A region brimming with luxury abodes, gourmet opportunities and unique Champagne houses, editor Sophie Ritchie shares how to savour a weekend of Art de Vivre living in France’s land of fizz
We don’t often have a ‘one size fits all’ category for drinks. Nobody walks into a coffee shop and expects to see the offer of just a single latte on the wall, nor does anyone sit down in a restaurant and expect ‘red’ to suffice when ordering wine. So why should Champagne, the suavest of sparkling wines, be any different?
Cue the entrance of ‘La Champagne, refined art de vivre’, the recently launched wine tourism brand putting Champagne on the international map as both a region full of exciting experiences and a tipple as individual as a Orange Mocha Frappacino.
Launched in July 2019, the brand aims to act as a central voice to over eighty experiential partners across the land of fizz – ranging from famed Champagne houses and growers to superb hotels, restaurants, cultural sites and activities.
Offering memorable (and tipsy) experiences for every modern bon vivant, here’s how to savour a weekend of Art de Vivre living in Champagne this spring.
Boudoirs & Bubbles
Where to stay
1 Le Demeure des Sucres, Reims
Best for: exploring
Located just a few steps away from the city’s famed cathedral and its incredible stained-glass window facade, Le Demeure des Sacres is a petite guest house offering guests peaceful style and comfort (as well as fittingly creaky floorboards from its 19th century past).
With four bedrooms (including two suites) this small hideaway is brought to life by its friendly owner and her family. The beds are invitingly large, the homemade breakfast is charming and the central location is truly enviable – grab your walking shoes and get ready for a day of fascinating exploration in Reims and beyond. Should you fancy it, there’s even a mini private spa to test out too.
2 Le 25 Bis by Leclerc Briant, Epernay
Best for: enjoying intimate luxury
The former family home of a wine merchant turned lavishly plush B&B, discover a stay with sparkle at Le 25bis by Leclerc Briant.
Sitting on Epernay’s iconic Avenue de Champagne awaits Le 25bis by Leclerc Briant, a petite and intimate guesthouse with a handful of five boutique rooms.
Once the family home of a successful wine merchant, this 18th century building was tastefully restored to its former glory by the award-winning Leclerc Briant Champagne house.
A house dedicated to delivering only the best, with an emphasis on precision and finesse in every sip, this same passion has been applied to the image and style awaiting within these 18th century brick walls.
With excellent service, luxury abodes and award-winning Champagne at the touch of your fingertips, this petite getaway makes an excellent base for a luxury Epernay escapade.
PLUS: Click here for our full-length hotel review
3 Chateau de la Marjolaine, Château-Thierry
Best for: archaic charm
Situated around three miles from Château-Thierry, with a number of excellent golf courses on its doorstep, Chateau de la Marjolaine is a gorgeously archaic property full of French history and an intriguing atmosphere.
With a heated swimming pool for warmer months and a kitchen full of classic delicacies to keep guests entertained for the rest of the seasons, each room is individually styled according to a certain period in French history. Enjoy en suite bathrooms and satellite TVs in each, as well as sprawling views across the garden.
Your House Is My House
Where to taste
1 Tattinger, Reims.
Best for: something iconic
Hop on one of Reim’s new 100% electric-powered shuttles and you’ll find a tube-like map for different Champagne houses, with the famed Tattinger site sitting pretty en-route.
Head here for a fun cellar tour to remember, as Tattinger’s team lead guests down a winding spiral staircase to reveal a few of its secrets, methods and history snippets.
As well as marvelling at the cellars filled with every size of Champagne bottle, peer closely at the historic walls for engravings marked by WW1 soldiers and drawings from the lessons taught down here during times of crisis.
Post-tour, the well-stocked gift shop is brimming with every type of Tattinger bottle under the sun – including arty limited-edition options. For something more exclusive, guests can also book private tastings with the team. taittinger.com
2 La Maison Penet, Verzy
Best for: something foodie
Alexandre Penet, owner and winemaker at Champagne Penet-Chardonnet, believes that Champagne should be enjoyed in the same way as a still wine. Far more than an aperitif limited to the restrictions of a flute, he believes food and Champagne are a match made in heaven – with different notes meant for every course.
With 400 years worth of grape growing in the family name, Champagne Penet-Chardonnay was initially founded in 1967 when Christian Penet married Marie Louise Chardonnet.
The current owner, Alexandre has 14,8 acres (6 hectares) of Grand Cru grapes to his name – with a keen interest in pushing boundaries when it comes to zero added sugar and different dish pairings.
Guests can tour the small family museum before joining Alexandre for a fascinating three-course meal in his beautiful family home – whipped up by his wife and accompanied, of course, by hiccup-inducing glasses. lamaisonpenet.com
3 Champagne Charles Mignon, Epernay
Best for: something exquisite
A small family-owned Champagne House based in Epernay, Champagne Charles Mignon has been listed beside the greatest and most prestigious houses of champagne with UMC – the Union of Champagne Houses, since 2003. They take great pride in delivering quality, with 5th generation Bruno and Laurence Mignon at the helm.
Putting family at its core, this house is full of passion and a love for good food, which comes across immediately when greeting the team. Its impressive range has a number of pairing recommendations for each tasting, with the Premium Reserve Champagne Brut being our personal favourite sip. champagne-mignon
4 Champagne Meteyer, Trélou-sur-Marne
Best for: larger groups
“Tradition is not old habit, it is reassuring”. Producing fantastic wines since 1860, with six generations of passing down knowledge from father to son, Champagne Météyer strives to produce impressively elegant Champagne.
Created with blended and single vines from Vallée de la Marne, the vintages of this independent wine grower have scooped award after award in international competitions.
Much of its success is due to the passion of Franck Météyer and his wife Anna, who welcome large groups of guests with open arms and even a vintage 2CV, the iconic French automobile, for tours during the hotter months. champagne-meteyer.com
5 Champagne Pannier
Best for: fascinating cellars
The largest champagne house in the western Marne Valley, Champagne Pannier was founded in 1899 and now serves bubbles with a distinct style.
Pay a visit to its gated doors to enjoy a tour of the labyrinth-esque medieval cellars, as you’re transported through the ages with every turn whilst learning about Champagne methods along the way.
Post-adventure, get a taste of Brut Selection Champagne and dive nose first into the fizzy house style for yourself. champagnepannier.com
Fill your boots: don’t miss these
1 A 32-metre high balloon ride in Epernay, see the thrilling beauty of Champagne from the heights of the sky. tourisme-en-champagne.co.uk
2 Book a Biologique Recherche spa treatment at Royal Champagne Hotel & Spa, where the interiors are equally as jaw-dropping as the terrace views surrounding it. royalchampagne.com
3 Don’t even think about stepping foot in Reims without a visit to the incredible 13th century Notre-Dame de Reims. The site of 25 coronations of French kings, from Louis VIII to Charles VII, its beautiful Gothic front features 2300 statues to gawp at. visitlachampagne.travel
4 Located at the foot of the hillsides in Aÿ-Champagne, Pressoria recently opened its doors and makes an excellent outing for fans of the fizz. Set in the former pressing centre of Champagne Pommery and retaining its original exterior architecture, this century old building is at the heart of Champagne production. Make the most of a spectacular scenographic and sensory tour, a bar, a restaurant, a shop and a Lalique area, allowing guests to uncover the original sparkling wine in a playful and interactive way. pressoria.com
5 Ideal for something educational, head to Epernay for the newly opened Museum of Champagne wine and regional archaeology. Immerse yourself in a wealth of cultural heritage – from the formation of the countryside to the Belle Epoque, through the creation of Champagne wines and the traces left by humans in the region. For a more virtual experience, online visits are also hosted every Saturday and Sunday at a discounted fee. archeochampagne.epernay.fr
Make it happen
How: Hungry for more? Visit visitlachampagne.travel to start planning your adventure.
Getting there: Train from Paris Gare de l’Est to Reims Centre: 45 mins. Nearest airport: Roissy Charles de Gaulle.
Words by Sophie Ritchie, editor.