The illustrious past of Champagne is intertwined with the present with extensive champagne vineyards stretching southwards from historic Reims, the coronation city of France, in a stunning mosaic of straight lines and vistas. They travel over the hills to the south-east into the realms of the Knights Templar and the Counts of Champagne. Continuing onwards, you will see the beauty of the varied landscape, exquisite orchids by the roadside, mysterious forests, bubbling brooks and an abundance of rare and wonderful wildlife – a land to explore by cycle, motorbike or foot, rewarded by a glass of bubbly at the end of the day.
With 3,125 miles (5,000 km) of sign-posted footpaths in Champagne and neighbouring Ardenne – both circular walks and long-distance routes, there’s ample scope for walkers, serious hikers or those wanting to explore the varied landscapes: great forests, deep valleys, open plains, hills, vineyards, lakes and rivers. Hiking sheets for 15 circular walks in Champagne and five in the Ardenne can be downloaded from the tourist board’s website. There are also nine “Grand Randonnée” long distance paths running through Champagne and Ardenne with two of these being part of the old Pilgrim routes.
Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices and is an unusual and enjoyable way to explore areas and places that you would not normally access. Participants enter the GPS coordinates of a specific “cache” and follow the compass or map instructions to find the cache (normally a container with little treasures and a logbook) hidden at that location. The finder takes one of the treasures replacing it with one of their own and logs comments in the book. The experience is then shared online with other geo-caching fans.
On your bike
In Champagne, there are 310 km / 194 miles of dedicated cycle paths, many of which are built along canal towpaths or disused railway tracks, offering a pleasant, flat surface to enjoy traffic free exploration. The region has developed a tourism cycle label – Champagne à Vélo – that guarantees the quality of over 100 accommodation partners and service providers, ensuring a warm welcome to cyclists and a safe place to store bikes. Many also offer special facilities such a bike cleaning, luggage transportation and even a picnic lunch on request! Electric bikes to give that added boost to tired leg muscles are becoming more and more popular.
For motor-bike enthusiasts, a selection of itineraries have been created by experienced bikers that will lead them along roads chosen for the scenery and places of interest. There are six motorbike routes in Champagne and one in the Ardenne available – each enjoying a four-page English language fact sheet including directions, distances, a map and sightseeing information. There are also useful tips on where to eat and stay.