Champagne, the finest symbol of the French art de Vivre! The region can easily be reached in a day trip from Paris – 2 hours by road or 45 minutes by train – yet, not spending a few days staying in the region would be a scandal! 🙂
I landed in Paris from Atlanta, and after clearing customs and immigration, I walked over to the train station within Charles de Gaulle and boarded the TGV bound for Reims.
The first part of my stay in Champagne was at the precious boutique hotel – Chateau du Sacy – a stunning mansion built among the vineyards of the quaint town of Sacy.
Pulling into beautiful Chateau du Sacy, I knew I was going to have a wonderful first day in France.
I loved my room with a view of the vineyard and a great deal of light to help me shed the jet lag!
Each room is named after a famous woman in the Champagne world and offers a wonderful place to relax!
After settling into my room, unpacking and taking a shower, I was ready for yes, a glass of champagne….
Bubbles with a view – a perfect start.
What a more wonderful way to recover from a long flight, than an outdoor wooden hot tub overlooking the town of Sacy and a delicious spa treatment. The perfect preparation for a lovely night of slumber!
We started our day with a drive through the Champagne Scenic Road discovering some of the Premier Cru and Grand Cru villages that are part of the Montagne de Reims area. We were in awe of Champagne’s hillside vineyards, houses, and cellars – recently listed on UNESCO World Heritage list – as we discovered the most important treasure of the region: the grapes.
Further East, on the Montagne de Reims… we stopped in Verzy – one of the Grand Cru villages of this area to the family grower Maison Penet. This top-range independent producer releases qualitative extra brut Champagnes, from the grapes of their prestigious vineyards of Verzy and Verzenay. After visiting the cellars, we sat with the lovely owners and winemakers to taste their top Cuvées. What a special treat!
Domaine des Crayeres – a prestigious Relais & Chateaux property where many of my clients stay, is a wonderful property just outside the city of Reims. The fantastic gardens, restaurants, and service make this a fantastic option!
In 1729, Nicolas Ruinart created the first ever Champagne House. Today, Ruinart is known as one of the most prestigious Champagne producers in the world. This success might be due to the magnificent “Crayères” cellars that the House owns and where millions of its bottles age patiently before being opened. These UNESCO-listed chalk cellars are what makes the wines of this house and region so unique. Ruinart’s prestigious Champagnes did not disappoint!
Cathedral of Reims
We let ourselves be guided through the alleys of Reims Cathedral, an impressive and highly symbolic monument. Did you know that from 1027 to 1825, this masterpiece of Gothic art hosted the coronation ceremonies of every French monarch? It has been part of UNESCO World Heritage since 1991. The stained glass is stunning with a mix of classic and contemporary designs.
Royal Champagne Hotel & Spa
Raise a flute to Royal Champagne Hotel & Spa. The UNESCO-designated wine region’s first destination spa pays fizzy tribute to the historic vineyards (including those of Moët & Chandon) that lie just beyond its infinity-edge pool and walls of windows. Forty-seven rooms and suites are spread across the original 19th-century coaching inn and a modernist wing crafted from glass and local quartz. Look for bubbles everywhere – in the metalwork, light fixtures in the one-Michelin-starred restaurant, and wall etchings in the rooms.
The spa and indoor and outdoor pools are a wonderful way to unwind after a day of touring and tastings!
Today we continued exploring the Champagne region with its boutique producers and independent growers – there are 100’s of them in the region and they really make for a special experience and some outstanding wines.
Grand Cru Tasting at Champagne Henri Giraud
This Sunday morning started with a Champagne tasting taking place at a boutique Champagne producer of Aÿ. This ‘Grand Cru’ village is famous for the exceptional quality of its Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Discover this top-range House, world renowned for aging its wines in oak barrels from the Argonne Forest.
Vintage & Blanc de Blanc Tasting in Epernay – Champagne Michel Gonet
Originally from the ‘Côte des Blancs’ area, this top-range independent Champagne House bought this beautiful mansion on the famous Avenue de Champagne in 2011. This prestigious villa is the setting of our next Champagne tasting – which emphasizes 100%-Chardonnay vintage Champagnes.
Regional Tasting Lunch in Hautvillers
Our lunch today was in the magnificent setting of the UNESCO-listed village of Hautvillers. While savoring delicate regional specialties, we discovered Champagne and food pairings with grower champagnes paired by the glass.
Hautvillers, the Village of Dom Pérignon
After lunch, we visited the charming UNESCO-listed village of Hautvillers where we traced the origin of Champagne and visited the church where the famous monk Dom Pierre Pérignon is buried.
Avenue de Champagne
We walked the grandiose UNESCO listed Avenue De Champagne in Epernay, where prestigious Champagne Houses settled during the 19th century: Moet & Chandon, Laurent Perrier, Pol Roger and the list goes on. One magnificent villa after another is owned by the iconic luxury brand on the so called “richest avenue of the World”.
Moet & Chandon
We toured the cellars of Champagnes’ most successful producer and tasted two of their most iconic wines.
A fun dinner in a rustic local restaurant in Epernay.