Champagne-Ardenne

 

 

Champagne, the very word is a magical talisman synonymous with celebration. The toast of a thousand hosts, it is the wine of kings and the king of wine.

map champagne

Champagne-Ardenne is a very sacred place, indeed, for the connoisseur of fine wines and beautiful countryside. It is home to renown wine houses such as Mercier and Moët & Chandon. The region abounds in deep forests, reflected in the clear brilliant water of lakes and streams running through schistous and lime-stone rocks, whose smooth undulating contours characterise the Champagne plain. Within this limestone strata, hundreds of miles of rock have been excavated to provide underground galleries for the housing and maturing of the wine.

 

Champagne-Ardenne consists of four departments:

Aube (10). Capital: Troyes

The Aube, and in particular the Cote des Bar, is home to the most famous nectar in the world - Champagne.
This is a beautiful area punctuated by green valleys, superb views and the rivers Ource and Arce. 'La Route de Champagne' takes in 26 wine producers, all eager to impart their savoir-faire of the sacred art of Champagne making.


Troyes is at the centre of the Aube, a delightful city with Gothic churches (see below), historic city with its half-timbered houses, stained glass and woollen industries, andouillettes sausages and great churches and museums.

troyes

What to see in Aube:

Chateau Charm - to the west of Nogent lies the 18th century chateau de la Motte Tilly, often used in period dramas and films for its elegance, décor and charming gardens.
Essoyes - visit Renoir's summer residence and snatch a glimpse of the house where his descendants still live!
Parc Naturel Regional de la foret d'Orient - 10km east of Troyes you'll be able to swim, sunbathe, fish, windsurf, kayak, water-ski and even jet-ski in this national park.

 

Ardennes (08). Capital: Charleville-Mézieres

The Argonne forest nestles in the east, peaks and pastures in the centre, and the patchwork of meadows of La Thierache to the west.
The countryside attracts walkers, nature-lovers, and sailors. Canoeists head to the lakes of Vieilles Forges or Bairon. Fishermen prefer the banks of the Semoy.
Since the Middle Ages the Ardennes has been home to many fortified castles & fortresses, such as the citadel of Sedan (see below) and the bastion of Rocroi. 18th century manor houses and residential chateaux can be seen in Bazeilles or Remilly-Aillicourt.

sedan

What to do in Ardennes:

Riezes for Nature Lovers - a superb nature reserve is sure to delight with its orchids and carnivorous plants.
The Musée Ardennes - for original manuscripts and photographs by the great poet Rimbaud.
Historic Sedan - home to the largest fortified castle in Europe, Chateau de Sedan.
Countryside Walks in the Vallée de la Meuse - take in a spectacular landscape of gorges, forests and formations of granite and schist.

And... Literary buffs can retrace the footsteps of Ardenne's famous son, Rimbaud, born in Charleville in 1854.

 

Haute-Marne (52). Capital: Chaumont.

The Haute-Marne is a land of rivers and lakes offering great opportunities for windsurfing, walking and fishing.
The Lac du Der is the spot for nature enthusiasts with its migrating birds. You'll also see deer, wild boar and badgers around this fantastic forest.
The fortified town of Langres, the Renaissance castle of Joinville (see below) or the village of Colombey-les-deux-Eglises will add cultural heritage to your stay.
Traditional crafts include weaving in Fayl-Billot or cutlery production in Nogent. Don't forget to sample wines from Coiffy-le-Haut, champagne from Rizaucourt-Argentolles or the local 'Choue' beer.

joinville

 

What to do see in Haute-Marne:

Chaumont - this turreted city is home to Saint John's basilica and the dungeons of the Counts of Champagne.
La Boisserie - visit the family home of Charles de Gaulle and uncover the secrets of France's famous General!
Joinville - this elegant Chateau de Grand Jardin was built by Claude de Lorraine, the first Duke of Guise.
Bourbonne-les-Bains - the only spa in the whole of the Champagne region, it even uses spring water for its baths and showers.

 

 

Marne (51). Capital: Chalons en Champagne.

A landscape of contrasts - vineyards, forests, plains, rolling hills, rivers, lakes and streams - Marne is a haven for walking, fishing, horse riding, and nature lovers.
Wine or rather champagne lovers come to the sacred triangle of Champagne linking Epernay, Reims and Chalons-en-Champagne.
To accompany the champagne, try the local stuffed trout, Ardennes ham or local sausages (andouillettes).
Culturally you won't be disappointed, with Romanesque churches at Tardenois, historic Reims with its cathedral (see below), the medieval city of Sezanne, and the traditional villages around Vitry-le-Francois.

reims

 

What to see in Marne:

Fine Champagne tasting at Epernay - head to the Avenue de Champagne for a tour of Moet & Chandon or Mercier champagne houses.
Reims - visit the Cathedral at Reims, where for over 1000 years, the Kings of France were crowned.
L'Epine - with Cathedral-like dimensions this grandiose Gothic church have played hosts to pilgrims since medieval times.
Chalons-en-Champagne - Le Petit Jard are magnificent riverside gardens overlooking the Château du Marche, a toll gate constructed by Henry IV.

 

 

Traditional Events

Joan of Arc Festival (Fêtes Johanniques), every June, in Reims.

Every year, Reims celebrates the memory of French patron saint Joan of Arc with a festival of shows and historical living epics. Stroll through the wooden houses of the medieval market and enjoy the music and light shows.

joan

 

Aymon Folk Festival, every July, in Bogny-sur-Meuse.

The Aymon Folk Festival features music performed by both local and national bands in an idyllic setting under the stars in the main square of Bogny-sur-Meuse. The Meuse valley is beautiful woodland: the perfect setting for an intimate folk festival.

aymon

 

 

Sedan Medieval Festival, every May. More info: http://www.chateau-fort-sedan.fr/

Sedan's annual Medieval Festival takes place in and around the biggest fortress in Europe. Festivities include jousting, cavalry tournaments, markets, medieval street fighting, camps, flag throwing and feasts.

The cavalry tournament is a must-see, offering the chance to witness the excitement of medieval combat techniques and crossbow demonstrations, where the aim is to hit apples from impressive distances. With the towering fort as the backdrop, it really feels like going back in time.

sedan

 

Festival des theatres de marionnettes de Charleville-Mezieres off, on September 16 - 25, 2011.

Created in 1961 by Jacques Felix, the World Festival of the Puppet theatres, has been produced with triennial editions. Great strides have been made by the participation of the Institut International, and the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts de la Marionnette Charleville-Mézières! Every three years, the largest puppetry companies from around the world are found there, meeting with each edition a widened public who attended indoor shows and spectacles of streets.A selection of companies from around the world have a role to play in making Ardennes the “The puppet in the center of arts, meetings and innovations”.

marionnettes

http://www.festival-marionnette.com/

 

 

Market Days

Epernay:There is variety of markets on Tuesdays and Sundays.

Chalons-en-champagne: There is a covered market on Wednesdays, Friday, Saturdays and Sundays.

Reims: Tuesdays, Wednesday and Fridays with a flea market on Thursdays.

Troyes: Every first Wednesday month of the month is the gastronomic market called ‘Les Matinées Gourmandes'. There are also other markets every week.

Epernay Christmas Champagne Market, every November. It is a fabulous way to stock up on champagne for the festive season. For three days the best of the region's petits producteurs (small champagne producers) flaunt their wares with plenty of tasting and buying opportunities.

This is a rare chance for you to taste and buy their wares without driving around the region, and prices are lower than in shops.

Further information on: http://goeurope.about.com/cs/france/a/champagne_mark.htm

 

Gastronomy

The production of Champagne is centered around the cities of Reims, Châlons-en-Champagn and Épernay. The composition of the subsoil, combined with Champagne’s micro-climates, determines the subtle differences between each cru and influences the characteristics of individual wines. This subsoil extends down hundreds of feet to provide the ideal cellars [caves] to store the wines at a constant temperature and humidity. The chalky limestone soil, and caves below, probably contributes to the Champagne’s great taste. Although other French wine-producing regions claim to have made sparkling wine earlier, this area was the first place to produce it in significant quantities.

Large and spectacular caves can be visited under the cities of Reims, Epernay, Aÿ and Châlons-en-Champagne, as well as in many towns and villages of La Champagne.

The area of Champagne production was established by law in1927. The production area, known as ‘la Champagne’, is spread over 312 villages. It consists of the entire Region of Champagne-Ardennes plus the departement of Yonne [in Burgundy, to the south], Aisne [in Picardie, to the west], Seine-et-Marne [in île-de-France, to the west, south of Picardie], and Meuse [in Lorraine, to the east]. This area only comprises about 2.5% of all French vineyards. La Champagne’s vineyards are cultivated alongside chalky hills. These hills are the remnants of a build-up of maritime sediments that date back some 200 million years. The deep chalky subsoil stores the sun’s heat and reflects warmth into the vine roots. It assures perfect drainage and preserves humidity in the soil. The soil supplies mineral elements to the vines, giving Champagne wines unique characteristics and finesse not found anywhere else.

Three grapes varieties are exclusively grown: Pinot Noir, Meunier and Chardonnay.

Champagne styles include pink, (from white grapes to which a red wine is added for color prior to bottling), Blanc de Blancs (from the Chardonnay grape), Blank de Noirs (from Pinot Noir or Pinot-Meunier).
A vintage champagne, consisting 100% of grapes from the same year, has an exceptionally rich texture and full body. A vintage champagne cannot be marketed for 3 years. It should be drunk with an exceptional meal.
Non-vintage champagne is not made from grapes of the same vintage or year. It cannot be marketed for 1 year subsequent to Jan 1.

A Benadictine Monk, named Dom Perignon, supposedly created the Methode Champenoise. The process, of making this very special sparkling wine, was probably discovered by accident sometime in the early 18th century near the Abby of Saint Pierre. Another fine champagne, named after a Benadictine Monk, is Ruinart.

Other prestige brands include: Bollinger, Piper Krug, Moet & Chandon, Mumm, Piper Heidsieck, Taittinger and Veuve Cliquot-Ponsardin.

moet

 

Food specialties:

The Cheese:

Cendré de Champagne, a soft cow’s milk cheese with a natural rind.
Chaource, a creamy, soft cow’s milk cheese with a faint smell of mushrooms.
Chaumont, soft cow’s milk cheese with a washed rind.
Langres,an unpasteurized, farmhouse cheese that, upon maturity is creamy with a smoky, bacon aroma.

cendre

 


The Cuisine:


The region serves such hearty dishes as andouillette Troyes [a tripe spicy sausage] and potée champenoise. The later is a pôte-au-feu consisting of smoked ham, from the Ardennes, cabbage and sausage. The region is abundant in wild game, which lends to many specialty dishes. Local ingredients also contribute to many fish and seafood dishes.

This sweet galette is a recipe found throughout the northeastern regions of France, particularly in the Ardennes. It's served hot or warm, with coffee.

Try it!

 

Sweet bread from the Ardennes
Galette au sucre ardennaise

Ingredients


Total time: 1hr to 2hr
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Baking time: 20 minutes
Two-step rising time: About 1 hour

- 250 ml (1 cup) warm milk (or more, depending on the flour)
- 1 packet of yeast
- 2 eggs (reserve a little yolk for glaze with a spoonful of milk)
- 1/2 tsp. sugar plus a little warm water to proof the yeast
- 3 pinches of fine salt
- 100 g (3 1/2 oz.) softened butter
- 250 g (9 oz., about 2 1/2 cups) flour

Garnish
- 125 g (4 oz.) fine sugar
- dots of butter

Preparation

galetter

In a bowl, form the flour into a well; in the centre, place the salt, eggs, butter and milk.
Mix with a fork, gradually incorporating the flour and lifting the dough to incorporate air.
Add the proofed yeast and continue to knead.
Leave to rise in a warm place until doubled in volume.
Place the dough into a buttered pie plate; let rest until risen a second time.
Sprinkle with sugar; dot generously with butter.
Bake in a 210° C (425° F) oven for about 20 minutes or until nicely browned.

 

Table Linen:

Many Jacquard fabrics are woven in the Eastern part of France.

The Jacquard fabrics and process are named after their French inventor, Joseph Marie Jacquard (1752 - 1834). He recognized that although weaving was intricate, it was repetitive, and saw that a mechanism could be developed for the production of sophisticated patterns. (Similar ideas were pursued by others before 1750, but Jacquard perfected and popularized the concept by about 1803.)

Jacquard weaving makes possible in almost any loom the programmed raising of each warp thread independently of the others. This brings much greater versatility to the weaving process, and offers the highest level of warp yarn control. This mechanism is probably one of the most important weaving inventions as Jacquard shedding made possible the automatic production of unlimited varieties of pattern weaving.

 

Linen tablecloths in our collection: http://www.lepinparasol.com/linen_tablecloths.htm
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linen tablecloth linen tablecloth linen check tablecloth
Caroline yellow linen tablecloth
Caroline red bluelinen tablecloth
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Catherine Castelain
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Date Last Modified: 4/3/15
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