UPDATE 9 July 10h00:
WE DO HAVE SPOTS REGARDLESS OF THAT IT SAYS ZERO OR -1 SPOTS LEFT. PLEASE SEND YOUR PREFERENCES TO INFO@EXPATCLUB.ORG OR CALL EDGAR AT 0495-345144.
ALSO, WE ARE LIKELY TRAVELING WITH AN EVEN LARGER BUS THAN INDICATED BELOW, NAMELY A DOUBLE-DECKER ROYAL CLASS BUS. THIS GIVES US MORE SPACE BECAUSE THERE WILL BE MORE EMPTY SEATS, MORE SPACE BETWEEN THE SEATS, AND THE SEATS ARE DIVIDED OVER 2 DECKS. SO, EVERYONE GETS A FREE UPGRADE 🙂
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 and would like to visit the famous cellars and taste various bubblies, then this day is definitely something you don’t want to miss! Expat Club has traveled to the Champagne region in Northern France over 15 times already since 2014. Today we visit the lovely house of De Castellane in the morning. And in the afternoon you have the opportunity to visit various smaller houses in the #1 Champagne village of Hautvillers. Later in the afternoon, we’ll spend time in the capital Reims with its impressive Basilique and its stunning Cathedral where the French Kings used to be crowned, and where you can see a unique stained glass window pane by Marc Chagall. Bring back (many) Champagne bottles at reduced prices from the original houses! This is a great trip for newcomers, always happy faces!
Trip + De Castellane tour + 1 glass of Brut + museum & tower + 2-course lunch incl drink = €164,95
Trip + Mercier tour + 1 glass of Brut + 2-course lunch incl drink = €169,95
Trip Moët & Chandon tour + 1 glass of Brut + 2-course lunch incl drink = €177,45 FULL
Trip Boizel tour + 1 glass of Brut Reservé & 1 glass of Blanc de Blancs + 2-course lunch incl drink = € 187,50 FULL
You are requested to transfer the amount to our bank account or to request a payment link for a (credit) card payment, which we will send to you later.
What is the trip fee?
Due to the exceptional circumstances of limited group sizes in the cellars, we are offering 4 different houses for our visit. You have to choose which one in advance. Be aware that there are limited spots for each house and that many spots are already gone. Also, we include the lunch in the final price (normally 90% joins us for lunch anyway). If you do not want to have lunch included, please contact us. Finally, since we are replacing our website, it is not possible to pay immediately online. You can fill out the form and transfer the indicated amount to our bank account (BE89 3630 8012 6585, Xross Global Group, with CHAMPAGNE in comments). You can also request a payment link for a Bancontact or credit card payment.
What's included in the trip fee?
Trip by 4* luxury coach
Bottled water during the ride
Entrance fees De Castellane Champagne
One glass of De Castellane Brut
Alternative visit to Mercier (1 glass), Moët & Chandon (1 glass) or Boizel (2 glasses)
Visit to Hautvillers, #1 Champagne village
Guided tour in Hautvillers
Visit to Reims, with guided bus tour along Champagne houses
Visit to Basilique Saint-Remi in Reims
Visit to Cathedral of Reims, with Marc Chagall stained glass
Great group of international people
A lifetime memory
What items are optional for this trip?
– Visits to alternative Champagne houses in Hautvillers
– Lunch in Hautvillers (we can take this out)
– Opportunities to bring back bottles or boxes
What are the bus pick-up points?
– Place Schuman (bus stop next to KBC bank on roundabout)
– Louise (Blv de Waterloo, parking next to Tiffany’s)
– Gare du Midi (parking Charleroi Airport bus, Rue du France)
Who can join us?
Expat Club is known for welcoming a wide variety of international people on its trips. This creates a special, open-minded, safe and friendly environment in which everyone should feel comfortable.
If you want to bring your child(ren) up until 18 years, please indicate this in the final comment. A ticket costs €80 including lunch and a visit to De Castellane. You can add this amount to your own ticket price.
Trip in pictures
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. | by Michal Osmenda (own work), via Wikimedia Commons
As a group we visit the traditional house of De Castellane, which certainly is housed in one of the most impressive buildings. This is a lovely traditional house, with big old cellars, an in-house production facility and even an actual museum. | by Sands (own work), via Wikimedia Commons
Learn more about how Champagne where it is actually made. The moment you step into De Castellane's house, you can smell the wine. We will enjoy a guided tour here, 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.
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, which we will also visit. This statue stands in front of the Moët & Chandon house in Épernay. | by Victor Grigas (own work) Wikimedia Commons
After Épernay 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 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, Thierry Landragin will welcome us in his Restaurant de l'Abbaye for lunch. This is not yet included in the trip fee, but you can add it during the reservation process. You can choose between 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 your choice during the checkout process.
After our lunch we will be making a guided tour through Hautvillers. You will be impressed with this beautiful scenic village that is surrounded by vineyards and is home to several Champagne houses. 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. One shop has a wide selection of top-class champagnes, some of which very exclusive (and un-affordable) but definitely worth checking out.
The Abbey in the village of Hautvillers is the resting place of the Monk Dom Perignon. | October Ends (own work), via Wikimedia Commons
Once in Reims, the administrative capital of the region, we are first driving by some of the famous houses here, such as Veuve-Clicquot, Pommery, Mumm and the oldest and most prestigious house Ruinart.
The Basilique of Saint-Remi is probably one of the most special building you will ever see. So many of our previous Champagne trip participants left this building with a big wow.
You can see the many centuries of history inside the basilique.
The Cathedral of Reims is one of the greatest architectural masterpieces. It was the place where the French kings were crowned, and where you can see the magnificent stained glass window by Marc Chagall.
The front entrances of the Cathedral are covered with numerous statues.
The Cathedral is known for its high buttresses that reach high up.
The stained windows inside are spectacular. We'll keep the Marc Chagall ones as a surprise.
The city hall is one of the cities most beautiful buildings.
As with all Expat Club trips, our program has been carefully designed. We normally don’t deviate from our schedule, but all times below are still tentative and may change if required by circumstances, such as traffic conditions. In the rare case we have to adapt our program, rest assured that your host, the driver and welcoming Champagne house and restaurant, will do their best to give you the optimal experience.
06h45 – Departure from Place Schuman (meeting time 06h35)
06h50 – Departure from Louise (meeting time 06h45)
07h00 – Departure from Gare du Midi (meeting time 06h55)
09h15 – Highway stop
11h15 – Visits to Champagne House(s) Épernay
13h00 – Departure to Hautvillers
13h30 – Lunch at Restaurant de l’Abbeye
14h30 – Guided tour Hautvillers
15h00 – Free time, visit to Champagne houses
16h30 – Departure to Reims
17h00 – Guided bus tour along Champagne houses
17h15 – Visit to Basilique Saint-Remi
17h45 – Visit to Cathedral de Reims
18h00 – Free time in Reims
20h15 – Departure to Brussels
23h30 – Estimated arrival
For this trip you can choose between four Champagne house to visit (the visits run paralel). Each of them is located along the prestigious Avenue de la Champagne, the most famous Champagne street. Our standard tour is the one at De Castellane, a beautiful traditional house that boasts a nice Champagne museum and a panoramic tower. You can also opt for Mercier Champagne (one glass of brut included), France’s most popular Champagne brand. Additionally, you can visit Moët & Chandon (one glass of brut included). And finally you can opt for Boizel (one glass of Brut Reservé included + one glass of Blanc de Blancs). The Boizel tour is therefore I most expensive tour, especially because of the quality of the champagne.
Each visit will introduce you to the art of Champagne making, the house itself and take you through the extensive cellar network. Each cellar is different and we can guarantee that you cannot make a wrong decision about which cellar you choose.
UPDATE 7 JULY:
Moët & Chandon & Boizel are full. Final spots Mercier and De Castellane.
Our first tour is anything but basic. Part of the Laurent Perrier group, De Castellane is our favorite house simply because of its authenticity. Coming in to the building, you immediately smell the wine. The cellars are old, dark and have a lot of character. Especially the “Champagne vault”, with a selection of bottles from the best year, is great to see. De Castellane is the only house where you can also see the bottling machines. At the end of the tour you will be offered a glas of brut. For an additional payment you can try their rosé or other champagnes, and of course you can buy your favorite bottle.
Mercier is another one of the houses that we always visit. Located at just 150 meters from De Castellane, their cellars are completely different compared to the ones at De Castellane. Starting with their size, Mercier boast the largest cellar complex of over 18km! The corridors are much lighter and you will have the chance to explore them with a laser-guided train. The tour starts with a short movie about the Champagne process and a bit of marketing for the house itself, after which you explore the art-filled cellars. Afterwards you enjoy a glass of brut and can buy a wide selection in the outstanding shop.
By far the largest and most famous Champagne house has an excellent cellar tour. Moët has the most prominent building on the Avenue de la Champagne, “guarded” by Dom Perignon himself. The tasting takes place in a special tasting room underground, while the “rez-de-chaussee” has a spectacular bling-bling champagne shop. If you are looking for very special and luxurious gift, this is the place to shop.
Our last house is new for Expat Club, but of course needs no further introduction. The know-how of the Boizel House is transmitted from generation to generation since 1834. The Cellars, which have been dug in the mid-19th century are located at the same place as the technical installations of the champagne house (like De Castellane). These century-old cellars provide optimal conditions that bring out the unique character of each of vintage, combining delicacy and balance. After an excellent tour you will have the chance to taste 2 different champagnes, the Brut Reservé and the Blanc de Blancs. Therefore this tour is for the champagne aficionados.
Remember, don’t worry about picking a wrong house. They are all great and right choices. Don’t suffer from FOMO either, the Fear Of Missing Out because your house is already full. Just JOMO, the Joy Of Missing Out, because the alternative is just as great! At each house you will be offered a glass of delicious Brut champagne. At Boizel, however, you will be offered the Brut Reservé and also a Blanc de Blancs. There is a shop in each house, so you can take home one bottle or a full box if you enjoyed it. After the tours and tastings we will get back on the bus and make a short drive towards Hautvillers, the birthplace of Champagne.
The village of Hautvillers can be regarded as the “cradle of the Champagne” with its many Champagne houses and its famous former resident Dom Perignon, the “inventor” of the Champagne wine. We spend several hours here. First we have a very nice lunch in the village’s best restaurant. We’ve been coming there for years for a lovely meal and some time discuss our experience in Épernay.
After lunch you will have the possibility of joining a 1-hour guided tour through the village. A local expert guide will tell us much more about the cultivation of the grapes used for Champagne and how the wine is made. S/he will also take us to the famous Abbey of St Peter where Dom Perignon is buried and tell us more about the history of the village and the vineyards of many famous Champagne houses, such as Taittinger, Moët et Chandon and many others.
The City of Reims is the administrate capital of the Champagne-Ardennes Arrodissement. At the same time it is a cultural hotspots, a historic place and another centre for the Champagne industry.
After arriving in the city we will first make a short bus tour along some of the other famous Champagne houses, such as Veuve Clicquot, Pommery and Ruinart. Our first stop is at the St Remy Basilica, which has been standing here for almost 1000 years. Every time we go there our participants come back totally amazed with what you see inside. We keep that a little secret for you until we are there…
Our next stop is the large Cathedral, which has been used for the coronation of many French kings. In the back you can see the stunning stained glass windows by Marc Chagall. After this visit you have some free time to see the rest of the city or to have dinner in a local restaurant. We depart again at 20h15.
We will be travelling with a comfortable 4* luxury coach from Lauwers Reizen. The seats are configured in Princess Class, which means you will have extra leg space and can recline your seat. This way you can get some extra rest. All seats have footrests as well. There is a (small) toilet on-board and a DVD system with three flat screens. The bus picks up at Place Schuman, Louise and Midi Station, and drop-off is at the same spots and Merode and Montgomery.
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