Latest update: 9 November 2021
Châlons-en-Champagne: a great little town. Châlons-en-Champagne in France is one of those towns where you don’t have to run around hurriedly to see everything. It’s easily manageable in a day and a bit less urban than Reims or Épernay. Discover what you can do in Châlons-en-Champagne: from boat trips to champagne houses and restaurants to hotels.
Short stop or extended stay?
Châlons-en-Champagne is, as the name suggests, located in the Champagne region of France. Until 1997, the town was called Châlons-sur-Marne. It is a small town that is perfect for a visit in just a few hours. Staying overnight is fine, but make sure you have a car so you can explore the area as the town itself has only a limited number of sights and activities. For a rental car, check Sunny Cars or EasyTerra.
There are spacious squares with terraces, impressive churches, and there is a lot of greenery. A walk through the center takes you about an hour or two. It strikes me how many people come here with their dogs; I see many of them on the street. If you look around, you will see artistic details all over the place: decoration above the shopping streets, a street full of graffiti, and cheerfully painted utility hole covers.
Tourism Office of Châlons-en-Champagne
Start your visit to Châlons-en-Champagne at the tourist office. Here you can pick up all kinds of folders and brochures, but also book activities. Think of a boat trip, a Segway tour, or rent a bicycle. The tourist office is located in a beautiful half-timbered house: a house with a skeleton of wooden beams visible from the outside. You will find more of these houses in Châlons-en-Champagne, but in Troyes, you’re in even more luck if you like this style.
Champagne houses in Chalons-en-Champagne
The nearest champagne house in Châlons-en-Champagne that you can visit is Joseph Perrier champagne house. Joseph Perrier has been offering tours since 2021. A beautiful tasting room has been prepared for this, and a route has been mapped out through the 3 kilometer long corridors. The cellar is under a hill with a forest, and that forest is super important for the moisture balance and the temperature in the champagne cellar. When a fire destroyed part of the forest, about 5 to 10 centimeters of water ended up in the basement. So you understand that they quickly planted that forest again.
During the tour, you will first enter the museum accompanied by a guide to discover a piece of the family history. Then, of course, you will hear everything about the production process of the champagne too. After the tour, you can taste champagne. Depending on the ticket you buy, you will receive one or more champagnes. It is smart to make a reservation online in advance. Book here. Don’t forget to select the correct language before booking!
In theorie kun je vanuit het centrum lopen naar het champagnehuis van Joseph Perrier, maar ik zou toch de auto pakken als ik jou was. Er is een parkeerplaats en dan kun je meteen een doosje mee naar huis nemen. 😉
Walking through the park
On the outskirts of the center, you walk directly into the park. Or rather: three parks, because the area is divided into three ‘gardens’: Grand Jard, Petit Jard, and Jard Anglais. The Avenue du Maréchal Leclerc, where you can park for free, runs between the Petit Jard and the Grand Jard. In the Grand Jard, you will find a skating rink and the Cosy Bar. A lovely place on the water to settle down with a bottle of champagne. In high season, the Grand Jard hosts Châlons Plage for two months, when all kinds of activities are organized, especially for children. Finally, crossing the canal brings you to the Jard Anglais, where you can take a slow, short walk.
Historic circus building
There is an actual circus school in Châlons-en-Champagne. I’m only familiar with circus tents in the Netherlands, but they’re used to be circus buildings in France. You will find one of them here, and now it serves as a circus school. Sometimes there are performances for which you can buy a ticket for a few euros. Get your ticket here; my French is terrible, so I can’t help you out, but please pay close attention to where to go for a show as there is a second building.
Take a boat trip through Châlons-en-Champagne
Cruise over le Mau and le Nau to pass by the churches and through nature. During the day, the trip takes about 45 minutes. Unfortunately, the guide only speaks French. In the evening, the tour lasts an hour, and an audio guide is available in English. A light show is then projected in various places. The boat rides are only possible from April to September and are a popular outing on sunny days. We fall (figuratively) outside the boat as it’s full and decide to walk part of the route along the water. That way, we still can catch a glimpse of the light show. You can book both boat trips at the tourist office, online or on-site.
The town hall: Hôtel de Ville
Is it just me, or do you always think of a hotel first when you think of Hôtel de Ville? But, a Hôtel de Ville is a town hall. And in Châlons-en-Champagne, they have a very nice one. On weekdays you can visit the town hall, on other days you can only admire the outside. In the summer months, the staircase is richly decorated in a beachy style with palm trees, and there is a good chance you will spot newlyweds.
See the Saint-Etienne Cathedral
The cathedral of Châlons-en-Champagne is enormous. It is a Gothic cathedral that you can visit for free. The stained glass work, in particular, is impressive. The church is lit up for the boat trip in the summer months in the evening, but you can also see it from the street.
Visit the Saint-Alpin church
The Saint-Alpin is in the center of Châlons-en-Champagne. Admire the enormous organ and the beautiful stained glass windows. The first stones were laid in the eighth century, and since then, the church has been regularly renovated.
Food & Drink in Chalons-en-Champagne
There is a lot of choice in Châlons-en-Champagne, but which is the right choice? Les Sarmentscertainly isn’t. As the restaurants my travel partner and I wanted to eat at were already fully booked, we ended up here. And, we should have turned around straight away when we were led to our table. We drastically reduced the average age of the diners. Older people are great people too, but if the restaurant is full of them, that’s never a good sign. We were ‘dumped’ upstairs in the restaurant in an uninviting dining room, and the food was just bad: over-cooked, full of tendons, raw and well-done at the same time. Do yourself a favor and skip this restaurant, please.
Anyway, the lesson learned is that you have to make a reservation to eat at the nicest restaurants. Le Petit Pasteur and La Maison de Marie-Caroline were my favorites on paper, but I didn’t have a chance to try them. And PŌPOKI seemed like a good spot for lunch. So if you go, let me know if they are a good choice in reality? Enjoy your meal!
On the Place de la République you will find restaurant La Bourse. It’s a popular place for lunch and dinner. The menu features the French classics: steak tartare, terrine, crêpes and profiteroles. The menu is so extensive that everyone can find something tasty here, also if you’re just up for a hamburger. The portions are generous and fresh. I enjoyed sitting in the outdoor area, but it also looked very nice inside. An excellent choice for the colder days too! The reviews on Google are pretty much all over the place, mainly due to the service. Don’t expect a warm welcome, and you will probably have to wave at the staff a lot to get attention. But hey, if you have the time, it doesn’t matter.
Sacobri is a cozy bar with a popular outdoor seating area. It is clear that such a casual café is unique in Châlons-en-Champagne, as it attracts quite a crowd. At Sacobri, you drink specialty beers from the tap and the bottle. The service staff knows the beers well and can undoubtedly recommend something tasty.
In the park, near the water, you’ll find a nice bar made of containers. Simple but effective. It gets pretty busy here, especially on summer days. Order a bottle of champagne, and you’re all set for the rest of the afternoon or evening.
Coming by car Park for free on Avenue du Maréchal Leclerc. You then walk into the city through the park. Five minutes.
Staying overnight in Châlons-en-Champagne
Many hotels in Châlons-en-Champagne can be found around the Place de la République, such as Le Renardand Ibis Styles. I choose an apartment on that square: Le République. It is a modern apartment with more than enough space for two. It is fresh and clean and has everything you need to cook for yourself. There is a giant flat screen, and you only have to roll down the stairs, and you are right in the center. Recommended! You can book at Booking.com.