Bubble Up & Uncork in Champagne

The joyful sound of corks exploding from bottles is heard all day, every day and into the night in Champagne. Locals drink their bubblies at lunch, as an apéritif, during dinner and for dessert. Champagne is always the drink of choice here. And why not? Especially when you have some of the world’s most prestigious labels produced within your midst.

During this 3½ Day – 3 Night tour, you’ll visit the top houses, enjoy the famous Champagnes you’ve grown to love and discover a few new properties as well. You’ll visit the Domaines where legendary Champagnes such as Moët & Chandon and Veuve Clicquot are produced and cellared. You’ll sample the distinctive cuisine of the region in both formal and casual settings. By the end of the trip you’ll dazzle your friends with your knowledge of Champagne vinification!

Cathedral Notre-Dame de Reims, first constructed in the 13th century, is considered one of the great masterpieces of the Middle Ages. Photo courtesy of Cathedral Notre-Dame de Reims

Day 1
You’ll begin your 3-Day tour in Paris, where we’ll pick you up and drive a quick hour through the gorgeous French countryside to Reims, the capital of Champagne. After a visit to the 800-year Notre-Dame Cathedral, where 32 of France’s kings were crowned, we’ll take a break at Café Le Parvis for a Champagne toast — what else!

If time permits, we’ll visit the Palais du Tau, also a UNESCO World Heritage site, once used by the French aristocracy to prepare for coronations. Priceless tapestries cover the walls, coronation robes and crowns of the kings are on display. Or we may choose to visit the Musée de la Reddition (Museum of the Surrender) where General Dwight Eisenhower met with General Alfred Jodl to sign the German surrender and an end to World War II. The museum presents numerous artifacts and memorabilia documenting the combat and eventual liberation.

A lively Champagne scene in Reims. Photos by Marla Norman.

Hôtel Les Avisés, Michel chats with Chef Stéphane Rossillon. Nathalie Rossillon, stands behind him. Dwight Oldham is pictured far right.

Cult winemaker Anselme Selosse (center) at his property Les Avisés, with Steve Uchytil & Michel.

Later, we’ll lunch at one of the superb restaurants in Reims, then we’ll check into our hotel – most likely Les Avisés – owned by renowned winemaker Anselme Selosse. The small hotel is located in the Côte des Blancs, a region treasured for its extraordinary Grands Crus Chardonnay vineyards and prestige cuvées.  That evening we’ll enjoy a gourmet meal at the award-winning restaurant and a bottle of the ultra-rare Selosse Champagne — there’s a very good chance the cult-winemaker himself will put in an appearance as well.

Day 2
Is devoted to Épernay, the second capital of Champagne. After driving down the “Avenue de Champagne” we’ll visit the world’s largest Champagne House, Moët & Chandon, which is also home to Dom Pérignon. After visiting the massive caves and learning a bit about the property, you’ll have a chance to “drink the stars” just like the good monk himself.

Once you’ve had lunch and explored charming Épernay, we’ll take you to visit one of the following Champagne houses: Salon, Billecart-Salmon or Perrier-Jouët — all historic properties with exclusive vintages and extraordinary histories.

Domaine Moët & Chandon is the largest Champagne house in the world, producing over 28 million bottles annually. Photo courtesy of  LVMH.

Deep in the cellars of Champagne Salon, with the last two bottles of the 1928 vintage, the oldest in existence — so precious, even Bill Gates & Warren Buffett weren’t able to purchase them. From left to right: Steve & Joan Carter, Dann & Colette Schwartz, Glenda Palmore. Photo by Chuck Palmore.

Maison Billecart-Salmon has been owned and operated by the same family for 200 years. It is also the oldest continuously-owned Champagne house in the region. Photo by Marla Norman.

Day 3
We return to Reims for a visit at Maison Taittinger, a property dating back to 1201 that was established by Theobald I, Count of Champagne and King of Navarre, who was also a distinguished knight of the Crusades. We’ll explore the spectacular caves under the Taittinger Château built by the early Romans. Later you’ll quench your thirst with the Comtes de Champagnes.

An unforgettable tour at Domaine Taittinger with Susan & Jim Hewlett, Marla & Michel, Patty, Angela, Andrew & Steve Uchytil.

 

The Widow’s house – Château Veuve Clicquot. Photo courtesy of LVMH

The Taittinger Cellars were built in Gallo-Roman chalk pits dating from the 4th century.

The Domaine Taittinger company logo pays homage to the legendary knight Theobald I of Navarre. Photo by Marla Norman.

Lunch will be served at Brasserie Le Jardin Les Crayères, overlooking the beautifully landscaped Parc de Champagne. From there, we’ll visit Veuve Clicquot, where we’ll pay our respects to the illustrious widow Barbe-Nicole Ponsardin, who survived both the French Revolution and Napoleonic wars to establish one of the premier Champagne houses in the world.

One of the hottest categories in Champagne is Grower Champagne. So, on the last night, we’ll cap off the tour at C Comme, a cellar in Épernay that specializes in Champagnes from these small, independent production houses – over 350 champagnes from 45 different growers are stocked. Delicious small plates of creative appetizers and charcuterie are available as well. You’ll want to select a few bottles as souvenirs or stock up for the rest of your trip.

As if you needed another reason to drink Champagne… the bar at Le Jardin Les Crayères couldn’t be more inviting. Photo courtesy of Le Jardin Les Crayères.

Day 4
We’ll escort you to the train station in Reims or back to Paris.

TESTIMONIALS

Steve Uchytil, Houston, Texas
There are many superlatives I could extol regarding the trip, but we all come back to this as being “a trip of a lifetime.” Our hosts picked fantastic places to stay, eat, and the châteaux visits were extraordinary. The meals were just so wonderful, so wide ranging, so “French.” There was not a place we did not like. We not only visited world class chateaux and drank some of the finest wines in the world, but also ventured out to see the magnificent countryside. The pace of the trip was perfect, as we were never too overwhelmed with so many places to visit in a day.

Our hosts were never condescending or rude when someone did not know something about the wine, the region, the French pronunciations, etc. They are gracious beyond words and exemplify what hosts should be. We could not recommend a wine tour and wine guides more highly.  We loved it so much we have already scheduled another trip with them.  Thank you Marla and Michel for a trip we will never forget.

Leah Broussard Hayes, Destin, Florida
We traveled with Marla and Michel to the Bordeaux region of France last fall and were blown away by the trip. The term trip of a lifetime is so overused that I hate to invoke it, but I feel that is the only true way to describe this vacation experience. From access to first growth vineyards (not typically open to the public) to personal tasting, dining and shopping planning services and the best part – a chauffeur! – there is quite literally no way to recreate it. It is one we will look back on fondly for many years to come as we further expand our wine knowledge and cellar. A must do for any Francophile or wine lover!!

Dom Pérignon – the distinguished monk himself is now enshrined at Moët & Chandon along with the Champagne named in his honor. Photo by Angela Uchytil.

THE PACKAGE
This all-inclusive luxury package features highly-rated hotels and restaurants, châteaux visits, tastings, and Marla & Michel as your guides for the 3-Day Tour. All car expenses are included as well: rental, tolls, parking & fuel. Additionally, Wi-Fi will be available in the car, so you can easily stay in touch with family or business associates.

Price: $13,500 for 3 couples.

A FEW NOTES
1.) Not included are personal expenses.

2.) The package prices are the same whether the group includes 4, 5 or 6 people, although adjustments can be made for hotels if the group is smaller.

3.) A 50% deposit will be required to secure the date, with the balance due 30 days before the actual trip. Changes in schedules, hotels or visits to Châteaux may result due to weather or other unforeseen occurrences. Comparable accommodations and/or properties will be arranged as necessary.

CONTACT
To book a tour call 850-687-1370 or write mthibaultwine@gmail.com.

Marla Norman & Michel Thibault
Owners, Michel Thibault Wine & Travel Curious Often

2019-10-02T15:51:39+00:00October 1st, 2019|0 Comments