Home » Itineraries: Champagne. Da Epernay a Reims, between wine, gastronomy and culture

Itineraries: Champagne. Da Epernay a Reims, between wine, gastronomy and culture

by Ada Parisi
5 min read

Before anything else, Champagne word evokes the extraordinary sparkling wine became a global icon. Bubbles global caliber that often accompany the great moments of our lives. But the word Champagne contains more: it is culture, gastronomy, environment, traditions. Champagne is wine but is first and foremost a territory. And we, through a Champagne travel itinerary that takes its cues from wine, we went to discover this territory: in five days' journey between Reims and Epernay, in the northeast of France, just two hours drive from Paris, we passed through this region that is capable of many surprises and many emotions.


Three and a half million tourists each year visit the Champagne, a vast area that counts 320 municipalities, where they cultivate more than 34,000 hectares of vines that alternate with forest, cereal crops, vegetables, several herds of dairy cattle. The screws are prevalent in the landscape, which it was included in 2015 in the World Heritage: hills, maisons de Champagne and caves are regarded as assets to be protected and protect. He Champagne Committee, interprofessional consortium based in Epernay, It is part of the association which promoted the candidature Unesco. Formed in 1941, the Comité has the task of representing the interests of the supply chain, formed by winemakers and wineries, and to protect the denomination, whose boundaries were established by an Act of 1927. Did they know that among the three main varieties of Champagne, two are red berry: Pinot nero e Pinot Meunier, while only one, Chardonnay is a white grape.


Plaster, limestone, never, clay, sand. These are the elements prevailing in the subsoil. The vines grow in a very diverse environment, Whether one: I had never seen white chalk hills dotted with screws. Five departments in which the grapes are grown on the hills between 100 and 300 meters above sea level. A territory, that of which I speak in this trip to the Champagne route, geologically very old, that 300 million years ago it was on the seabed. Elements that explain many of the characteristics of the Champagne wine. In chalk, For example, the roots of the vines are forced to penetrate deeper into the ground to find the necessary water. The result is that plants feed on the minerals that enrich the grapes and who meet, Finally, in the scents and flavors of the wine. But Champagne is not only climate and soil. The savoir faire of Champagne winegrowers complete a harmonious picture, in which man's wisdom is combined with environmental and geological conditions. The production of Champagne method is unique, protected, regulated by precise production phases. The harvest, pressing, subdivision of cuvee, controlled fermentations, assembly, maturation on yeasts and aging in underground cellars of great charm. Today Champagne is a reality for 300 million bottles, with thirty employees, 120,000 workers employed during the harvest period. The thousandth 2018, in particular, by French producers will be remembered as one of the best vintages of the last decades. But try these vintages have to wait a few years of aging.


Inside, a conference room, conference rooms and two restaurants: a gourmet restaurant and bistro, He Bellevue restaurant & bar, where the chef Jean-Denis Rieubland serves modern food, fresh, inspired by French cuisine, either seafood or meat. The first approach to the cuisine of Champagne was in the balance between the local products and the typical international flavor of French cuisine. We tried foie gras with fruit chutney (22 euros), Reims ham in jelly (14 euros), sole ceviche with avocado and candied lemon (20 euro), herb-crusted chicken with mushroom tagliatelle (29 euro), Braised lamb with bulgur (28 euro), fish fillet with fresh vegetables (32 euro); among the desserts, gazpacho of red fruits with fruit sorbet, e a Liegeois (15 euros), a cake with chocolate ice cream in Liege, whipped cream with vanilla and cocoa. the Royal, instead, is the gourmet restaurant, where chef signing the three creative tasting menus ranging from 62 euro to 180 euro for lunch of dinner (5 servings). We accompanied the dishes with a Champagne Delamotte, a blanc de blancs from the Chardonnay vineyards in the country of Mesnil sur Oger, in the area of ​​Cote de blancs. He could not miss a structured rosé: we chose the Rosé de Saignée of Geoffroy cellar, one of the rare rosé from Pinot Noir wine obtained with the technique of bloodletting (net aromas of strawberry and blackberry, good structure and smooth tannins).


Our luck was to be able to do this travel itinerary in Champagne in September, in just finished harvesting. In our journey, we started from one of the most new and modern from around the territory around Epernay: he Royal Champagne, in the town of Champillon. A hotel and spa, originally a staging post for troops of the Kings of France aimed at Reims, where he also lived Napoleon Bonaparte, which it was reopened in the summer of 2018, After four years of renovations, Thanks to a substantial investment by a group of US entrepreneurs (Denise Dupré e Mark Nunnelly, Champagne Hospitality Group owners). The Royal Champagne welcomes you with a 1,500-square-meter terrace overlooking Epernay and the valley of the River Marne: a glance which opens on the universe of the territory and the wine together. The 49 rooms are spacious, bright, extreme attention to detail and Spa has a panoramic swimming pool on the valley. The rooms are decorated inspired by the surrounding territory: vineyards and wine production.


A must for a travel itinerary in Champagne a visit in the tiny village of Ay, the heart of the Cote des blancs, to find out the particular characteristics of this terroir. Around the village, There are stretches of vineyards lying on land that, in turn, rest on a large white chalk layer outcropping, It composed of calcite grains, made from the skeletons of marine organisms and fossil molluscs. With this type of soil, plants suffer water stress that, However, It favors the balance between the various acids of grapes, sugars and the flavor precursors. Here we understand the effort that makes the screw to find water. The village of Ay houses the oldest cooperative of Champagne, Collet-cooperative Cogevi, where the Cité du Champagne, a museum about the history and origins of this denomination, whose boundaries are established between 1911 and 1927. Ay is also home to several distilleries. From the processing of the grapes for sparkling wine, You are obtained of excellent dregs which are used for the production of brandy. And the mix between the must produced with local vines (Chardonnay, Pinot nero e Pinot Meunier) and the distillate of the marc, born liquor “ratafia de Champagne”: an alcoholic beverage from light amber color and (around 18 degrees) mainly used for cocktails and for aperitifs. Distilleria Jean Goyard, active from 1911 to Ay, is one of the most important manufacturers of Ratafia de Champagne, with over one hundred years of experience in the industry. But, beyond alcohol, on this journey, Is ad, do not forget to take a break at the bakery and pastry Patrick Baillet, opposite the Town Hall Square, a galette sucrée, He ardennaise a galette or one of the best butter croissant across the valley of the Marne. Remember though that buttery French croissants, they have nothing to do with the Italian croissants and – be warned – addictive.


After lunch, a full stomach, we are dedicated to a guided tasting in a symbol of Champagne, that you must not miss if you're planning a travel itinerary in Champagne : the seat of Champagne Committee ad Epernay, small city considered the capital of wine Champagne. Here are based the main brands and fashion house, but also the Comité Champagne, The consortium, which brings together producers. Each year, the Comité invests more than 25 million Euros for the promotion and communication on Doc Champagne. We had the opportunity to participate in a technical tasting, together with sommelier. A tasting which has served to understand the differences in expression of this product excellence French oenology. A white dei white di COPINET (with hints of citrus and pleasant notes oxidative), black white it “Princes” maison de Venoge (Vintage 2015, a class brut nature, perlage elegane and a long white fruit), 2008-2010 and a cuvée of the historic winery cooperative Collet, which is located in the small village of Ay (extra brut with notes of butter, great acidity and taste balance). apparent differences between the three goblets, that is the measure of how the world is vast Champagne, Overall worth discovering. Do not miss a guided tasting in various wineries, thanks to the suggestions of the Comité, you can find in this page.

Epernay E L'Avenue de Champagne

There is a road that we must travel at least once during a travel itinerary in Champagne .It located in Epernay, where the scent of champagne permeates the air, and it is called Avenue de Champagne. A bright and elegant boulevard of about nine kilometers, in its initial section (about 1 km), It is home to some very large famous wineries worldwide. This road, where the headquarters of both the Town Hall of Epernay is the Champagne Museum, It is considered the richest way of the world. It is also known as the Champs Elysées of Champagne. Its name dates back to 1925. Here, partendo dalla Republic Square, meet names of Pol Roger caliber, Must & Chandon, Perrier toy, Venoge, Boizel, Mercier, Collard-Picard. A unique business card for tourists, a Epernay, You can choose to do a wine tasting, to enjoy an aperitif in the outer courtyards or visit the cellars dug in chalk, for wine aging and storage. A Epernay There are in fact over one hundred kilometers of underground tunnels which partly date back to the Gallo-Roman period, in part they have been excavated in the centuries, and also they served as shelters for the population, during the two world wars in 1914-1918 and in 1939-1945. The Avenue de Champagne was awarded the French quality label as a site of interest for the sake (remarkable site of taste).


Five kilometers from Epernay, in the village of Dizy, I leave you a safe address: it is a boutique hotel with gourmet restaurant. The owner is Annabelle Hazard, original entrepreneur Champagne (Châtillon-sur-Marne), daughter of winemakers that was formed in London also working in the studio of great Joel Robuchon. Annabelle, After these experiences, It became brand manager of Bollinger maison. Then, He decided to open his own hotel and restaurant, which they have been refurbished in 2018. The kitchen is headed by Jean-François Levesque, expert chef who is inspired by Pierre Hervé and Marc Meneau, It offers gourmet cuisine inspired by the region but also recipes inspired by the Champagne wine. The interior furnishings are inspired by the Thirties and eat in a nice veranda. Here, as in all the other restaurants we visited, starry and not, lunch is an affordable tasting menu proposed to bring tourists to the busy kitchen. In Les Grains d'Argent a three-course menu costs just € 38 and includes an appetizer and a pre dessert offered by the chef: the excellent fois gras served as a welcome cappuccino, as well as the velvety cold peas with Melba Toast, cheese and mint, marinated salmon with homemade local lentils (Then I will tell you where to buy a bag as a souvenir wine and food) and vinegar Reims, sole with creamed spinach, clam sauce and fine herbs, beef with its bottom, confit tomatoes and potatoes. All accompanied by a Champagne brut rosé of Boizel, obtained from the three main grapes, aged for three years on the lees, from the magnificent old pink. I have only the regret of not having had time to order a cake!


In some Maison in the Avenue de Champagne you can not only taste, have a drink or eat, but also sleep. Is’ This is the case of house Venoges, born in 1837, which since 2017 has opened the doors of “Suites at 33” . Four rooms, furnished with antiques but modern services, in a really lovely liberty context. The main house overlooks the backyard, while the rooms are in one of the two teams (the other is used as a champagne bar and breakfast room). The prices are not cheap and range from EUR 200 per room, but if you have decided to spend time in Champagne you are certainly prepared to the idea of ​​spending a little pampering’ more than usual. And here it is worth it.


The first thing to do in Epernay after getting up is to run home Vincent Dallet, one of the pastry shops and bakeries busiest and best equipped of this town: pain au chocolat, pain d’Epernay, praline, religious, eclair, charlotte, beignet, croissants with butter and jam rigorously home made and the amazing French butter, together with coffee or juice of raspberries. You can easily do breakfast seated at one of the tables and pastry, with about 18 euro, you will enjoy one of the most delicious breakfast of your life. To dispose'll have to walk continuously for at least 6 hours, drinking champagne and hopping on one foot. Vincent Dallet is one of the most important chocolate interpreters and a careful selector of the types from Madagascar, Asia and South America, so do not forget to enjoy something with chocolate. Dallet is also the association Les étoiles de Champagne, that brings together chefs and pastry chefs engaged in the promotion of typical products of Champagne.


Epernay, as the capital of Champagne, over the years it has been embellished with gardens and parks. One of the most unique and elegant is that of the Hotel de Ville, the current site of the city administration. The building, built in 1858, He was born as a hotel and carried out his function until 1920, when it was sold to the citizens of Epernay. Today is a beautiful park, inspired by the villa gardens of Versailles, with plants, ponds, flowers and fountains where the locals love to spend some’ time and relax. If you lift up your eyes you can see the big balloon, He tethered balloon, which rises up to 150 meters in height (cost 12 euro) and for fifteen minutes it makes you admire from the vineyard and the town of Epernay, with the ability to do (Obviously) a high proportion Champagne tasting. This territory has a special feature: all countries take part each year in a decorating contest with flowers, with projects that aim to beautify the best streets and squares.


Among the wineries that I suggest you visit, surely there is House Boizel, which dates back to 1834 and since 1984 has moved to the Avenue de Champagne. This historic company, known in Italy, by distributing entrusted exclusively to the brand Feudi di San Gregorio, It is the fifth generation. Today is guided and led by Evelyne Roques-Boizel. At her side is her husband Christophe Roques-Boizel and two sons: Lionel, in charge of the French market, and the very nice Florent, who is responsible for sales and marketing abroad. The winery and tasting room have been refurbished and renovated with an investment of about 3 million euro. The opening was made in the spring of 2018. Boizel, that belongs from 1994 to Lanson-BCC group, It is defined a négociant: i.e., a basement that predominantly acquires the grapes to produce wines. Five hundred thousand bottles of Champagne, 7 hectares of land, 65 Total hectares processed in 20 different pressing centers. The wine is elegant style, very careful in the selection of the grapes, with a predominant use of steel (with ultra modern tanks) and a limited use of wooden barrels for fermentation of the cuvée. The visit in the underground cellars of Boizel fashion house is one of the most interesting aspects. Among the galleries that have become Unesco heritage is the treasure of the house, which houses some bottles of the year of foundation: 1834.

The tour ends in the brand new tasting room, where we tried five labels: it gross reserves (fine and elegant ambassador of the house), he white white, it great vintage (Eight years on the lees), black white he e uno straordinario Jewel of France, 2004 vintage, with slight oxidative notes on the nose, hints of bread, Chestnut honey, carob and apricot jam, cool, complex and fruity. Truly an upscale wine.


Epernay is not just cellars: walking in the center you can not miss the Notre Dame church, austere, with a bell tower that reaches 80 meters in height. Built in the years between 1888 and 1917, instead of the old Ursuline Convent, It is one of the symbols of the Marne Valley. On the inside there are several paintings, sculptures and stained glass. Some of these windows come from the abbey church of Saint Martin d'Epernay and date back to the sixteenth century. The drawings are dedicated to the life of the Virgin Mary. Take a tour through its historic center, and, if you can keep away from the champagne for a few minutes, take a look at fountains, statues and buildings adorned with flowers.


An itinerary in the Champagne can not be separated from Hautvillers, village among the most beautiful and visited the region. Hautvillers is a small village that preserves the agricultural dimension of these lands, with stone streets and colorful houses decorated with wrought iron. Set on a hill overlooking the Marne Fiuma from top to bottom, Hautvillers is known because it houses the tomb of Abbot Dom Perignon who, falsely, It is credited with the creation of the Champagne wine. Rather than inventing or discovering by chance this extraordinary champagne, In fact, Abate Pierre Perignon (called Dom Perignon) worked for fifty to detail combine different cuvée and improve the quality of wines and technical conservation. This would be his real contribution to the extraordinary history of the Champagne wine, which it was produced in those areas before 1668, year in which the abbot came to Hautvillers at age 29. To visit absolutely, the Benedictine abbey of St. Peter, founded in the year 660, where is the tomb of Dom Pierre Perignon. It will be the creation of the cuvée Dom Perignon, in 1937, the famous fashion house Moet&Chandon, with the extraordinary marketing that was done at the international level, giving rise to the legend of Dom Perignon Champagne as creator.


For Hautvillers I suggest you make a stop in the restaurant wine “at 36”. young Staff, a small terrace in the middle of the green. Inside, a lounge with couches and chairs, and above all a huge selection of Champagne that can be tasted at the table (at moderate prices) accompanied by so-called “Champardises”, which are small samples and preparations of local specialties. Some examples: beetroot mousse, Crush potato ham Reims, puff pastry to boudin blanc (a white sausage, typical of the Ardennes area), button mushrooms and mustard Reims, crust pie, lentils Champagne, Chaource cheese (soft cheese vaccine and rind of the Ardennes village of Chaource) and Brie cheese, macaron pink and raspberry jam. Two glasses of champagne tasted in this bistro. The first: Gaston chiquet, blend of Chardonnay, Meunier and Pinot Noir; the second a tasty and tangy rosé de saignée, the independent winemaker Denis Salomon.


The artisan wares Biscuitheque Laporte, in Rue Dom Perignon, It is a must to buy different custard slices. In this craft store will welcome Francoise Boutrot, that will guide you in choosing: mini pink cookies, sablés biscuits flavored Parmesan, crème caramel and eclats, but also lentils Champagne.


I have already said that, in ancient times, The Champagnes was located on the seabed. But I can prove it. Just make a visit to La Cave aux Coquillages, a long series of tunnels excavated in the fossil sand, that same sand covering these territories in ancient times: 45 million years ago. The town of Fleury-la-Rivière made us do a really amazing journey back in time. E Cave shellfish, The Shell Grotto, It is the place. The champagne-owned galleries of this Maison contain millions of shells of various sizes fossil, from a few millimeters to half a meter in length. Galleries that are still dug by the Legrand family, that daily extracted from fossil sand numerous shells, which they are cleaned in the laboratory residues and offered for sale. La Cave aux coquillages is also a cellar: home Legrand-Latour. The Champagne of this company are matured in tunnels. The visit to the paleontological museum ends with a wine tasting. An experience not to be missed if you want to understand another aspect of the Champagne terroir.


Fifteen minutes from Reims, in Sillery campaigns, we find the restaurant Relay Sillery, led by Philippe Lazart. In his restaurant you will serve only fresh products, high quality, a substance kitchen, well impiattata and intense flavors and decided. The atmosphere is informal, a beautiful terrace with large windows, and I recommend, even in this case, convenient gourmet menu ( 62 euro), welcome is a tomato royal. Then, as a Starter, come the roasted scampi with their bisque and a tasty foie gras in the pan, with vinaigrette. To follow, a framboise violets which takes us back in time: raspberry sorbet served by the glass, accompanied by a rosé Champagne. Very eighties but really good. The main course is a fillet of organic beef, served with chanterelle mushrooms and soft potato. Before the cake, the tasting menu offers a dish of cheese: this would be enough to finish dinner, because I love cheese and French are, after those Italians, My Favorites. But then comes the sweet, which it is a delicious tour (Maybe a little’ heavy men faced after cheese) around the historic brand Valrhona chocolate, cocoa breeders and producers of chocolate since 1929: three chocolate mousses, sponges cocoa, Pure chocolate ganache. The Champagne wine that accompanied this tasting was the brut of the house Laurent-Perrier “the Cuvée”: elegant, with red fruit notes, fresh and tasty.


The Montaigne de Reims is one of the sub regions of Champagne. By car from Epernay to Reims they walk about 30 km, alternating woods, vineyards, cultivated fields and cattle farms. We are in the Natural Regional Park, which it is also the realm of the Pinot Noir. The altitudes of these hills arrive at most 300 meters above sea level. Together in Epernay, Épine, Chalons Champagne, Reims is part of the common heritage of the Unesco. His most valuable monument is the Cathedral of Notre Dame, imposing and austere. Built on the remains of a basilica in the Carolingian style, It is known for the famous baptism of Clovis in 498 AD. A fire in 1210 destroyed, But that was the time of great revival and reconstruction which departed in 1211. In Gothic style, Cathedral of Reims hosted the coronation of 33 French kings, from Hugh Capet, and until 1825, for eight hundred years. The western façade, watching the sunset, It is one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture. Visit it right at sunset, when the light illuminates the Gargoyles, the sculptures, the thousands of façade decorations and two large bell towers, alti 81 metri, which together with arcs and means arches make it unique in the world. The interior is decorated with large windows designed by different artists, since 1300 to contemporary artists such as Marc Chagall, who has realized the apse and glasses, as in all Gothic churches, the dizzying heights confuse and amaze. To better organize a guided tour of the cathedral to ask’Tourism Office of Reims, which provides all the information for a successful stay in this territory.


Along the road that leads from Reims to Epernay it is one of the restaurants I suggest you not to miss. Is’ Le Grand Cerf, the realm of chef Dominique Giraudeau (Michelin star), chef from long experience (He was beside the great Gerard Boyer, three Michelin stars for 25 years until 2003 at the Thatched Reims and then Les Crayeres Reims). The most extensive tasting menu (118 euro, but there are two other lower cost and at lunch a lunch menu very affordable) It is a journey between tradition and modernity. The technical precision in the execution of the dishes is one of the characteristics of the chef, that prefers the Mediterranean flavors, while impiattamenti oscillate between the classical and the modern. Welcome beignet are small cheese with fresh tomato gazpacho and ice cream Reims mustard; as an appetizer one of the most interesting dishes tasted on this tour in Champagne: lobster and melon sweet and sour sauce and red berries; then a tender seared salmon Normandy, emulsion of smoked potato and Champagne sauce. Followed by a fillet of grilled fish coming from the region Venden, Cream of white beans Dop Paimpol (Britain) oysters and artichokes. Excellent farm pigeon crusted foie gras, with a truffle sauce, fruits and vegetables. The cake is luscious, although by a starred restaurant I would have expected a sweet dish: a lime mousse, served with vanilla ice cream, raspberries and raspberry puree and syrup grass Meadowsweet (filipendula ulmaria, the French call meadowsweet: meadowsweet). To finish, Petit Fours, including fruit jellies, madeleine and chocolate chip cookies. For the choice of wine, be guided by Max, the expert sommelier. We ordered a Champagne Michel Testulat reserves (90% Meunier grapes and 10% Chardonnay).


Despite the historic city of Reims is pretty small, The city has about 200,000 inhabitants and two days are more than enough to get to know and visit the main monuments. The ancient Durocortorum (old name of Reims, which means ring fort) It was built in the period of the Gauls and the Romans, that considered a province for their fidelity to Rome and they provided the typical structures of the Roman, with thistle and decumanus, term, squares. The Gallo-Roman cryptoporticus, always visited by tourists from around the world, It is the clearest evidence of this link between Reims and Rome. Today these meeting points take the names of Place Royale, surrounded by imposing porticoes and dedicated to Louis the fifteenth, e di Place Drouet-d'Erlon, overlooked by many cafes and brasseries. But the entire city suffered severe damage during the two world wars, especially during the second war, after the invasion of the Germans. The bombing also damaged significantly the Notre Dame Cathedral, which it had to be restored for a long time.


We particularly liked the Saint Rémi basilica. Rémi is the name of the bishop who baptized Clovis in 498, King of the Franks, converted to Christianity. The ancient basilica, that lies in a semi-suburban area of ​​the city (with many excavations and work in progress in the square when I visited), outside the historic walls, He is dedicated to the figure of the bishop, and this building is part of UNESCO heritage. Is’ First was a Carolingian abbey, then a Romanesque church, changed later in Gothic style and embellished by Benedictine monks both outside and inside. It damaged during the war and returned to the cult in 1958. The air that you breathe is of serenity and prayer: walks observing the beauty of the decorations, the great Gothic bays, the particular colonnade that surrounds the choir, the grandeur of its entrance and its rosette windows. Some remains of Roman houses were found outside the basilica and are still ongoing excavation work. In a few years we'll see if this discovery adds another piece to the heritage of this French town.


Before you choose your restaurant or your brasserie, do not forget, shortly after sunset, to pay a visit to the majestic palace of the Reims city hall. The Hotel de Ville was built in the mid-seventeenth century, It is characterized by its niches, tall chimneys, the column tortili, the spiral facade reflecting the baroque spirit of the time. Today, at sunset, the bride antiquities modernity and the whole façade is illuminated in red, green and blue. If, after so many French restaurants, you feel like eating something more 'easy', I suggest Brasserie Au Bureau. Built in the style of the pubs in London, in this large room overlooking the Notre Dame Cathedral from the bottom up, you can have a drink while enjoying a glass of Champagne but also dine informally and at very reasonable prices: croque-monsieur, croque madame, salads, burgers, different dishes meat in the French country style. The Cardinal Luçon, where the brasserie Au Bureau, It is always crowded with people looking for some relaxing time: beers, cocktail, salads, burger, special dishes of the pub.


Sacy is a nice small town about 10 km from Reims. This small village preserves the church of San Giovanni Battista, Romanesque (twelfth century), well preserved and surrounded by an ancient cemetery. Sacy is part of the Champagne wine route and its vineyards are classified in Category premier cru. Altogether, there are 17 municipalities that can boast this classification of the vineyards. A Sacy vinificatrici there are five wineries and dozens of vignerons that give the grapes to large companies.

THE HOUSE – Wildfogel

Among the several companies that are working to uphold the quality levels of the Champagne wine Duménil house, Founded in 1874 by Elie Duménil in the village of Chigny-les-Roses. Today niece Frédérique Duménil, with her husband Hugues Poret, It manages 14 hectares of vineyards between Sacy and Chigny-les-Roses. Their production philosophy is environmental-friendly and based on the principles of sustainability. The style of the house provides for the exclusive use of the first pressing of the grapes and a long aging in the bottle before being put on the market products. An attractive and modern, the new production site looks to modernity, with a bright tasting room but also a special feature: the production of saffron. La maison Duménil is the only Champagne producing saffron in a small plot which is located within walking distance from the tasting room. The Frédérique smiling blonde has decided to practice this unusual cultivation for the French, because it saw an opportunity to combine two excellent foods: It produces a vinegar saffron and a very good mustard flavored with saffron. Among the wines tasted: il Premier Cru by Jane Poret (cool, agrumato, light and easy to drink); he largest crude reserves, a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Meunier made great balance, balanced, with notes of white fruit and a bubble well dissolved; Finally, it Duménil special club (Vintage 2012) obtained from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, of great complexity, with flavors of apple, fishing, lemon and an acidity that makes it suitable for long aging.


Ristorante Les Vignes. The town of Sacy houses one of the most interesting restaurants in the area, the gastronomic offer and the excellent value for money. Renovated in 2018, Les Vignes restaurant is located inside the beautiful Chateau de Sacy, built in 1850 and today a charming hotel with Spa. The advice of Flora Mikula was invaluable to create this local menu, where he works a chef of Italian descent, Nicholas Cristoforetti. From the terrace, the view extends through the vineyards and the village of Sacy. In paper, there are many products of Italian excellence (including the Murgia oil, mozzarella, Parma's ham, mortadella, truffles) and a series of plates made with garden vegetables: tomatoes, Zucchini, bieta. The tasting menu includes a formula at 38 € with a starter, a main dish and a dessert. After a welcome base of fried meatballs and creamed lentils local fish (perfect with Félix Champagne Blanc de Blanc), we tried the stuffed tomato burrata cream of tomato and basil (also perfect to be enjoyed on the Amalfi Coast) and the bowl of chicken and veal crusted in conjunction with Félix Selection, then the pork shank with orzotto with mushrooms and sole with excellent eggplant, zucchini flan, tomatoes and pine nuts. well executed dishes, enhanced by Félix Champagne Brut Vieilles Vignes. Gourmet, but with an eye to lightness, sweets: granola with red fruits, greek yogurt and sorbet with soft cheese and pistachio financier with a heart of black cherry and melon sorbet.


Back in Reims, dedicated the afternoon to visit the city, starting with Tau Palace, which it was the residence of the archbishops of Reims, built for this at the sides of the cathedral from the twelfth century. His style is different from that of Notre Dame, since the late seventeenth century, the Tau Palace has been modified by the architects Jules Hardouin-Mansart and Robert de Cotte. Today, The palace houses the Museo dell'Opera of Notre Dame. Inside there is the cathedral treasure, with the great original statues. Some rooms are decorated with fifteenth-century tapestries on the history of “Fort Roy Clovis”. Al Palazzo Tau is to admire the talisman of Charlemagne (9th century) and the cup of St. Remi (twelfth century).


Piazza dei Mercati Reims hosts the beautiful Museo Hotel Le Vergeur, which it takes its name from the family's Vergeur, who owned the building from the fourteenth century. It features Gothic rooms, a wing of the Renaissance, a large courtyard which demonstrate the typical architecture of the city of Reims between the twelfth and eighteenth century. Here you can imagine the life of an inhabitant (very wealthy) era: moving, at least for me, the kitchen, with beautiful services of china and cookware, but also the bedrooms of children with closets full of dolls and toys. From 2003, the Museum has been recognized as the Museum of France. Hugues Krafft, rich city of Reims, He acquired the property in 1910, and he began a patient work of beautification, with antique furniture collections in the Louis XIV style, paintings, sculptures, silverware and porcelain. But above all works created in Renaissance artist Albrecht Dürer wood.


Among the cellars of Reims I recommend you visit the House Taittinger, one of the most important wineries of the whole Champagne. The numbers speak for themselves: Taittinger manages 290 hectares of vineyards, and its underground (about 4 kilometers long and up to 20 meters deep) contain traces of the ancient abbey of Saint Nicaise, dating from the thirteenth century. In these quarries, which are included in the UNESCO heritage, rest bottles dating back to 1966. From these chalk galleries, where today are refined best cuvée of the house, Romans Dolbilina the materials to build the city of Reims. Every year 75,000 people visit the Maison Taittinger. Its wines are one of the best interpretations of the grape Chardonnay, for freshness and elegance. Emanuel Pierre Taittinger is the president, while the marketing is entrusted to young Vitalie Taittinger. Among the champagne tasted, stands the elegant Comtes de Champagne, Blanc de blancs, grand cru 2007 and sumptuous brut Millesimato 2012, obtained from the first pressing must equally from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.


Laplaige Laurent and his son Thibault guide the restaurant Restaurant Le Millénaire, which it is located a short distance from the Hotel de Ville. In the heart of Reims, this place, decorated by architect of Italian origin Giovanni Pace, It recalls in shades of white and beige colors and nuances of the wine Champagne. A creative cuisine that follows seasonal ingredients, It is inspired by the French tradition and fits products from other territories (like the Italian pasta or the Iberian ham). Three tasting menus, a truly affordable at 37 euro (three courses) which also allows less experienced to approach this kind of gastronomic. The other menus ranging from 55 to 90 euro. We accompanied the meal with a great Champagne brut prestige Rousseau-Fresnet (Verzenay). Welcome consists of: tartellette di chorizo, tuna mousse and quail eggs, fish tartare. Very interesting among the starters the cold cream of cucumber mint, tartare of shrimp and cucumber granita; simpler and more adherent to the French peasant culture poultry terrine with herbs, gribiche sauce (with eggs, mustard and vinegar), misticanza and green olives. Among the main dishes slightly (unfortunately a bit’ drab colors) fillet of Scottish salmon, steam cooked, stewed fennel and anise emulsion; the rump (called langue de chat) scalded, fresh tagliatelle (I will never cease to say it's nice that the Italian pasta is known all over the world, but I wish the cooking time right pasta were also known), spinach leaves and devilled sauce. After a tasting of local cheese rind and soft paste, we went to desserts, definitely the best part of the dinner. Among these, the grounds of pears with spices, crumble and pecan nuts pear sherbet; but most of all, a sumptuous dessert called “Orange joins the chocolate”, with liqueur Grand Marnier ice and blood orange sorbet. on the sweet, Le Millenaire gave the best of themselves. Finally, petit fours with pate fruit, coconut and lemon, tartlets with pistachio and strawberry. To be reported, as an accompaniment to bread, the amazing Maison Bordier butter, of Saint Malo: a real treat.


Reims is not only a holy city but also a gastronomic city. There are several foods that you can buy and take home. Surely, one of the unmissable addresses for wine lovers is the Boutique Club Trésors de Champagne. In Boulingrin district of Reims, This wine shop opened in 2015 offers, in a very friendly atmosphere and furnished with comfortable sofas, the labels of small producers, especially those belonging to the Club. It is a group of wineries that have offered their wines, offered to customers by the glass or bottle sold at affordable prices. With just over 20 Euros they buy some great bubbles. And with about 5 euro they drink some really cool labels. Experiment with products winegrower Forget-Chemin and precious and opulent Louis-Aristide cuvée Rémy Massin, produced with Pinot noir grapes using the solera method: really an upscale wine. But here there is literally spoiled for choice.


The Butcher's shop (stuffylaughs) Jacquelet Christine and Thierry Jacquelet is one of those places where lovers of meat would pass the hours. Traceability of the meat, short chain, direct selection of suppliers: This family business in the city center, not far from the Gallo-Roman Criptoportico, It is a high-level address. Here you will find one of the local specialties: ham Reims. Christine and Thierry are proud to produce this specialty following the traditional recipe: pork shoulder and thighs cooked in an aromatic broth, that are shaped and formed to form the ham that, the last stage of preparation, It is coated with breadcrumbs. In this high quality butcher do not forget to buy terrines, pate in pastry crust, foie gras and the numerous prepared meats by Thierry. With hindsight, I suggest you bring a cooler, in order to also be able to stock up on foie gras and especially the amazing French butter, in local supermarkets, is sold at a price 4-5 times lower than the French butter is on sale in a few, selected and dear Italian delicatessens.


France is the kingdom of fresh cheese, they are cattle, sheep's or goat. E Cheese in the Cellar, a Reims (in Place du Forum), It is a paradise for lovers of these specialties. In this store, It opened in 1973 and run with passion and attention to detail by Charlet family and, in particular by Christophe, choosing products ranging from small productions to big French names. In the elegant counters, next to the classic long-aged Comté, you can find Valencais, Saint Marcelin, skyscrapers straw, Figou, Camembert de Normandie, Banon Provence, Brebischou, Brie. Over fifty different specialties for sale, soft cheese, marbled, spun or fondue, including some Italian cheeses such as Gorgonzola Dop.


In a travel iinerario Champagne it is impossible not to make a stop at House Caffet, historic boutique pastry, chocolate and handmade pralines, created by the skill and flair of Pascal Caffet. Since 1954, Maison Caffet has grown into an international brand, also with offices in Italy, in Turin and Milan. In Reims boutique we tried the vanilla éclair, Pistachio, Coffee and chocolate. But from here you come out with spreads, praline cookies, chocolate selections from around the world. More than 25 different types of macaroons and dozens types of creative cakes. Sylvain Guglielmi and his wife Fabienne instead guide the Boulangerie des Halles bakery and pastry that moves between tradition and creativity. Try the tarte caramélio, Guglielmi who created back in 1994. But also delicious tarte citron, spreads and the inevitable chocolate éclair. Besides different bread and baguettes champenois, to try to Boulangerie des Halles there are Gougère crispy cheese Comté.


On either side of the great Notre Dame Cathedral of Reims, is the gastronomic workshop Terroir des Rois. Here, plus a decent selection of wines Champagne, Products are packaged pastry, the famous pink biscuits Fossier, terrine and foie gras, honeys, vinegar;, salts and spices. Items for sale are predominantly of the Champagne-Ardenne region, as we have already said, It has so much to offer visitors who decide to discover it not only through its bubbles but also with the great food.

1 Taittinger, Counts of Champagne, grand cru, Vintage 2007
2 Boisel, Jewel of France, 2004 vintage
3 Geoffroy, pinkish crude bleeding, Vintage 2012
4 De Venoge, “Princes”, White and black, 2005 vintage
5 Blanchez, Special club, Premier Cru, Vintage 2012

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Renzo 28 November 2018 - 16:56

Congratulations on your article, very well written and full of useful tips. I am planning a trip in the Champagne, just after Christmas, lasting three days. I am undecided whether to base in Epernay or Reims, What advice would you give me? Thanks in advance…

Ada Parisi 28 November 2018 - 17:55

Thanks Renzo. Then, Meanwhile know that the distances are very minimal. Then I would say that a lot depends on your taste: if you prefer to learn at first hand the wine you should definitely Epernay, If you prefer the cultural, Reims. I, if you went back in Champagne, I would stay in Epernay and I'd move. Best wishes and thanks. ADA

Renzo 29 November 2018 - 09:21

Thanks for the reply Ada. Since they are more interested in the wine culture, I think that I will stay in Epernay. Have a good day. Renzo.

Ada Parisi 29 November 2018 - 11:09

Perfect. So everything is really just a few kilometers by car. A greeting, have a good time. ADA


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