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Champagne region itinerary

SF Bay Area
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Champagne region itinerary

My wife and I have 12 days to spend in France, and we've decided to visit the Champagne region. We're reserving the last three days of our trip for some time in Paris (we've been before, but not for the last 8 years). With 9 days in Champagne, we're thinking of three days each in Epernay, Reims and Troyes. Although we'll have a car, we prefer not to drive in the evenings so we can walk (or take a short taxi ride) to restaurants.

We hope to spend mornings driving to smaller towns/villages and seeing sights, visiting the occasional grower/producer. We may hire a driver once or twice so we can both enjoy Champagne without driving. On the days where we do drive, we'll just do most of our tasting in the afternoon in Epernay or Reims. Troyes is on our list because we love old towns, so it's OK if there's not much in the way of Champagne houses there.

Thoughts on the # of days? Does it make sense splitting our time between Epernay & Reims, even though they're pretty close together? Taxis from one to the other seems like they would add up. We travel lightly, so the idea of moving a few times doesn't phase us (although we don't like to spend just one night in a town).

Any suggestions on drivers that offer private or semi-private tours to Champagne houses outside of these towns? We did that in Provence and really enjoyed it. Thanks in advance.

Paris, France
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1. Re: Champagne region itinerary

Scenically there are more beautiful regions in France than the champagne region. I think 9 days is a lot for that area and personally I would spend time in another region and probably devote 3 or 4 days max to that region and only if I were interested in Champagne. But if you are champagne lovers then I see why you want to spend more time here. However, even though it's not the most scenically beautiful area there are still worthwhile places to visit and some nice drives to be found. The most scenic areas to explore near Reims and Epernay will be northwest of Reims between it and the town of Laon (worth visiting). Another area is going to be in the Marne River valley between Epernay in the east and the town of Nanteuil-sur-Marne in the west and there will be some nice drives in the countryside both north and south of the river. I've never explored just west and southwest of Reims but I know thee are some nice drives there as well. You can look at a few photo reports I made about exploring this area if you want to see what it looks like and learn about some of the worthwhile visits while exploring:

http://tinyurl.com/298tppr

http://tinyurl.com/cr52tkf

http://tinyurl.com/cq9nf5x

http://tinyurl.com/p467ofv

You can discover a lot of scenic drives and follow the Champagne trail through the region and you'll learn about that and more if you have a look at the tourist office website for the Champagne-Ardenne region:

champagne-ardenne-tourism.co.uk/default.aspx

tourisme-en-champagne.co.uk/en/…4

http://www.aube-champagne.com/en/default.asp

Tourist offices sites for Reims, Epernay and Troyes:

http://www.reims-tourism.com/

http://en.tourisme-troyes.com/

http://www.ot-epernay.fr/

This is the website for one of our regular TA contributors who knows quite a bit about Champagne and that region and you'll find a lot of info about champagne and houses to visit. I'm sure they'll also have advice to offer you.

www.champagnediscovery.com

Make sure you have Michelin maps if you want to explore this or any other region in France as they are the key to discovering great scenic drives and villages to visit. Pay special attention where you see designated scenic roads, which are highlighted in green.

You can buy the Michelin maps from their website and here is a link to the page that shows you the 1:200,000 scale maps of France: http://tinyurl.com/4bt96ev

And here is a link to the page that shows you the 1:150,000 scale maps of France:

http://tinyurl.com/6mt4n64

I recommend the 1:150,000 scale maps as they note the starred attractions in the corresponding Michelin Green Guides.

In regards to your specific questions, Reims and Epernay are very close to each other but you could focus 3 days on visiting from the northwest to southwest of Reims if based in Reims. Then you could do 3 days in Epernay and explore along the Marne River and to the south of Epernay. I think this is one of those questions you need to answer yourselves by figuring out what exactly you want to see and do and where you want to visit.

The Reims tourist office website has some info about private drivers:

reims-tourism.com/chauffeurs-de-maitre-made-…

I'm sure there are many more and if you google the words "chauffeur reims" you'll get several results, such as this:

1cares.com/fr/en/car/rent-a-car-in-Reims.html

http://www.ab-cars-51.com/

pagesjaunes.fr/annuaire/reims-51/chauffeurs-…

You can also contact the tourist office and I'm sure they can help you.

I've never been to Troyes and I'm not that familiar with the area nearby and what to see and do but one of the above links I provided is to the regional tourist office website for that region and it should give you some ideas. If you like old medieval cities then to the west of Troyes I would also recommend a day trip to Provins:

provins.net/index.php/english-version.html

Hope that helps you get started with your research.

SF Bay Area
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2. Re: Champagne region itinerary

Laon looks beautiful. I think you may be correct that even as lovers of Champagne, having non-tasting days in beautiful towns & villages would be a nice change of pace, even though we do love Champagne. I'm still intrigued by Troyes and the midieval cities like Provins. I think we'll look into less days in Epernay/Reims and perhaps choose Laon as a different base. Thank you for the ideas and suggestions!

Paris, France
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3. Re: Champagne region itinerary

Laon is lovely and there are some great scenic drives just south of there that you'll learn about in my previous report. Be sure to pay a visit to the tiny but beautiful art deco church in Martigny-Courpierre. Southwest of Laon in the direction of Paris there are several places worth visiting such as Coucy-le-Château, Soissons, Compiegne, Senlis ( great medieval town), Crépy-en-Valois and the châteaux of Pierrefonds and Chantilly. Here are a few of my photo reports about exploring that area and some of the towns I mentioned:

http://tinyurl.com/6snrf3q

http://tinyurl.com/cazwcpx

http://tinyurl.com/ch2odst

Laon tourist office:

http://www.laon-tourism.co.uk/

Reading, United...
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4. Re: Champagne region itinerary

If you are considering cutting any days from your Champage stay then I would suggest Reims. Obviously it does have the historic importance of the cathedral and Palais de Tau but other than that there is not much to see and a smattering of the larger, commercial houses.

Epernay is a much better base as there are a few very good smaller domaines: Janisson-Baradon, Collard-Picard and Leclerc Briant as well as some big houses such as Moet and Mercier etc. Also, there are a number of good restaurants all in a relatively short walk from the centre (or what we deem to be the centre - the bottom of the Avenue de Champagne): Les Berceaux, La Grillade Gourmande, La Table Kobus, La Banque and just a short drive away Chez Max in Magenta.

Personally, as a champagne addict, I would find that itinerary no problem at all - we never have enough time! I agree that there are more srunning area of France for scenery but that said, I still love the scenery of the Champagne region.

To throw another idea in the mix, how about staying in one of the villages, perhaps even at a Champagne house? Many have lodgings, from the basic and inexpensive up towards the prestigious Domaine Jacques Selosse who have for the last year - couple of years been running the gorgeous Hotel Restaurant Les Avises in Avize. The restaurant serves lunch and evening meals, the latter being 60 euros per person. It isn't cheap but it is a fantastic experience, especially if you coincide your stay with when Anselme Selosse is available to give you a private tasting (Monday and Friday evenings if I remeber correctly). Also in Avize are a number of excellent smaller domaines: Agrapart, De Sousa, Gonet, Corbon, Le Brun-Servenay to name a few.

Other villages such as Ambonnay, Bouzy and Le Mesnil-sur-Oger will also provide at least a couple of days of 'arduous' tasting! Also, the village of Hautvillers, whilst it doesn't have what I would call top class producers, it does have quite a few smaller producers, a few eateries, a tasting bar with shop (au 36) and an antique shop. It is of course home to the Abbey where a certain Dom Perignon lived and is buried in alongside another famous champagne monk Dom Ruinart. It is also a very pretty village to boot!

Toowoomba, Australia
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5. Re: Champagne region itinerary

We spent a week in the Champagne region in 2012 and enjoyed our stay there. We stayed in a gite in the village of Bouzy. So we self cater and do not have a lot of advice for restaurants. Did enjoy our meal at Le Champenois in Tours sur Marne and lunch in L'Epine. I do not see the point in staying in Reims and Epernay which are so close . I would stay in one, probably Epernay as it is smaller and therefore easier to get in and out of each day.

If you want something different, we enjoyed our walk in the Faux de Verzy. I continue to suggest this as we like to make the most of our stays in regions and most do not look beyond tasting champagne. We also liked our drives along the Marne and down the route through the vineyards south of Epernay. We did a day trip to Troyes and it has a beautiful old centre. On our last day in the region we enjoyed a picturesque drive around villages such as Montmort Lucy and Orbais L'Abbaye

We travelled to Bouzy from Picardy and stopped in Laon for lunch . Another lovely place and having read FMtiques report, also stopped in Martigny to see the church which is beautiful and worth detouring to see.

I will admit that we are not terribly knowledgeable about champagne. We enjoy drinking it and the tours we did [ two ] were good. That was enough for us. We stopped at a house in Oger which had a friendly host who showed us his cellars. We bought champagne for each night and it was wonderful to enjoy at home with fresh raspberries and chocolates from the local boulangerie. If you do some research you can have a rewarding stay that includes champagne tasting and more.

Paris, France
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6. Re: Champagne region itinerary

I'm glad Psychowarthog and phiron commented and gave you some good advice. There are also some scenic drives south of Mézy-Moulins. Take the D4 heading south out of this town (a designated scenic road) to Condé-en-Brie and follow it to Orbais-l'Abbaye. Then head over to Montmirail and get on some of the small country roads just west of Montmirail through the villages of La Celle-Montmirail, Vendières, Marchais-en-Brie and L'Epine-aux-Bois. Then head north on the D863 and pick up the designated scenic road to Chézy-sur-Marne, which is a charming little village.

SF Bay Area
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7. Re: Champagne region itinerary

Thanks everyone. A walk through the Faux de Verzy sounds lovely! As far as cutting out Reims, I must admit that our main goal of staying there was to eat at Les Crayeres and not have to drive (or taxi) back to Epernay. Now that we've got some other good options, I do think we'll visit Reims for a day to see sights, but not stay there. There's great restaurants where we live, so if we miss out on Les Crayeres then so be it.

Staying at a Champagne house in one of the villages, even just for one night, sounds appealing. One of our favorite grower/producers is Ariston Aspasie, and I know that they have some rooms. I'm not sure if they're actually in a village or between, but I can investigate. I see a mention of Collard-Picard above. Rene Collard was one of my all-time favorite producers, and I know Collard-Picard was started by one of his kids & their spouse.

Thanks once again for the wonderful ideas. I've become even more excited about our trip!

Reading, United...
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8. Re: Champagne region itinerary

Not too far from Brouillet is Vrigny where Champagne Roger Coulon (part of the same association as Selosse, and Prévost) run a lovely B & B "Le Clos des Terres Soudées". Just down the road (about 100 yards) is a lovely family domaine Lelarge-Pugeot.

The next village is Gueux, home to the amazing Champagne La Closerie (Jérôme Prévost) and an old Formula 1 and endrance road racing circuit from the 50's and 60's.

You clearly have a good knowledge of quality, smaller domaines so you must visit Pierre-Yves Cainjo who runs "Le 520" in Epernay. Its probably the best champagne shop in the World!

I can't recommend "Les Avisés" highly enough and if you would like some other suggestions for great quality smaller domaines, please let me know.

9. Re: Champagne region itinerary

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