Visiting Champagne during fall is lovely; the harvest is over, the vines wither, and the first cold winds hit the north-facing chalky slopes, but the cities of Reims and Epernay brim with life.
Three days in Champagne are all you need to unwind, connect with the region, and get on first terms with the Champagne brands you love. You’ll want to stay a lifetime, but you’ll get the region’s feel during a long weekend with a proper schedule.
Here’s an idea of what you can see, feel, and taste during a three-day trip to Champagne.
Day One, Neighborhood Walk Around Reims
Welcome to Champagne! Arrive at Reims via a 1-hour 20-minute train ride from Paris. Twenty trains run per day between the cities, so you’ll find it easy to adjust your trip to your schedule. Arrive early to make the most out of the ancient city; there’s lots to see, as the city goes back to the Roman Empire.
Cottages Antoinette is a fabulous stay a few minutes south of Reims, a romantic spot to enjoy the countryside before exploring the Reims. Get settled at your hotel and hit the city.
I’m sure you want to explore the wineries, but there’s time for everything, and a walking tour of Reims is as refreshing as a cold glass of bubbly wine. If you’re into architecture, the awe-inspiring Reims Cathedral is a must-visit, but so is the Saint-Remi Basilica.
Motorheads will enjoy a visit to the Musee Automobile to admire pretty neat cars and bikes. And the museums Musée-Hôtel Le Vergeur and the Musée des Beaux-Arts are fantastic ways of spending the day, pick with your eyes closed, they both hold wonderful historical and art collections.
Have a late lunch or early dinner at A L’Ere du Temps, at 123 Av de Laon, for authentic crepes paired with demi-sec rosE Champagne. You can also splurge at the Le Foch, a Michelin-starred restaurant for fantastic seafood paired with a bottle of Blanc de Blancs.
Please don’t stay up late, because tomorrow will be time to get to know those Maisons de Champagne up and close.
Day Two, Maison Houses in Reims
There are countless extraordinary Champagne houses in Reims, but if you have an early breakfast and call ahead, you’ll have time to visit two producers. Here are my suggestions.
Taittinger. The largest family-owned Champagne house in Reims is a joy to visit. People are warm, and the crayeres or underground cellars are stunning. I love visiting Taittinger for the history, architecture, and the vast knowledge about Champagne making process. Tasting the wine is a bliss too!
Veuve Clicquot. This is one of my favorite Champagne houses, yes, for the delicious Yellow Label, but also for the inspiring history behind the state and the empowering story of Madame Clicquot. Try to catch the picnic in the Maison’s gardens, available from Thursday to Saturday.
Although it’s easy to find beautiful places for dinner in Reims, visit the Domaine Chateau du Faucon a few minutes north of Reims for a lavish experience. You can totally stay there if you wish, but the restaurant alone is well worth the ride. The restaurant is open from 19h to 21h30, and for lunch on Sundays.
Day Three, Epernay
If Reims is the heart of Champagne, Epernay is its soul. Travel from Reims to the picturesque town of Epernay 23 km south, there’s a train every hour, and you’ll get there in just over half an hour. Your first stop should be, of course, a Champagne house, and here are my recommendations.
Champagne Bauchet. The 34-hectare estate near Epernay has been making amazing bubbles since 1920 and it might not be as well-known as the Maisons above, but it’s still a charming experience for wine lovers and Champagne enthusiasts. To get here, you must travel to Bisseuil, a small Champagne village in the Marne valley at Epernay’s outskirts, but the trip is worth it. You’ll also avoid the crowds.
Hautvillers. No trip to Champagne is complete without visiting Dom Perignon’s hometown, which is not where Champagne was invented, but where it was perfected. Have lunch in the gorgeous town and get all that history soaked in. Then, return to Epernay to enjoy the city.
Once You Visit Champagne, You Never Leave
Visiting Champagne, if only for three days, is a life-changing experience. You get an appreciation for the finest sparkling wines on earth, and you get to live its background.
It’s time to say goodbye to Champagne. But something in all our hearts always stays behind, in the underground cellars and the heartwarming bistros, in every drop and every pearly bubble in a glass of Champagne. Champagne never leaves you.