Aube is one of the four departments which comprise the French region of Champagne-Ardenne. It is located in the north-east of France and is named after the Aube River which flows through it and into the Seine. Aube is a relatively small department with a population of roughly 300,000 inhabitants. It is famous for its religious heritage, being the best department in France for stained glass. This is reflected in the number of beautiful churches the department is home to. Aube is also well-known for its agricultural landscape of forests, lakes and, in particular, its chalky soils which are perfect for the production of local champagne and wines in Aube's plentiful vineyards.
The department was one of the original 83 departments of France created during the French Revolution in 1790. It was formed from the former province of Champagne and, like the other departments in France, it has a rich and vibrant history which can be seen in its historic religious architecture.
Being in the northern part of France, the maritime climate in Aube is mild and similar to that of the UK, with cold winters and warm summers. The following table shows average temperatures across Aube over the course of a year:
Average temperatures in Aube
|Month||Minimum temperature (Celsius)||Maximum temperature (Celsius)|
As well as Aube's natural landscape, the tourist trade relies heavily on its many historic buildings. The most beautiful location in Aube on this front is undoubtedly the capital city of Troyes. Classified as one of the historic wonders of France, it contains numerous unique sites to visit. Fondly known as "the city of art", Troyes is a medieval city which boasts ten churches, including the incredible gothic Cathedral of Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul, containing some of the finest stained glass windows in the country, dated as far back as the thirteenth century. The heart of the city of Troyes also has much to explore in its quaint narrow alleyways and glorious timber framed mansions.
Another interesting place to visit is the village of Bayel, which is also known as the "Crystal town". It is principally famous for its glass-making and even contains a museum which shows how the glass industry once operated in the village.
There are lots of things in Aube for both old and young. In particular, for kids, the "Parc du Moulin Rouge" animal park (filled with ostriches, emus, nandus, wallabies, dwarf goats, pheasants, dwarf chickens, pigeons, donkeys and ponies) is open from 10am to 7pm daily. In addition, if they are real animal lovers, there is also the Ferme de la Marque, a dairy farm which allows entry by appointment for a visit followed by children's tea.
For family visits, the Nigloland Amusement Park is perfect, as it offers rides, relaxation, and beautiful scenery with on-site catering. Moreover, as a botanic garden, it contains more than 500 types of plants and flowers, all situated over the Landion River.
Museums, galleries and culture
Being a historic city, Aube's capital Troyes contains numerous museums and galleries. For example, it is well worth visiting the Tool and Labour Thought House, which contains a wide collection of old tools used in trades such as glasswork and textiles in Aube. There is also the Saint-Loup Museum, containing items of Fine Art, Archaeology and Natural History, as well as a Modern Art Museum for those looking to get away from the purely historic.
The Aube vineyards extend for over 6,700 hectares, producing delicious quality local wines and, of course, Champagne. For the champagne, the best place to go is the Champagne cellars along the Champagne tourist road which goes through beautiful vineyards from Bar-sur-Aube to Bar-sur-Seine. Many cellars even offer free tastings so you can sample the different wines of the region at no extra cost.
It is perhaps surprising that the historic centre of Aube, Troyes, is also one of the shopping havens of the district, with more than a hundred factory shops selling designer clothing and shoes at heavily discounted prices. So, if grabbing bargains is more your thing, Troyes is a perfect place to splash out.
Because of Aube's beautiful landscape, there are many areas for both ambler and ambitious hiker alike. Good places to explore include the regional nature reserve of the Orient Forest, which contains forests and ponds as well as numerous hiking routes within its 70,000 hectare area. Similarly, there are many other designated walking routes in the designated "green resorts" of Aube, of which there are ten. Prominent ones include Bar-sur-Seine, Les Riceys and Petit-Mesnil.
For those who like their water-sports, Aube is ideal as it contains many lakes which are suitable. For example, there are three artificial lakes in the Orient Forest nature reserve which cover a combined area of 5,000 hectares – sufficient for many kinds of activities like sailing and swimming. Each of the lakes is distinct in character: the Orient lake is suitable for sailing and has sandy beaches for relaxation, whilst the Temple lake is reserved for fishing and canoeing, and the Amance lake is perfect for water-skiing.
Food and drink
Since Aube lies in the Champagne-Ardenne region of France, it is obviously home to popular and delicious champagne. Alongside this, however, Aube is also known for its cider, which is found in various forms from presses to stills made from farm apples. Among the wines, the Rosé des Riceys is not to be missed, having a well-known and unique taste.
Aube is possibly best known for its regional cheese, named after one of its cities, Chaource. The cheese is slightly salted, soft and made with raw cow's milk. It also carries a Label of Guaranteed Origin (AOC). A mushroom fondue using Chaource cheese is a local speciality.
Being the second biggest producer of cabbage for sauerkraut in France, Aube's sauerkrauts also present rare specialities. Particular delicacies include their variants made with champagne or cider.
Ease of access
The department is easily accessible by plane, train and bus. Internationally, Air France operates numerous flights from various destinations into Aube, the main entry point being Troyes-Barberey Airport. There are also numerous trains, which is the method of choice for many tourists and residents alike. The trains are not only frequent and efficient, passing through most of the cities hourly, but they are also a good way of viewing the local scenery. For those on a budget, there is an abundance of local buses which, though slower than the aformentioned methods of travel, are still easy to use throughout the department.
Value for money
Aube is a perfect department to visit for those on a low budget. This is because most of its appeal lies in its scenery, while the museums and amusement parks have a very small entrance fee, and the food is cheap, especially if purchasing local produce. Also, as already mentioned, it is possible to get very good discounts when shopping for designer clothes in Troyes.
Overall, Aube is a beautiful department which could be seen as representative of France itself with its abundance of vineyards, unique countryside scenery and quaint tourist towns full of shops, old buildings and museums. It is a place suitable for both young and old, and can accommodate a wide range of interests.