THE CHAMPAGNE TRAIL
From Reims to Epernay, with Châlons-en-Champagne en route, there are a number of wineries that welcome visitors both with and without a reservation. The Champagne trail stretches some 600 km, passing through vineyards, traditional villages nestling in the region’s rugged hillsides, not to mention the stunning cathedrals and castles of the department of Marne et l’Aube. Stop off at any vineyard or winery en route to taste, purchase or simply get to know the secrets behind the region’s wine production.
IN THE FOOTSPEPS OF THE ARMIES OF CHAMPAGNE
Napoleon’s French Campaign in 1814
Between January and April 1814, the Champagne and Brie regions were the scene of the final victories for Napoleon 1st. Heading an army that had been severely weakened by the Russian and German Campaigns, the Emperor would attempt to prevent invasion by troops of the Sixth Coalition of the European armies and keep his throne. Across the region from Châlons-en-Champagne to Fontainebleau, we may follow the path of Napoleon through places such as Brienne-le-Château, Champaubert, Montmirail, Nogent-sur-Seine, Montereau-Fault-Yonne and Arcis-sur-Aube, or trace the footsteps of the imperial army and members of the Sixth Coalition. Standing stones and monuments erected in honour of French victories, along with a number of museums, keep alive recollections of the Campaign of 1814 leading up to the abdication of Napoleon 1st and the initial fall of the Napoleonic Empire.
World War I
After the First Battle of the Marne in October 1914, the French forces and their allies, for four long years, faced the Germans along a stretch of land delineated from the west to the east by the Monts de Moronvilliers, the ridge of Navarin and the hills of Souain, Tahure and la Main de Massiges.
Five major battles took place there causing a half million dead, wounded and missing soldiers: The First Battle of Champagne which began in the winter of 1914-1915... the powerful French offensive of the 25th September 1915, which had limited results... the retaking of the massif of Moronvilliers from the enemy in April-May 1917... on July 15, 1918 a more decisive success for France that stopped the “Friedensturm” (Peace Offensive) launched previously by the Germans... last in October 1918, the IVth Army, under General Gouraud’s command, helped by U.S. Infantry divisions to win the Battle of Blanc-Mont... As the Armistice was signed on 11th November, 1918, the Allied troops reached Sedan.
World War II
In May 1940, the German tanks crossed the Meuse at Sedan and the Ardennes became the object of fierce fighting. The region became a battlefield again in 1944. German occupation, the French Resistance, and the successions of battles left a profound scar on the region until it was liberated in the summer of 1944 by American troops and finally saw the surrender of the German Army, signed in Reims on 8 May 1945.
From the Maginot Line fort at Villy-la-Ferté (Ardennes) to the De Gaulle Memorial in Colombey-les-Deux-Eglises (Haute-Marne), from the Museum of the German Surrender (Marne) to the Museum of the Resistance at Mussy-sur-Seine (Aube), several circuits have been created to visit all of these historic and commemorative sites and museums devoted to the Second World War in Champagne-Ardenne.
Deeply influenced by its past history, Marne retains a significant military presence to this day. The camps at Mourmelon and Suippes house troops on regular missions to areas of current deployment and are involved in implementing the current peace keeping policies of France and the UN. This military expertise also supports an additional activity of which the public is largely unaware. Namely, that experts from the Suippes camp are regularly recruited by both video game makers and film directors to verify the operational authenticity of their artistic creations.
For more information on what to do and see in the region, please visit
Champagne-Ardenne tourism office