A Champagne Walk an Hour from Paris

A Champagne Walk an Hour from Paris
The station of Nanteuil-Saâcy is on the north east edge of the Ile de France, close to the River Marne. It is only 50 minutes from the Gare de l’Est by train – but in a very different world. A 20-minute walk across the bridge and along the river will bring you to the old village of Crouttes-sur-Marne in the Aisne département containing nine small “maisons de champagne.” Here you can sample different champagnes to your heart’s content and buy an excellent bottle of the stuff direct from the producer for as little as 15€. It also has a 12th century church, locked but with a large grille thoughtfully placed across the open doorway so that you have a good view of the atmospheric interior. But if you want to make your visit into an even more rewarding day out I suggest you combine the champagne tasting and buying with a leisurely 10 km river and country walk. You can do this by getting off at the next station on the line to Château-Thierry, Nogent l’Artaud-Charly, walking 3½ km along the river to a traditional restaurant for lunch, then going inland and uphill to the old village of Charly, past its 13th century church and maisons de champagne, and then doing a spectacular hilltop walk with views of champagne vineyards and rolling countryside, dropping down to the village of Crouttes-sur-Marne to visit its 12th century church. From there you go through the village and back down to the river to buy your champagne en route to the station at Nanteuil-Saâcy, reached by a short riverside walk. From the station at Nogent l’Artaud turn left and cross the bridge over the Marne straight ahead.   The bridge at Nogent l’Artaud. Photo: Annabel Simms On the other side take the GR towpath along the river on your left. You probably won’t meet a soul on this lovely riverside walk although you can see the steeples of a village church or two uphill on your right. After 3½ km you will come to the Guinguette le Bac at Charly, a former guinguette (riverside restaurant where working people went to dance at weekends).  The bac (ferry) no longer exists but the restaurant is an authentic survival of the guinguette tradition of having a good time by the water. ‘Guinguette le Bac’ restaurant at Charly. Photo: Annabel Simms

Lead photo credit : Champagne vineyard at Charly. Photo: Annabel Simms

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Annabel Simms is an English resident of Paris, with over 20 years' experience of exploring the Paris countryside by train, bus, boat and on foot. She is is the author of "An Hour From Paris" (3rd edition 2019) and "Half An Hour From Paris" (2nd edition 2023). Her website is http://anhourfromparis.com.