If there’s a celebration, nine times out of 10, there’s Champagne. It’s that iconic bubbly beverage that is photographed showing the fabulous fizz in stunning glasses. But it’s just a pretty pretender if what you are drinking hasn’t been produced in the Champagne region of France.
GetAway Travel invites you to contact us and book a trip to explore the Champagne region and get up close and personal with the drink that has launched thousands of special moments.
Why is it special?
Since the 1600s, 3 grapes: pinot noir, pinot meunièr and chardonnay grapes make what we call Champagne. The hills and plains in Eastern France between Paris and Lorraine are renowned for producing the famous sparkling wine known as Champagne. The area is about a day trip by bus from Paris.
The taste of grapes varies depending on the area where they are grown, which is one of the reasons Champagne processed and produced in the Champagne region has very distinctive characteristics. The amount of each grape included in the blend or cuvee is proprietary to each Champagne producer.
The grape mix is fermented into wine and the wine is then injected with a yeast. The second fermentation series creates carbon dioxide which puts the bubbles into the bubbly.
Champagne must age at least 15 months, but some are aged much longer. When you walk the streets of Reims and Epernay, two of the larger cities in the Champagne region, you are likely walking over millions of bottles of Champagne stored in tunnels and cellars beneath the earth.
Cathedrals, castles and Champagne
Reims, was the traditional coronation spot for most of France’s kings. Reims Cathedral is one of France’s greatest representations of gothic architecture. It was badly damaged in WWI, and then restored to its original splendor. Its twin bell towers and rose-stained glass windows are featured in many publications.
Reims is home to some of the major Champagne producers including Taittinger. Of course tours and tastings are available but be warned — tours include the cellars and tunnels. It may be 85 degrees outside, but it’s in a chilly mid-40s where the Champagne is stored. Pack a light coat.
If you are fascinated by Art Deco, check out the Villa Demoiselle in Reims. This grand mansion has been transformed into a museum that features Art Nouveau as well as Art Deco furniture and fittings. Reims is very pedestrian oriented, and you can stroll along the streets and visit Champagne retailers, smaller tasting rooms and restaurants.
Visit the Chateau de Sedan in the region. The mid-16th century castle/fortress once housed nearly 4,000 residents. On your tour you will likely meet up with medieval costumed characters.
Nigoland in Dolancourt is a theme park that includes a great roller coaster, a drop tower attraction and a forest and gardens. The Troyes Cathedral has a superb rose window, and it houses art as well as renaissance era sculptures.
While you are in Troyes, you can see an 18th century apothecary with a fabulous collection of ceramic jars and painted medicine boxes.
Don’t skip a side trip to Epernay
Epernay is about 15 miles from Reims and Champagne producers such as Moet-Chandon and Perrier-Jouet are headquartered there. There are many smaller cellars and Champagne houses all within walking distance along the Avenue de Champagne. It is estimated that there are more than 200 million bottles of Champagne beneath the streets.
Admire the incredible stonework at the Portal Saint-Martin. The oldest monument in Epernay has fabulous stone renderings of animals. It is all that is left of the Abby of Saint Martin. Relax and smell the roses at the Jardin Botanique De La Presir. This botanical garden features plants from all over Europe as well as 500 types of roses. There’s a labyrinth as well as topiaries sculpted into monster shapes!
The seasoned, well-traveled travel advisors at GetAway Travel can help with your dream trip to the Champagne region of France and also help you book your smaller cellar and site tours before you go so you won’t miss a thing. Contact Sue or Paul, (262) 538-2140, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com