Travel Tips: Champagne Region of France
There are so many cities I have visited, loved, and checked off my list with no intention of returning anytime soon. However, Paris is one of those cities I have visited three times now and don’t think I’ll ever get enough of everything the city has to offer.
During my most recent trip, I was deciding between day trips to Mont Saint Michel, Bordeaux, or the Champagne region. I decided to go to the Champagne region because it guaranteed me the most in the least amount of time. Mont Saint Michel and Bordeaux remain on my future travel list, but due to the distance, time-restraints, and required planning, I would rather have at least two days to experience each destination.
#1 - Plan which Champagne Houses you want to see before booking your train ticket.
I decided to go to Reims because I love Veuve and Mumm! However, Reims is a much larger city compared to Epernay. When traveling to either city, don’t expect to experience the scenic wine country, you would need to go further out into the countryside.
Make sure you go online and make appointments beforehand! Many champagne houses only have 1-2 tours per day or require visitors to take tours or have an appointment to taste. If you are planning a visit, avoid Sunday and Monday because they tend to have the fewest tours available and can be slow.
#2- Purchase a ticket from Trainline
Book online at trainline.com. I booked my train from Paris Gare de l’Est to Reims Ville.
The price was around $50, and the total travel time was only 46 minutes.
When traveling by train, it is unnecessary to arrive at the station more than 20 minutes before departure. Especially since the gate/rail is unpredictable and will not be posted more than 10 minutes before departure. Since this is a popular route, there were many time options to choose from.
#3- Wear walking shoes
The roads are cobbled, the cellars are uneven, and the tours can last up to two hours. It is in your best interest to wear walking shoes, in spite of your desire to look cute. Additionally, there is no Uber or Lyft in Reims, making getting around a bit challenging. You can arrange for a taxi at the Reims train station, but they are not in abundance. Another option is to take the shuttle / bus, but I would suggest renting a bike to get around. Unfortunately, I did not know this ahead of time and ended up walking to the champagne houses, and it was a bit of a trek.
#4- Wine tastings in France are different from Napa
Walk-ins are not particularly welcomed. The French are proud to share the prestige and history behind their champagne, and many require visitors to complete the entire tour in order to taste. The tours can be long and you may only get a single glass at the end. If you wish to go to a smaller house, you can taste several glasses of champagne in a more relaxed environment and without the lengthy tour. Bring snacks or eat before! None of the champagne houses served snacks with their wares, and a couple glasses at multiple houses begins to add up pretty quickly. In Napa, wineries almost always give you some almonds, chocolate, cheese, or crackers to pair with the wines and serve as palette cleanser. This was not the case in France. Make sure you plan time for a good meal the day of your tastings!
#5- Check out other sites!
Reims has other beautiful sites to take in! My personal favorite was the Cathedral Notre-Dame de Reims which was built in 1211-1311 and served as the coronation site of the kings of France. The cathedral is known as one of the best examples of gothic art and architecture, is more detailed than the Cathedral Notre Dame de Paris, and almost completely empty when I went. If you have the time, visit the Palais du Tau and the Basilique Saint-Remi before heading back to Paris!