Why a Bicycle Tour in Champagne is an Absolute Must for Wine Lovers
8th March 2022
The world opening up once more to travelers is an opportunity in itself to pop the corks and with warmer weather approaching many of us are looking forward to vacationing abroad this summer. Over the last two years attitudes have shifted towards a more ethical approach to traveling and a healthier approach to diet and exercise. As more people seek to minimize their carbon footprint and improve fitness levels, the popularity of cycling has peaked.
While commuting to work isn’t always a practical or safe option, leisure cycling offers a range of fabulous pedaling possibilities. Bikepacking tours at home and abroad are now very popular vacation ideas. France with its greenways and trails is a haven for safe cycling and as one of the 10 best wine regions in Europe, it’s really worth a visit. Although there’s a range of superb regions for cycling in France, the Champagne area really is exquisite. And then there’s the champagne!
Where is Champagne?
Champagne is in the northeast of France close to the Belgian border. A 2.5 hour car journey from Calais, the main ferry port, and less than two hours from Paris and Brussels, it’s an easy destination to access.
Where do you begin your bicycle tour?
With over 200 kilometers of bicycle networks and trails to suit all abilities in Champagne, the choices are almost overwhelming. The most popular Champagne route begins at Reims, a charming town that’s easy to reach and from there you can follow a signposted route for 220km.
Join a bicycle wine tour
You might consider joining a cycling wine tour group where you will be guided along a route that includes vineyards, chateaux visits and wine tasting sessions. This is an ideal choice if you just want to cycle in company and enjoy the highlights of a wine tour. You’ll also have assistance in case of a puncture or mechanical failure and you won’t have to worry about getting lost. You can usually choose a tour with a distance and duration that suits you. There are short distances over a couple of days and longer distances if you’ve more time.
Choose a self-guided route
Alternatively, you can opt for a self-guided tour if you’re a confident solo cyclist or with a group of friends or family members. You’ll be provided with maps and recommended places to stay and visits. This option is ideal if you want to cycle at your own pace and stop off where you feel like it.
If you decide to plan your own itinerary, you’re in the right place. Bike rentals and cycle shops are commonplace. Accommodation along the routes is easy to find and hotels provide safe storage for your bicycles. There are services that will transport your luggage from hotel to hotel as well.
Slow down and take it all in
You will pass sleepy ancient towns, historic abbeys and pedal through some picture perfect villages with delicatessens where you can pick up picnic fare to stop and savor anywhere. Sustainable travel is all about traveling slowly and exploring your destination and Champagne is ideal for doing just this.
The scenery is spectacular and the chateaux are simply breathtaking. The cycle routes consist of towpaths and old unused railway routes and are mainly traffic free. For shorter cycles the routes are pretty well signposted. If you opt for a longer cycling route you will end up on some quiet roads as well. You’ll see leafy woodlands, rolling vineyards, waterways and pristine lakes where you can stop for a refreshing dip.
Highlights of Champagne
- Reims – the city of kings where it all begins.
The wonderful 13th century Notre Dame Cathedral of Reims where the coronations took place is worth a visit. There are two impressive museums and you can easily lose yourself in the art déco quarters of the town.
The famous Dom Perignon originated here. Cellar tours with champagne tasting sessions are experiences to write home, or post selfies about.
Champagne’s ancient capital offers historic churches and museums with medieval buildings and cobbled streets. There are charming cafés here where you can just pause for a while and watch the world go by.
- A treehouse Champagne bar.
Of all the wonderful locations to sip champagne, there’s nothing quite like enjoying a flute of Pommery from the Perching bar! The views from this locale in a forest park outside Reims are pretty amazing.
- The Champagne festival
If you’re lucky enough to be in Champagne on 30 & 31 July 2022, you can enjoy the festival with music, street artists, walks, and visits to any of the wine producers in the Aube area.
There’s a good choice of fine dining and casual eateries in Champagne and you’ll get recommendations everywhere for good champagne and food combinations. A tasty and easy accompaniment to champagne is the Brie de Meaux cheese. Definitely an idea to bring home. Gourmet sausages and white puddings are a real treat to sample too. Indulge your sweet tooth with Reims biscuits or macaroons.
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