One day in Reims/Champagne - suggestions?
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,
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:
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.
""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.
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.
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.
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.
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.