Aube-en-Champagne in the sparkling Grand-Est region of France

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For a region with much to pop its cork about, Aube-en-Champagne is one of the least well-known parts of France.

But its soft, undulating landscapes, vine-laden valleys, wide green solitudes, medieval towns and historic architecture are a very persuasive argument for broadening one’s horizons.

This is a peaceful place of natural harmony, a setting to please everyone, a perfect antidote to the brouhaha of mainstream France.

How to get to Aube-en-Champagne

Only four hours from London by Eurostar, and less than two hours by car from Paris, Aube-en-Champagne, surrounded by the other départements that make up the Champagne-Ardenne region.

It takes its name from a major river, which parallels the Seine before finally joining it. The motorways that pass through the area (the A5 from Paris and the A26 from Calais) make this an eminently accessible region.

Central to the area is the town of Troyes, the historic capital of the Champagne region.

The beautiful town of Troyes

It is surrounded by the Plaine Champenoise and Nogentais to the north and north-west, Les Grands Lacs to the east, the Côte des Bars in the south-east, and the Pays d’Othe and Chaourçois more or less to the south.

What is Aube-en-Champagne like?

The overall landscape is very varied and probably best known for the production of champagne, though most of the champagne comes from the Côte des Bars.

Aube-en-Champagne is a place of attractive villages, valleys and undulating countryside alternately covered with forests and vineyards that bear the champagne fruit.

Champagne vineyards

In contrast, the Pays d’Othe is a region of lush green fields and dense forests, a bucolic landscape dotted with fruit orchards.

The Grands Lacs of Aube-en-Champagne hold more than 5,000 hectares of man-made lakes, originally created to regulate the flow of the Seine and the Aube rivers.

These, today, centre on the Forest of the Orient, so named after the Crusading knights who lived, and are said to have buried their treasures, there.

Everywhere, the countryside is dotted with beautiful villages for which ‘quaint’ is not so much a cliché as an understated way of life.

They fit comfortably into their surroundings, here and there agreeably ramshackle like lovable old rugosities, but all of them oases of calm, untroubled rurality.

It’s almost as if the last few centuries have passed by unnoticed, so laid back in fact that you might wonder if anyone actually lives here. It is quite beguiling, and a haphazard tour of the numerous country lanes instantly transports you into another, utterly tranquil world.

What is Grand-Est in France?

Grand Est, previously Alsace-Champagne-Ardenne- is an administrative region in north-eastern France. It superseded three former administrative regions – Alsace, Champagne-Ardenne, and Lorraine – on 1 January 2016, because of territorial reform which was passed by the French legislature in 2014.

Alsace-Champagne-Ardenne-Lorraine was a provisional name, created by hyphenating the merged regions in alphabetical order.

Its regional council had to approve a new name for the region by 1 July 2016. France’s Conseil d’État approved Grand Est as the new name of the region on 28 September 2016, effective 30 September 2016.

The rural countryside of Grand-Est

The administrative capital and largest city is Strasbourg, which is also the administrative centre of the region, and the seat of the Council of Europe, the European Parliament and the European Court of Human Rights.

Grand Est covers 57,433 square kilometres (22,175 sq mi) of land and is the sixth-largest of the regions of France.

Grand Est borders four countries – Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, and Switzerland – along its northern and eastern sides. It is the only French region to border more than two countries. To the west and south, it borders the French regions Hauts-de-France, Île-de-France, and Bourgogne-Franche-Comté.

Grand Est contains 10 departments: Ardennes, Aube, Bas-Rhin, Marne, Haute-Marne, Haut-Rhin, Meurthe-et-Moselle, Meuse, Moselle, Vosges.

The region is bordered on the east by the Rhine which forms about half of the border with Germany.

Other major rivers which flow through the region include: the Meuse, Moselle, Marne, and Saône. The main mountain ranges are the Vosges to the east and the Ardennes to the north. There are 7 nature parks as of 2018.

Grand Est is rich with architectural monuments from the Roman Empire to the early 21st century.

Gothic architecture is particularly conspicuous, with many famous cathedrals, basilicas and churches, such as the cathedrals in Reims, Strasbourg, Metz, Troyes, Châlons, and Toul.

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