Spreading picturesquely across the southern half of the Champagne region, Aube is all the more alluring for being largely off the tourist radar. A fine place for slow touring, this pretty département hides châteaux, quiet stone villages and intimate, family run vineyards down its leafy lanes. On a warm summer day, an amble along its rivers, or through its sun-dappled woods and softly lit vineyards could be straight out of an impressionist painting – and indeed this is Renoir's old 'hood.
Top billing, however, has to go to Troyes, which is for sure one of France's loveliest places, with its riot of cobbled lanes, polished by centuries of shoe leather, and row after row of lopsided, half-timbered houses. The town inspired such homegrown genius as Chrétien de Troyes of Arthurian romance fame.