Imagine a motorcycle tour through the heart of vineyards producing some of the most prestigious wines in the world. This is the Champagne region, made up of beautiful green valleys with gentle slopes, where thousands of hectares of vines are grown to make the sweet and delicate wine of Champagne. A motorcycle road trip is a great way to explore these idyllic landscapes, stopping in the region's historic towns, villages or simply parking the bike and walking or cycling through the countryside. The trip begins with a motorcycle rental at Yamaha Rent Compiègne, which offers motorcycles and scooters with all the comforts. Of course, a visit to the city is not to be missed, before hitting the road and setting off to conquer a region with a thousand riches
Once you have arrived in Compiègne and collected your motorbike from the rental agency, you must take the time to discover the town. The imperial city reveals splendid historical monuments, such as the castle. Built by Louis XV and Louis XVI, then refurbished under the reigns of Napoleon I and Napoleon III, the building was a Mecca for court life and the exercise of power. The apartments that served as residences for the French sovereigns from the end of the 18th century to the Second Empire are on display, as well as the Museum of the Second Empire, and the Museum of the Car and of Tourism, where models from the 18th to the first third of the 20th century are on display. The next part of a stroll in Compiègne includes a stop in front of the statue of Joan of Arc and a stop at the ancient Abbey of Saint-Corneille. It is then time to hit the road for the 1 hour 40 minute drive from Compiègne to Reims.
Once in Reims, it's easy enough to park the bike in a secure car park. You can then go and put your bags down at the Le Spark hotel, with its Art Deco style and contemporary rooms, before going to the Café de la Paix for a dinner that offers succulent seafood, champagne by the glass, but also incorporated into certain desserts such as poached peaches in champagne marc jelly. A stay of a few days in Rheims inevitably includes a trip to the surrounding vineyards. For example, you can go to La Montagne de Reims, a prestigious vineyard. This is where you will find charming villages such as Bouzy and Ambonnay. The winegrowers of La Montagne de Reims open their doors to offer their "blanc de noirs" champagnes, made from red grapes. Bollinger, Krug, Laurent-Perrier and Billecart-Salmon are among the brands present. To the west of Reims, the Ardre valley awaits hikers to explore the many islands of vines and stroll along the undulating hillsides. And before leaving Reims, you should of course contemplate the city's beautiful heritage: its old streets, its sublime and immense Gothic cathedral, the Tau Palace, as well as stopping at some of the good addresses where you can relax over a good glass of champagne.
The motorbike trip will be short to reach the next destination, as Épernay is just under 30 km from Reims. The city, which often vies with its big sister for the title of Champagne capital, is a must-see stop to learn more about the famous wine. The easiest way to get there is to stay at the Corrigot guest house with wellness area, 5 minutes from Épernay, and then walk or cycle to the city and leave the bike there. You can then take advantage of the opportunity to serenely stroll along the Avenue de Champagne, lined with renowned cellars and magnificent buildings. It is the perfect place to take part in a tasting in a champagne cellar, but also to take a guided tour to learn more about the history of the avenue as well as that of historic houses such as Moët & Chandon and Perrier-Jouë. On another day, you can simply take a motorcycle tour of the surrounding area to see the most beautiful views of the vineyards, or take a hot air balloon ride over the vineyards to marvel at the beauty of the Marne Valley. Finally, don't forget to add to your travel diary some fine gourmet addresses, such as La Table Kobus. Nestled behind the Notre-Dame church, the place offers good home-made dishes and has a fine selection of champagnes.
About 40 minutes by motorbike from Épernay is the next stage: Châlons-en-Champagne. The city, built on a network of canals and rivers, is known as the sparkling Venice. A good place to stay for a few nights is the Hotel Le Renard, located in the centre of town, which has a private and secure car park with 10 spaces for parking your bike. Alternatively, there is another large car park opposite. The rooms are contemporary and have all the comforts for a good rest. During the day, a visit to Châlons-en-Champagne includes its rich heritage, which includes two UNESCO World Heritage listed religious buildings: the collegiate church of Notre-Dame-en-Vaux and the church of Notre-Dame de l'Épine. For a gourmet lunch break, you can go to the restaurant Les Années Folles, which has become a must in the local culinary scene. The decor is surprising and trendy. To digest, the boat trip on the Ép'eau'pée is perfect. It offers a bucolic journey in the shade of plane trees as well as the passage of a lock. Champagne tasting will once again be part of the programme, and for that, it is advisable to go to the Joseph Perrier Champagne House, which welcomes the public in historic chalk pits, 2,000 years old!
On the way back to Compiègne to take the motorbike back to the rental agency, the two-wheeler route through the green countryside includes a stop in the small town of Château-Thierry, at the foot of hillsides covered in Champagne vines. The town, where Jean de la Fontaine was born, has set up a museum in the house where he was born, a beautiful 16th century town house. Then, at other times, you can take a trip to the castle, a jewel of medieval defensive architecture, to enjoy a splendid panorama of the Marne valley and watch a falconry show. And don't forget to visit the 48 varieties of roses in the Thibaud IV de Champagne rose garden at the foot of the ramparts. Those who want to marvel at the splendid hillsides and vineyards of Champagne can escape for a few moments to drive on some sections of the Champagne Tourist Route. Before reaching Compiègne, a moment of rest will be welcome at the Joussaume Latour guest house, with its rooms that recreate the world of Jean de la Fontaine. A hearty home-made breakfast is served and a beautiful swimming pool allows you to cool off on the hottest days.
For information on sightseeing and good tips, motorcyclists can visit the tourist offices of Greater Reims, Épernay and Châlons-en-Champagne, as well as the Maison du Tourisme Les Portes de la Champagne in Château-Thierry.
For more information on motorcycle hire in Compiègne, visit the Yamaha Rent website.