Known in Roman times as Campania (Land of Plains), Champagne is a largely agricultural region celebrated around the world for the sparkling wines that have been produced here since the days of Dom Pérignon. According to French law, only bubbly from the region – grown in designated areas, then aged and bottled according to the strictest standards – can be labelled as champagne. Nothing will drive the locals into fits of righteous indignation faster – or will elicit more searing expressions of contempt mixed with pity – than a mention of that absurd liquid marketed as ‘California champagne’!
The production of the prestigious wine takes place mainly in two départements: Marne, whose metropolis is the ‘Coronation City’ of Reims; and the less prestigious (though increasingly respected) Aube, whose préfecture is the ancient and picturesque city of Troyes, home to several exceptional museums and whole streets lined with half-timbered houses.
The town of Épernay, a bit south of Reims, is the de facto capital of champagne (the drink) and is the best place to head for dégustation (tasting). The Champagne Route wends its way through the region’s diverse vineyards, taking visitors from one picturesque – and prosperous – wine-growing village to the next. A number of name-brand maisons (champagne houses) have achieved international renown, but much of the region’s liquid gold is made by almost 5000 small-scale vignerons (wine producers), many of whose family-run facilities welcome visitors.
Cheese travel: tips from a cheesemonger
Gordon Edgar is the cheese buyer for San Francisco’s famous Rainbow Grocery Cooperative (rainbow.coop), a store that is well-known by Bay Area food-lovers for having an amazingly well-stocked and diverse cheese selection.
Champagne destination guides
A galloping gourmet's guide to Europe
From Somerset to Sweden, spend a weekend sampling top quality produce and plonk across the continent. 1. Feast on gourmet cuisine in Copenhagen A few years ago, the laid-back city of Copenhagen wouldn't have been top of many lists for fine dining. Today, it has more Michelin stars than any other Scandinavian city.
Champagne Region Day Trip from Paris by Minivan
This tour will take you to the heart of the Champagne country to discover the history and secrets of "The King of Wines". You'll visit world-renowned champagne house of Moet and Chandon and tour the historic city of Reims, the capital of the Champagne region.
Small-Group Wine-Tasting Trip to the Champagne Region from Paris
Enjoy a wonderful day trip from Paris to Champagne, one of the most famous regions in France, and indulge in eight tastings of bubbly in three different locations! With your expert guide, a trained sommelier, visit Moët & Chandon in the town of Epernay for your first tasting.
The right place at the right time
Visiting a city at the right time of year can make all the difference to the experience, whether that means finding deserted beaches, seeing trees burdened with blossom, or hitting harvest season.