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One day in Reims/Champagne - suggestions?

Hey all,

I will be taking a one day trip to Reims/Champagne region next Feb 2012. As I am already looking forward to the trip, I thought I might ask now fellow chowhounders any suggestions for the "must see" champagne houses (mainstream and maybe not so much) and a great place for lunch as we will be traveling from Paris in the AM and returning to Paris in the PM. And, PS, I am a total foodie and wino. Didn't know if anyone has a recommended car service or shall we rent a car? Any and all info from all sources appreciated,



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  1. For the big houses I enjoy Moet in Reims. I really enjoy Epernay better for a visit. Any of the great houses on the Grand Rue are nice.

    There are several recent threads on this topic/area. Using "Reims" and "Champagne" in the search field yields these results:

    1. Hi Lesley:

      Suggestion #1: Search this forum, as there have been several, almost identical questions (with answers) posted recently.

      #2. A former resident of Reims recommended to me that if I visited only one house, it should be Pommery. Not for the quality of their wine (although it's quite good) but for the unique history of the place. We were not disappointed. The tour of Pommery is better than excellent.

      #3. Be sure to read the book "Champagne" by Don & Petie Kladstrup before you make all your plans. Learning some of the history of the region will not only give you a better appreciation of the wine and the people, but will also help you to solidify some of your cellar tour choices.

      4. I would do a car service rather than rent a car. I don't like to be restricted in my tasting. :)

      5. If you have only one meal in Reims, I suggest it be at Assiette Champenoise. There are other comments on Lallement's cuisine in this forum.

      2 Replies
      1. re: ChefJune

        Thanks, CJ. Just finished the book "Champagne" and I'm quite sure it will enhance my visit next month. Also just booked lunch at Assiette Champenois our first day in Reims and dinner there our last night!


        1. re: globalgourmet

          aaah! I'm jealous. Could use a "Champagne fix" about now. ;)

      2. ""For the big houses I enjoy Moet in Reims""

        The Moet house is not in Reims it is in Epernay on the Avenue. Roederer is a good visit in Reims but personally if you are going by trian then go straight from Paris to Epernay. De Venoge, Pol Roger, Perrier Jouet & Moet are good visits. Take lunch at La Table Kobus. Good, long established, family run venture great food. A place used by the champgne houses and you can bring your own champagnes but the list is plenty long enough and reasonably priced.

        7 Replies
        1. re: davidne1

          I didn't think Roederer was open for public visits.

          In Reims I'd recommend Ruinart for their small, leisurely paced tour but it depends on how much time you have. We were there for about 2.5 hours total including the tasting and you need to book early. It's about a half hour walk from the train station.

          Le Bocal (upstairs of the fish market Poissonnerie des Halles) was the best meal we had in Reims out of 6 but we didn't do any fine dining. It's very close to the train station and open Tuesday through Saturday.

          Assiette Champenoise is located outside of Reims so you'll need a car or taxi.

          1. re: PattyC

            ""I didn't think Roederer was open for public visits.""

            I went with a couple of friends, I wrote to their marketing people and enquired, organised the visit and had an enjoyable visit followed by dinner at Le Foch

            1. re: PattyC

              It's around 1 km outside the centre, so may be just beyond comfortable walking distance. I walked there for lunch after a morning of sightseeing and it took around 15 minutes.

              Regardless, it is an excellent and generous table. When I booked, I was slightly in two minds whether I should have gone to Les Crayeres (then under Didier Elena) instead, but three courses and countless champagnes and desserts later, I was in no doubt that I had made the right choice.

              1. re: Julian Teoh

                I didn't realize it was just outside of town. According to google maps it's about 3km from the center of town so no farther than Les Crayeres. For some reason I had the wrong impression that it was a bit farther.

                1. re: Julian Teoh

                  When I was in Reims for the week, we also dined (royally, I must add) at Les Crayeres. But our whole class found Lallement's inventive food more refreshing than Elena's.

              2. re: davidne1

                You are correct. I wasn't being careful & mixed up my M houses. I meant Mumm in Reims.

              3. Last May we stayed in Epernay, visiting Moet and lunch at La Grillade Gourmande
                www.ladgrilladegourmande.com. Prix fixe menu was 19 euros. A short walk from Moet cellars.
                Note that virtually all the big cellars require a reservation for a visit and the schedule rotates which language the tour will use. Realistically, you may do two, or if you really push, perhaps three tours a day.

                1 Reply
                1. re: ScottnZelda

                  Yes, most of the cellars require a reservation, but they're pretty easy to make on line.

                2. Lesley, I neglected to mention that you should take a train or hire a driver. You will want to enjoy the fizz, so why worry about driving yourself? And if you decide to hire a driver, you may want to take a spin through the wonderful and picturesque village of Hautevilliers. I don't know that there are cellars there, but it's so charming, it's worth a small detour from Epernay.

                  Otherwise, since you'll be going in February, you might want to stick to the larger city of Reims, see the Cathedral, etc.

                  1. I lived in the area for a few months and took a course at the University of Reims. I love the area and I'll give you some of my personal tips!

                    I would say a must see is a big house ie Ruinart or the private Moet and Chandon tour. I loved both of those. When my family came to visit I hired a company to take us on a tasting day trip www.tastysidetolifetours.com. Was much easier than drinking and driving and we were able to taste at a large house, a few small RM's and be driven 45 minutes outside Reims to eat at Michelin Star restaurant with the youngest chef in the region (a 29 year old chef). I would definitely recommend eating at the restaurant in Vinay if you can.

                    MUST SEES IN MY BOOK: RUINART, LES CRAYERES (just for a drink), La Briqueterie- Michelin star lunch, RM's- small producer tastings

                    Good luck!


                    1. If you can get yourself to a bakery, then go try a galette de sucre, a regional specialty. Great food is not just found in restaurants!

                      1. Thank you all foe the info! I meant to reply a long time ago about what we ended up doing as it was the perfect "off season" mini day trip to Epernay! We ended up taking the train, which was great to see the countryside. Had a fantastic tasting at Moet and Chandon (with a fabulous guide), walked around the quaint town and had one of the most memorable meals of the trip at La Grillade Gourmande - the service and food were top notch, and I loved how they had 12 vases each with the month of the year, filled with corks from champagne bottles opened that month (we have started a similar thing at home, but quite fewer corks are in our vase!). Enjoyed a glass of bubbly at another local place before getting on the train to come home. Loved that the train station was walking distance to the heart of town, and also it was great to see it in the off times. All in all it was a great day and would do it all over again!

                        1. Hi Lesley, I am obviously finding this post very late. But i am heading to paris this thursday and was wanting to do a trip to the champagne region next Monday, march 18th. I wasn't sure since its off season if the area seemed not lively, or if alot of the champagne houses were closed? Please let me know! I am thinking about booking the train from Paris to Epernay is this what you guys did? please let me know! thanks so much

                          11 Replies
                          1. re: AKTwite

                            I was in Reims about the same time last year. It was quiet but the champagne houses were open. Some require reservations for tours.

                            1. re: AKTwite

                              The TGV goes from Paris to Reims. I don't know whether there's a local train from Reims to Epernay or a bus to take you there. the Champagne houses are not closed. They're always open for business. There are possibly some that do not offer tours, but you should find plenty to enjoy. I'd recommend the Pommery tour. It is exceptionally interesting, due to Pommery's fascinating history. As well, they have an art museum in their caves.

                              1. re: AKTwite

                                @AKTwite thanks for your message - as @PattyC said, it is quiet but there are champagne houses that are open. The train went straight from Paris to Epernay, and it is a SHORT walk from the train station to the town. We only did Moet, and it was awesome, but there are plenty of other places to visit. As mentioned, just look into the different houses before you go and schedule an appointment (usually you can do this online) for a tour. If you can eat at La Grillade Gourmande I highly suggest this! You will love that they have a vase for each month of the year filled with champagne corks from bottles that had been opened in the restaurant from that listed month, plus the food and service is just wonderful.

                                The streets were quiet, but it was great to see the area of Epernay as if you were a local without all of the crowds.

                                If you wanted to connect to Reims I believe there is a train that runs between Reims and Epernay.

                                Let me know how your trip is and if you get by La Gourmande Grillade!

                                1. re: lesleycelliott

                                  thank you everyone and lesley for the suggestions! This is all very helpful as I was unsure if we should do it this time of year or not, I'm sure it will be totally worth it! I will report back how it was and any fun additional information I may have for you professionals :)

                                  1. re: lesleycelliott

                                    One more question -- what do you think was a good amount of time to spend there? We are just going for the day from Paris, I was thinking head there by train around 11am and head back around 5/6? is that too long, too short?Appreciate your thoughts!

                                    1. re: AKTwite

                                      Are you planning only to visit one Champagne house and perhaps eat a meal? Lunches in France last 2-3 hours. I wuld think you'd want to take a very early train and arrive by 10 am, the latest. You could then get in a tasting before lunch, and if you stay a bit later, you could do another tour and tasting in the afternoon.

                                      1. re: AKTwite

                                        I agree with ChefJune - take the early train, get there for the first tasting at one of the champagne houses, have a lovely LONG lunch, and either do another tasting or stroll through the town. As I said it isn't that big, but it is great to see. We got there at 10:30, I believe, our tasting was at 11, lasted til 12:30, then we did lunch, was done a little after 2, and then we went and strolled the city and grabbed one more glass of champagne before taking the 4:00 train back. It was perfect, but you could extend it a little and go back on the 5:00.

                                        1. re: lesleycelliott

                                          awesome, thank you ChefJune and Lesley for the help, I appreciate it! This all sounds good and confirms my original plans, I will be booking an earlier one!

                                          1. re: AKTwite

                                            Are you going to Reims or Epernay? If Reims, just be aware that there are 2 train stations. Champagne Ardenne is 8 km outside of the city whereas Reims Gare is walking distance to everything.

                                            1. re: PattyC

                                              We are going to do Epernay. It seemed easiest for what we were looking for, so we should be ok, but thank you for the heads up about the stations!

                                              1. re: AKTwite

                                                are you aware that the TGV goes direct Paris to Reims gare (about 45 minutes), whereas the train to epernay is a local?