Champagne in October

October time is a great time to visit Champagne as the weather is mild but you can also see the grapes on the vines and the colours changing in the vineyards. Champagne’s predominant grapes are pinot noir, meunier and chardonnay and visiting the region is a great way to learn about the sparkling wine and sample the best of it!

We caught the Eurostar from London to Paris on Thursday afternoon and caught a local train to Reims. We stayed in an Airbnb right in the centre which was super convenient for 3 nights for a long weekend trip.

As we were a group of 7, we didn’t want to go on a private or group tour, and therefore organisation of the trip was slightly more difficult – there are so many champagne houses to choose from as well as having to plan and book individually.

However, it’s not impossible and I’m so glad we did it this way. Here are some of my tips:
1) Decide where you want to stay – we decided to stay in Reims which is easy to get from Paris and was a good base to explore for our first time in Champagne as there’s plenty of champagne houses in Reims itself. It’s also super easy to get a train to other parts of the Champagne region. 
2) Decide which champagne houses you want to visit and make a list – you can then start booking in tastings and tours based on your list. We used sites like Champagne Booking and Rue de Vignerons but also called the champagne houses directly. Most champagne houses operate on appointment only and even though some places do walk ins, I’d highly recommend booking to avoid disappointment.
3) Give yourself enough time to get to and from each champagne house – we missed and had to reschedule a couple due to not giving enough time (including walking time). We gave ourselves 30 minutes leeway but I’d recommend minimum 45 minutes or one hour to be safe. This means you can enjoy each champagne house without feeling rushed.  

Day 1 – Epernay & Ay Champagne Houses

Our first day of tours and tastings started in Ay. We caught the train from Reims to Ay which was around 35 minutes. 

We started at Henri Giraud with a tour and then four tastings with a small food pairing. The tour and tastings which was 90 mins cost €70. The champagnes were delicious but on the higher end (mostly €100+) but it was one of my favourites of the trip.

As the tour went for longer than 90 minutes, we missed our tasting at Champagne Ayala, which was a shame. This is a reason to factor in more time between tastings. 

We caught a bus to Epernay and went to La Table Kobus for lunch. I had the foie gras ravioli, fish and cheese which were great.

We walked along Avenue Champagne and went to Mercier. This place was definitely more commercial but it was cool to do the self guided train tour down at the caves. The tour ended with 3 tastings and cost €30.

Our last house for the day was Estellin which was a smaller champagne house and it was €14 for 3 tastings with pink fossier biscuits. 

We caught the train back to Reims and went to Brasserie du Boulingrin for dinner where we shared red wine, some oysters, bone marrow and I had a steak for the main. It was super tasty and a typical French bistro style restaurant. 

Day 2 – Reims Champagne Houses

We got to Pommery in the morning for a self guided tour in the caves. The caves have a contemporary art installation which was cool to see. After, we had one tasting and it cost €23 for the tour and tasting. 

Next, we went to GH Martel & Co with 3 different tastings (€15). We really enjoyed the champagne here and they are also good value for money.

One of my favourite experiences on the trip was the Ruinart brunch. Ruinart itself is beautiful and the brunch was €70 which included two full glasses of champagne. The food was buffet style and included pumpkin soup, avocado toast, choice of eggs and coffee/tea at the end. 

We went to Pol Courronne next and we were sat at a cafe next door which I wasn’t happy with as it ruined the atmosphere for the tasting and the service was non existent, so we left.

We went to Au Bon Manger instead which is part wine shop, produce shop and restaurant. It ended up being so fun, drinking multiple bottles of wine and dancing. The owners were absolutely fabulous and hospitable and let us stay longer than close. I’d recommend going for drinks as well as getting yourself a dinner reservation on Thursday or Friday evening if you can. 

After they closed, we went to Le Clos then La Loge for a few drinks then Saigon Caphe for a quick Vietnamese feed. We ended up at Pub l’Escale for some beers and ended up at Delirium Cafe for more drinks which was fun! 

Day 3 – Leaving Champagne

As we had a massive night out, we decided to skip the last champagne spot which was booked for 11am. We ended up at a cafe and chilled before our train back to Paris and back to London. 

Two full days of tastings was perfect for us as by the end of it, I was definitely “champagned out” (especially with the high sugar content in champagne). 

Some other restaurants in Reims that were recommended to me:
– Glue Pot
– Cafe du Palais
– Symbiose
– Le Bocal – they have happy hour €1 oysters 

There are so many champagne houses as well as different areas in Champagne that I am yet to explore (Taittinger, Billecart-Salmon and Perrier Jouët are high on my list!) so I will definitely be back to visit the area! 

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