Champagne-Ardenne is today part of the Grand Est Region, formerly known as Alsace-Champagne-Ardenne-Lorraine or ALCA.
This region is one of the 13 new regions created by the territorial reform that took effect on January 1, 2016.
Champagne-Ardenne shares a border with Belgium, and is one of the least populated French regions.
It consists of 4 departments:
Ardennes (08 – Charleville-Mézières), Aube (10 – Troyes), Haute-Marne (52 – Chaumont) and Marne (51 – Châlons-en-Champagne)
Châlons-sur-Marne is the administratice centre or préfecture.
A few historical facts
Champagne-Ardenne replaces the historic province of Champagne, formed in 1065 to replace an ancient county.
This province covered also the south of the department of Aisne and the bulk of the department of Seine-et-Marne.
Ardennes is a natural area that stretches over France, Belgium and Luxembourg and is framed by the Plains of Lorraine and Champagne.
This low mountain range is mainly covered with forests.
Archaeological excavations show that Champagne has been inhabited since ancient time.
The oldest evidence of human occupation, known to date, is Moutout.
This funeral ground situated near Troyes reveals a continuous occupation from the Neolithic to the Gallo-Roman period.
Due to its geographical location, Champagne was also the theater of countless wars over the centuries.
It was indeed near Châlons-en-Champagne, at a place known as Champs Cataloniques, that the Roman, Germanic and Gallic armies defeated Attila and his Huns in 451AD.
The Battle of Rocroi took place in 643AD, when the armies of Champagne, Burgundy and Picardy defeated the Spanish General de Melo and his Army of Flanders.
The French generals Dumouriez and Kellerman defeated the Prussians at the Battle of Valmy in 1792.
Finally, the most recent of these battles is the Battle of the Marne, which took place in 1914.
It was during this battle that Marshal Joffre put in place the famous Taxis of the Marne, and stopped the German troops from reaching Paris.
Champagne-Ardenne consists of the vast Plain of Champagne and Massif des Ardennes that peaks at 505m (on the French side).
The rivers Aisne, Marne and Aube traverse the region and flow into the Seine downstream.
The center of the region enjoys a temperate climate, while the west has strong oceanic influences and the east a well defined continental climate.
Champagne-Ardenne’s agricultural land represents more than 60% of its area.
The region is therefore the 1st national producer of barley and alfalfa for dehydration, the 2nd of industrial beets, onions and peas and the 3rd of soft wheat and rapeseed.
Cattle breeding is prominent in Ardennes and Haute-Marne, where grasslands represent about 40% of the agricultural area.
Pig breeding, meanwhile, is developing fast.
Wooded areas cover nearly 29% of the land.
As a result, Champagne-Ardenne is the 1st national producer of poplar wood and precious hardwoods such as Norway maple, ash, cherry, walnut and sycamore.
It is also the 2nd producer of hardwood trees with 10% of national production.
The famous vineyard spreads over 282.37 km2 and is France’s northernmost vineyard.
Champagne boasts a rich cultural and architectural heritage.
The coronation of the kings of France indeed took place in the Cathedral of Reims.
Troyes, Massif de Saint-Thierry, la Vallée de l’Ardre et le Mont de Berru are also among the favourite destinations.
However, the name Champagne mostly evokes ‘wine’.
The Champagne wine-growing area around Epernay, Reims and Montagne de Reims are therefore the tourist key destinations.
The fully signposted Champagne Tourist Route will take you to the discovery of the renowned vineyard, but also its villages, castles and churches.
Area: 25 606 km2
Population: 1,339.270 (01/01/2012)