and admire them is along the "Sentier des Loges de Vigne" in Trépail, a signposted pedestrian itinerary open to and designed for all comers.
Champagne and its characteristic topography provide numerous viewpoints over the vineyards. A little to the south of Montagne de Reims Regional Nature Park lies the delightful little village of Mutigny. It has the distinction of being located some 240 metres above sea level, making it Champagne’s highest cru. From there, the view of Montagne de Reims, the Marne Valley and Côte des Blancs is stunning. Combining vine and forest, a concentrate of Champagne’s landscapes stretches before your eyes!
The nearby village of Mareuil-sur-Aÿ gets you onto the Canal Latéral de la Marne’s greenway. An opportunity for a spot of peaceful exploration along the waterside, and an invitation to discover Champagne differently. Time to recharge your batteries, on foot or by bike. Continuing on alongside the canal, you arrive at the famous Clos des Goisses, one of the region’s oldest vineyards, and the one with the steepest slope (45°). Take a good look at its reflection in the water: can’t you make out the recognisable shape of a bottle of Champagne?
Before you leave, take the time to visit Pressoria, a cultural venue at the foot of the municipality of Aÿ-Champagne’s historic hillsides inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. In a Champagne House’s former pressing centre, come and acquaint yourself with the world of Champagne in all its glory, from vine to glass, through a light-hearted interactive experience that will call on all your five senses.
That’s the last stop on a trail that ensures you enjoy a real change of scene and discover Champagne differently, while introducing you to places that have shaped the history of the Champagne region and its wines.
Did you know?
If you’d rather go by train, there’s the Bulles line from Reims to Épernay, by way of the Montagne de Reims. There are several stops along the way, in villages overflowing with producers in love with their art!
If you’re a nature lover, set off in discovery of the Grande Traversée, a hiking trail that makes its way through the vineyards and forests of the Montagne de Reims Regional Nature Park.
During Champagne tastings, remember to drink in moderation. Breathalysers and spittoons are available: feel free to ask for them.
See the trail in pictures
Cycling getaway across Champagne’s hillsides
A unique sporty getaway to discover the stunning landscapes that the Champagne region has to offer.