The North-Eastern department of Marne borrows its name from the river which flows through it. The area has a long military history - Attila the Hun defeated the Romans near Châlons en Champagne (now the capital) in the fifth century and the First Battle of the Marne was fought there in September 1914. Marne was also the site of one of the final battles of World War I; the Second Battle of the Marne was fought near Reims in July-August 1918.
- Châlons en Champagne
The climate of Marne is similar to the British climate, mild summers and cool winters are usual.
Average temperature in Marne
The Cathedral at Reims is not to be missed. Built in the 13th Century, the Cathedral was once used for the coronations of the kings and queens of France. The Cathedral boasts impressive stained glass windows (some of which also date back to the 13th Century), a large organ and historic tapestries. The site was named an UNESCO World Heritage site in 1991. The Cathedral is surrounded by a number of attractive bars, cafés and shops. The Palais du Tau, the former residence of archbishops, can also be found adjacent to the Cathedral.
Those who wish to learn more about the history of Reims and the surrounding area will enjoy visiting the museums of the town. The Museum Pavillon Le Vergeur is based in a beautiful building and houses art depicting the history of Reims and the coronations which took place there. Art lovers may also want to visit the Musée de Beaux-Arts.
Châlons en Champagne is a quaint town with a population of around 50 000. Its picturesque parks, canals and medieval architecture make Châlons en Champagne a popular tourist destination. Don't leave without visiting the magnificent 13th Century Cathédrale St. Étienne.
Reims has a number of parks perfectly suited to a family day out. The Jardin d'Horticulture Pierre Schneiter was created in the 19th Century and regularly hosts themed flower shows. The gardens are the perfect setting for a leisurely picnic. The Parc de la Patte Oie also boasts beautiful gardens and a children's play area.
Châlons en Champagne is also a great place for families. The parks and canal paths found across the town are great places for picnics. In the warmer summer months, a boat trip on the canal can provide a nice day out.
Food and drink
Visitors ought not to leave the region without sampling the champagne that the area is famous for. Locally produced champagnes are served in restaurants and visitors can attend wine tasting sessions at numerous wine cellars and vineyards.
Marne has few distinctive regional dishes, but the popularity of game hunting in the area means that you should expect to see venison and wild boar on many restaurant menus. Dishes popular over the nearby Belgian border, which often contain beer, raisins and prunes, are also common.
Walking enthusiasts will find many walking paths and trails in Marne. Organised walking tours are common, and are mostly based around towns including Châlons en Champagne, Épernay and Reims.
A number of cycling trails throughout the department provide an alternative means of exploring the countryside of Marne. Golf facilities are also excellent: Châlons en Champagne and Reims are perhaps the best locations for golfing holidays or a casual round.
Champagne vineyards are prolific in Marne. One of the best places to visit if you are interested in sampling the local produce and observing how it is made is the small town of Épernay. Numerous wine cellars, carved into chalk rock, allow visitors to observe the process. Most offer samples, before giving visitors the opportunity to purchase their champagne by the bottle or case.
Ease of access
Marne lies approximately 135km, or an hour's drive, away from Paris. Luxembourg can be reached within a couple of hours by car. Visitors arriving from England via the Channel Tunnel or ferry can reach the department by car in approximately 2hr 30mins. There are also strong rail links between the major towns and cities of Marne and Paris and other towns and cities.
Value for money
The department of Marne provides good value for money. Those seeking a golfing holiday should find that facilities are cheaper than in many other French departments. The cost of living is also considerably cheaper than in Paris and the surrounding area.
Marne has something to offer families, groups of adults and couples. It is the perfect destination for those who would like to spend their holiday taking leisurely country walks and exploring charming towns. Golf enthusiasts and wine lovers are also well-catered for.