The bucolic Marne département is famed for its Champagne routes, which wend their way among neat rows of hillside vines, through hilltop forests and across lowland crop fields. Along the way, they call on winemaking villages and hamlets, some with notable churches or museums, others quite ordinary, most without a centre or even a cafe. At almost every turn, beautiful panoramas unfold and small-scale, family-run Champagne wineries welcome travellers in search of bubbly.
Many producers prefer that visitors phone ahead but, if you haven’t, don’t be shy about knocking on the door. More and more young vignerons (winegrowers) speak English. Almost all producers are closed around the vendange (grape harvest, from late August to October), when bringing in the crop eclipses all other activities.