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guide to the region of champagne

Champagne! A Guide to Exploring the Region Like a Local

Bonjour! Looking to plan the perfect trip to the region of Champagne? It can be challenging to plan a trip without knowing the best places to visit, especially if you don't have a local guide. But don't worry, I'm here to help! Having visited the region more than half a dozen times in the last few years and explored all the popular spots, I have put together a comprehensive list of my top recommendations. So sit back, pour yourself a glass of bubbly, and let's start planning your perfect Champagne adventure!

1. First Stop: Reims!

Whether you reach Reims (the capital of Champagne) by train or car, it is a very easy trip. You can either rent a car in Paris and enjoy the beautiful 90 minute drive through the countryside or can easily hop on a direct train from the Gare de Paris-Est station. Once you arrive, make sure you prioritize a stop at the Reims Cathedral. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is the king of Gothic architecture and the spot where French monarchs were crowned. You can take a guided tour or simply peruse on your own time, but trust me, even a glance at the exterior will be worth your time. Reims Cathedral Info

Next you will want to meander around the city's quaint cobblestone streets. Reims may quite possibly be my favorite city in all of France. It is sprinkled with fantastic restaurants, amazing wine bars, good shopping and tons of culture all packed into a concentrated picturesque area. The majority of the town's best spots are packed into a few blocks (see map below) and here are all my fave's below:

  • Le Vintage Wine Bar Great wine bar off the Forum Square with an amazing bottle list and delish charcuterie boards.
  • Stéréo: Trendy little hole-in-the-wall wine bar loved by locals. Great Grower champagne list and cool music.
  • Le Pressoir: Awesome wine bar with good snacks featuring hidden gem producers of both still and sparkling wine. Make sure to explore the under ground wine cave.
  • La Boutique: If you love Special Club Champagne (more on SC champagne here) then you won't want to miss this. It's a cool wine bar with great champagnes (obviously).
  • The Glue Pot: The fries are fine, but go for the wine list. Incredible grower champagne list and wine list in general.
  • Sacré Burger: Best burger of my life. Order the smash burger. Also, the champagne list is fantastic!
  • Restaurant Gabrielle: Amazing restaurant with views of the Reims Cathedral. On the nicer side but not too pricey.
  • La Bonbonniere: Cutest little boulangerie and coffee shop. Not only is this one delicious, but very Instagram-able as well (lol).
  • Le Coq Rouge: Best little tapas and wine bar. Food and wine both 10 out of 10.

*Please note, due to the French people's fervor for life, their hours of operation and availablitly fluzuate quite a bit day to day. It is best to note which places are open when and make freservstions when able.

2. The Real Reason You're Here: Champagne Tours

There are hundreds of options to choose from, ranging from large champagne houses to small, family-run vineyards. I think that a visit through one of the Grandes Marques' chalk caves are an essential when planning your tour. Some of my favorites are Ruinart, Pommery or Tattinger. These are all pretty easy to book online.

I don't typically recommend guided tours, however, this one is an exception. If you are lucky enough to book a tour with My Vintage Tour Co (they are usually booked up pretty far in advance), I highly encourage you to book a half-day with them. They do a wonderful tour through the vineyards in old fashioned buggies, a saber lesson, and a tour of Dom Perignon's grave. They can also add in a small grower tasting to the day if you want to leave all the planning in their hands. Trust me you won't be disappointed! My Vintage Tour Co

When it comes to the smaller-grower houses, I know this will be where you will want some guidance, so I will break these down into a little more depth for you. Here are some of my recommendations:

  • Lucien Collard: Quaint little historic house in Bouzy making amazing Pinot blends, very intimate tasting. Bubbles Club Members only - book through me 
  • Pierre Callot: Delicious Blanc de Blancs in Avize, very small grower and intimate tasting. Bubbles Club Members only - book through me
  • D. Massin: If you make it south to the Côte des Bar, this house is worth a visit and they even have a hotel for you to stay! Bubbles Club Members only - book through me
  • Billecart-Salmon: Delicious blends and champagnes, famous for rosé. Bubbles Club Members only - book through me
  • Charlier et Fils: Special Club producer, delicious blends. Book online
  • Salmon: Special Club Producer, delicious Meuniers. Contact for appt
  • Geoffroy: Cool grower in Aÿ with incredible champagne, small little cave. Book online
  • Pierre Gimonnet: Delicious Blanc de Blancs grower producer. Contact for appt
  • Ruinart: The first established champagne house. Very impressive chalk caves. I highly recommend a visit here. Book online

3. Epernay: Worth a Visit if You Have Extra Time!

Epernay a small, but charming city which is home to the iconic Avenue de Champagne. This stunning street is lined with all the big-name champagne houses, and if you make it here, be sure to pop in for a tasting or two. There is also a great little champagne bar called #BRUT which I love. And if you're up for a little adventure, you can hop on the underground min-train tour of the Mercier Champagne House or float above the city in the Ballon d'Epernay hot air ballon.

4. Book Top Notch Accomodations!

You don't have to spend a fortune to to have a 5 star stay in Champagne. Even though you likely won't spend tons of time at your hotel, I always think it's important to pick something that makes you feel like you're at a home away from home. Here are my favorite spots with price info too.

  • Cabanes de la Presle: By far the coolest experience you could imagine. These adorable little treehouses are nestled atop the champagne countryside. $$
  • Hotel Les Avises: In the heart of the Avize, this boutique hotel will totally impress you. $$$
  • Royal Champagne Hotel: Just north of Epernay, this Relais & Chateau hotel offers everything you could possibly want. It will blow your mind. $$$$
  • Continental: In the heart of Reims and walkable to everything in town, this hotel is both classy and comfortable and also has a great restaurant. $$
  • Les Crayeres: Just on the out skirts of Reims, this 5 star hotel with provide you with a peaceful and quiet stay in a traditional Luxury Estate. $$$$
  • Loisium: In the vineyards just above Aÿ, this hotel offer views and the full luxury experience without a crazy cost. $$
  • Airbnb: If you're on a budget, Reims has some amazing Airbnbs. Just stay within the center of town (see map below) and read past reviews and you should be okay. $

5. Trust me, you'll need a car!

I definitely recommend making the most of your vacation and pre-booking a driver for your wine tasting days. Most hotels can set you up with a driver, but will charge a little more. If you need a good transportation company, I highly recommend Capitale Champagne. I have used them many times. Their rates are great, the vehicles are awesome and the customer service is amazing!

6. Eat, Drink, and Be Merry!

Last but not least, it's time to indulge in the delicious cuisine of the Champagne region. All the food is pretty fantastic, but these are some standout spots not to miss for the foodies out there! And each restaurants offers tasting menus that they can pair the best of the region's bubbles. C'est magnifique!

  • Le Parc: 2 Michel Star, delicious in every way!
  • Le Royal: 1 Michel Star, don't miss this. Make sure to start on the terrace with a glass of bubbly.
  • Racine: 1 Michel Star, tiny and cozy, the tasting menu is parfait.
  • Hotel Les Avises Restaurant: Truly a hidden gem. If you are not staying at the hotel you can only make a lunch reservation. Trust me, do not miss this one.
map of reims
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