Champagne Travel - Getting There


Reims Cathedral

Getting to the Champagne-Ardenne region is very easy with good road and rail access from the Channel, Paris or Brussels.  How you get there will involve one or more of: 

See the Champagne Travel map for the principal options.  For more detailed information on route planning once in the region, here are Champagne books and maps that we recommend.

Planes

Flying to Champagne from outside Europe, there are a number of possible arrival airports:

If you are flying from within Europe then the options include flying to:

There are many sources of cheap flights but we have found that cheapflights.co.uk offers consistently low prices. 

If you are flying with your bike, check the airline's terms of carriage (many budget airlines disclaim liability for bicycles) and your travel insurance.  We don't recommend transporting an expensive bike by plane.  Also, choose a direct flight wherever possible, as the more your bike is handled, the greater the chance it will be damaged.
Advice on packing your bike for a flight is to be found in the Guide.

Don't forget to book an airport car park in advance, it will be much cheaper than just turning up.  Purple Parking has better coverage than most, with car parks at over 20 UK airports.

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Bus and bike

Bus mapEuropean Bike Express is a great way to get you and your bike, via a series of routes from within the UK, to various parts of France and Spain.  One of these routes stops at Thionville close to the Champagne-Ardenne area, although you may prefer to stop in Paris for a night.   Don't be put off by the thought of long distance coach travel, the Bike Express coaches are far more comfortable than most.  It might be worth asking if they can drop you off any closer than Thionville.

Trains

Taking the train from London or Paris is a possible solution.  The train from London goes into Lille where you'll need to transfer to a train to Brussels, then another to Givet from where you can cycle the Champagne bike route north to south.  The train from Paris-Est to Epernay takes roughly an hour and a quarter. The ride from Gare du Nord to Paris-Est is relatively easy.

If you do decide to travel by rail then take advice from:
  • The Man in Seat 61 gives by far the best, independent explanations of all things rail-related and we recommend that you check out his views on bike travel.
  • Travelling with a bike inside the UK is relatively easy, as most trains will carry bicycles as long as there is room (avoid commuting times and travelling in a large group of cyclists) and for free, but advance reservations may be required.
  • For information, train times and ticket purchases, we find that trainline is better than most of the other commercial sites and can be used to book Eurostar and trains onto the continent.
  • Note that the London Underground (the Tube) does not take bikes, unless they are bagged and do not look like bikes.
  • Travel from the other airports identified above should be via SNCF, TER-SNCF (regional) or Eurostar (St Pancras, Ebbsfleet or Ashford to Belgium, Lille, Paris or Calais). The international section of trainline can manage these bookings.
  • Bikes are seldom allowed on TGV, Thalys or ICE trains unless they are in bags. Tandems are tricky things to transport, they are just too long.  If you are tandem riders, you will need to do more research on the transport possibilities or, more simply, hire a tandem when you get to Champagne.
  • You may also find this Bikes on Trains article by a MyBikeGuide contributor useful reading.

Travel Map

The map below shows you possible ferry terminals and the suggested airports for getting to Champagne-Ardenne.

AirportsChampagne key points of travel

  1. London (various)
  2. Amsterdam
  3. Paris
  4. Brussels

Ferry ports

See Ferries below.

Bike route

The green marker.

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Ferries

There are many ferry options from the UK and the Republic of Ireland. This part of France has a high density of motorways (some of which you have to pay for), though the motorways in Belgium are free to use.  To keep an eye out for roadworks in France check the Crafty Bison.  The ring road around Brussels is best avoided during the rush hour as the drivers weave across the lanes at speed.

  • Eire 
    • Rosslaire (Q) to Le Havre (M) or Cherbourg (N)
  • South Eastern England
    • Dover (E) to Calais (L) or Dunkerque (L) 
    • Newhaven (E) to Dieppe (L)
    • Harwich to the Hook of Holland
    • Ramsgate (E) to Ostend (L)
  • South Western England  
    • Plymouth (I) to Roscoff (P)  
    • Portsmouth (F) to St Malo (O), Caen, Le Havre (M) and Cherbourg (N)
    • Poole (G) to Cherbourg (N) and St Malo (O)
    • Weymouth to St Malo (O)
  • Northern England
    • Hull (A)  to Zeebrugge (J) (overnight)
    • Hull (A) to Rotterdam (C) (overnight)
The Hull routes make a relaxing start to any holiday for those from the Northern UK as the tedious car drive down through England is replaced by a night time ferry journey.
We like travelling by P&O and DFDS Seaways and booking direct often gives you a good price.  For other routes we have found Direct Ferries to be a reliable ferry booking agent. 
 
If you want to take your car in the tunnel under the Channel then use Eurotunnel.
 
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Driving

Driving Rules

The rules vary by country and you should double check current requirements before setting off.  If you are a member of a motoring organisation, it should be able to provide up to date information, as should the national tourist board web sites, or see here.  At the time of writing, the most stringent requirements required for all of France, Netherlands, Germany and Belgium are:

  • carry your passport, driving licence, vehicle registration documents and certificate of insurance
  • display a country of origin sticker (GB etc) on the back of the car
  • use mobile phones only with "hands free" kit
  • children should sit in the back
  • all passengers should wear seat belts
  • fit beam converters to the head lights of a right hand drive vehicle
  • carry a warning triangle and spare light bulbs

It is mandatory in France (and spreading to other countries) to carry a reflective vest, fire extinguisher and first aid kit. 

Both foreign registered cars and hire cars are targets for thieves so never leave anything, not even a jacket or jumper, visible in the car when you leave it.  If you have to leave your car unattended with bikes on it, eg for an overnight stop en route, you would do well to find a secure car park.

Fines are levied on the spot and must be paid in cash (Euros).

For further details, click here.

Crafty Bison

The French have a great website to help you plan your journey, it's called Bison Futé (Crafty Bison) and it not only shows the state of traffic flows, but when road works are likely to cause disruption.  There's also advice on Le Grand Départ and Le Grand Retour which are the weekends around August when the French go on holiday en masse and fill up the roads. 

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