Champagne-Ardenne is a region in northeastern France, on the border with Belgium. It is home to four rivers: the Seine, the Marne, the Aisne, and the Meuse. The area is reachable by the Paris-Strasbourg rail line and the LGV Est TGV rail line. The regional airport, Vatry International Airport, however, is primarily devoted to air freight. In addition to its namesake wine, Champagne-Ardenne is home to beautiful ancient architecture in Troyes, the walled city of Langres, and the monarchical tradition of Reims.
Troyes is less than 100 miles to the southeast of Paris, and is home to many 16th century half-timbered houses. Also located in Troyes are examples of hôtels particuliers, which are grand urban free standing houses. Examples include the Hôtel de Marisy and Hôtel du Lion Noir. The Hôtel de Ville, or city hall, is called Place Alexandre Israel, and is an example of Louis XIII style.
Troyes is home to many museums, including a Museum of Hosiery, and a Museum of Modern Art. Because Troyes was spared much damage from war, it has many old religious structures clustered near the downtown area, including Saint Pierre et Saint Paul Cathedral, Saint-Nizier Church, and the Saint-Urbain Basilica, built in the 13th century. Numerous other churches exist too, from Gothic times as well as the 16th and 17th centuries. The city is also home to the headquarters for the Lacoste fashion label and the prize-winning chocolatier Pascal Caffet.
Langres is a town, originally an ancient walled city, and some of the old walls still surround parts of the old city, including 12 towers and seven gates. The city is rich with art and history and is home to the Cathedral of Saint-Mammes, built in the 12th century. Langres is the home to its namesake cheese, a soft cow’s milk cheese whose rind is washed with champagne.
Reims is famous for its place in the history of the French monarchy, as it was the traditional site where the kings of France were crowned. The Cathedral of Reims, which sustained damage during World War I, but which has since been restored, was the site of these historical events. The population of Reims is just under 200,000, and its squares contain famous statues of Louis XV and Joan of Arc.
The Cathedral of Notre Dame de Reims is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as are the Abbey of Saint-Remi and the Palace de Tau. Saint Remi Basilica is within walking distance of Notre Dame de Reims and is next to the Royal Abbey of St. Remi, which dates to the 17th and 18th centuries. The Basilica itself is from the 11th, 12th, 13th, and 15th centuries.
Champagne as a whole has over 150 châteaux and manor houses that you can visit, many dating to the 18th century. They include the Château de Montmort, the Château de Sedan, and the Motte-Tilly Château. While the “king of wines” may have made the name Champagne famous, there is far more to this region than just its amazing vineyards. There is easily enough in the Champagne region to fill several days of vacation time, and it’s all within easy reach of Paris.