While living in London it is popular to made regular trips to and around Europe, so when I was invited to join a group of 12 others (10 of them girls) on a long weekend visit to explore the Champagne region of France and a select few of the finest Champagne Houses, I jumped at the chance! We would take the Eurostar from London’s St Pancras Station to Paris, overnight there, before continuing on to Reims which is easily reached by excellent road and rail connections.
The Champagne wine region, with the main centers of commerce being the towns of Reims and Épernay (with the capital being Châlons en Champagne), is a province within in the northeast of France and is best known, even if many who enjoy Champagne don’t realize where it’s from, for producing sparkling white wine that bears the region's name. Wine known as "Champagne" legally must originate from this region located about 160 km east north east of Paris. Supposedly the method of producing the sparkling wine came with monks from southern France, but the chalky soils and climatic conditions of the region result in a better product according to many opinions.
The region itself is gorgeous with the chalk (chalk, marl, and limestone) plains and hills a patchwork of thousands of lines of vines parading across the countryside, stylish cities (and villages) and beautiful endearing buildings dotting the landscape. This would be the perfect romantic getaway destination or region to cycle tour through so that your senses can absorb, particularly your eyes and taste buds, feast on the idyllic surroundings. So it’s no wonder that the region and industry producing Champagne has been granted World Heritage Status.
We had based ourselves for the long weekend in Reims where there are plenty of quality hotels and the odd hostel. One of the most popular attractions of the Champagne region is visiting the Wine Houses themselves and joining their cellar tour. The cellar tours are an engaging and enlightening experience which reveals the mystical process and typically begin with an introduction, before descending into the cellars to explore the labyrinth of tunnels and view the wine in the process remuage and storage up close. Tours then conclude by returning to the surface buildings for Q & A sessions and the much anticipated wine tasting.
Recommended Wine Houses to visit during your Champagne visit;
G.H. Mumm, one of the largest producers of Champagne and established in 1827.
Pommery, owned by the Vranken-Pommery Group and was established in 1858.
Mercier, under the LVMH group, Mercier was founded in 1858.
Moët & Chandon, established in 1743 is one of the world’s largest expansive champagne producers and one of the most prominent champagne houses.
A full list of Champagne Houses can be found on the Wikipedia page.