The Perfect 3 Days in Champagne Itinerary – solosophie

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Last Updated on 27th October 2022 by Sophie Nadeau
Champagne is a region of France that is probably as famous as Paris or Bordeaux thanks to its popular export: none other than sparkling Champagne. Best visited during the fall when you can enjoy the vines when their leaves have transformed into delightful golden hues, here’s your guide to spending the perfect three days in Champagne itinerary.
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The smaller villages and towns in the Champagne region are poorly served by public transportation and so you’ll have to rent a car to get around. If you are exploring the area as part of a wider France trip, then you can take the train from Paris to Reims and wait until the end of your first full day to pick up the car.
This way, you can save money on parking and save on the costs of having to rent a car for a full extra day. Check here for car rental comparison prices. Though many people working in the area have a good grasp of English, it’s always a good idea to learn a few words of French to help you get by. Buy a French phrase book like this one to hep you get by.
If you are the designated driver during the trip and therefore won’t be able to drink the Champagne during the tastings, then I have a solution for you at the end of day two which will ensure that you can take part in a full tasting without having to drive after!
Day one of this 72 hour itinerary is all about discovering the gateway to Champagne, the regal city of Reims. Favoured by royalty in times gone by (indeed, no fewer than 25 French Monarchs were crowned in Reims Cathedral), today the city is full of hidden gems and architectural delights.
Begin your time in Reims by heading to the cathedral. Stepping inside is free and one of my favourite highlights is a stained glass window which illustrates the Champagne making process. Afterwards, head to the Café du Palais, where you can grab a drink or bite to eat in an eatery which feels more akin to a museum than restaurant.
While wandering around the city (Reims, like most French towns, is best explored on foot), take in all of the Art Nouveau architecture. Another architectural style that’s pretty prominent in Reims is the Art Deco style, and another building you can visit is the Carnegie Library.
Built in the Art Deco style with funds from the Scottish-American Philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, the Carnegie Library is one of over 2,500 such Carnegie libraries that were constructed in the latter half of the 19th-century and first half of the 20th-century.
You’ll then spend the night in Reims. Thanks to the size and popularity of this city, there’s no shortage of wonderful places to stay for almost any budget. For a more affordable yet comfortable option, check out this hotel.
Otherwise, if you’re in Champagne to celebrate an extra special occasion, then consider booking a room at this luxurious hotel, which boasts amenities such as a spa and air conditioning, as well as a restaurant onsite.
Begin your day by checking out of your hotel at Reims and picking up your rental car. From Reims to the first stop on this route, the time takes around only twenty minutes and then it will only take an hour or so to visit Chigny les Roses.
This stop of your tour will be your first opportunity to visit a small Champagne producer and buy the sparkling tipple directly from the place where it’s produced. Chigny-les-Roses is a Premier Cru Village. It is one of 44 such Premier Cru Villages.
Only Champagne made in one of the designated areas is allowed to have ‘Premier Cru’ written on the bottle. For your tasting, head to Champagne Gounel-Lasselle. They have parking onsite and the owners are friendly and speak French and English.
Hautvillers is the former capital of Champagne and is a must-see for anyone who is serious about learning more about the famous drink. If you want to wander the town, then it will take two or three hours to enjoy a smattering of attractions.
Hautvillers is best explored on foot and so you’ll want to park your car close to the centre of the village. The main highlight of Hautvillers that does not involve a Champagne tasting is the Abbey, which is the final resting place of Dom Perignon.
Epernay is unofficially known as the ‘Capital of Champagne’ thanks to its abundance of Champagne Houses, as well as its enviable location to the South of Reims Natural Regional Park. Epernay is one of three main cities in Champagne, Eastern France.
If you’re the designated driver, then this afternoon will be your time to relax, take a break from driving, and finally enjoy a full tasting. Though most hotels will not allow you to check in at lunch, you can often leave your car and belongings a few hours ahead of time. Here are some of our top picks for hotels in Epernay:
Budget: For those looking for an affordable option in Epernay, this no frills two-star hotel includes amenities such as free parking and free Wi-Fi as well as breakfast for an extra charge. Check prices and availability here.
Mid-range: This guest house offers travellers the chance to stay in comfortable rooms against the backdrop of a 19th-century home. Check prices and availability here.
Luxury: Those who are in search of an extra luxurious place to stay in Epernay would do well to choose this accommodation which is set within walking distance of many of Epernay’s major attractions. Amenities include bicycle hire onsite and free Wi-Fi. Check prices and availability here.
Have lunch at Epernay followed by an afternoon of exploration. As one of the biggest towns in Champagne, Epernay has no shortage of delightful bistros and cafés. Some of our top picks for meals out in the town include La Grillade Gourmande (seasonal conceptual cuisine) and Sacré Bistory (which has vegetarian options).
After lunch, you can head to one of the many tastings in town. Almost every major Champagne house is represented along the Avenue de Champagne. Places to visit for a tastinf in Epernay include Mercier Champagne and Champagne de Castellane.
One of the more unique ways to get a bird’s eye view of the city is to go up in the hot air balloon in the centre of town, which is known in French as Le Ballon d’Epernay. Offering 360 degree panoramic views of the city, the balloon goes to a height of 150 metres above the ground.
In order to see a sea of green (as the vines don’t have leaves all year ’round), I recommend going on the balloon from any time between May through to September. Find out more details here.
Begin your day in Épernay by checking out of your hotel and having breakfast in the town. If you want the classic French experience, then you can head to a French Boulangerie (bakery) and order a croissant or pain au chocolat.
Magnificent and imposing, the Château de Boursault stands tall and proud above the swathes of vines that line the Marne department countryside in the Grand-Est region of France in the Champagne town of Boursault.
Home to its own namesake Champagne brand, Champagne Château de Boursault, It will take around an hour to enjoy this majestic setting. There’s free parking onsite, just outside the building where you can go Champagne tastings. There are two options when it comes to visiting Château de Boursault.
The first (and best value, in my opinion) is to pay for a €10 tasting where you can sample whichever of the Champagnes from the estate that you would like to sample. You can then wander around the estate as you please, though note that sadly you can’t actually enter the château.
If you’re an English speaker, then no doubt one of the funniest place names in Champagne that you’ll come across in Bouzy (literally pronounced boozy). It should take around an hour to explore Bouzy and you can park right in the centre of town.
This attractive settlement has several Champagne houses where you can go for a tasting (a personal favourite of mine being Gaston Collard) and also has a statue of Dom Perignon in the centre of town that you can snap photos with.
The little town of Verzenay is a stand-out village in Champagne thanks to the two monuments which flank the hills either side of the town. Both the Phare de Verzenay and the Moulin de Verzenay were erected to promote local Champagne houses.
Today the Phare (lighthouse in English) has been transformed into a small museum. One of the top things to do when visiting the lighthouse today is to climb the 101 steps to reach the top of the lighthouse, where you’ll be rewarded with a breathtaking 360 degree view of the Champagne countryside.
As one of the larger villages in this part of Champagne, you can head to Verzenay for lunch, where there are a surprisingly wide array of eateries and bistros in town. Some of the top picks include La Grappe A Pizza for a simple takeaway lunch and Du Cep à l’Assiette for more traditional French options.
The Faux de Verzy, an enchanting and magical forest that boasts just under a thousand unique dwarf beech trees. There are also dwarf oak trees and dwarf chestnut trees onsite. Since 1932, the forest has been classed as an important national asset.
In 2016, the park was designated an “Exceptional Forest” and now receives around 300,000 visitors on an annual basis. The trees are particularly fragile and susceptible to damage, so make sure to keep to the way-marked path. Depending on how much you want to walk, it will take an hour or two to explore the forest of Verzy.
If you have rented a car from Reims, then now is the time to head back to the city to drop it off. You can either stay an extra night in Reims or head out from the train station back to Paris or to another French destination.
If you have extra time to spare in Champagne, then you can take the train from Reims to Troyes, the other large city in Champagne (the three big cities are Epernay, Reims, and Troyes). Highlights of Troyes include the Gothic Cathedral of Saint Pierre and Saint Paul and the Museum of Fine Arts and Archaeology.
In the summer, you can’t go wrong by pairing a cute midi dress with classic white tennis shoes for a laid-back smart casual look that’s just as chic for walking around a city’s cobbled lanes as it is for wandering coastal paths. I love this dress and have it in several colour ways. In terms of tennis shoes, this is my go-to shoe.
When it comes to winter in Europe, most places (with the exception of a few islands) can get pretty cold and so warm layers is a must. I find that cute ankle boots like these ones are the perfect mix of practical meets cute.
Shoulder seasons (spring and summer) in Europe tend to come with a mix of rainy and sunny days and so, again, layers are a must. Trench coats and sneakers are the best uniform to explore the continent in.
Finally, a cross-body bag like these ones is a must. I personally use a crossbody bag by this brand and love its shape, size, and versatility. As well as being convenient and compact, it’s one of the safest ways to transport your valuables, all the while looking chic. I also recommend bringing along a travel adapter like this one so you can charge all of your electronics during your stay!
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