Well hello there. It’s been a while. But, I’m back. Back from having a little writers block. But the Spring temperatures and sunshine have melted that away. This article has been sitting patiently waiting for me to finish it, so enjoy!
Champagne. It’s not just that bubbly which you may think is very expensive and only for those “who can afford it”. It’s also a beautiful wine region just 40 quick minutes by train from Paris. With rolling hills lined with vineyards; churches on hill tops; and small little villages to big cities with history around every corner. I went for a 4-day visit there last October and I wanted to share with you a quick “what I learned” and what to expect.
When you think of Champagne the drink, you might just think of the top names like Moet and Veuve and Dom Perignon. But honestly, these aren’t the only historic Champagne houses, there are many you need to visit. Champagne is made up of lots of smaller producers, and they are everywhere. And because many are smaller, it’s smart to call ahead and plan out your route based on your appointments.
While visiting my friend and fellow wine writer in October, here’s what we got up to:
On Day 1, it was about getting familiar with the area. I took the train from Paris to the station just outside Reims and then we drove around and visited a wonderful restaurant and wine shop called Au 36 located in HautVillers. We did a champagne tasting while we ate local cuisine from the area. It was filled with ambiance and the service and food was fantastic. A must for your next visit.
My friends are staying in a little village called Chavot-Courcourt, so in the evening we enjoyed sipping on their neighbours Champagne Leabeau-Batiste champagnes.
On Day 2, we drove around blindly (instead of having appointments) through Verzy, Villers-Marmery and luckily stumbled upon two Champagne houses that were open in the village of Ambonnay (a Grand Cru Village). We stopped in at Patrick Soutiran (Growers Champagne). A delightful tasting with prices per bottle around 20+ Euros.
We then passed through a few villages with nothing open at all – note: many villages close from 12/2-4pm for lunch! Our next stop was in the village of Louvois (a Grand Cru Village), Champagne Serge Gaudriller. Another wonderful small producer with some delightful Champagnes and decent prices.
On Day 3, we enjoyed a morning visit to Epernay for lunch at Bar Parisien; and did a Champagne tasting at a local wine store called Caves Champenoise.
They had an excellent selection of Champagnes and wine from the region. Afterwards we visited Avenue de Champagne, with a stop at Michel Gonet for a glass of bubbles in the garden; and Paul-Etienne Saint Germain for a lovely tasting, that was pre-booked!
On Day 4, we had an appointment at Paul Goerg in Vertus (a Grand Cru Village)
for a tasting and tour, before heading to the train station!
The most surprising thing to me, all the villages are much closer than they seem on a map!
Now onto my next stop: Paris!
I found a delightful little 3-star located near Gare du Nord – Hotel Albert 1er Paris with breakfast included
and 24 hr. concierge. I enjoyed a picnic under the Eiffel Tower (with cheese and wine purchased at a local shop); a stroll through Montmarte to see artists and lots of little shops.
In the evening myself and my cousins enjoyed an amazing dinner at Pierre Sang , where your set course dinner (is a secret) is served without detail and only explained after you’ve eaten each course. A truly great experience and dinner. We also enjoyed a glass of wine at the O Chateau Wine Bar – with wines from all over Europe. Not a bad weekend visit!
It was very easy to enjoy France when the trains are fast and the food and wine never disappoints.