Now, I have to admit that we are not really Valentine’s Day people. There are no cards exchanged, no chocolates or flowers gifted, and definitely no fancy overpriced dinner reservations. It’s usually like any other day around here. Last year though we changed our minds – we decided to head on down to Reims (pronounced “Rance” – don’t ask me why) to get our bubbly on. You see, Reims is the capital of the Champagne region and you can’t throw a stone without hitting a well-known champagne house. After a quick search, we settled on two houses: Martel, and Mumm.
If you haven’t done a champagne tour before, then here’s the deal. If you are planning to visit during the heavier tourist season (May through August), you will typically want to reserve a spot ahead of time, especially if you are planning to visit one of the well-known houses like Moet & Chandon. Although it depends on the house, you’ll pay somewhere between 9 and 20+ euro for a visit down to the caves and a champagne tasting. The number of tastings varies and some houses will give you the option to “upgrade” your tasting to include additional champagnes or step-up the swank level and go for the really good stuff.
The first stop of the day was G.H. Martel & Co.G.H. Martel 17 Rue des Créneaux, Reims email: email@example.com
11am tour. I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised by this champagne house. This one was definitely the best bang for the buck: for only 9 euro we got the cave tour as well as three champagne tastings. The best kind of breakfast is a champagne breakfast!
Before heading on to our next stop, we made a detour to the Reims Cathedral.
The Cathedral of Reims holds an important spot in French history – this church held the coronation of at least 25 French kings and queens. You wouldn’t know it now, but Reims was almost completely destroyed during World War I, including this cathedral. It’s a beautiful church. The best part for me were the gorgeous Marc Chagall stained glass windows.
After the Cathedral, we headed on to our final champagne stop: Mumm!
G.H. Mumm & Co. 34 rue du Champs de Mars, Reims email: firstname.lastname@example.org
When I was in Paris with my mom and sister a few years back this was my favorite of the houses we visited on our champagne tour. This is one of the classic houses – a worldwide name – and a reservation is definitely recommended here. This one is pricier than Martel (I believe it came in around 20 euro) and you only get one tasting. If you’re looking for the classic champagne tour/tasting that isn’t super corporate (yet) – this is your spot.
Honest thoughts? I think champagne tours are a bit overrated. The tours are pretty standard across all champagne houses, so if you’ve done one you’ve pretty much done them all. They can also be quite pricey. For the top-name champagne houses (Moet & Chandon, Veuve Clicquot) – you’ll likely pay upwards of 20 euro for a single tasting of their standard champagne. Me? Having now done a few of these, I’d rather take that money I’d spend for a couple of tours and glasses of champagne and buy myself a WHOLE bottle of the good stuff.
After a day out exploring, we settled into our airbnb with a bottle of wine we picked up along the way. Or attempted to at least. Without any luck locating a wine opener, we decided to take matters into our own hands. Or shoe in this case: We did successfully get it open, but we’ll need a bit more practice to get this trick perfected. And wouldn’t you know it – later that evening we finally located the wine opener.