Doable? Reims Champagne house visit, no car, no French
Hi, Hope I'm putting this in the correct place (if not, Mods please feel free to move). I'm going to be in Paris and am looking for a day trip. I was thinking possibly of Reims, visiting the cathedral and maybe a champagne house. I'm not interested in a packaged tour, but I speak no French and will be arriving by train. Is there anyplace within the city center to see a champagne house or do a tasting that you'd recommend?
thanks very much in advance for any info you can give me.
I was in Reims in April, also on foot. The TGV drops you off a bit away from the center of town, about a ten minute walk away. There are plenty of champagne houses in the center of Reims that will do tastings, pick a few and go nuts, but be aware that most are by appointment only. There aren't any in particular that I'd recommend, though I'm a fan of Henriot.
The cathedral is breathtaking, much more worth the trip than Notre Dame in Paris, and has a little information center nearby where you can find tourist information. Definitely head to the Monoprix there to do your champagne shopping! You'll be amazed at how inexpensive the good bubbles are there.
Though to be honest, I found Arbois in the Jura a much more beautiful and interesting side trip than Reims, even if just for the lack of "tourist" feeling I got there.
Both Taittinger and Martel let you drop in without an appointment. You might want to call first to find out when their tours are scheduled so you don't show up 10 min after one leaves.
That said, since you don't speak French, winging it might not be a good idea. If you schedule a tour, you can schedule in a particular language. If you drop in, you get to live with what the majority wants.
If you are looking for a tour illustrating well how champagne is made,
Mumm is pretty good. Also, in addition to visiting the cathedral, you
might considering visiting the Basilique Saint Remi, which is much
older (it was built in the 11th century). It suffered major damage
in WW I, and when I was going to school in Reims in the 1960s,
they were still working on restoring it, but the job is done now.