This week, I had the unique opportunity to attend the Nuit de Champagne which took place at the Residence of France in Beverly Hills.
Events like these, which are held in several cities around the United States, are organized to spread a simple but powerful message. French Champagne is the only authentic Champagne. In addition, this drink, produced with ancient methods, is associated with luxury, exclusivity and beauty.
These events are celebrated in key cities of the United States in order to promote France’s excellence and the friendship between the two countries.
Attendees participated of a presentation highlighting the best of the Champagne-Ardenne region, a reception where champagne, hot appetizers and desserts were served and an electrifying demonstration by the Order of the Golden Saber.
The event I was able to attend was delightful from beginning to end. I ended learning quite a lot about an area of France that is sometimes overlooked by more popular destinations in the country. I figured you would be interested in taking a glimpse into this place. After all, I can’t think about a travel and food lover who would not be interested in learning more about Champagne.
Here, in my own words, are 9 reasons why you should consider visiting the Champagne-Ardenne region.
- The Champagne region is located close to Paris
Reims (the gateway of Champagne) is located 45 minutes from Paris and 30 minutes from Charles de Gaulle Airport by high speed train (TGV). Because of that, the area is an easy day trip from Paris (but more time in the area is advised).
A visit to the region is even possible if you are visiting Paris by ship. Cruise companies like Celebrity stay in port two nights to allow guests maximize their time in the French capital and surrounding areas.
- Champagne is a UNESCO World Heritage Site
In 2015, the hillsides, houses and cellars of Champagne were awarded the World Heritage distinction for its outstanding universal value.
UNESCO recognizes the intricate details needed to achieve an excellent product and the structured system used to take an artisan crop to a mass production sold around the world (without losing its essence). In summary, nothing is ordinary in Champagne.
- Reims is a UNESCO World Heritage Site
One UNESCO Heritage site is not enough. Not in a region like Champagne. Several buildings in Reims, the largest city by population, were declared World Heritage Sites in 1991.
The Notre-Dame Cathedral was the coronation site of the kings of France for more than 800 years. The Abbey of Saint-Remi and the Palace of Tau are considered architectural gems too.
Moreover, Reims has Roman ruins and has been declared a City of Arts and History by the French government.
- Incredible Gastronomy in Reims
I think I do not have to emphasize this point but, just in case, let me remind you some of the most famous Champagne houses are located within city limits. While in town, make plans to visit Taittinger, MUMM, Lanson, Ruinart, Veuve Clicquot, G.H. Martel and many more.
The most exciting thing is that visitors are allowed to tour the cellars, some of which are located in Roman stone quarries, and others which were excavated in the 13th century by Benedictine monks. Isn’t that amazing?
Food takes a central place in the region too. Place Drouet d’Erlon, a pedestrian plaza in the heart of the city, is lined with restaurants, cafes and cheese / chocolate vendors. Café du Palace surprises with its Art Deco style and Le Millenaire with its contemporary aesthetic. Those in search of fresh produce should visit the Halles du Boulingrin.
- Biscuit Rose
This entry should fall under gastronomy but, let’s face it; we love to invent categories when we talk about desserts and sweets.
The pink biscuit of Reims is dipped in Champagne and it is distinctive because it does not break when moistened. It acquired its pink color when bakers attempted to cover the black dots left by the vanilla pods. This heavenly piece of goodness is true to its name, it is double cooked (that is what bis-cuit means).
- Epernay, The City Located Over a City
Epernay, is considered the capital of Champagne because it is the main trading port of the product. The city has the distinction of holding 200 million of champagne bottles in 110 km of subterranean cellars.
The main attraction in here is the Avenue de Champagne, a street deriving its name from the world’s leading champagne producers located within its length. Moet et Chandon, Mercier, De Castellane and Lafond are some of the recognized names present in this avenue. This is must visit for gastronomy lovers.
- Champagne Tourist Route
I have mentioned some of the most famous Champagne houses in this article but bear in mind there are more than 15,000 wine growers in the area. Some sell their production to the Champagne houses while other produce their own wines.
As an advocate for artisan, small production businesses, I recommend visiting less popular Champagne makers. The Champagne Tourist Route takes visitors to vineyards, castles, villages and spectacular churches. As you can see, the area has a little bit for all preferences.
- Troyes, the Medieval Beauty
Located south of Reims and Epernay, Troyes is renowned by its many half-timbered houses. This is one of the best places in France to get an idea of how the country looked during medieval times. Plus, nobody can deny the fairy tale atmosphere of the town.
- Natural Beauty
Yes, we can consider a landscape full of vineyards a beautiful thing. However, the Champagne area has lakes, regional parks and rivers (Seine, Marne, Aube). Do not hesitate to visit if you are interested in enjoying this aspect of the region.
Here you have it my friends. Hope you have learned interesting things about this superb area of France. Just a reminder, Champagne Day is celebrated on October 21st!
Many thanks to the sponsors who made this event possible (Celebrity Cruises, Atout France, Reims Tourism, Epernay Tourism Office, Confrerie du Sabre d’Or, Sturia, Link Paris, French Quarter Magazine).
What interests you more about the Champagne-Ardenne Region?
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