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trip by 4* coach, entrance fees, bottled water, guided bus tour, visit to the Champagne village Hautvillers, great group of international people, a lifetime memory
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Who doesn’t love Champagne? Any occasion instantly becomes a party whenever a nice bottle of bubbly is opened. The entire world simply adores this exclusive wine. And if you like it too, but have no idea how Champagne is made, then this day is definitely something you do not want to miss! Expat Club traveled to Northern France already over a dozen times since 2014. Today we visit the NEWLY OPENED MERCIER CHAMPAGNE CELLARS, as well as various houses in the #1 Champagne village of Hautvillers. We will also spend some some time in the administrative capital Reims with its impressive Basilique and its stunning Cathedral where French Kings used to be crowned.
We’ll be visiting the beating heart of the Champagne region and industry, go underground into two magnificent champagne cellars, have a nice lunch together. Needless to say that we taste a range of delicious glasses and discover the beautiful landscape filled with vineyards. Oh, and as cherry on top we also visit Reims city center, with one of Europe’s most historic cathedrales.
Several dozens of people loved this trip so much that they joined a second or even third time! In fact, if you have joined before or if you couldn’t make it last-minute, we would love to invite you again with a 25% discount! Please contact us if you want to join again. Our friends from Cheeseweb have written a nice review on one of the editions, which you can read here.
We leave from Place Schuman, Louise and Gare du Midi by luxury 4* coach with on-board toilet, AC, flat screen TVs & DVD, bar and reclining comfort seats with extra leg space. We know this is very early, but we really cannot leave later as it is a long drive and it wouldn’t make sense to shorten our time in the Champagne or come back after midnight (and closure of public transportation). In other words, we need the extra time in the morning! So just get up very early for once and take an extra nap in the bus. Due to the distance, there will be a second bus driver to safely get us to and from the Champagne region, in accordance with E.U. regulations.
Avenue de Champagne | by Michal Osmenda (own work), Wikimedia Commons
Our first stop is Épernay, the epi-centre of the Champagne industry in the middle of the Marne valley. Some of the most famous brands can be found in this little town, most of them along the prestigious Avenue de Champagne: Moët & Chandon, Esterlin and Perrier-Jouët.
As a group we will visit the newly opened Mercier cellars where we will have a guided tour, learn all about the production process, and of course taste a flute of delicious Brut champagne. If you would like additional glasses of different Champagnes, that is also possible.
Dom Perignon statue, Épernay
After the De Castellane tour we drive towards “le berceau du Champagne”, or the “cradle of the Champagne.” The small village of Hautvillers is only a few kilometers away, but here we will find ourselves quickly in the middle of the hilly vineyards. It is known for the Benedictine monk Dom Pérignon, who is said to have invented the sparkling Champagne. He is buried in the village church.
In Hautvillers we have reserved a private room in Restaurant de l’Abbaye for our group. You can join us for lunch, which includes a main dish (Sauté de poulet en crème de ratafia OR Poisson du jour) + bread + one glass of wine/beer/soft +water + Café Gourmand (delicious small deserts!). Please select during checkout whether you would like to have the chicken, fish, vegetarian or vegan during the check-out process. This restaurant knows how to prepare a good meal as it is part of the Association Française des Maîtres Restaurateurs.
In Hautvillers you can also buy good affordable bottles of Champagne in several smaller houses. You can visit these on your own or in smaller groups. These houses always welcome guests for a tasting, so it’s a perfect place to spend a few hours. One shop has a wide selection of top-class champagnes, some of which very exclusive (and un-affordable) but definitely worth checking out. This particular trip we spend extra time here, so you can explore the entire village and several houses. We also organise a guided tour through the village that will lead you along the most important producers, takes you into the vineyards and tells you about the life of Dom Perignon that lived here (surcharge €8,50).
The third part of the day we spend in Reims, the biggest city and administrative capital of the Champagne-Ardenne region. There are several prestigious houses here, such as Veuve-Clicquot, Pommery, Mumm and the oldest and most prestigious house Ruinart. You can see amongst other things the magnificent Gothic Cathedral where all French kings were coronated. It is very large and has the most beautiful stained glass panels, including one from Marc Chagall. This is also the right time to eat something before heading back to the bus, which leaves by 20h15. The bus returns to Brussels Midi by 23h30.