By now you should know that I adore Champagne and sparkling wine. So it should be no surprise that after 3 nights in Paris, we made our way North to the Champagne region to taste a bit of the bubbly.
Our first stop was in Epernay at Champagne Mercier where we were taken on a short train tour of the caves or cellars where the wine is bottled and aged. Although the audio tour was interesting it was a bit impersonal compared with other wine tours I’ve experienced (ie. Sonoma and Napa). It wasn’t until we arrived at the final stop – the Champagne tasting – where we experienced the true character of the Champagne and the house itself, via the very knowledgeable hosts. Aside from tasting the Champagne – which was outstanding – my favorite part of the visit was being up close and personal with the grapevines – a must for any wine/Champagne lover.
We left Epernay and made our way slightly north to our hotel, the Royal Champagne. A friend’s French aquaintance recommended this hotel and we were not disappointed. Although it is not glamourous from the outside – resembling a modest chateau or fancy farm house. In reality, the interior is quite charming and reflects the deep connection to the surrounding vineyards.
Upon check in, we received a warm greeting from our host as well as a glass of Champagne – and if you’re counting, this makes two glasses thus far. This hospitality was the perfect beginning to our stay and continued throughout.
Our room was nothing less than incredible, from the huge plush bed, to the beautiful bathroom and shower. But what stood out the most was the amazing view of the vineyards from our balcony. My only regret was that we did not stay there long enough to enjoy a meal or a drink with our view.
After dropping off our luggage, we headed further into the Champagne region to Reims. Here we had the fortune of receiving a private tour of Villa Demoiselle, an architectural jewel dating back to the early 1900s. Our guide, Marion, led us through the history of the villa, explaining that it was once threatened by destruction and severely damaged by squatters. It was then saved by its owners, the Vrankens, who restored the villa, bringing it back to life via the timeless decor, furniture, and art nouveau pieces throughout.
Our tour ended with a glass of Villa Demoiselle Champagne – the ideal way to top off a great tour. From here, we made our way across the street to Vranken Pommery for our final Champagne event. The 30-minute walking tour of the caves below was rather entertaining, albeit a bit spooky in a dark, damp way.
On our journey, we learned the history of the Champagne house and cellars (which were finished by a female owner) and caught a glimpse of bottled Champagne that had been aged for over 100 years. The end of the tour signaled the end to our Champagne adventure. Before leaving Vranken Pommery, we enjoyed one last glass of Champagne, making a toast to our memorable day.