The Champagne region is not only known for its amazing sparkling wine but also for its beautiful historic towns and villages. Many of these small villages are dotted around the vineyards or nestled in the rolling countryside of Champagne.
To help you plan a nice tour of the Champagne region, I have put together a guide to the best cities and most beautiful villages to visit in the Champagne region.
Suppose you need some help in planning your trip to the Champagne region. In that case, you can check out my 3-day itinerary of the Champagne region.
Table of Contents
What is so special about the Champagne Region?
The Champagne region is special because it is the only place in the world where Champagne can be made. Champagne is a protected product, which means that only sparkling wine made in the Champagne region of France can legally be called Champagne. Other protected products are, for instance, Parma ham, Roquefort Cheese, or even Darjeeling tea!
The Champagne drink is named after the Champagne region (no village or city is called Champagne). The region is known for its beautiful vineyards, rolling hills and gorgeous little villages, of which we will explore the most beautiful and important ones in this article.
⏳ Travelling to Champagne and short on time?
🛏️ Accommodation: Hôtel La Villa Eugene and Grand Hôtel Des Templiers or you can check my article on the best hotels in the Champagne region.
🗺️ Experiences: Getyourguide (tours), Viator (tours), and Rue des Vignerons (specialises in wine tastings and tours).
📍 Recommended excursions:
🍷 Champagne and Family-Run Wineries Tour
🍾 Champagne Veuve Clicquot or Champagne Moët & Chandon tour and tastings
🚲 From Reims Full day Electric bike Champagne and lunch
You can also read my article on the best champagne tasting tours.
💰 Save Money by getting the Reims Pass which includes public transport, a free guided tour, entrance to the museums in Reims, and discounts in Champagne houses. Read here about the best things to do in the Champagne region.
✈️ Transport can be booked via Omio.
📞 Stay connected and save on data via Airalo
The Cities of the Champagne Region
The Champagne region is a relatively quiet place with lots of countryside. The region has only two cities: Reims and Chalons en Champagne.
Reims is one of the largest cities in the Champagne Region. It is famous for its large cathedral, where many French kings were crowned. It also serves as the starting point of many tours and trips to the Champagne region.
Reims has a direct train connection with Paris and sits close to some of the absolute best Champagne Houses in the world. Moreover, the city is known for its gastronomic, fine dining restaurants and lively art scene. When visiting Reims, you will have a lot of choices when it comes to galleries, museums and even colourful street art.
If you are a fan of history and art, visit the Palais du Tau, where the Archbishops of Reims reside, the cathedral and the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Reims. If you are interested in Champagne, you can take one of the many Champagne tours from this city to visit the Champagne traders and their beautiful little shops. There are many great hidden gems to discover in Reims. If you have the time, I recommend spending at least a day in this gorgeous historical city.
Chalons-en-Champagne is a city south of the heart of the Champagne region. Sure, it is pretty far from the most important Champagne houses and vineyards. Still, it is a great place to stay if you are looking for budget stays, budget food and if you are travelling by car.
One of the reasons why I like Chalons-en-Champagne is because it is not very touristy. It is a great place to buy Champagne at reasonable prices (even in the supermarket) as it is a city that serves locals rather than the scores of tourists that visit the Champagne region every year. Other than that, Chalons-en-Champagne also houses some amazing UNESCO World Heritage buildings, such as the Saint-Etienne Cathedral and the Notre-Dame-en-Vaux.
The historical centre of Chalons-en-Champagne is quite nice. I recommend stopping by and having a glass of Champagne on one of the many terraces. Every year, there is also the Foire de Chalons, France’s second-largest agricultural fair. It attracts thousands of visitors every single year.
The best villages to visit in the Champagne region
As I have mentioned before, the Champagne region is known for its small, charming villages. To help you choose what villages to visit on your trip to the Champagne region, I will provide you with a small overview of the best villages.
One of the villages you cannot miss in the Champagne region is Epernay. Epernay is known as the capital of the Champagne region. This beautiful commune is home to many of the best Champagne houses in the world. It is also home to Avenue de Champagne. Here, you can find Champagne houses such as Moët & Chandon and Perrier-Jouët.
If you have a slightly larger budget and would love to experience the best of the Champagne region, I recommend staying in Epernay. I absolutely love this commune, and the area has many amazing hotels and great restaurants.
If you are interested in the more technical aspects of wine growing and Champagne making, I recommend visiting Dormans and its Champagne Houses. Dormans is located on the border of the Marne and Aisne departments. This village is one of the main Champagne AOC winegrowing areas and is famous for the Pinot Meunier grapes. These grapes allow for a fresh and fruity Champagne.
Dormans was also a very significant village in World War One. This is where the two battles of the Marne were fought. The village houses an impressive memorial for these horrific events.
I really enjoyed my visit to Dormans, as it offered a unique blend of nature, culture, and history. There is just so much to learn about Champagne. I recommend walking in the vineyards and taking in the beautiful views of the Marne Valley.
It is incredible to think that Chatillon-sur-Marne was once a large Roman fortress! This gorgeous little village is nestled in the Marne Valley. It is surrounded by the gorgeous Parc Naturel de la Montagne de Reims. From the village, you have some amazing views over the Champagne vineyards.
When visiting the village, you will see a large statue of Pope Urban II, who was born in the village. This pope launched the first crusade in 1095. It is massive! The statue is no less than 9 meters tall, and its pedestal is 25 meters high. (I had to see it with my own eyes to believe it!)
I would also recommend visiting the church of Saint-Nicolas and some of the village’s smaller, family-owned Champagne houses.
If you are a fan of Gothic architecture, Toul is a must-visit town in the Champagne region! It would be wrong to call Toul a village as it is more of a town. The town of Toul is a beautifully preserved village with fortified walls.
It is known for its gorgeous beige-coloured houses and its large cathedral. The Gothic cathedral and its remarkable organ are the pearls on the crown of this town. I enjoyed exploring the little streets and the fortifications that surround the town.
The fortifications were built by Vauban, by the way. He was the military engineer of the famous Louis XIV (I am married to a history teacher…).
Hautvillers is a gorgeous little village in the Champagne region. I would say that it is quite touristy as many of the tours tend to stop off here to visit the grave of Dom Perignon. Hautvillers is the village where Dom Perignon did most of his research and perfected many techniques that perfected Champagne’s creation. He is buried in the chapel he served.
Hautvillers is also known for its winding little streets and many amazing views of the vineyards. I recommend taking some pictures around the village and looking at the gorgeous wrought-iron signs that decorate the houses. They are absolutely gorgeous!
Hautvillers is one of my favourite villages in the Champagne region because it is so picturesque and seamlessly combines history, culture, and nature.
Ay-en-Champagne is a charming commune in the Champagne region. I was very impressed by the beautiful Renaissance-style town hall. I was also surprised that Ay was the favourite residence of King Henri IV of France. The town still celebrates the Fetes Henri IV in July every year. People from all over the country come together in Ay to see the actors dress up in medieval clothes and march through the city. It is also a festival where a lot of Champagne gets consumed ;).
Another reason why I am a particular fan of Ay-en-Champagne is because it is home to some of my favourite Champagne houses. I particularly like Ayala because it is a rather dry champagne. Ay is also home to some of the best Champagne houses in the world, such as Bollinger (the favourite Champagne of both James Bond and the British Royal Family).
It has a beautiful museum called Cité du Champagne, which showcases the history and techniques of Champagne making.
Fleury-la-Rivière is a lovely little village in the Champagne region known for its gorgeous houses and beautiful nature. There are many small and boutique Champagne houses located in Fleury-la-Rivière. If you are someone like me who does not want to visit the large producers, I recommend trying some of the smaller ones in Fleury-la-Rivière.
One of my favourite places to visit in Fleury-la-Rivière was the Cave aux Coquillages. This roughly translates as the cave of shells. This cave is a wine cellar with shells and fossils from 45 million years ago!
Last but not least, I recommend visiting Verzenay. Verzenay is a small village in the Champagne region known for its interesting Champagne cellars, houses, and Phare de Verzenay.
Although Verzenay is nowhere near an ocean, the village has a lighthouse. The lighthouse is now a Champagne museum. It also hosts many interesting local events, such as a Chinese cooking course!
I would recommend visiting the lighthouse, even if it is to take in the beautiful landscape from the top of the lighthouse or while drinking a glass of Champagne in the little bar.
Lieze Neven is a globetrotting travel writer and expat currently based in Nepal. With a passion for exploration, she has lived in Dubai, the UK, and Belgium, alongside her international teacher husband. Her parents live in France and she tries to visit Paris at least once a year. Together, they travel the world looking for the best hotels, experiences and food locations have to offer!