This historic region just 90 miles northeast of Paris is where the world’s most esteemed bottles of sparkling wine are made and kept. By French law, it is the only place allowed to call their product “Champagne,” a brand that evokes superior elegance and quality.
I find that when I’m traveling for work events, a day trip is a great way to break up the week and see new places, without having to move from the comfort of my hotel suite. After a few trips through Champagne, I’ve put together a loose itinerary of my ideal day exploring this gorgeous wine region. So next time you’re in Paris, you can invite your love or your best girlfriends, book a private car for the day (or take the train), and enjoy Champagne in Divine Living style.
Breakfast in Paris
After a leisurely morning I always make time for that perfect café crème and a croissant before leaving on any day trip. You’re about to take an hour-and-a-half drive or train ride, so give yourself time to enjoy something delicious at the hotel before your car is scheduled to pick you up.
Arrive on L’Avenue de
Welcome to the city of Épernay, home to the leading champagne producers in the world, including Moët et Chandon, Mercier, and De Castellane. Take a stroll along L’Avenue de Champagne to see the gorgeous palatial buildings and know that millions of bottles of bubbly are stored in the cellars beneath your feet.
The Moët & Chandon House
Not to be missed, Moet & Chandon has the most impressive property along the avenue, with beautifully landscaped grounds and one of the best cellar tours in the region. Book your visit several weeks in advance and delight in tasting the finest bottle of Dom just steps from where it’s made and aged.
Champagne became popular in Paris during the Belle Epoque. In the early 1900s, the Champagne houses began hiring popular artists to depict their sparkling wine as a festive, celebratory drink. The marketing worked so well that today in the U.S. we’re opening nearly 100 million bottles of bubbly every New Year’s Eve!
From Épernay, you’ll make your way up to the city of Reims (about a 30-minute drive) but first you’ll want to stop in historic Hautvillers. This adorable little town surrounded by rolling green vineyards is home to the famous abbey where the monk Dom Pérignon spent his life. Take in the sights, and perhaps even pop into a chic little shop called Au39 to scope out the rare, local bottles of champagne. Enjoy a taste of a fine Cuvée Brut and a bite from their menu of traditional charcuterie if you’re feeling like lingering a bit longer.
Lunch at Les Crayères
Ready for Reims? Les Crayères in the heart of the ancient city makes for a spectacular introduction. Nestled in seven hectares of lush greenery, this former home of a noble French family exudes classic chateau style. Glenn and I lingered over a very memorable lunch at Le Parc, Chef Phillipe Mille’s two-starred Michelin restaurant, with its extravagant interior overlooking the glorious gardens.
The Vranken-Pommery House
After lunch, you can stroll for a moment around the grounds at Les Crayères before embarking on a lovely ten-minute walk to the Vranken-Pommery Champagne House. This elegant, sprawling estate has much to explore, including ancient Roman caves and art nouveau tasting rooms. You can pre-book a tour or do a walk-in if you’re willing to wait, with both 30-minute and hour-long experiences available—champagne included of course!
The Sweetness Scale One of the most important things to know to determine what kind of champagne you should get is how sweet you like it. The driest champagne made with almost no sugar is known as Brut Nature. It gets sweeter in increments up until Doux—a sweet desert wine. Brut is the most popular category.
The Veuve Cliquot House
Have your driver pick you up (or get a taxi) and head to central Reims, where you can finish off the day’s tastings at Veuve Cliquot! Go for the pre-booked tour to learn the amazing story of Madame Cliquot, the driven woman entrepreneur behind one of the world’s best-known champagne brands.
A Stroll Through
By now it’s probably after 5pm—if it’s warm and light enough, you might want to take a final 10 minute stroll from Veuve Cliquot to Reims’ central plaza—stopping along to see the cute shops if they’re still open. The largest city in the Champagne region, throughout much of the Middle Ages Reims was the spiritual center of France, and many kings have been coronated here. You’ll love taking a look at some of the spectacular buildings, including a Medieval cathedral and palace, and a 19th century opera house. It’s one last sights to see before heading back to your Paris hotel room to freshen up for dinner and rest for the day ahead!