Most tourists who come to Paris enjoy the city’s renowned museums, architecture and food. However, many visitors also want to enjoy some of the delightful bubblies. But instead of merely getting a bottle from one of the many restaurants across the French capital, why not head to the source?
A tour of the Champagne region is the best way to not just savor Champagne but also learn about wine-making. It’s one of the best ideas for a vacation for people who love wine (or oenophiles) and anyone who appreciates drinking.
If you’re planning your trip to Paris, explore the French countryside and taste some of the world’s finest Champagnes from the best day trips.
The Champagne Wine Region
The Champagne wine region is located just a few hours from Paris, making it the perfect destination for a day trip. Champagne comprises departments spread across sub-regions, each composed of “crus” or villages specializing in different types of Champagne production. These include the grand cru, a top-rated village and the premier cru, which produces high-quality Champagne but is not as well-known as the grand cru.
These terms may not be familiar to you, but they’re essential when booking a tour or tasting. The reason is that the grand cru Champagnes are usually more expensive but also of higher quality. If you’re looking for the best Champagne experience possible, it’s worth paying a little extra for a grand cru tour or tasting.
If you’re looking for a festive and luxurious way to spend a day in Paris, consider booking a Champagne tour. These tours offer the chance to explore the beautiful countryside around the city and taste some of France’s most famous sparkling wines. It doesn’t matter if you’re a wine lover or just looking for an unforgettable experience, Champagne tours are worth considering.
Tours to the Champagne region depart regularly from Paris, and there are various itineraries to choose from. Generally, these tours include transportation to and from the champagne region and a guided winery or vineyard tour. Many tours also include tasting the celebrated sparkling wine so you can sample the wines produced in the region.
Arranging a Champagne Day Trip from Paris
You can choose from various itineraries when you book a champagne tour from Paris. English-speaking guides usually lead the tours, so you don’t have to worry about language barriers. The best way to book a tour is through a reputable travel agency or wine tour company. This will ensure that you get a quality tour at a fair price.
If you’re looking for a specific type of champagne tour, it’s a good idea to do some research in advance. For example, if you’re interested in learning about the wine-making process, look for a tour that includes visiting a vineyard or winery. Alternatively, if you’re more interested in tasting sparkling wine, look for a tour that includes a Champagne tasting.
Tour Guides vs. Do It Yourself
Although booking a tour is the easiest way to arrange a champagne day trip from Paris, it’s not the only option.
The cost will be a significant factor when deciding whether to book a tour or do it yourself. Tours can be pricey, usually starting at around 3000 to 4000 euros per person over four days. However, this cost usually includes transportation, a guided tour, accommodations and Champagne tasting in a champagne house.
If you’re on a budget, it’s probably best to drive or take the train to the Champagne region on your own. This will allow you to save money on transportation and tour costs.
If you’re the type of traveler who likes to plan your trips, you can easily do so by renting a car and driving to the Champagne region on your own. This is an excellent option if you’re on a budget or prefer to travel at your own pace. However, remember that driving in France can be challenging, so it’s probably best to book a tour if you’re not comfortable driving in a foreign country.
Another option is to take the train to the Champagne region. This is a convenient and affordable option, but it’s important to note that trains can be crowded, so it’s not always the best choice for travelers with large bags or luggage.
Of course, another factor to consider is convenience. If you’re short on time or don’t want to hassle with planning your own trip, booking a tour is probably the best option. When you book a tour, you only have to show up on the day of the tour, and the guide will take care of everything for you.
However, if you like being hands-on and planning your own trips, you may prefer to do it yourself. This option requires more work, but it can also be more rewarding. If you are this kind of person, here are some tips.
Planning Tips for Organizing Champagne Tours on Your Own
If you’re planning to do a champagne tour on your own, there are a few things you need to keep in mind.
First, make sure to book your accommodations in advance. The Champagne region is a famous destination for tourists, so hotels and other lodgings are almost always fully-booked. You want to ensure you have a place to stay before arriving.
You should also plan ahead for meals. When you’re on tour, most of your meals will be included in the cost. However, if you want a gourmet French lunch, you must make reservations in advance. Many restaurants in the Champagne region require reservations, so be sure to call ahead.
Make sure you pack light, as you will be doing a lot of walking on your champagne tour. Comfortable shoes are a must to avoid blisters. It would be best to pack a hat or scarf, as the sun can be harsh in the Champagne region.
Do Your Research
Research the different champagne producers in the region and decide which ones you want to visit. Most producers offer tours of their facilities, so you’ll need to make reservations in advance. You can usually do this by calling the producer or booking online.
Check the Weather
Before you start planning your trip, check the weather forecast. The Champagne region can be pretty cold and wet, especially in the winter. If the weather is bad, you may want to consider postponing your trip or changing your plans.
You may consider hiring a driver or a taxi to and from your accommodations. This is especially important if you plan to drink champagne on your tour. Additionally, if you’re a woman traveling alone, it’s always best to be cautious and take precautions.
Champagne Houses to Visit
If you’re planning to visit the Champagne region on your own, you want to see some of the region’s most famous champagne houses.
Here are a few of the best:
1. Veuve Clicquot
The Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Champagne house is one of the most well-known in the region. Based in Reims, this producer is known for its high-quality champagne. The house offers tours of its facilities that you can pre-book online.
2. Moët & Chandon
If you’re looking for a champagne experience that screams luxury, look no further than Moët & Chandon. This producer is based in Epernay and offers various champagnes, from entry-level to prestige. The house also offers tours of its cellars that you must book in advance.
3. Dom Pérignon
Dom Perignon is a world-famous champagne house under Moët & Chandon but is considered a separate brand. They offer tours of its cellars in the Avenue de Champagne. If you’re interested in learning about the history of champagne, this is the producer for you.
A high-end champagne producer, Krug is based in Reims and offers some of the most expensive champagnes in the world. The house focuses on quality over quantity and only produces a few hundred thousand bottles yearly. A private day trip to the Krug Estate can cost a pretty penny.
Some people prefer their champagne to be on the sweeter side, and Pommery produces some of the best sweet champagnes in the region. You can visit their cave cellars without booking a tour in advance.
This family-run winery is based in Reims and offers some of the best Brut champagnes in the region. The Taittinger family also owns several vineyards in the Champagne region, so you can be sure that their champagnes are of top quality.
Mercier offers a unique train tour experience of their cellars. The tour includes an audio guide and a ride through the cellars. If you’re interested in learning about the production process of champagne, this is the producer for you.
In the heart of the Champagne region, Mumm is one of the most famous producers in the area. Their non-vintage champagnes are some of the best in the region.
Tips on Wine-Tasting for First-Timers
Finally, if it’s your first time to go on wine tours and visit Champagne houses, know a few things before going on your tour.
Here are some tips on wine tasting to make the most of your experience:
1. Don’t drink too much
This is an obvious tip, but an important one nonetheless. You want to be able to taste the champagne properly, not just get drunk. A good rule of thumb is to drink no more than two glasses per person.
2. Smell the Champagne
Before you take a sip, smell the sparkling wine or wine. This will help you pick up on different aromas and flavors.
3. Wear dark clothing
Wine can be notoriously difficult to get out of clothes, so it’s best to wear dark clothing when you’re on your tour. This way, if you spill some sparkling wine on yourself, it won’t be as noticeable.
4. Spit the wine out
Some people prefer to spit out the wine after tasting it. This is because it allows you to taste the drink without getting drunk. But naturally use a spittoon or find a sink, so you don’t make a mess.
5. Take your time
There’s no rush when you’re tasting champagne. Savor the flavor and take your time. After all, you’re on vacation! Champagne tastings should be a fun and relaxing experience.
6. Don’t wear anything with a strong fragrance
Avoid wearing a strong perfume or aftershave. Strong fragrances intrude on other wine tasters and affect how you taste the wine because the aroma may be drowned out by your perfume.
7. Hold your glass by the stem
Never hold your glass by the bowl because it’ll affect the temperature of the wine. Your fingerprints on the glass may also obscure the view of the wine, affecting how you see the clarity and color.
If these are too much to recall, think about these steps when a drink is being poured before you: look, swirl, smell and sip.
From Paris to Champagne
Champagne tasting in Paris? Champagne tasting in Champagne is even better.
When you have the time and budget on your French holiday, try going on a Champagne day tour from Paris. Plan your trip well. Prepare for those visits to the famous Champagne houses. And savor this fun, sensorial experience with a bottle of bubbly and amid idyllic vineyards.