Explore unmissable cellars from the great Champagne houses of Epernay and Reims to the lesser known but no less compelling houses in the areas of Côte des Bar (Aube), Reims, and Aÿ. Pair the delicious champagne available in the region with outstanding gastronomy from brunch to dinner.
Two of Champagne’s departments in particular — Aube and Marne — have a long history of gastronomic and oenological excellence. The area benefited from being close to Paris and Champagne’s reputation for high-quality wine production is documented as far back as the early medieval period. Yet, it is the characteristic and unique chalky geology of the region that enabled sparkling wines to be developed in the seventeenth century. In 2015, UNESCO recognised this contribution to global heritage by naming 14 key locations across three categories.
Wake yourself up with a modern gastronomic brunch in Reims with both sweet and savoury options depending on your mood as well as freshly squeezed orange juice or a smoothie to compensate for any alcoholic excesses.
In Reims, Caserne Chanzy, a former fire station that has been transformed into a luxurious hotel, hosts Grande Georgette, which serves bistronomic dishes made from fresh, local products. If it’s a bit chilly but you want to make the most of the brilliant views, relax on the heated terrace.
If you’re based in Epernay, savour a four-course meal with a complimentary bottle of Premium Reserve Premier Cru from the house of Charles Mignon at the bistrot Le 7. Afterwards, you could walk off your meal by visiting the vines that produced the champagne you just drank at the Charles Mignon estate with Manon who continues the family business today.
Taste the day away
Renovated in 2002, the Prieuré de Viverie, a former Benedictine priory founded in 1180, offers visitors champagne born of over 300 years of family expertise. Understand the painstaking process that goes into making Robert-Grandpierre champagnes through careful explanations and audiovisual animation perfect for visual learners.
The forests in Champagne enjoy a favourable climate and vegetation ideal for truffles. At Champignol Forest, the former forest of the Abbey of Clairvaux, Delphine, a truffle-hunting ecologist accompanied by her loyal truffle dog, Pino, will lead you on a journey to discover the world of truffles that, of course, involves tasting some of these delicious fungi.
Dive deeper into oenology
If you are looking for a more in-depth dive into the world of champagne, we recommend heading to the southern Champagne region near Troyes. Across two days, visit the Drappier Champagne cellars, which are more than nine centuries old, as well as several family estates in the Côte des Bar area.
Meanwhile, at Balnot sur Laignes, Champagne Gremillet has organised a comprehensive tour from their vineyards to an arboretum with over 82 different tree species and to finish, a meal with crudités, charcuterie, and cheese
Head back up north to enjoy a guided tasting with a sommelier in the verdant setting of the Hostellerie de La Briqueterie followed by six tasty and generous dishes developed by Chef Benjamin Andreux. Relish the luxurious surroundings from the cherry-wood panelled dining room where you can savour the tasting menu to the spa and gourmet breakfast on the patio.
Find out more about the amazing offers available for outstanding oenological and gastronomic experiences on the Explore Grand-Est website: https://www.explore-grandest.com/en/
The first article in this series exploring the Champagne region gave an overview of exciting new ways to experience the area from sunset tours to e-bikes. The final article in the series next week will look at some of the gorgeous accommodation available in the Champagne area including châteaux, hotels with vineyard views, and spas.
Lead photo credit : Lie back and savour some of the best champagne in the world © Clara Ferrand
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