It’s hard to imagine a more romantic weekend than one spent in France’s Champagne region, unless of course you are booked on a package tour. Which is why we suggest curating your own sparkling sojourn.
Start at Veuve Clicquot (1 Place des Droits, Reims) for the “In the Footsteps of Madame Clicquot” tour. Madame Clicquot was known as the Grande Dame of La Champagne and here you will discover her impact on the evolution of the process of champagne. This sensory history lesson will take about one and a half hours and includes a tasting of Verve’s prestigious Cuvée La Grande Dame.
The next stop is Taittinger (9 rue Saint-Nicaise, Reims), which is just up the road and where they offer a free group tour and tasting, followed by Moët & Chandon’s subterranean labyrinth (20 avenue de Champagne, 51200 – closed until October 2015). Depending on your favourite label, you can also check out Mumm's cellars, Pommery's Elizabethan-style estate built by Madame Pommery in the 19th century or the LVMH-owned Ruinart founded in 1729. The latter is the oldest Maison de Champagne and tastings at its Gallo-Roman chalk quarry can be made via request (+33 26 77 51 51).
Eat and Drink
In keeping with the sparkling itinerary, book lunch or dinner at the fairytale Reims property Château Les Crayères, which was once owned my Madame Pommery and is situated on seven hectares of landscaped gardens. Restaurant Le Parc is the definition of French fine dining for which Michelin starred chef Philippe Mille has created a superb seasonal menu. English chef Tom Aikens also did a residency here. If you want to keep the bill down, opt for the three-course lunch menu (Wednesday-Friday) and during the summer months be sure to take a post-meal walk around the gardens to digest.
To really get into the Champagne spirit of excess, bed down for the night upstairs within the majestic five-star, 20-room Reims château, which was once owned by the Polignac family.
The easiest way to get to the Champagne region from Paris is by train from Paris Est to Gare Reims-Centre, which takes about an hour, and then there are plenty of taxis in Reims to ferry you around. Driving is another option with Reims being around 140kms from Paris.