At SmoothRed we love our Champagne tours. And not just for their fizzy delights. As well as the vineyards and châteaux along the scenic Route du Champagne, Champagne is also home to stunning sights, rich and rustic culinary specialities and relaxing river and canal cruises.
To read more about Champagne use the links below
More About Champagne
Explore the Route de Champagne…
“Come quick, I am drinking the stars!” – with these words, the monk Dom Pérignon is said to have announced his invention of Champagne in the late 17th century. And he certainly wouldn’t be the first to be driven to poetic paroxysms by the scintillating wines of the Champagne region.
Alas, like so many great stories, this is probably something of a myth. The romantic quote was actually first used in an advertising campaign in the 1880s. And there’s strong evidence to suggest that sparkling wine was first produced intentionally around 1662 by Christopher Merret, a scientist from Gloucester. So perhaps it’s closer to West Country scrumpy than we might think.
“I drink Champagne when I’m happy”
Myths aside, there can be no doubt that Champagne is the benchmark by which all other sparkling wines are judged. Lily Bollinger, scion of the famous Champagne house famously said, “I drink Champagne when I’m happy and when I’m sad. Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I’m not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise, I never touch it – unless I’m thirsty.”
Whilst we would never dream of arguing with Mademoiselle Bollinger and we too are more than happy to drink Champagne anywhere, anytime, few things can beat drinking this most exquisite of drinks in the very region where it is produced.
Popular places to visit
Of course, on our SmoothRed Champagne tours you’ll have plenty of chances to taste the region’s favourite export. But beyond the châteaux you’ll also want to visit some of its most popular attractions too.
Like the 13th century cathedral in the heart of romantic Reims. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the greatest gothic cathedrals in all of northern France. And, if you’re that way inclined, you might like to try counting all its 2,303 statues. Although you will end up with a sore neck.
Further south, in the heart of Champagne country, the small town of Epernay is home to many of the most famous producers of fizz. From Moët & Chandon to Perrier-Jouët, it’s a delightful place to spend an easy afternoon wandering on foot between Champagne houses and cellars.
Then head a few miles southeast to the scenic Lac du Der, the largest reservoir in Europe and a great place to relax or indulge in a spot of bird-watching. Or maybe visit the historic old town of Troyes to marvel at its gorgeous half-timbered houses.
And let’s not forget Hautvilliers, the lively vignerons village famous for its abbey where Dom Pérignon plied his trade as cellar-master. Not to mention other famous Champagne villages like Rilly-la-Montagne and Verzy.
Champagne Wine Guide
Wine and cuisine in Champagne
The Champagne region’s terroir is unique. Its Northern location, rugged climate, chalky soil and rolling countryside make it the ideal place to grow the Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay grapes that are predominantly used to make Champagne.
We say predominantly because technically Champagne can use a number of other grapes too. Varietals such as Petit Meslier, Petit Blanc and Arbane are grown in very small quantities and added to blends, with some houses even producing wines made solely from one or more of these lesser known grapes.
The grapes of Champagne
The first, Pinot Noir, is most widely planted in the Aube region, while the second, Pinot Meunier takes up much of the Vallée de la Marne. The Côte des Blancs is dedicated almost exclusively to Chardonnay.
And, of course, they take their regional boundaries seriously in Champagne. Since 1942 the region has been overseen by the Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC), which rates vintages based on the quality of their grapes and vineyards. Nice work if you can get it.
Now, some would say you shouldn’t really eat while drinking Champagne, but we think those people can fizz off. From refined dining like oysters and snails in Champagne sauce, to the region’s rustic pleasures of venison, boar, rabbit and pheasant, you can be sure to dine every bit as well as you drink on one of our champagne tours.
Champagne Gourmet Guide
Whilst some people believe one shouldn’t really eat while enjoying the wines of Champagne, in fact, the acidity and body of the drink make it a surprisingly good food wine. Champagne, be it pink, vintage or non-vintage, can be paired with a range of foods, with the latter – perhaps counter-intuitively – a good pick for fish and chips. The extra body of pink fizz makes it a little more flexible, whilst the extra depth and yeastiness of some vintage bottles makes them perfect to pair with wild mushrooms, parmesan or, for maximum decadence, truffles!
In terms of local delicacies to try on a visit to Champagne you have lots to choose from. Reims, the capital of the region, is famed for ham and, rather handily, mustard. In Troyes, andouillette is an offal sausage unlikely to appeal to all. Various cheeses are produced locally and one of those, Langres, is a great nibble alongside Champagne.
For those with a sweeter tooth, les biscuits roses de Reims, or pink biscuits, date to the 17th century and are a crunchy treat, whilst Champagne-filled chocolate truffles are another fabulous, decadent treat.
There is no shortage of stunning restaurants in Reims, Epernay, Troyes and Champagne’s smaller towns and villages. From Michelin-starred establishments perfect for that special meal to local bistros serving venison, wild boar, rabbit or pheasant, you will be spoiled for choice. Expect to see Champagne in sauces, foams and deserts and, who knows, you might even get to drink a glass or two of the fizzy stuff on your Champagne wine holiday!
Château de Sacy
Built by the architect Pierre Louis Gosset in 1850, this elegant, restored chateau is surrounded…
Royal Champagne Hotel & Spa
Overlooking the vineyards that stripe the hills of France’s Champagne region, the newly-renovated Royal Champagne…
Hotel de La Paix
Description The Best Western Premier Hotel de La Paix 4-star is located in the heart of Reims,…
Description The luxury hotel L’Assiette Champenoise is a delightful residence, admist the calm of a 4…
Domaine Les Crayères
Description Domaine Les Crayères is a stunning luxury Hotel in Champagne. Located in the heart…
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Very well organised trip to Tuscany, getting in 2 wine regions. Lovely hotel with amazing view. The best part was our guide Paula who ensured our wine tasting tours were with smaller wineries which have authenticity and care for the environment. Highly recommend SmoothRed!
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To Adam & the SmoothRed Team. Our recent trip to Bordeaux and the Medoc/St Emillion has been a wonderful trip & experience. One I would have no hesitation in saying is top class. I would certainly use SmoothRed & their travel associates in future wine tasting trips. The entire group…
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We came to Bordeaux for part of our honeymoon and took the First Growth Bordeaux tour. SmoothRed worked with us to curate a trip based on our desires. The 8 Chateaux we visited, the 3 delicious lunches, and the hotel were wonderful, but what set the trip apart was our…