France is known for many things including champagne. The delicious, sparkling wine that is famous worldwide comes from a very specific area of the country. This area, called Champagne, is home to several towns and cities including Reims, the capital of Champagne. This city is home to many Champagne houses’ headquarters and many of these champagne houses offer cellar tours and tastings. So, if you’d like to add a little sparkle to your France trip then here’s what you need to know about champagne tasting in Reims, France
How to Get to Reims
Getting to Reims is actually really easy. Unlike many wine areas across the world, you don’t need a car to visit Reims and its champagne houses. There are two train stations in the area. Gare de Reims is the main train station that allows you to walk right into the city centre. There is also Champagne Ardenne station which is a 15-minute taxi ride into the city centre, though you can also get off here and switch trains to go directly to Gare de Reims if you prefer. The train to Reims from Paris is direct and only takes about 45 minutes making it an incredibly quick and easy journey.
Getting Around Reims
Reims as a city is quite small and easy to explore on foot, though the main champagne houses that you will want to visit tend to be on the outskirts. If the weather is nice and you enjoy walking, then that is still an option. You can also use the city’s public transit. They have regular buses as well as a little electric shuttle that follows a designated route around the city centre stopping at many of the major champagne houses. It visits each stop around every 20 minutes or so and only goes 1 direction so it will take some planning, but it’s easy to use. The Reims tourism office can help you figure out public transit if you need some assistance.
Where to Stay in Reims
Central Reims is full of shops and restaurants and is within easy walking distance from the train station so I recommend staying there. There are plenty of apartment and hotel options depending on your preference and budget. Keep in mind if you are looking to rent an apartment, there likely won’t be an elevator as many of the buildings are older. If you are looking for some suggestions consider the following:
- MM Suites Cathedrale- a really cute apartment. I stayed here and loved it (up a couple flights of stairs though!)
- Le Clos de Roys
- Grand Hotel des Templiers
- La Caserne Chanzy Hotel and Spa
Champagne Tasting in Reims
As the capital of Champagne, Reims is home to a number of champagne houses. From household names that you will no doubt recognize like Veuve Cliquot, Mumm, and Tattinger to small, local wineries that you have never even heard of. So, how do you choose where to go champagne tasting in Reims?
The first thing to be aware of is just because a champagne house has a headquarters in Reims doesn’t mean that they are open for cellar tours and tastings. So, if you really have your heart set on a specific label, make sure you look in advance.
Secondly, some offer cellar tours and some offer just tastings. While each Champagne House has a different story, some of the cellar tours are quite similar in that they all share how Champagne is produced. This can get repetitive pretty quickly so I would suggest mixing up actual cellar tours and then just tastings.
Finally, as I said earlier there is a good mix of big world-famous names and small local producers. I also suggest mixing that up as well. Especially if you are a regular champagne drinker, it’s fun to try something new and different. Plus, the smaller local ones tend to be much cheaper!
So, with that in mind, what champagne houses should you pick for champagne tastings in Reims? Well, it’s totally up to you but here’s a bit of feedback based on the ones I visited.
Mumm Champagne Reims
Mumm Champagne offers a cellar tour and tasting options in Reims. They have different ticket levels depending on how many and what tastings you would like to do. We just did the basic ticket here with a single tasting. As far as cellar tours go, this was my favourite tour. The guide was really knowledgeable and friendly and I liked learning the story behind the brand. Mumm prides itself on innovation and is prioritizing conservation and it was neat to hear about those projects and goals. Definitely recommend but you do need to book in advance. You can book online here.
Note: There is an elevator to the cellar for those who may need it
Tattinger Champagne Reims
Tattinger also offers cellar tours and tastings. I did two tastings here which included a rose champagne which I loved. The tour was informative and our guide was friendly. What I loved about this champagne house, however, was the history of the cellars. Whereas Mumm dug out the caves specifically for the purpose of storing their champagne, Tattinger was able to use the caves of an old monastery. Today, Tattinger champagne is stored in the same caves where monks used to use to make and store their wine. As you walk through the cellars you will also see plenty of carvings in the walls including a heart and some funny faces. These carvings date back to WWI as people hid in the caves from the war. I thought it was a really interesting touch and made the Tattinger champagne tour unique and special. Again, you do need to book in advance which you can do online here.
Note: Tattinger also has elevator access to the cellars for individuals unable to take the stairs.
Pommery Champagne Reims
Pommery Champagne house is known as the ‘Disneyland’ of champagne houses in Reims. The blue building with its turrets looks a little like a castle and there are definitely some fun and whimsical aspects to the property. When I visited there was no official guided tour so we did the self-guided option with 2 tastings at the end. While aesthetically pleasing and very visual, this was my least favourite cellar tour. I found it confusing as not only is it a champagne cellar but also an art exhibit and it was a lot of back and forth. It was the first champagne house I visited so when I wanted to learn about the process I found the art installations random and unnecessary. That being said, I loved the Pommery champagne tasting was delicious. I really loved their champagne which was light and fruity.
Note: Since we did the self-guided tour we could just show up whenever we wanted. However there is no elevator here, you need to be able to climb up and down the 116 stairs.
Champagne Pol Couronne
Located in the city centre, Champagne Pol Couronne offers tastings from a smaller champagne house. I hadn’t heard of them prior to visiting Reims but they popped up with a number of good reviews so we decided to give them a try. After doing 3 champagne cellar tours it was nice to just sit down and do a champagne tasting in Reims. They have several options to choose from, we went with the Prestige tasting set which I really enjoyed. If you are after something a little different and fun, they also have a sabrage option where you can learn how to saber your own bottle of champagne. You can contact them to book in advance which is advised if it’s a busier time. We got lucky and were able to just show up and do a tasting.
Veuve Clicquot Champagne Reims
Perhaps the most popular champagne house, at least for North American visitors, is Veuve Clicquot. They have a cellar tour and tasting options. I chose not to do this one because I’ve had Veuve several times before and wanted to try different options when champagne tasting in Reims. I’ve also heard very mixed reviews about these tours. Some people love them, others say they are more expensive than other options in Reims and nothing special.
Finally, many restaurants in Reims sell champagne as well! So, if you’d still like to try some different options you can always ask for a glass (or bottle!) with your meal.
Reims Day Trip from Paris
I spent three nights in Reims and visited four champagne houses during my time. I loved every minute of it and, to be honest, I probably could have spent another two days doing champagne tastings in Reims. However, if you are short on time you can also do a day trip to Reims from Paris.
As mentioned earlier, it’s a short 45-minute train ride directly from Paris to the centre of Reims. Once you have arrived you can walk, bus, or taxi to the different champagne houses. It’s very easy to do on your own but if you prefer you can join a group tour on a day trip from Paris to Reims as well. Here are a couple of options to consider:
Is Reims Worth Visiting?
Absolutely! If you like champagne then this is a really fun spot to add to your travel itinerary. Again, I suggest spending a couple of days but it is also possible to do a Reims day trip from Paris if you are short on time.
On top of the champagne houses, Reims is also home to a stunning gothic cathedral, Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Reims which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The palace of Tau, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage site and a museum holding the treasury of the Reims Cathedral. The Reims Saint-Remi Basilica and museum, the Mars Gate, the Reims-Champagne automobile museum, and more.
I loved the time I spent champagne tasting in Reims and highly recommend visiting.
A Note on Travel Insurance in France
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