France: Champagne: Village to Vine
A historic province in northeast France, Champagne features chalky soil and climatic conditions that are perfect for producing the sparkling white wine for which the region is famous. Extending from outside of Paris to the Belgian border, the region is home to over 75,000 acres of colorful vineyards. Three primary types of grapes are cultivated in the production of this sparkling wine, which is historically associated with luxury and power.
Upon arrival, collect your bags and head through security at the airport, after which you’ll go to the train station, where you’ll board the train from Paris (one-and-a-half hours), and arrive in Chalons-en-Champagne in time to enjoy the day. Pick up your rental car at the train station and head to your accommodation, a charming and elegant hotel located at the heart of Chalons. Drop your bags off before continuing on for 40 additional minutes to Epernay, a town of champagne wealth which is located among rolling hills and vineyards, and where you’ll experience a tour of two local wine cellars.
Next, drive across the Marne Valley to the village of Hautvillers. This small town, the former home of Dom Perignon, is considered the birthplace of champagne. After lunch at the Cafe D’Hautvillers, explore the town and Abbey, while taking in the gorgeous views of the valley and the Marne River.
Return to your hotel to relax before dinner. This evening we suggest the hotel’s restaurant, which offers creative cuisine comprised of seasonal and regional ingredients.
This morning, drive to the nearby town of Mancy, where you will meet two local champagne producers. Following your arrival at the vineyard, you’ll take a map-guided bicycle tour of the surrounding region. Bring a picnic lunch on your ride, or stop at a small restaurant en route in the town of Grauves. After lunch, return to the vineyard, where your hosts will show you the traditional method of champagne production, ending your visit with a tasting.
In the afternoon, make your way along the wine trail, winding through the vineyards on the slopes of the Montagne de Reims. Arrive in Reims and check into your hotel, a 19th century neo-Gothic residence which is tucked away on the back streets of this enchanting city.
After check in, you’ll have plenty of time during which to relax before a suggested dinner at an intimate restaurant in the center of town, which serves colorful international food with a French touch. If you’ve had enough champagne for the day, be sure to sample the local red wine, Coteaux Champenois.
This morning, visit the Cathedral Notre-Dame with its impressive stained glass windows by Marc Chagall. Next, explore the underground gallery in the Gallo-Roman Cryptoportique, a space constructed in the third century below what was once the Roman city of Durocortorum.
You may wish to stop for lunch at a creperie (L’atelier des Crepes is a favorite), or treat yourself to the prix fixe lunch menu at the celebrated Jardin Les Crayeres.
In the afternoon, tour the cellars of Veuve Cliquot. The remainder of the day will be spent at your leisure; you may want to search the city for some of the Champagne region’s lesser-known specialties: gingerbread, hydromel mead, mustard, and ratafia (grape apertif).
For dinner this evening we recommend a family-run restaurant with a cozy atmosphere, which offers beautifully-presented traditional French food.
Return your car in Reims this morning, and board the high-speed train that runs between Reims and Paris. Your departure time will depend on your flight. Alternatively, you may wish to continue on to our Amiens extension, in the Picardy region bordering Champagne.
This is just the beginning.
Get in touch to design your dream trip.