Just north of the heart of France, but as representative of French history, landscape, culture and food as a region can be, lies the Champagne-Ardenne. A great place to discover and well worth dedicating a whole P&O Ferries trip to.
As the name suggests, the Champagne is a fantastic area for wine aficionados. There are plenty of great wine houses that do tastings and tours, and you can’t really go wrong by just ordering whatever local waiters recommend. The Champagne Bauser company, located in the Les Riceys locality, is a particularly worthwhile place to check out. Specialising in champagne and rosé wines, there are English-speaking tours available and the surrounding landscape offers a great setting for a picnic – locally produced cheeses and biscuits are usually of very high quality.
Apart from that, there are over 3,000 champagne producers in the Champagne-Ardenne area – you’ll have to try hard not to come across a producer offering tastings and tours.
For those looking to travel by bike, there’s good news as well. With over 400km of cycle paths in the region, cyclists are well-placed to admire the peace and quiet of the river valleys and vineyards from close up. You could also look into mountain biking in the area.
A good place to set up base during your round trip would be the city of Reims, the largest city in the region. Steeped in WWII history and full of lovely back alleys and cathedrals, it’s also the birthplace of the late, famous, postmodernist philosopher Jean Baudrillard and former Arsenal winger Robert Pires. The Notre-Dame Cathedral (not to be confused with the one in Paris) is one of four UNESCO World Heritage monuments, and, yes, there are plenty of champagne houses to visit and explore. Reims is also just under an hour away from Paris should you fancy a day trip there.
Reims is only a two and a half hours drive away from P&O Ferries’ French port in Calais. Just take the A26 down south.