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France

Champagne Highlights

Self-Guided Leisure Cycling Holiday

Grade

1
2
3
4
5

Duration

8 days

Prices from

£1,595 P.P.
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In the North East of France, just a short train ride from Paris lies the iconic Champagne region. With a rich history dating back to the Romans, the region offers a wealth of things to do, see, and maybe most importantly, taste!
This Champagne cycling tour will take you to grand cathedral cities and charming canal-side towns, nestled between vineyards producing some of the most famous wine in France.
Epernay, Châlons-en-Champagne and Reims, your three bases, are among the liveliest and most historical towns in the region, and we've designed this itinerary to take them all in via a network of country roads and canal-side cycle paths.
The undisputed leaders in sparkling wine production, with family-run wine houses dating back generations, Champagne continues to this day to innovate in all areas of production.
A Champagne cycling holiday wouldn't be complete without visiting one of the Champagne Houses, peering into the infamous chalk cellars or crayeres, and tasting a glass or two of liquid gold for yourself. A Champagne tasting is included in the cost of your holiday and will be organised for you in the historic Epernay - with more than 200 million bottles of Champagne hidden away in underground cellars, we're certain it's the perfect place to taste this world-famous sparkling wine. 
We look forward to warmly welcoming you to this unique region of France. 
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Holiday Highlights

  • Riding through the famous vineyards of Champagne – visiting producers and tasting the produce as you go
  • Meandering along easy stretches of traffic free cycling on canal-side cycle paths
  • Exploring the region from three historical towns – Epernay, Chalons-en-Champagne and Reims
  • Indulging in local produce during a canal-side picnic
  • Riding through WW1 and WW2 battlefields
  • Enjoying a Champagne tasting in Epernay and marvelling at the jaw-dropping cathedral in Reims

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Itinerary

Day 1
Arrival Epernay

Today you’ll make your way to Epernay, the capital of Champagne, and settle into your hotel before a welcome briefing and bike fitting delivered by a local representative. A short warm up ride is available for any early arrivals raring to go!

(NB – Your welcome meeting may be organised for the following morning)

Day 2
Hautvillers and Champillon Loop
16 Miles / 26 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast
  • Ascent: 250 Metres Approx.

After your first delicious French breakfast, today offers up a lovely ride into nearby villages to get the wheels in motion.

First up is Ay, a tranquil village filled with bistros and wine houses enveloped by vineyards. This little village is considered the powerhouse of the Champagne industry; Champagne HQ if you like, so it’s a great introduction to the region. From here the route takes you along the canal to Cumieres, before a cheeky climb up to the wonderful Hautvillers, the birthplace of the Champagne process and one of the best viewpoints in the area.

From here you’ll descend through the vines back to Epernay. Tonight we’ve organised a Champagne tasting for you, a great way to get to know the local produce and cheers to the riding ahead.

Day 3
Epernay to Chalons-en-Champagne
22 Miles / 35 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast
  • Ascent: 121 Metres Approx.

Today we’ll be moving on from Epernay to start our journey into the heart of Champagne.

After a short ride out of town, the route picks up the canal-side cycle path, offering traffic free and pancake flat cycling for most of the day. There are numerous little villages dotted along the route, each with their own charm and their own Champagne houses.

Tours-sur-Marne and Conde-sur-Marne are our favourite places to stop, but you might prefer to push on to Châlons-en-Champagne to make the most of a free afternoon in this lovely town. Its distinctive architecture and numerous bridges make it one of the most unique in Champagne.

Day 4
l'Epine Loop
19 Miles / 30 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast
  • Ascent: 195 Metres Approx.

A day of rest and exploring Châlons-en-Champagne on foot is an option today. Explore the town centre, the sprawl of canals and streams and its charming mix of half-timber houses and riverside gardens. The World Heritage site of the Collegiate Church of Notre-Dame-en-Vaux is definitely worth a visit.

For those looking to cycle we have a nice route out to one of the Champagne region’s most important historical sites – The Basilica of Notre Dame de l’Epine.

An otherwise sleepy, rural village, l‘Epine is home to a spectacular gothic-style basilica that rivals many cathedrals in France’s major cities due to its grandeur and scale. From here the route descends back to the Marne and follows its course back to the hotel.

Day 5
Chalons-en-Champagne to Reims
37 Miles / 59 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast
  • Ascent: 242 Metres Approx.

Today starts by retracing your tyre tracks from day 3, following the canal-side route back westwards to Conde-sur-Marne, before branching off to follow the smaller canal de l’Aisne a la Marne. A short detour away from the canal takes you through some big rural vistas before you rejoin the canal and follow it all the way into Reims.

This is the perfect day to pack plenty of picnic supplies as the rural nature of the route takes you away from some of the busier villages and towns. We recommend stopping for lots of mini-breaks for a picnic next to the water throughout the day to refuel and really take in your surroundings. Roll into Reims and settle into your wonderful hotel, situated right next to the world-famous cathedral.

Day 6
The Massif du St Thierry Loop
24 Miles / 38 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast
  • Ascent: 383 Metres Approx.

Reims is one of France’s most historically interesting cities and it’s well worth spending a day exploring if you would like to give your legs a break for a day. The enormous Gothic cathedral rising above the city scape, and countless art-deco cafes, and of course Champagne bars are tempting enough for most.

With around 200 kilometers of tunnels beneath the city’s streets, and 250 million bottles of Champagne burrowed away, the city is synonymous with Champagne production. Many of the Champagne houses and chalk caves, used to store and age the fine wines, are open to the public, and most offer guided tours throughout the day if you fancied learning some more about production and the wine’s history. Reims is also home to some unmissable sites listed by UNESCO World Heritage, including the Notre-Dame Cathedral, the Palais du Tau, the Basilica of Saint-Remi, the Abbey of Saint-Remi Museum and the Colline Saint Nicaise de Reims (listed as part of the Champagne Hillsides, Houses and Cellars)

If however you do want to cycle again, we have a gorgeous route out into the Massif de St Thierry, an area of wonderful rolling vineyards and birdsong-filled forest to the west of the city. Shortly before reaching Chenay, you’ll ride past the Monument de la Resistance which has a panorama over the surrounding countryside and some interesting boards explaining some of the battles that took place nearby.

Day 7
Reims to Epernay
27 Miles / 43 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast
  • Ascent: 503 Metres Approx.

The last leg of the tour takes you through the Montagne de Reims, a wonderful undulating landscape of forest and vines.

As their name suggests, this is the one notably hilly route of the tour, with one mile-long climb midway through being the main challenge. The good news though, what goes up, must come down, and it’s mostly downhill for the second half of the day, meaning a nice easy return to Epernay in time for a final dinner and another good night’s sleep in our handpicked hotel.

Day 8
Departure Epernay
  • Meals: Breakfast

After a final breakfast it’s time to say au revoir! Trip extensions are available on request if you want to spend more time in this lovely part of the world.

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The Cycling

Terrain

The majority of the route will see you riding on well-surfaced roads and mixed-use cycle paths (shared with pedestrians). Around 50% of the route will be on roads shared with vehicle traffic, with 40% of the route being traffic free. The remaining 10% will take you along cycle lanes usually running paralell to the road.

Much of the route falls into our grade 2 description, but there are some challenges along the way. Sections of note are the hill to Hautvillers on the first day of cycling, and some short steep climbs with one particularly steep section after Ludes (max. 17% for a few meters) and a one mile-long climb on the route from Reims to Epernay.

The terrain is pretty easy-going with some short sections in town centres on cobbles and occasional bumpier sections – particularly on Day 4 after l’Epine and on the last day, after Avenay Val d’Or when you follow some vineyard tracks.

With this in mind we recommend (and provide as rentals) hybrid bikes with 34-50 mm tyres. A road bike may be suitable, however there are some bumpy sections to tackle as mentioned above so we’d recommend a minimum tyre width of 28mm. The bumpier sections are walkable if needed and don’t last longer than a few 100m at a time.

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Leisure Cycling Grade

1
2
3
4
5
Grade 2: Gentle

Distances generally between 15-30 miles / 24-48 kms per day

For those looking for an easy-going route

Mainly on the flat

Some undulations and the odd cheeky challenge

Our grading guidelines have been carefully created based on our many years of cycling experience, as well as customer feedback from our trips. Of course, if you're still struggling to figure out where you fit on the scale, do feel free to give us a quick call and we'll be more than happy to help!

For more information about our grading system click here.

Is this suitable for you?

Maybe you have recently got into cycling and would like to do more over consecutive days, or maybe you‘re looking for a more energetic alternative to your usual holiday? If you‘re looking for an opportunity to try some quiet roads, cycle paths or some accessible, cycle friendly routes these holidays might be for you. You’ll come across some gently undulating terrain and the odd cheeky challenge, so we’d generally expect those on a Grade 2 holiday to ride their bikes relatively frequently at home, perhaps commuting to work or heading out for some leisurely rides at the weekend.

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Dates & Prices

Daily departures available from 14 Apr – 20 Oct.

2023 £1595 per person.

Choose your date
Start Date
End Date
Duration
Price p.p.
Start Date
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Duration
8 days
Price
£1,595.00

Whats Included Tick

A) Accommodation (shared twin / double en suite rooms) in 3 and 4* hotels

B) Meals as per the itinerary (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)

C) English speaking local representative (with welcome meeting and bike fitting)

D) One Champagne Tasting in Epernay (90 minute session)

E) Digital tour information (GPX files / paper maps available on request)

F) Luggage transfers

What's not Included Cross

A) Bike rental (available if required)

B) Flights and charges for travelling with your bike (if applicable)

C) Meals not stated in the itinerary

D) Single room (available if required)

E) Travel insurance

F) Personal clothing and equipment

G) Personal expenditure (souvenirs, bar bills, hotel facilities etc)

H) Entrance fees to museums and other attractions en route

I) Local tourist taxes

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The Essentials

Travel Options

This tour starts and finishes in Epernay. Please aim to arrive before 17.30 if possible.

From the UK, you can catch the Eurostar from St Pancras in London, to Paris. There’s then either a short walk from Gare du Nord to Gare de l’Est (650m, 10mins) or you can travel one stop on metro line 4 or 5. From Gare de l’Est you can hop on a TGV to Champagne Ardenne TGV station (40 mins) or hop on a regional TER train straight to Epernay (1hr 30).

From Champagne Ardenne TGV, you can jump on another train and make your own way to Epernay (usually with one change in Reims) – The station in Epernay is walking distance from your hotel.

Or we can organise a transfer to your hotel, please select this at the time of booking. All transfers are in a standard saloon car (max. 3 passengers). Minibus prices and prices to/from other locations may be available on request. Please get in touch to discuss your requirements.

If you’d prefer to fly, the best airport is Paris (CDG) – a well-serviced airport from several UK departure points (including most London airport, Bristol, Manchester and Edinburgh). From the airport you can take a direct TGV train to Champagne-Ardenne TGV station (50 minutes).

If you‘re driving, there are various parking options in Epernay (approx. 25 euros for the week) – Contact us for details.

Please check with Skedaddle before making any travel arrangements so that we can ensure they fit in with the holiday schedule.

Accommodation

Accommodation (shared twin or double rooms) will be ensuite, in 3 and 4 star hotels and chambre d‘hôtes. The three hotels chosen aim to give you a comfortable home for the night in each of our three bases, all centrally located making it easy to explore.

Triple rooms may be available on request and are subject to availability.

Bike Hire

If you’d rather not bring along your own bike, we have bikes available to rent.

Rental bikes are typically Trek Verve 1 Equipped (or similar model) – An aluminium frame, mechanical disc brakes and Shimano gears suitable for the terrain. Depending on your height, the bikes may have a high crossbar (as above) or have a low step-through frame. Please let us know if you have a preference).

We also have electric bikes available. These are typically Trek Verve +1. A versatile electric trekking bike with a step-through frame geometry that makes it easy to mount and dismount. Equipped with a powerful Bosch motor, 500Wh battery, Shimano drive train and hydraulic disc brakes.

Rental bikes will come with a back pannier rack and bag, a mobile phone mount, a puncture repair kit and spare inner tubes and a water bottle holder. Rental helmets available on request. You are welcome to bring along your own pedals (and shoes) and / or saddle if preferred, please just let us know in advance.

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