Champagne – a guide to the region

In France’s Champagne the world’s greatest sparkling wine is produced. The region is made up of roughly 34,000 hectares of vineyards spread across 319 villages, or “crus”.  If you pass through the region we would recommend you to take brake in either Reims, Epernay or Ay.

Reims, the center of the champagne district is easily accesses for most visitors to France. It is approximately 90 minutes by car from Paris (if you take the motorway) and about three hours from the channel (for visitors from UK). For visitors from Scandinavia it’s about 8 hours of driving from the Kiel ferries. So if you arrive to Kiel in the morning you can be sipping a glass of bubbly in the evening. In Reims you find champagne brands as Mumm, Veuve Clicquot, Krug, Piper-Heidsieck and Louis Roederer. Most of them are open for visitors with guided tours and tastings.

The little town of Epernay is also a good starting point for tours around the champagne region. In Epernay you have a good selection of nice restaurants and bars to visit. Especially recommended is the Avenue de Champagne where some of the largest Champagne houses are represented (De Venoge, Perrier-Jouët, Mercier och Moët et Chandon. There are also several wine cellars worth a visit here, located in in historic “crayeres” (chalk pit cellars) – one of the most popular is Cave Mercier (see map).

Ay is another great destination for champagne tourists. It’s only about 4 kilometers northeast of Epernay and 30 kilometers south of Reims. In this small town (just over 4000 inhabitants) there are almost 20 champagne houses located here (most notable Ayala, Bollinger and Deutz). Ay is by many recommended as the nicest place to visit (not as large as Reims and not as Industrial as Epernay).

Best champagne houses to visit in in Champagne

All champagne houses are almost per definition great wine makers. So instead of suggesting “great champagne” we try to suggest “great experience” – meaning more than just buying a bottle of champagne (including tasting (dégustation), nice scenery, guided tours, restaurants and accommodation). 

 

View Champagne houses in Reims, Épernay and Ay in a larger map

Below you find more detailed maps of champagne houses in Reims, Epernay and Ay.

A selection of champagne houses in Reims

  • Champagne Henriot
  • Champagne Jacquart
  • Champagne Krug
  • Champagne Lanson
  • Champagne Piper-Heidsieck
  • G.H. Mumm
  • Louis Roederer Champagne
  • Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin

View Reims Champagne houses in a larger map

A selection of champagne houses in Epernay

  • Champagne de Venoge
  • Champagne Moët et Chandon
  • Champagne Perrier-Jouët
  • Champagne Pol Roger
  • Mercier Champagne

View Épernay Champagne houses in a larger map

A selection of champagne houses in Ay

  • Champagne Ayala & Co
  • Champagne Brun Roger
  • Champagne Deutz
  • Champagne Grilliat Alain
  • Champagne Michel Gentilhomme
  • Champagne Moët et Chandon
  • Champagne Nadège Richard-Fliniauxmore
  • Champagne Pascal Henin

View Ay Champagne houses in a larger map

Where To Stay in the Champagne region

I have composed a small collection of ten recommended places to stay in when visiting the Champagne region. The source for these recommendations is based on an extensive research among discussion forums, travel agencies and of course my own investigations. If you would have something to add, please make a comment below. I have divided the accommodation in three (Luxury, Normal hotel and Bed & Breakfasts)

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Luxury accommodation in Champagne

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Château Les Crayères (Reims)

The best address in town is Gerard Boyer’s three-Michelin starred restaurant and **** hotel. As the Michelin Red Guide says, expect to pay dearly for the privilege! Set in several acres of pretty grounds, this property is not central. It’s located just outside the Pommery & Greno estate, but if you can afford to stay here, what’s a taxi fare?  This place is Ranked #1 of 55 hotels in Reims by tripadvisor. Approximate price for one room one night: €400-700.

Le Royal Champagne Hotel

Set amid lush vineyards that extend as far as the eye can see, Royal Champagne is a former coach house. Once one of Napoleon’s favorite stopovers, it is the ideal base from which to explore the glorious Champagne maisons. This place is Ranked #6 of 15 hotels in Epernay by tripadvisor. Approximate price for one room one night: €200-500.

Hotel accommodation in Champagne

Hotel de la Paix (Reims)

Located in the heart of Reims in an exceptional setting. Just a stone’s throw away from the cathedral, this hotel with its resolutely contemporary style is also situated near the conference centre and the TGV train station. Approximate price for one room one night: €120-150.

Grand Hotel Du Nord (Reims)

The Grand Hotel du Nord is ideally located close to all amenities and to the ancient city, where guests can see Vesoul’s famous Motte chapel. The whole area is steeped in history. Approximate price for one room one night: €60-80.

Suite Novotel Reims Centre (Reims)

Located in the heart of Rheims, this 4-star hotel is just a 5 minute walk from the Reims Centre train station & the conference center. The Notre Dame de Reims cathedral and Champagne houses are just waiting to be discovered. Approximate price for one room one night: €140-170.

Hotel de Champagne (Épernay)

The Best Western hotel de Champagne benefits from an ideal location in the heart of the capital of the Champagne producing area, between the city centre and the Avenue de Champagne, where the most prestigious Champagne cellars are open to guided visits. Situated in the heart of Epernay the hotel is very close (500 meters) to the town center and the Avenue of Champagne (Moët & Chandon, Perrier-Jouët). Approximate price for one room one night: €100-130.

ibis Château-Thierry

Located in the heart of Champagne, just 20 metres from Château-Thierry, ibis Château-Thierry offers a terrace with River Marne views, garden, bar and restaurant. The champagne cellars are just 1 km away. This hotel has family rooms (Composed of 2 rooms). Approximate price for one room one night: €100-130.

Bed & Breakfasts accommodation in Champagne

These places are often a bit smaller, but often with comfort and experience that exceed many hotels. Here you can get a closer experience to the region and even stay on the vineyard.

Chateau de la Marjolaine

This bed and breakfast castle sits in the Champenois vineyards, just a one-hour drive from Paris. It offers elegant guest rooms with views of the large garden and the ponds. Approximate price for one room one night: €130-180.

La Villa Champagne Ployez-Jacquemart

Built in 1930, this winery offers B&B accommodation 12 km from the Abbey of Saint-Remi. Lovely location and excellent accommodation, with tours of the champagne manufacture and bottling facility plus tasting available for guests. This hotel has family rooms (suite consists of 2 interconnecting rooms).  Approximate price for one room one night: €120-190

Le Clos Margot

This is a lovely modern hotel in the Champagne region. Choose from one of 5 independent and individually decorated rooms at Le Clos Margot. It sits between Chalons-en-Champagne and Epernay just outside the centre of Vertus. This hotel has family rooms (30 square metres). Approximate price for one room one night: €110-170.

Les Grappes d’Or at Champange Eric Isselee

Eric Isselee rent out rooms with splendid views of his vineyards in the village of Cramant. Constant supply of the house champagne in the fridge (reasonable priced). Double room from €50 including French breakfast. No luxury but definitely worth the money. The vineyards of Eric Isselée are located in an area designated as Grand Cru. Because of this outstanding location, the domaine focuses on Blanc de Blancs (Chardonnay dominated) blends with tremendous results.

Please add your experience of the champagne region

What would your recommend to other people that travel the region in search for culinary experiences. What is your 1) favourite champagne house to visit 2) favourite restaurant in the area 3) favourite hotel accommodation? Please make a comment below and help other travellers enjoy the champagne region even more.

Vosne-Romanée, great big white Burgundy

Of all Burgundy white wines, you find the biggest of here. They has a deserved worldwide reputation for its incomparable finesse and bouquet.

Great wine makers to visit in Vosne-Romanée

Where to stay in Vosne-Romanée

Please add your experience of Vosne-Romanée!

What would your recommend to do (and not to do)? What is your 1) favourite vine maker 2) favourite restaurant 3) favourite hotel accommodation? Please make a comment below and help other travellers enjoy Vosne-Romanée even more..

Auxerre

Burgundy/Bourgogne region

Auxerre is the capital of the Yonne department and the fourth largest city in Burgundy. The city of Auxerre is ideally located 1h30 southeast of Paris. To the east of Auxerre is the prosperous little town of Chablis, 15 km down the road, famous for its white wine from the Chardonnay grape, sometimes referred to as ‘liquid gold’.

Great wine makers to visit in Auxerre

Robert Colinot – 2, rue Neuve , 89290 Irancy

Where to stay in Auxerre

  • Hotel Le Maxime, *** a Logis de France, Quai de la Marine
  • Hotel Parc des Maréchaux ***
  • Les Clairions **
  • Campanile Auxerre **
  • Le Mas Des Lilas, ** Escolives Ste Camille

Please add your experience of Auxerre!

What would your recommend to do (and not to do)? What is your 1) favourite vine maker 2) favourite restaurant 3) favourite hotel accommodation? Please make a comment below and help other travellers enjoy Auxerre even more..

Saint-Emilion

Saint-EmilionSt-Emilion is a beautiful town surrounded by city walls with fascinating Romanesque churches and ruins stretching all along steep and narrow streets. The town of Saint Emilion is the focal point of the vineyards and wineries on the “right bank” in Bordeaux. Wine making here goes back to the 2nd century when Romans planted the first vineyards in the region. St-Emilion exported a lot of wine to England in the 1600 and 1700s. Ships left Bristol with stone as ballast that was later discharged when entering the port of Vignonet on the Dordogne River. The streets of St-Emilio are therefore paved with granite from Wales and Cornwall. Read more about St-Emilion

Great wine makers to visit in Saint Emilion

Jean-Pierre Mouneix, historic wine cellars.

Château Laniote, 3 La Niotte, 33330 Saint-Emilion,  +33 5 57 24 70 8

Chateau Villemaurine. This lovely property situated on the famous limestone plateau of Saint-Émilion has for ages produced wines of unparalleled elegance. The limestone soil gives the wine its remarkable equilibrium.

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 Where to stay in Saint-Emilion

Le Relais de Franc Mayne. 14, La Gomerie 33330 Saint-Emilion, Gironde, France – Tél : +33 (0)557 246 261/Fax : +33 (0)557 246 825.

Please add your experience of Saint-Emilion!

What would your recommend to do (and not to do)? What is your 1) favourite vine maker 2) favourite restaurant 3) favourite hotel accommodation? Please make a comment below and help other travellers enjoy Saint-Emilion even more..

Châteauneuf-du-Pape

Châteauneuf-du-Pape is a beautiful old village surrounded by wine yards covered with pebble stone (galets roulés). The name “the new castle of the pope” originates back from around 1300 when Pope Clement V relocated the papacy to the region. In the village most winemakers have their own shops with “degustation” (free tasting). If you have the opportunity you should really stop here for a day (and a night) and enjoy this fantastic place. Read more about Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

Here’s an introduction to what you can expect to see of you visit Avignon and Châteauneuf-du-Pape

Great wine makers to visit in Châteauneuf-du-Pape

All offers tasting  “degustation” and direct sales “vin a’ emporter”. Use the map below for directions.

 

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Where to stay in Châteauneuf-du-Pape

La Garbure 3, rue Joseph Ducos 84230 Chateauneuf du Pape. Situated in the heart of the village of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Madame and Monsieur Giansily await you to offer you the authentic Provence.

Hôtel – Restaurant “La Sommellerie”. La Sommellerie is on the edge of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The 17th century building once housed livestock and is now a venue for lovers of good food and fine wines from the world over.
Route de Roquemaure – 84230 Chateauneuf-du-Pape
Tèl. : +33-(0)4 90 83 50 00 – Fax : +33-(0)4 90 83 51 85
Internet : http://www.la-sommellerie.fr/

Please add your experience of Châteauneuf-du-Pape!

What would your recommend to do (and not to do)? What is your 1) favourite vine maker 2) favourite restaurant 3) favourite hotel accommodation? Please make a comment below and help other travellers enjoy Châteauneuf-du-Pape even more.

 

Alscace – a guide to the wine region

Alsace is one of the smallest regions in France located on France’s eastern border and on the west bank of the upper Rhine adjacent to Germany and Switzerland. The region is full of beautiful castles and absolutely adorable villages as Riquewihr, Eguisheim, Mittelbergheim or Bergheim.

Alsace_in_France_svgThe position in northern France makes this the perfect stop for travelers from Scandinavia. Spend two nights in a colorful medieval town, join the winetasting (winemakers have their shops in the villages with free tasting), eat classic Alsatian food as Choucroute (sauerkraut served with potatoes, very thick slices of bacon and other smoked and salted pork meat, sausages, etc), Flammekueche (oven baked thin crust pizza with cream, onions and chopped bacon), Baeckeoffe, Bibeleskas, Escargots à l’Alsacienne or Munster cheese. Everything of course served with create Alsace wine.

Alsace wines are mainly white wines, but also red wines from the grape Pinot Noir occur. Over 90% of Alsace wines are made from white grape varieties. Aromatic and balanced with impressive acidity and structure, these wines are remarkably food friendly. The biggest difference between alsace wines and its German neighbors on the other side of the Rhine, is Alsace wines are traditionally allowed to ferment out completely and thus lacks residual sweetness.

Best 4 villages to visit in the Alsace region

  1. Riquewihr
  2. Eguisheim
  3. Mittelbergheim
  4. Bergheim

1. Riquewihr. Winegrowing community on the Wine Route (altitude 300 m), Riquewihr currently has 1228 inhabitants and is a member of the Association of the Most Beautiful Villages in France. It stands 4 km from Ribeauvillé. Many shops and boutiques, as well as hotels, restaurants and Winstubs, an intermunicipal campsite, bed-and-breakfast rooms and furnished flats. Many winegrowers offer guided tours of their cellars with tastings.

Several wine producers have their shop with tasting room in the village, e.g.:

  • Dopff au Moulin – Great Crémant d’Alsace (sparkling wine).
  • Daniel Wiederhirn – Taste their wine in a cellar from the 16th-century!
  • Hugel et Fils – Historical wine cellar with the world’s oldest wine barrel which is still in use.

2. Eguisheim. Surrounded by vineyards, nestling in a fold of green hills, Eguisheim is a medieval village whose narrow, concentric streets highlight the architectural merits of its half-timbered houses, lovingly decorated with flowers. Since 1985, this passion has been rewarded with the “4-flower” rating of France’s National Floral Award. Discover in this unique village: historic fountains, tithe manors, a yellow sandstone church with a 13th century “Opening Virgin” statue. Stroll along its narrow streets and admire the broad spectrum of its coloured houses, where ancient inscriptions can be deciphered on the stone lintels. Fall in love with the personality of this most typical Alsace villages.

3. Mittelbergheim, one of the most beautiful village of France. This renowned gastronomic centre stands on the slopes at the foot of the Crax hill. Its remarkable location and architectural heritage have earned it the title of one of ‘the most beautiful villages of France’

4. Bergheim is a very pleasant winegrowing village on the Wine Trail, with a very uncommon past. It is one of the best preserved and most typical towns of Alsace. The Musée de la Sorcière (Witches Museum) shows an exhibition about the witch trials that took place in this town between 1582 and 1682. Many other sites deserve a visit : The ramparts with their towers. The Town Hall with its square and fountain. The pleasure garden and its famous lime tree of 1300. The gothic basilica…