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Guide to Marne
The Marne (department number 51) is located in the region of Champagne-Ardenne and has an estimated population of 565,000 (approximate in 1999). Situated in North-Eastern France, the department is named after the Marne River which flows through it.
The capital of the department is the city of Châlons-en-Champagne. The other large town in the department is Reims.
Geologically, the department divides into two distinct parts; the Upper Cretaceous chalk plain in the east and the more wooded and hilly Eocene and Oligocene in the west.
The Champagne vineyards producing the world-famous sparkling wine are located within Marne.
Why you should visit Marne for your next holiday in France
It’s not just the bubbly that makes Marne so enticing for a holiday destination. The department is also famed for its heritage including the Cathedral in the city of Reims, where before the revolution, 34 French Kings were crowned. The beautiful rolling countryside is rich in agriculture, which features largely on the vast plains of the area. Gorges and fast flowing rivers also make up this diverse landscape.
The regions climate is as variable as its terrain. Winters tend to be cold, crisp and clear; summers are warm and relatively dry. As with many other departments in northern France, the weather mirrors that of the UK.
What to see in Marne
Reims’ historical importance to France is well documented. The Cathedral of Notre-Dame where the kings of France were anointed and crowned is located in the city. This Gothic cathedral named ‘Cathedral of our Lady’, along with two other monuments in the city (the Palais du Tau and the Abbey of Saint Remi) has been placed by UNESCO on the world heritage list.
Life in Reims is buzzing with a vibrant modern ambience, created in part by the students that live there and the huge amount of eateries. The Place de Drouet d’Erlon, in the centre of the city, is the place to go if you want to while away the time and watch the world go by. Lovely statues and fountains can be enjoyed in the attractive central square.
Reims is famed for being the champagne capital of France and most of the major champagne producers have headquarters in the city. Champagne tours and tastings can be taken in the chalk mines where the Champagne is aged. The mines, which were originally excavated by the Romans, are located under the city’s centre.
Epernay is a fairly affluent town and as you may expect in a town situated 25km to the south of Reims, its economy revolves around Champagne. This delightful town is surrounded by a gentle landscape of rolling hills and vast vineyards and boasts a staggering 200 miles of wine cellars. At any one time you can expect tens of millions of bottles to be aging underneath your feet.
Formerly called Châlons-sur-Marne, the city was officially renamed in 1998 as visitors kept confusing the name with the Burgundian town of Chalon-sur-Saône. The town is only a quarter of the size of Reims but is charming none the less.
With a population of around 5,000 people, Saint-Menehould is a picturesque town. The town and its several restaurants pride themselves on serving a local specialty called pied de cochon or pig's trotters.
Located approximately 90 km east of Paris, the pretty town of Sézanne has a history spanning over 10 centuries and offers opportunities for gentle country walks.
The town of Vitry-le-Francois and Lac de Der Chantecoq, one of the biggest artificial lakes in Europe are both worth a visit when in Marne.
How to get there
Holiday accommodation in Marne is easily accessible.
Various international and other independent airlines operate services to Paris and there are connections to Reims-Champagne regional airport from there.
The area has good road connections and is served by the A4 and A26 motorways. The journey from Calais to Reims is about 275km and will take around 2.5 hours.
SNCF operate an extensive service to the region from Paris. Reims takes just under 2 hours and Châlons-en-Champagne 95 minutes.
Since June 2007, the TGV Est Européen line has halved the journey time from Paris to Reims to about 45 minutes.
Average temperature and rainfall for Marne
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