Champagne !! Behind these billions of fine bubbles, this wine of celebrations, stretches a long history, the passion of men and women for their vineyards and the wines they produce, and a region full of contrasts and charm. The vineyards of the Marne Valley differ from those of the Côte des Blancs, which differ from those of the Montagne de Reims, and yet, they all produce wines of subtlety and delicacy that seduce and enchant. This hike will take you through the vineyards and villages of the Champagne region where you will discover monuments and curiosities, as well as testimonies of a long and glorious past. This journey will help you to learn about and appreciate the different vintage wines of the Champagne region in all their wonderful diversity.
Grade 2 : walks of 4 to 6 hours a day. Some stages could be more 20 km (13/15 miles) and rolling uplands, ascents mainly gradual than steep of up to 500 m. An average level of fitness or some experience with walking is recommended.
Getting there and away
By train : By train : Scheduled links between Paris Est rail station and the French main towns. To return, regular links between Reims and Paris:
By car : Epernay is located at few kilometers from A4 and A26. motorways. To return, you have to take a train at Reims to go to Eperney (several links)
Where to park : guarded pay parking in the centre of Epernay. Return by train from Reims to get back your car
Departure dates : From beginning of May to end of October but be careful this area is very crowded in summer time and we recommend you (if you can) to come outside this period. Nevertheless this area attracts a lot of tourists and you have to reserve earlier to get the best rooms.
Day 1 : Arrival in EPERNAY, the capital of Champagne. Stroll through the city along the majestic "avenue de
Champagne" where the world famous champagne houses are located. Visit of wine cellars.
Dinner, lodging and breakfast in a 3-star hotel in the centre of the city (rec. GM, GR)*
Day 2 : LE MESNIL SUR OGER – EPERNAY (21 km). Escort by taxi to Le Mesnil-sur-Oger. From here you will begin your return to Epernay following the Côte des Blancs, named as such for the hillside vineyards that produce white wine, and more specifically, Chardonnay. As you walk through the vine-covered slopes you will pass the small, charming villages of Oger, Avize, and Cramant, all of which are decorated by beautiful old churches, wash houses, and fountains. Cramant is situated on a chalk peak and gives beautiful views of the Côte des Blancs. You will continue across the southern hills of Epernay, passing the villages of Monthelon and Chavot- Courcourt, its 13th century feudal church erected on a mount outside the village. Along the hillside, overlooking the villages of Moussy and Piercy and its 18th century château, you will make your way back to Epernay. Lodging and breakfast in the same 3-star hotel.
Day 3 : CHATILLON SUR MARNE – HAUTVILLERS (22 km). Escort by taxi to Chatillon, the birthplace of Pope Urbain II (pope from 1088 to 1099 – he began the first crusade). From here, you will descend to the river banks of the Marne, passing the Binson Priory and the Notre-Dame-des-Vignes statue. You walk along the river to the Reuil village. Make your way through the vineyards to the villages of Trincourt, Venteuil, and Arty to descend to the pretty riverside village of Domery. This stretch will give you remarkable panoramas of the Marne Valley and the château of Boursault, situated on the opposite bank. Your walk continues through the vineyards to Hautvillers, the birthplace of champagne. The abbey that once stood on these grounds, and of which remains only the church, was the creation center where Don Pérignon became famous for his champagne. At the end of the afternoon you will be escorted back to Epernay by taxi. Lodging and breakfast in the same 3-star hotel
Day 4 : AY – AMBONNAY (21 km). Escort by taxi to Ay. Ay is a historic site and one of the most famous vineyards
of Champagne. You will begin your hike through the vineyards to arrive in the village of Mutigny. You
will continue through the villages of Avenay-Val-d'Or, Fontaine-sur-Ay and Bouzy (famous for its red wines)
before reaching Ambonnay and its 12th century church, Saint Réol.
Dinner, lodging and breakfast in a 2-star hotel (rec. GM, GR)*
Day 5 : MAILLY CHAMPAGNE – AMBONNAY (19 km). Escort by taxi to Mailly-Champagne. You will take off again
through the vineyards, the Verzenay windmill and lighthouse stand as your points of immediate destination.
The lighthouse was built as recently as the 19th century by a wine-merchant in search of fame. Moving on, you
will reach Verzy and continue through the forest to admire the famous Faux de Verzy, an entanglement of rare
beech trees. These beech trees, with a slow rate of growth and long life-span, grow in twisted, knotted
patterns, their branches spreading out like a canopy. You will continue through the forest to the village of
Trepail before heading back to Ambonnay.
Dinner, lodging and breakfast in the same 2-star hotel (rec. GM, GR)*
Day 6 : LUDES – JOUY LES REIMS (21 km). Escort by taxi to Ludes. Crossing through the vineyards, you will pass
the pleasant villages of Chigny-les-Roses, and Rilly-la-Montagne. From Mont Joly, you will discover Reims.
Making your way through its vineyard, you will pass by Chamery, Ecueil and its 12th century church
overlooking the village, and Sacy and its 12th century church. The hike ends a top a hill near Ville-Dommange,
at the Chapel Saint Lié, dedicated to a 5th century hermit. From here you will have a splendid view of the
Reims region and plains that spread to the Massif de Saint Thierry. A taxi will escort you to Reims.
Lodging and breakfast in a 3-star hotel in the center of Reims (rec. GM, GR)*
Day 7 : REIMS. An exploration of Reims, with gothic art and champagne. The city of Reims is best known for the Cathedral of Notre Dame, a masterpiece of gothic art. It includes the Palais de Tau, which holds the treasures of the cathedral, the basilica of Saint Rémi, and the museum that now resides in the ancient royal abbey. The city center has its own treasures to show you : a variety of monuments, such as La Porte Mars, evidence of ancient Reims. But one must not forget that Reims is a city of champagne, of great names who, grouped together in the neighborhood of Champ-de-Mars or on the chalk hillsides of Saint Nicaise, will be glad to welcome you for a visit of the cellars and a tasting. Lodging and breakfast in the same 3-star hotel D8 : REIMS. Tour ends after breakfast. * Listed by the famous travel guides Gault Millau (GM) and/or Guide Michelin (GM)
Day 8 : REIMS. Tour ends after breakfast.
* Listed by the famous travel guides Gault Millau (GM) and/or Guide Michelin (GM)