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Driving the champagne route of France

Driving the Champagne Route of France – a One Week Awesome Itinerary

“Come quickly, I am tasting the stars!”

– Dom Pérignon

Driving the Champagne Route of France, what could be better than that for avid champagne drinkers such as ourselves. No sparkling wine here but the best of the best! What a fun week to visit the Champagne Houses of the region!

Who doesn’t love a glass of chilled champagne?

France is the perfect country for a road trip.  There are so many regions for you to enjoy.  If you have time a 10-day road trip in France starting in Paris will allow you to cover many of the beautiful regions France has to offer the traveller.

Villages in the Champagne Region

Facts About The Champagne Region You Should Know

  • Any sparkling wine that is not from the Champagne region cannot be called Champagne
  • Sabrage is the opening of a bottle of champagne with a sword. After post-battle celebrations, Napolean was the first to use a sword to open a bottle of champagne.
  • Champagne was the celebratory drink after the anointing of the Kings in Reims.
  • Over 300 million bottles are sold each year
  • The region covers 76,000 acres and has 320 villages
  • The producers of Champagne put their own house labels at the start of the rows of vines.
  • Moet & Chandon vineyards

We had just completed a relaxing 3-night break on Le-Boat in Chatillon-sur-Loire.  The start of the Champagne Route at Villenauxe-la-Grande was only 177 km away. It just had to be done. This was an opportunity to good to pass up.

Harvest was early in 2018 in the Champagne region.  The harvest commenced 21st August and was well underway by the time we arrived on the 25th August. Normally the harvest is at the end of September and beginning of October. We were right there in the middle of the buzz and vibe of a harvest.  It is a unique time to visit the region and if you can plan your journey at this time of the year you will not regret it. It takes 100,000 itinerant workers three weeks to complete the harvest. They work from dawn to dusk to get it all done within the time frame.

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Driving the Champagne Route of France – Our One Week Itinerary

You can download the Champagne Route of France here

The Champagne Route is well signposted just follow the black and gold signs that say Route Touristique du Champagne.

Our one-week itinerary of the Route de Champagne included:

We started our road trip from Chatillon-sur-Loire which was the base for our Le Boat canal trip.

Champagne Route (Route Touristique du Champagne)

If you are going to plan a driving route through the region, there are 5 different circuits to consider:

  • The most northern route from Reims known as the Massif Saint Thierry Route
  • South of Reims, the Reims Mountain Route winds through the Natural Regional Park
  • Leaving Epernay the Marne Valley Route along the natural banks of the Marne River
  • South of Epernay the Cote des Blancs Route
  • The Southern Route is known as Cotes des Bar Route

Or you can make up your own route! Like we did!

For further details on the Routes de Champagne and what to see on each circuit click here.

Champagne Tours

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Chatillon – Sur – Loire to Troyes 

A distance of 177 km.

Road travel map from Chatillon-sur-Loire to Troyes

Travel from Chatillon-Sur-Loire to Troyes via Auxerre

We travelled the route via Auxerre where we stopped for lunch a distance of 74 km and an average driving time of 1 hour 10 minutes.

Facts about Auxerre:

  • Auxerre lies half-way between Paris and Dijon
  • Auxerre is the capital of the Yonne Department
  • Auxerre was originally known as Autissiodorum and dates back to the Gallo-Roman Times (50 BC – 486 AD)
  • 4th largest city in Burgundy
  • The city sits on the River Yonne, a tributary of the River Seine
  • The Abbey contains 9th-century full-sized frescoes
  • Joan of Arc passed through the town twice
  • The town is famous for its Chablis wine production
15th Century Clock Tower that measures solar and lunar movements

One of the highlights of visiting Auxerre was the 15th Century Clock Tower.  The Clock measures solar and lunar movements. You cannot miss the Clock Tower as it is located in the centre of the pedestrian area of Auxerre.

Allow some time to wander the pedestrian area for the architecture, shops and the small bars and cafes. Our biggest mistake was not spending a night in Auxerre.

Pro-tip: A local mentioned to us that the best time to photograph the clock tower is at sunrise or sunset.

Things to do in Auxerre

  1.  Visit the Auxerre 15th century clock tower
  2.  Wander the banks of the River Yonne
  3.  For the best photos head to Pont Paul Bert
  4.  Visit the Saint Germanus Abbey
  5.  Visit the Cathedrale Saint Etienne d’Auxerre – construction began 1215 and finally completed in the 1540s

Auxerre to Troyes

Driving map showing 3 routes from Auxerre to Troyes

A travel distance of 75 km with an average driving time of 1 hour 15 minutes depending on what route you take.

The medieval buildings of Troyes

Aah Troyes, you stole our heart. Those half-timbered medieval buildings and alleyways to wander down.

Troyes Cathedral

Facts About Troyes

  • Troyes is located on the Seine River 150 km south-east of Paris
  • Troyes is the capital city of the Aube department
  • Joan of Arc visited the city in 1429
  • 1524 a great fire destroyed 1000 houses
  • Troyes was the historical capital of Champagne
  • Travel distance to Paris is 150 km
  • Troyes is a city of narrow, cobbled streets and medieval half-timbered buildings
  • Troyes has 1 cathedral and 9 churches<
    Book a private guided tour with a licensed guide here

Things to do in Troyes

Dine at Barci Barla Restaurant and visit Le Coeur de Troyes
  1. Troyes Cathedral – it took 400 years to complete the Troyes Cathedral which started construction in the 13th century. The Gothic Church is one of the most beautiful in France.
  2. Troyes Historical Centre – enjoy wandering the streets viewing the medieval half-timbered houses
  3. Walk the medieval alleyway of Ruelle de Chats
  4.  Wander Le Coeur de Troyes
  5. Visit the Basilique Saint – Urban famous for its gargoyles and flying buttresses

Troyes Hotels and Troyes Airbnb

 

 

We stayed at the La Demeure d’Eirene at 20 rue de la Paix

Very comfortable bed and breakfast accommodation within walking distance to the town centre. Breakfast was good and consisted of croissants, cereal, eggs, fruit and excellent coffee.  We would definitely stay here again.

Book La Demeure d'Eirene Troyes here

 

For the latest travellers photos and reviews click here

Luxury Accommodation Troyes

Gite de Troyes

The 5-star luxury 2 bedroom Gite de Troyes is located in a 19th-century building in Troyes with all the facilities you need for a perfect stay in Troyes.

Guest Review: “The apartment was perfect. The extra touches to make us feel at home, like breakfast supplies, were great. Very welcoming.”

Hotel Accommodation

More Troyes Hotels (hotels à troyes)

Hotel availability in Troyes

 

Restaurant Troyes (restaurant à troyes)

Our favourite restaurant was  Le Barci-Barla located at 24 Rue Georges Clemenceau. We really enjoyed the location, beers and the excellent menu.

Read the latest traveller reviews for the best restaurants in Troyes

Aeroport Troyes

Barberey Airport of Troyes Airport is located 2 km north-west of Troyes.

Find the cheapest flights with Skyscanner who then directs you to the airline’s website with no extra fees to pay.

Train Paris Troyes

For the latest schedules and ticket prices click here for the train from Paris to Troyes.

Troyes to Sezanne – a stopover enroute to Epernay

Driving routes from Troyes to Sezanne

Driving distance 62 km average driving time depending on what route is around 1 hour.

After a morning of sightseeing in Troyes, we headed off to Epernay but first, we stopped off at the small town of Sezanne.

16th century Eglise Saint Denis

Just opposite the 16th-century Gothic-style Eglise Saint-Denis (Saint-Denis Church) was a small local bar where we enjoyed the best hot chocolate in the Champagne region.

After you have enjoyed your hot chocolate take a look inside the church.  The Renaissance Towers stands at 42 meters high.

Sezanne to Epernay

Driving route from Sezanne to Epernay

Driving distance from Sezanne to Epernay is 45 km with an average journey time of 45 minutes.

Epernay Hot Air Balloon rides

Facts About Epernay

  • The Avenue de Champagne in Epernay, as well as the historic hillside between Cumieres and Mareuil-su-Ay, are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
  • Epernay is the capital of the Champagne region
  • Epernay lies on the banks of the Marne River
  • Over the years the buildings have been burnt and destroyed. Epernay is home to stunning mansions and chateaux.
  • There are 48 km of tunnels underneath the town where wine is stored

 

Champagne Houses in Epernay:

Moet & Chandon bottles

Moet et Chandon Epernay 

Address: 20 Avenue de Champagne, 51200 Epernay

Tours available:

  • The Iconic
  • The Imperial Moment
  • The Grand Vintage

Tours: 9.30 am to 11.30 am and from 2.00 pm to 4.00 pm.

For more details visit their website

House of Mercier

Mercier Champagne House

Address: 68 Avenue de Champagne, 51200 Epernay

For more details visit their website 

Opening hours: 0930 – 1130 and 1400 – 1630

Travel tip:

We highly recommend that you take the tour.

Mercier’s champagne tour includes a train ride through the cellars 30 metres underground. Afterwards, you can enjoy a flute of Champagne.

 

De Castellane Champagne House

Champagne De Castellane in Epernay

Address: 57 Rue de Verdun 51200 Epernay

For more information and opening hours visit their website

Charles Mignon Champagne House

Address: 6-7 rue Irène Joliot Curie 51200 Epernay

For more information visit their website.

Open Monday to Saturday 9.30 am to  12.00 pm – 2.00 pm to  5.30 pm

Charles de Cazanove

5 minutes from the station of Reims oldest districts

Address: 8 Place de La Republic 51100 Reims

For more details visit their website

Nicolas Feuillatte 

Nicolas Feuillatte - Champagne House Epernay

The youngest of the great champagne wineries and brings together more than 4,500 growers from every corner of the Champagne appellation.

Address: Plumecoq, CD 40A, 51530 Chouilly (10 minutes from the city centre of Epernay)

For more information on tours and tastings visit their website

The tour of Nicolas Feuillatte comes highly recommended.  We visited towards the end of the day near closing time.  Our guide was one of the best we have had, interesting, funny, full of knowledge and plenty of facts and figures.

Hotels Epernay and Airbnb Epernay

Mid-Range Accommodation Epernay

Les Demeures Champenoises Confort at Epernay is well located to visit the Champagne Houses in Avenue de Champagne approximately 1.5 km away.

Les Demeures Champenoises Confort has a range of accommodation from studios to triple rooms, 24-hour front desk service and plenty of parking. A great family hotel with facilities for disabled guests and free wifi.

Les Demeures Champenoises Confort accommodation in Epernay

Luxury Accommodation Epernay

La Villa Eugene

Address: 82 – 84 Avenue de Champagne Epernay

The 15 room 19th-century house belonged to the Mercier Family. You can enjoy the outdoor pool and the rooftop terrace during your stay.

Guest review: “We stayed here in July 2020 to celebrate My Birthday. We stayed in the lovely suite with the large terrace, it was idyllic! The hotel is spotlessly clean, the staff are very friendly and welcoming, the pool is lovely. We felt very relaxed and happy here and will definitely return when we can go to France again. Perfectly placed to visit all the Champagne Houses and the lovely restaurants in Epernay.”

 Hotel Accommodation

For more hotels in Epernay

For more accommodation hotel options in Epernay:

Epernay Hotel Accommodation

Restaurants in Epernay:

La Cave a Champagne

Address: 15 Rue Gambetta 51200 Epernay

This was a recommendation from our hotel and we were glad that we visited. We are lovers of French cuisine and La Cave a Champagne did not disappoint.

For the latest Tripadvisor reviews click here

Le Sardaigne

Le Sardaigne Restaurant Epernay

Address: 1 Place Pierre Mendes France 51200 Epernay

If you want to eat outside we recommend that you make your way there around 6 pm. They did not take bookings and we were fortunate to get one of the last tables. Just seeing the queues later in the evening confirmed that we had made the right choice and the food lived up to its popularity.

For the latest Tripadvisor reviews click here

Paris to Epernay Train Travel

Click here for the latest train schedules and current prices for train travel from Paris to Epernay.

Epernay to Rilly-la- Montagne

Driving route between Epernay and Rilly-la-Montagne

The driving distance between Epernay and Rilly-la-Montagne is 18.5 km with an average driving time of 21 minutes.

We chose to visit the village of Rilly-la-Montagne to stay one night at the Chateau de Rilly.

Chateau de Rilly

Address: 38 Rue de Reims Reims

Chateau de Rilly

Historical facts about Chateau de Rilly:

  • Originally known as La Maison de Lossy
  • Wine house that dates back to the end of the 18th century
  • One of the most ancient houses from Champagne nobility
  • The cellars once housed over 3 million bottles of champagne
  • The private mansion was purchased by the Germain family in the 20th century
  • 2008 the house was sold to the Serena family from Italy
  • On the 1st June 2012, the hotel was opened to the public for the first time

Accommodation:

Bedrooms at the Chateau de Rilly

The 15 room luxury Chateau offers a selection of rooms for guests.  There is a wellness centre available for beauty treatments, as well as a jacuzzi and 2 saunas.

We recommend booking the restaurant for evening meals and breakfast at the same time that you make your accommodation booking.

Our stay at the Chateau was perfect. Luxury accommodation, helpful staff, beautiful grounds and 24 hours of pure relaxation.  Dinner was excellent, with a seasonal menu and the best of local wines accompanied each dish.  Breakfast was superb, one of our best so far on our driving trip. You must try the creamy scrambled eggs!

Hotel Accommodation

Rilly-La-Montagne to Reims

Driving route from Rilly-la-Montagne to Reims

The driving distance is around 15 km depending on the route you take with an average driving time of 20 minutes.

Reims Cathedral

Facts about Reims France

  • Reims is located on the Velse River
  • Paris in 30 minutes away by high-speed train
  • Reims is pronounced like ‘ransssss’ start with ran and then add the sssss
  • Reims was founded in 80 BCE by a tribe of Gauls
  • Reims has 3 UNESCO sites:
  • 1.  The 11th century Abbey of Saint Remi
  • 2.  The Palace of Tau which was used as the residence of the Kings during the coronation – you can purchase your Skip The Line ticket here to visit
  • 3.  The Gothic Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Reims where 34 sovereigns were anointed
  • 80th of the city was destroyed during WW1 (cathédrale de reims)

A Reim Fun Fact – 1 bottle of champagne is opened every 10 seconds

Champagne Houses in Reims

Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin

Veve Cliquot Reims

Address: 1 Rue Albert Thomas 51100 Reims

Cellar Tours and Boutique open from March to December (check dates each year)

For more details on tours visit their website

Champagne Taittinger

Address: 9 Place Saint-Nicaise Reims

Opening Hours: 9.30 am to 5.30 pm. Check with website before visiting for the latest opening hours.

For more information visit their website

Champagne Lanson

Address: 66 Rue de Courlancy Reims

Cellar tours

Opening Hours: Monday to Friday 8.30 am to 12.30pm then 1.30 pm to 5.30 pm

Check their website before visiting

Champagne Mumm

Mumm Champagne

34 Rue du Champ de Mars

For opening hours and visits check their website out here

What to do in Reims

Cathedral Reims Light Show

Visiting the Reims Cathedral Light Show is a ‘must-do’ if you are in Reims between the months of May and August. Check with your hotel what the timings are or visit the Tourist Office here.

Free entry

Two shows per night that last for 25 minutes.

It is a spectacular light show! Get there early to have a seat on the sidewall or take your own seats.

Our Youtube Video of the Reims Light Show

Youtube video of Reims Cathedral Light Show performances

 

Private Walking Tour With Guide

A 2-hour walking tour visiting:

  • Notre-dame Cathedral
    Carnegie Library
    Gallo-roman Cryptoporticus
    Le Vergeur Museum Hotel
    Boulingrin Covered Market
    Porte Mars

and learning about:

  • Founded circa 80 BC
    Roman Empire
    The Gallic Wars
    Saint Sixtus of Reims
    The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Reims
    French Wars of Religion
    The Battle of Ivry
    World War II unconditional surrender document was signed in Reims
    The Coronation City
Book here for your walking tour of Reims

Where To Stay in Reims

Our accommodation in Reims was in an apartment which is no longer advertised. We self-catered during this time enjoying the champagne that we purchased during the trip and the delights of locally grown produce and of course French cheeses.

Hotels Reims and Airbnb Reims

Restaurants Reims

Click here for the Top Frenchs Restaurants in Reims

Paris Reims Travel

The train journey from Paris to Reims takes 45 minutes. For the latest schedules and ticket prices Click here for the latest train schedules

 

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