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Reims Champagne Tours - Which is best?

Chicago, IL
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Reims Champagne Tours - Which is best?

My family and I will be in Paris in late March and are planning a day trip to Reims. We'd like to take a tour of one or two of the champagne cellars - but with limited time and two young children (7 and 9) in tow, we cannot take in them all. Any suggestions as to which tours are the best? Maison de Pommery? Mumm? Piper-Heidsieck? Ruinart? Taittinger? Veuve Clicquot-Ponsardin?

Teesside, England
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1. Re: Reims Champagne Tours - Which is best?

Schoop - My wife and I visited a Champagne house in Epernay (only a few miles from Reims) in July '04 on our way home from Austria, unfortunately I can't remember the name of it ! !

The visit was great . . . very interesting indeed. The tour lasted about 90 minutes then a tasting afterwards.

Some of the bigger cellars take you on a tour in a little train. I don't think there will be much difference between the well known ones.

Take a sweater . . . it's cold ! !

Also, if you arrive at lunchtime some might be closed - the French take their mealtimes very seriously.

Chicago, IL
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2. Re: Reims Champagne Tours - Which is best?

Perhaps only a Teesside Traveler could tell me why all my want-away Villians end up at 'Boro. Southgate, Boatang, Ehiogu . . . who else?

Any way, thanks for your info on Epernay. Last time my wife and I went to Paris (4 years ago) we rented a car and drove out there for the day. Unfortunately, the cellar where we made reservations for a tour was closed for repairs. So much for reservations. Actually, they were extremely apolgetic and very kind to us - several gifts were waiting for us when we returned home.

This time around we have decided to go to Reims. Our plan is to take in the cathedral, get some of these cookies everyone seems to be talking about and do a cellar tour. Haven't yet decided which one - still trying to get a read on which are the better tours.

Cheers - Up the Villa!

Teesside, England
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3. Re: Reims Champagne Tours - Which is best?

Don't tell me you're a 'Boro supporter all the way from Chicago ! !

Have a good trip to Reims.

PS We might plan a trip to the American south west sometime, Denver, Aspen, San Juan Mountains, Monument Valley, Grand Canyon etc. do you know the area?

Regards

Brian

Chicago, IL
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4. Re: Reims Champagne Tours - Which is best?

I am claret and blue - through and through. Which means that for the last month and a half I've not been pleasant to be around. And that includes a Teeside thrashing (3-nil) in early December. Strange for a guy who grew up in southern California, eh?

As for the American Southwest - Monument Valley and the Grand Canyon - are fabulous! Much different than a trip to Paris - but nonetheless spectacular in their own right. I've only flown in and out of Denver, and cannot offer much about Aspen. However, I would whole-heartedly recommend a trip through Monument Valley and/or the Grand Canyon. And I'm not much of an outdoorsman, either.

I would recommend the North Rim of the Grand Canyon over the South Rim. It is much less crowded (I think it gets about 1/10th of the people each year), so peaceful, and increadibly relaxing. The cabins are great. The dining hall is also quite grand. Of course, wild life abounds. I recall relaxing on the veranda, soaking in the environs and being amazed as a couple of mule deer wandered by without care or bother. The trouble is that it takes a while to get to the North Rim. It is a 5-6 hour drive from either Salt Lake City and/or Las Vegas and its only open from May - ish to October - ish. You will find tons of information at www.grandcanyonnorthrim.com.

As for Monument Valley - I highly recommend Goulding's Lodge. I think its the only hotel in Monument Valley. There is nothing particularly spectacular about the lodge - except the location. The sunset from the hotel balcony is heavenly. Like a Thomas Hitzlesburger hammer from the top of the box. Check out www.gouldings.com

If you like Monument Valley - and are a biker - you should check out Moab. It has the same red desert sands and wonderful rock formations - but I'm told that it is a haven for mountain biking. Check out www.moab-utah.com

Cheers! Ellis-Out!

Petaluma, California
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5. Re: Reims Champagne Tours - Which is best?

Hi Schoop. We are doing the same trip in March. Fell in love with Reims last time. The Cathedral is extraordinary - and right next to the little quaint town where you can get the biscuits rose. (Cookies made to eat with champagne.) The chocolate store - candy store - on the way down the stree to the Rose Bisquits is unreal. Looks like all the chocolates are pieces of art. They have them in the shape of corks too. But is was the others we loved the best. As an aside, in the Bisquit Rose store they had raspberry vinegar I brought home and intend to get alot more to bring home this time, even if I have to ship to myself. It was just unreal. I treated it like gold in my kitchen.

We went to Tattinger who won't allow you to taste unless you go on tour. We missed the tour, but looked fun. We then wandered to a place called Maxims where we did their tour and tasted all afternoon by a fire. No one talks about Maxims, so maybe it is not the best champagne, but we enjoyed it.

This year, we have done much more research and are also going to Epernay. We bought the DK French Wines travel book with wine driviing trips. Also the Michelen Green Guide to Champagne area - both were instumental to our new itinerary. Going to Pol Roger (supposed to be more delicate, and Krug in the heart of chardonnay country just south of Epernay. These books made my trip though.

Good luck!

Chicago, IL
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6. Re: Reims Champagne Tours - Which is best?

Cheers Gourmand and Husband of Gourmand. I have enjoyed your postings from the shadows.

We have decided on a tour of Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin. I was only able to find a couple of reviews on champagne tours and Cliquot had a very favorable review. Since we like that champagne so much, we decided to just go with them. Our plan is to catch the train from Gare de 'lest, tour the cathedral, grab some lunch, champagne tour, wander/shop, and take the train home to Paris where we have rented an apartment in the Marais district.

When my wife and I went to Epernay we rented a car thinking that we wanted to come and go at our leisure. NEVER AGAIN! Once we got on the expressway there was no problem, but driving from Gare de Nord, where we rented the car, to the expressway, which was probably no more than 5-10 blocks, was a nightmare. We (I) was overwhelmed. I couldn't read the steet signs, every other block seemed to be a one way street in the wrong direction, and no one seemed to adhere to what I expected were universal rules of the road. I was definitely a foriegner in a foriegn land. The experience even enfringed upon our short stay in Epernay because all I could think about was leaving in time to get back to Paris before dark.

Our short stay in Epernay was nontheless fun. Of course, we had our pitfalls - arrived at lunch time to find everything closed and we couldn't tour the underground cellars where we made reservations because they were under repair - but we found other things that we really enjoyed. Right in the square where the tourist center is located is a small church, with a steep stairway up to a 16th (?) century castle wall/fortress. We learned that Joan of Arc escorted Charles VI (or VIII - or some king) through the gates on the way to his coronation. We got a kick out of trying to locate and recreate the site of old photos/postcards from the visitors center. There is also a WWII American War Memorial not far from there, but we didn't have time to go there - it was getting dark.

I'm looking forward to hearing about your tour plans.

Schoop23

Petaluma, California
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7. Re: Reims Champagne Tours - Which is best?

Hi Schoop23,

Husband Here. As far as renting a car goes I'm a professional driver so I have few reservations against driving but either we will rent in the St Sulpis area and go or take the train to Reims and rent the car there at the train station. As for the traffic, I'll simply put a blindfold on my wife and I'll be fine. I've also been studying the road signs and I'm good with maps and such.

My wife mentioned Maxxim Champagne cellars and I really enjoyed their offerings. They had a great '95 that just had my mouth in heaven. The people there were very friendly also.

We only had time for the two cellars when we were there as we had lunch at Le Crayeres. This is a 3 Michelin star restaurant. The Meal was and still is the most fabulous we have ever had.

www.gerardboyer.com

The meal took over 2 hrs and that was lunch.

We are going to stay in Reims overnight and visit more cellars the next day, then spend a second night and leave for Burgundy the next morning.

My wife wants me to ask you the name of the cellar in Epernay that was closed. We might try it on the way through.

When are you going? We'll be in Reims on the 14-15th.

Do Not Miss The Cathedral!

TTFN

Chicago, IL
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8. Re: Reims Champagne Tours - Which is best?

Hello H o' G. I had to look into the photo album to remember the name of the champagne cellar in Epernay. Looking at the post cards of the cellar, it looks quite nice, I'm sorry we missed out. It is called Pannier. www.champagnepannier.com I've never seen or heard of it before or after - but it tasted first rate. They let us taste even though the cellar tour was closed.

The name of the castle/fortress was Chateau Thierry.

We will be in Paris the last week of March, so it looks like we will just miss you.

Lastly, I saw that your wife was particularly interested in a posting about hidden/favorite places in Paris and there was several mention of Place de la Contrescarpe. By the description it sounds like the little fountain/plaza where my wife and I spent several afternoons. It was one of our favorite spots. We stayed at the Comfort Inn Mouffetard, which was nothing spectacular, but clean and right up the street from the plaza. We loved being in the latin quarter with real parisian life going on around us - grandparents walking their children to school, university students mingling about, an art class in a studio nearby, the open market - and even the bum who resided at the fountain. It is amazing how even though we knew that millions of people had come before us, we thought of the plaza as our own little discovery. This time around we are staying in the Marais district and hope to make the same kind of discoverys all anew, this time with our children.

Oh yes, I'm going to check out the restaurant you praise so highly in Reims, but I'm not sure we'll have enough time for such an elaborate meal (2 hours?) Any other suggestions?

Schoop23

Teesside, England
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9. Re: Reims Champagne Tours - Which is best?

Thanks for that Schoop, your information is really useful. My wife and I visited the South West a couple of years ago on a coach tour . . . . saw a lot, but not enough time at each location. We intend a fly/drive next time so we can please ourselves where and when we move on. I will indeed check out the web-sites you mention.

Regards

Brian

Petaluma, California
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10. Re: Reims Champagne Tours - Which is best?

Ok, I am going to tie us all together in this one post. Teeside - may I suggest Sedona as part of your southwest tour? I lived there for 8 years and love it dearly. And it is a great place to reside while you day trip to the Grand Canyon and Jerome (artsy ghost town 30 miles from Sedona.)

I am meeting an old friend from Sedona in Paris for a drink while we are there in March. She used to live in France.

Schoop - thank you so much for looking up the champagne house for me! I will research it. Hopefully they have quit construction. I also suggested on the Paris forum about Veuve Clicquot to someone else because you recommended. We will probably put it on our list too. Did you have to make reservations for Veuve? Did you do it online?

Ok, thank you everyone. This is all such good info.

Sorry you will miss the most fabulous food anywhere at Les Crayers in Reims Schoop, but you know I bet they have lots of good restuarants there. Too bad we will miss each other there!