Christmas is a time for celebration, family gatherings, wonderful food and drink – and of course, what would Christmas be without a few bubbles to celebrate?
There’s no doubt that the ultimate luxury is a bottle of champagne, Bollinger, Veuve Cliquot or Laurent Perrier, whatever your brand of choice, there’s a specific region in France responsible for this ultimate celebration tipple.
Now, thousands travel to the region to see where this sparkling wine is produced, to tour the vineyards, visit the champagne houses and of course, taste the produce.
But did you know that champagne wasn’t actually invented in the region?
According to legend, monks from the Languedoc region began making the sparkling wine when visiting Champagne, and they discovered that the conditions made the resulting wine a lot more enjoyable than that made further south.
Then of course, the location of the region to Paris has also helped champagne to thrive over the years.
But there’s more to the region than just the associated drink.
It’s a beautiful green region, interspersed with chalky landscape (which helps to give champagne its flavour) and as a tourist destination, it’s not one of the most popular regions.
So if you fancy visiting a part of France that isn’t as well trodden as the likes of Provence or the Loire Valley, then perhaps Champagne is a region you might now consider.
The most notable city in the region is Reims – the unofficial capital of the region. It is most famous for its cathedral, the Notre-Dame de Reims as not only is it a stunning example of Gothic architecture but it is also where former Kings of France were crowned.
Épernay is a mere 15 miles south of Reims, but is nestled in the heart of champagne country. Many of the famous champagne producers are housed here, and cellar tours are available to the public. The town is built on chalk rock, and is a mixture of old narrow, cobbled streets and more modern, luxury buildings home to wine and champagne merchants. The most famous street is L’Avenue de Champagne, which as you can imagine is home to many of the producers including Mercier and Moët Chandon.
Residents claim that it is the most expensive street in France, even more so than the Champs-Élyssés in Paris, interestingly because of what is underneath the ground.
Eugene Mercier (yes he of Mercier champagne) developed a complete underground warren of cellars, made up of 47 tunnels spanning 18 kilometres. It’s here that thousands of bottles of champagne are stored, earning it the self-proclaimed title of the most expensive street.
The region is also home to a small town which has been dubbed ‘the Carcassonne of the North’, Langres. A fortified city since Roman times, it’s a lot less touristy than Carcassonne, but no less impressive. Its collection of wonderfully old stone buildings and ramparts which date from the 13th century, it’s well worth a visit.
We have two holidays on offer to the Champagne region, one of which has been newly updated for 2017.
The Luxury Sparkling Champagne Walk is pretty much a must for any fan of the bubbles. It’s a mixture of walking, beautiful scenery, fine food, luxury accommodation, and of course, a visit to the Mercier champagne house.
You’ll be staying at wonderful hotels and chambre d’hôtes eating in a selection of Michelin starred restaurants and six days of walking, including a visit to Épernay.
And if the idea of walking puts you off, then how about a Champagne river cruise? Starting off with an evening cruise through Paris, this holiday is really the epitome of luxury. A six day tour with daily excursions, including a trip to Hautvilliers where the monk Dom Perignon perfected the art of producing sparkling wine in the Champagne region.
If this sounds like your idea of heaven (and let’s face it, why wouldn’t it!) then read more about the tour here:
Get in touch with us to arrange your trip, for the ultimate celebration – a trip to Champagne.
Celebrate in Champagne
Luxury Sparkling Champagne Walk
Bubbly sensations, luxury hotels and gourmet diningDrinking Champagne in Epernay is like listening to Mozart in Salzburg… Walk through leafy vineyards and lush woodland on this luxurious holiday, where you’ll enjoy charming accommodation and fine cuisine. A tour and tasting at ...
Champagne River Cruise
A voyage of sparkling Champagne, picturesque châteaux and gastronomic delightsExplore the undulating plains of a region famous for its bubbly apéritif and majestic cathedrals and châteaux, starting with an evening cruise through Paris, taking in the stunning floodlit Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame. Meander your way a...