Vallée de la Marne
Up hill and down dale, a varied outing between nature and culture
Champagne wine trail
The region’s most beautiful viewpoints
An immersive experience into the region’s heritage, combining historical sites with stunning views over the River Marne and its valley.
From Épernay in the east to Château-Thierry in the west, much of the trail looks out over the valley, with plenty of stunning viewpoints in store. It passes through some of the iconic villages in the region and its history.
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 through history, Champagne’s and France’s as well!
The Marne Valley Wine Trail begins at Epernay in the east and winds its way westwards to just beyond Château-Thierry. Much of the trail overlooks the valley, with plenty of stunning viewpoints in store! These are interwoven with a wealth of cultural heritage. Growers and houses dotted right along the trail will be delighted to tell you more about their history and their methods. They will also take great pleasure in giving you a few cuvée wines to try, especially those made from Meunier, the region’s star grape variety!
The trail begins in the town of Épernay. As far as Champagne culture is concerned, this is a top sightseeing destination, so why not stop a while here to visit one of the town’s iconic landmarks? Château Perrier is one of them, and houses the Champagne Wine and Regional Archaeology Museum. Pop in to admire one of the largest collections of national archaeology and a remarkable heritage on the history of Champagne.
Afterwards, go for a leisurely stroll along Avenue de Champagne to see the elegant façades of the iconic Champagne houses and various institutions that represent the wine-growing area. If you feel like taking to the skies, up you go aboard one of Epernay’s tethered balloons, to enjoy stunning aerial views of the region!
A couple of miles from Épernay, just outside the village of Champillon, you’ll find the Royal Champagne Hotel, an exquisite setting that embodies sophistication at every turn. Whether for lunch, dinner or even just for drinks, this is a truly captivating location. Amidst such tasteful decoration, an unforgettable experience awaits. When sunny days are here again, the terrace is the place to be! It boasts breathtaking panoramic views over the vines and town of Épernay, and the light is especially magical come the evening.
A little further along the trail is the village of Hautvillers, one of the birthplaces of Champagne. Saint-Sindulphe Church here is where you’ll find the tomb of the famous Dom Pierre Pérignon, who played such an instrumental role in the emergence of Champagne as we know it today.
Linger a while in the quaint little village streets with their wrought-iron signs, to soak up their picturesque charm. The village nestles amidst the historic, UNESCO World Heritage-listed hillsides. Climb to the top of one of them to admire the vines that stretch to the horizon.
Why not go for an outing along the water to explore Champagne from a different angle? You can take a boat trip from the village of Cumières. Sit back and enjoy a peaceful cruise along the Canal latéral de la Marne. Soak up the gorgeous views looking up towards the hillsides and surrounding scenery. The myriad villages and châteaux along the banks of the canal will give you a delightful snapshot of Champagne’s heritage. The perfect way to unwind!
It’s now time to head to the village of Fleury-la-Rivière. There, you’ll find the Cave aux Coquillages...a one-of-a-kind museum where you can delve into the secrets of the Champagne subsoil. As the terroir’s unique qualities are the result of several tens of millions of years of geological history and evolution! Among the collections at the Cave aux Coquillages, you’ll therefore be surprised to see fossilised shells that are 45 million years old, evidence of an ancient tropical sea.
Let’s continue our journey through the Marne Valley. Our next stop is Châtillon-sur-Marne, a charming village of significant historical interest. From atop its promontory, the imposing statue of Pope Urban II seems to watch over the vineyard. It was erected in 1887 in honour of this pope, appointed in 1088, for he was born in the region. You won't have trouble spotting it! Standing beside the statue, you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views over the region, no matter what time of year you go. The orientation table installed at the site will help you to identify the 22 neighbouring villages.
The trail continues through another important symbolic town not only in Champagne’s history but also the history of France: Château-Thierry. The Château-Thierry American Monument is located on Hill 204 (Côte 204 in French). This impressive memorial commemorates the sacrifices and achievements of the soldiers who fought during the offensives of July 1918. It overlooks the Marne valley and the conurbation: you won't have trouble spotting it. Take in the history of this thought-provoking site and the stunning views while you’re at it. You feel so tiny here!
Château-Thierry is also home to the Musée du Trésor de l'Hôtel-Dieu, a former hospital of the town that closed in 1988. A guided tour will take you back through more than seven centuries’ worth of history! You’ll be able to admire not just its fascinating architecture but also the wide array of artefacts in pristine condition on display, attesting to its past. There are other historical sights you could visit here too, such as the house where 17th century poet Jean de la Fontaine was born, or the mediaeval castle.
Let’s head to Essômes-sur-Marne next, for a tasty pit stop! The elegant Château de La Marjolaine welcomes you in a haven of greenery. Enjoy the gorgeous views over the gardens in bloom and the wooded banks of the River Marne. The menu serves up sophisticated dishes, inspired by seasonal, local produce. If you are short of time, you can still stop for a quick drink with family or friends in this relaxing setting.
The Marne Valley trail is dotted with promontories where the scenic views are well worth a stop. Mont de Bonneil is one of them and an absolute must on your list. The natural beauty of an unspoilt valley awaits! All the distinctive features shaping the Champagne landscapes unfold before your eyes: the wooded hilltops, the vine-planted slopes and the village of Bonneil in the foreground. You’ll also find picnic tables here: so why not stop for some refreshments, washed down with a glass of Champagne!
The village of Dormans lies a little further east. It sits at the heart of not only the Marne Valley wine-growing area, but also the history of France, in the context of the two battles of the Marne in 1914 and 1918. A lovely wooded park harbours a variety of monuments which pay witness to its eventful history. There is a 14th century Château for example which, even though you can't go inside, boasts a striking façade. Other outing ideas here include the Memorial to the Battles of the Marne, the Moulin d'en Haut eco-museum and its Remise aux Outils Champenois (displays of local tools) or the Conservatory Orchard. A getaway that’s historical and idyllic in equal measure!
Another intriguing stop on our trail is the Œuilly Ecomusée Champenois. Set off on a real journey back in time! This unique site houses three different museums. At the Maison Champenoise, see what rural life was like back at the turn of the 20th century. At the École 1900, step inside a village classroom of yesteryear. The Musée de la Goutte, meanwhile, is a former public distillery. You’ll be able to take a closer look at apparatus dating back to the early years of the century: alembic, cooperage, etc. Immerse yourself in the timeless atmosphere!
Just before you get back to Épernay, allow time to stop by Château de Boursault. The architecture of this stunning fairytale castle alone is worth a look! But its history is equally enthralling, since its construction was overseen by the famous widow Madame Clicquot (whose eponymous Veuve Clicquot Champagne endures to this day). You are also welcome to wander at your leisure around its wooded grounds. It’s also an opportunity to taste one of Champagne’s only "Château" appellations!
This brings us to the end of our trail, a refreshing blend of nature, sweeping views over the Marne and its valley and history-steeped towns and villages.
During Champagne tastings, remember to drink in moderation, especially if you are driving. Breathalysers and spittoons are available at Champagne houses and growers as well as at some restaurants. Do 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.