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  • Writer's picturePretty Little Wanders

48 Hours in Reims: The Birthplace of Champagne

Updated: Feb 6, 2022

Associated with luxury and special occasions, champagne can only be called so, if it comes from the Champagne region in France. An immensely beautiful region it is too! Read all about my bubble-filled journey learning about this ultimate French elixir that was discovered by a monk (by the name of Dom Perignon!), and which still to this day, is made through a labour of love, from hand-picking grapes to the unique processes of fermentation, storage, quality control and tasting.

Getting There

(We did this trip as part of a 10 day driving tour of France)

We took our car in the Eurotunnel crossing from Folkestone to Calais, which took a mere 35 minutes. Followed by a drive of 3 hours to get to Reims.

From Paris (served by all major airports worldwide), Reims is approximately 90 miles (an hour and a half drive). There are also frequent TGV trains from Paris to Reims (45 minutes)

Reims has its’ own airport too, that is served by London and other cities.

Getting Around

With the flexibility of a car you will have the freedom to explore the amazing ‘Route Touristique de Champagne’ or Champagne trail, stopping at whim to take in the beautiful views and your choice of vineyards and champagne houses. It is perfectly possible to do this tour without a car as a tour. There are a vast range of tours available from the Tourist office and most hotels in Reims, but you will then be limited as to which parts of the trail and champagne houses are included.

Best time to visit

Summers are pleasant, and Spring offers wild flower viewing, but in my opinion harvest season is best, this when you can see the vineyards in a flurry of action. The harvest season usually falls around September/October but can fluctuate depending on weather and is limited to a 3 week window.

Where to stay

The pedestrian friendly city centre, around the area of Place Drouet d’Erlon is a great option. We stayed at the Grand Hotel Continental and it’s location was perfect. It was within walking distance to a lot of the attractions, has a car park nearby (parking fees apply), and has a wide range of restaurants and cafes on its doorstep. There are plenty of other more expensive and cheaper options in the vicinity.

Day 1

We had pre-booked a morning tour (because it’s never too early to drink champers darling!) of the Taittinger Champagne House. This can be done easily online. It was a 30 minute walk or short drive from our hotel. The tour commenced with a short video clip before heading down to the cellars which are located in underground caves! The tour was extremely well organised and fascinatingly informative. The 60 minute tour concluded with a tasting, you can select the tastings beforehand when you book. You also have the opportunity to make purchases here and let’s just say we ended up getting a taxi back to the hotel to carry our purchases! As we drove from London, making purchases was not an issue but if you are flying back home, international postage can be arranged.

The 'good stuff' is kept behind bars
Underground champagne caves
Champagne tasting
More champagne tasting

After lunch at the Taj Mahal, one of the local Indian eateries, we took a walk to magnificent Reims Cathedral de Notre-Dame making a small detour to Rue du Tambor with its’ colourful painted street and pretty neighbourhood.

The colourful Rue du Tambor
Reims Cathedral

The Cathedral is pretty stunning and conveniently the Tourist Office is located just around the corner. Whilst there pick up a map of the Champagne Route (if you haven’t already downloaded one online). I must say, this is possibly the loveliest Tourist Office I have ever been too, very spacious, modern and with helpful staff. We made a brief stop at one of the local supermarkets to pick up some supplies for a sunset picnic.

Sunset picnic spot

Take a 30 minute drive down to Hautevilliers and head to the upper limit of the vineyards (plenty of free parking available nearby) this is the perfect spot to watch the sun go down over the vineyards. Arrive early, as there are a limited number of picnic tables) enjoy the picnic and a bottle of locally purchased champagne and watch the sun go down in this breathtaking little spot.

Sunset at Hautevilliers

Day 2

After a traditional French breakfast of coffee and croissants (you must try them, they are divine!) we drove the Champagne route starting at Villers Allerand. This route covers 30000 hectares of immaculate vines and is brimming with world-renowned vineyards and champagne houses. The route stretches around 250 miles, the route is well signposted and you can do as much or as little of it as you like. If there is a particular champagne that you favour, do a bit of research beforehand and book a tour / tasting there in advance.

Mumm champagne house

We stopped at Villers Allerand, Verzy (if you are really organised, make and advance booking at the Perching Bar in Verzy – it’s a bar located in the treetops), Tours-sur-Marne and headed to Epernay. This incorporated Mumm, Laurent-Perrier, Moet et Chandon and many more champagne houses. Spend the afternoon in Epernay (20 miles from Reims and still on the Champagne trail), stroll down the Avenue de Champagne where you will find world renowned champagne houses such as Moet et Chandon and Mercier amongst others, have lunch in one of the local eateries before heading back to Reims. End the evening of with a glass or two of wine at the best wine bar in town Le Wine Bar by Le Vintage.

The real beauty of this drive for me was that the whole region was so easily accessible, you could literally stop anywhere, and stroll in the vineyards, visit a champagne house, and have a tasting (this is usually free depending on any purchases you might make).

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