If you like France, travel, and sparkling wine Champagne is a great place to be. It is also a great place to learn about history through wine and get a taste of royal luxury whether at a hotel or on a tour of the world’s best Champagne houses. I’ve done this trip with my sister a little while back. Thinking about this itinerary more and more I made a few changes based on our experience. This three-day Champagne itinerary is now my dream itinerary for visiting the region, especially for the first time.
This blog post uses affiliate links denoted by ( * ).
Read the disclaimer about affiliate links & PR gifting here.
Day One: A laid-back arrival
There is a direct train from Paris to Gare de Champagne Ardenne station and it takes under an hour ($58+ CA per person). For day one my recommendation is to start slow at a beautiful wine country hotel. Château de Sacy (full review here) is located in the heart of the Sacy commune, surrounded by vineyards from all sides. You can go for a walk through the greenery, explore the small town center, and then take full advantage of the hotel spa. Your stay includes access to the outdoor loungers and barrel tubs with a phenomenal view of the sunset. A glass of champagne is optional but highly recommended.
The restaurant at Château de Sacy* is a local favourite. The terrace looks over the vineyards while the interior creates an atmosphere of royal luxury. The menu features a selection of classic French dishes, a range of proteins, and sharable mains [make reservations]. In the morning there is a buffet-style breakfast but it is no average buffet breakfast. Here glass domes cover an impressive selection of fresh cheeses, baked goods, small snacks and so much more. I would go back just for the breakfast. And the tub. That tub is a dream.
If you have a designated driver renting a car would allow you to see more of the region and make casual scenic stops. If, however, you intend to enjoy all the samples and beyond or simply just don’t want to drive there are many options for chauffeured transport. You can hire a car with a guide, with an English-speaking driver, or simply someone to just chauffer you around with minimal expectations.
A quick search will pull up plenty of options. Mydriverinparis.com seems to have good options and you can send them a WhatsApp message for instant reply. I strongly recommend booking well in advance, at least a week, between people’s schedules, time difference, and the email back and forth time will pass quickly. You will also see options to hire cars with Viator* or Get Your Guide* which can be better offers but make sure to do a comparative search for the exact company.
Tip: If you do book with Viator make sure to for through the Aeroplan store for the extra points.
Day Two: Let there be bubbly!
Make sure to check the tour schedules for all Champagne houses beforehand and book in advance. They might sell out, some champagne houses are closed on strange days, some have off hours, or there might not be an English-speaking guide available.
Having made all of the reservations in advance we begin our Champagne tour.
Champagne Veuve Clicquot
Veuve Clicquot offers a few tours from one to four hours in duration. Each tour includes a cellar visit and tasting, you choose which wines. The cellars are impressive and the story of Maison Veuve Clicquot is certainly one worth knowing. This woman was a pioneer in winemaking at a time when women were not even allowed to have bank accounts. The tour can be made private at an additional cost.
Quick note: the links as they are spelled out go to the homepage, but if you click on them they’ll go to reservations directly.
Taittinger is one of the largest and most respectable champagne producers in the world. You might recognize their silver box packaging with red bubbles on the lid. This visit will also include a cellar tour, but the cellars are a bit different from those you saw at Veuve. The tour will conclude in the tasting room where you can explore their champagne lineup at your own pace.
Lunch at Château Les Crayères, Reims
Another stunning hotel with an exceptional culinary team. There are two restaurants and one bar, we opted for a three-course lunch at Le Jardin. Nestled at the back of the hotel grounds the restaurant is shaded by greenery and nature. Guests can make an a la carte selection or opt-in for a coursed lunch [4 images above are from this meal].
This visit is unique in more ways than one. The property itself feels like an armory, once you are past the gates you are greeted by a mansion that houses not just wine but an impressive art collection (Ruin-art). These small group tours are informative and entertaining (at least our guide was). As you navigate through these oddly shaped cellars you will continually cross various unique, often custom-made pieces of art. The tour ends back in the small tasting room with a guided tasting.
Day Three: With a casual strolling pace
A short scenic drive will take us to Avenue de Champagne in Epernay. The street is just about a kilometre long so you can walk it at all with a leisurely stroll which makes it perfect for an overnight stay. But first, champagne! Some of the houses can only be visited with a tour, some you will notice have open terraces that welcome walk-ins.
Champagne Moët & Chandon
Moët & Chandon needs no introduction and despite having done cellar tours yesterday we will go on this one as well. The shape of the cellars varies based on location and the ones that run under Avenue de Champagne are quite different. The tours are 1.5 hours and there is an option for a small group 2-hour Tasting Workshop or a 2-hour Grand Vintage Collection tasting.
A champagne house founded by twenty-year-old Eugène Mercier who was on a mission to make champagne available to the casual folk. The tour takes you through 18km of cellars on a driverless train and includes a stop at the working production site. The range of tours includes one, two, or three glasses of wine. The train cars look adorable, I’m looking forward to trying this!
Atelier 1834, Champagne Boizel
Another historic mansion and home to a long generation of winemakers founded by a young couple in 1834. There are three different tours available, all of which include a journey through the Boizel House from the cellars to the stainless-steel vats. The difference, of course, is in the champagnes you taste.
Check-in at La Villa Eugene
For our last night, we unpack at La Villa Eugene*, 19th century Mercer family hotel. There are only 15 rooms, a lovely pool, and a classy little bar. The idea is to stay directly on Avenue de Champagne so we can have dinner and a nightcap without having to call a car.
Dinner at Symbiose
A modern restaurant just off Avenue de Champagne. The chef owners Justine and Maxime take a creative approach to food breaking down traditional techniques while taking advantage of fresh local ingredients. This restaurant has a Michelin mention.
For more Eperany restaurants visit epernay-tourisme.com.
Would rather go on a planned tour? Here are some options
Small-group Champagne tour with lunch
From: Reims, small group (max 8ppl)
Inclusions: 6-hour guided tour, visit Avenue de Champagne, workshop on Champagne, tastings, visit to a family winery, and lunch.
Private full-day tour tour with lunch
From: Reims, private (max 2ppl)
Inclusions: 8-hour private guided tour in a Mercedes Minivan, multiple champagne growers and houses visits, historic stops, and lunch in Épernay.
Full-day Champagne tour from Paris
From: Paris, Paris’ Gare d’Est train station, small group (max 8ppl)
Inclusions: Train tickets from Paris to Reims, Veuve Clicquot visit and 2 other Champagne houses, ten champagne tastings, and lunch. Roughly 11 hours.
Day trip by van in Champagne with lunch
From: Reims, small group (max 8ppl)
Inclusions: 8.5-hour tour with a local guide, visit multiple Champagne houses, traditional French lunch, and historic stops.
2 days in Champagne tour
From: Reims or Epernay
Inclusions: One overnight stay at a 4-star hotel in Reims. Visit big Champagne houses and small producers, historic stops, breakfast, and lunch. Ask for 2nd day accommodation
3 days in Champagne, “Aromas” experience
From: Reims or Epernay
Inclusions: Two nights at a 4-star hotel in Reims city center and p rivate transportation. Two breakfasts, two lunches, visit big Champagne houses and small producers, and historic stops. Ask for 3rd day accommodation.
In the gear bag: Fujifilm X-T100 with an XF50mmF2 R WR lens. To see the trip on Instagram look up #xoParis19.