Bucolic landscapes for a total disconnection
Fancy a breath of fresh air and walks in the countryside? Don’t worry, you’ve come to the right place! The Portes de la Champagne is crossed by the beautiful Marne, the largest river in France, which offers kilometers of hikes and beautiful bucolic picnic areas. Thanks to it, the surroundings benefit from a rich and green nature, conducive to rest and total calm.
In Aisne , in summer, when the flowers are showing the tips of their petals, visiting the gardens of Château-Thierry is a real pleasure for the senses. The Riomet garden and its medicinal plants as well as the Thibaud IV rose garden and its 48 varieties offer exceptional and fun visits. A little further, in Brasles, the extraordinary garden of Champagne Joël Michel, nestled behind the castle, seems a dreamlike parenthesis to the soft sound of the murmur of water. The castle of Condéit also has of course enough to offer beautiful walks as well as remarkable points of view on the Champagne hillsides. Open your eyes: it is not uncommon to come across squirrels, herons or deer. If you are looking for other points of view, you are going to be spoiled for choice. Whether on foot, on horseback or even in a horse-drawn carriage, the effort is worth the effort. The views of the Three Valleys (Surmelin, Dhuys and Verdonnelle) require you to take out the camera! Several other hiking trails allow you to discover the panoramas under different facets each time.
Finally, we must not miss some natural specificities of the region including the Hottée du Diable and its very strange sandstones which evoke fantastic shapes that one might believe carved by Man. La Hottée du Diable is part of a natural area of ecological, faunistic and floristic interest. You have to go with your eyes and ears wide open. Camille and Paul Claudel, natives of the region, often came there to walk and meditate … The Domaine de la Salamandre in Latilly, framed by a canyon bordered by white sand, offers an atypical setting and an exceptional fishing area for amateurs.
Champagne: know-how and production on a human scale
The fine bubbles, the very particular flavors make this drink one of the most fascinating there is. Here, we have made it an art and a way of redefining a territory that still keeps its secrets. This wine-growing world is nevertheless recognized by the greatest since the “Hillsides, Houses and Cellars of Champagne” have been registered since 2015 on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The entire production and distribution of Champagne wine is spread over five departments: Marne, Aube, Aisne, Haute-Marne and Seine-et-Marne. Many champagne players have also developed a wine tourism strategy since 2019 in order to enhance the attractiveness of this terroir where this exceptional wine was born and continues to be born. The Vineyards & label Discoveries is a good way to find your way among the many addresses. To date, 89 service providers are part of this network, including 45 cellars. By relying on this label, you are guaranteed to be received qualitatively and to find the best local products. The winegrowers, in addition to offering cellar tours, offer master classes, discoveries of the vines in a Volkswagen combi, buggy or old vehicle or even follow relaxation therapy sessions in the vineyards. It had to be invented! offer tours of the cellars, offer master classes, discover the vines in a Volkswagen combi, buggy or old vehicle or even follow relaxation therapy sessions in the vineyards. It had to be invented! offer tours of the cellars, offer master classes, discover the vines in a Volkswagen combi, buggy or old vehicle or even follow relaxation therapy sessions in the vineyards. It had to be invented!
Champagne heritage and its illustrious characters
Definitely, the Portes de la Champagne have so many treasures that culture lovers will not be disappointed. Castles, monuments, historical figures …: the territory has known the most prestigious histories. The favorite storyteller of the Champenois is sure Jean de La Fontaine, whose birthplace is located in the heart of Château-Thierry. Now a museum, the house is full of exceptional pieces. It is also particularly good year for the city and its museum celebrating the 400 th anniversary of the birth of the author, baptized at Château-Thierry 8 July 1621. Numerous events will be organized on this occasion.
Jean de La Fontaine was not the only one to find inspiration in this exceptional territory. Paul Claudel was born there in 1868 and the whole Claudel family regularly spent long stays in Paul’s birthplace, which was the former rectory of Villeneuve-sur-Fère before the Revolution. Now a museum, the place highlights the artistic sensibility of Camille and Paul Claudel, two internationally renowned artists, who both drew their inspiration from this territory of green nature. Many treasures are hidden there. Numerous castles and their estates also mark the landscape of the Portes de la Champagne, with first the château de Condé, the former home of the princes of Condé, Bourbon and Savoy. It is now inhabited all year round and has become the one of the best preserved treasures in France. The castles of Château-Thierry, which housed the largest medieval kitchens in Europe in the Middle Ages, and of Fère-en-Tardenois as well as that of Nesles, take us back to the Middle Ages. Several churches are added to the rich heritage of the territory: the church of Saint-Eugène, the church of Saint-Crépin, where Jean de La Fontaine was baptized, offer a journey through time. The Saint-Ferréol abbey in Essômes-sur-Marne, with its 22-meter high vault and its imposing painting add to the heritage richness of the territory: the church of Saint-Eugène, the church of Saint-Crépin, where Jean de La Fontaine was baptized, offer a journey through time. The Saint-Ferréol abbey in Essômes-sur-Marne, with its 22-meter high vault and its imposing painting add to the heritage richness of the territory: the church of Saint-Eugène, the church of Saint-Crépin, where Jean de La Fontaine was baptized, offer a journey through time. The Saint-Ferréol abbey in Essômes-sur-Marne, with its 22-meter high vault and its imposing paintingThe Wrath of Noah provokes the great admiration of visitors.
A land of memory and memories
The Portes de la Champagne have not always known peaceful stories. The many commemorative monuments that dot the landscape tell of major historical events: the Napoleonic wars as well as the two world wars. In 1814 the Napoleonic battles began, or also called the Campaign of France. The museum located in Essises takes up these historical accounts. The tourist circuit “The Route of the four victories” also allows to better understand these decisive battles by passing by the various monuments, plaques and stelae.
The lands are particularly marked by the Second Battle of the Marne, sometimes called the Battle of Reims, very deadly, which took place in 1918. It was one of the decisive victories of the Allies during the First World War. The link therefore remained very strong between France and the United States, whose troops fought together to defend the Bois de Belleau and Château-Thierry. The Musée de la Mémoire de Belleau 1914-1918 traces these events. Two exhibitions are offered there each year. The place leads to reflection and commemoration. The Belleau American Cemetery has 2,289 graves of American soldiers killed in the battle. As a result of these fights, they were nicknamed “Devil Dogs” by the Germans to signify their resentment in combat. Behind the chapel, we also discover the authentic cannons watched over by bronze soldiers. A place steeped in history.
The Côte 204 memorial was built on the heights of the city of Château-Thierry by the Americans following the First World War. It dominates the Marne valley and once again supports the historic link between France and the United States. Under the monument of Côte 204, you can also visit a museum. Its scenography and its 200 m 2 are really worth the detour.