By Susan Hanson
Originally appeared in October 2015 issue of Virtuoso Traveler
About an hour northeast of Paris, Champagne’s namesake province is best discovered along its well-marked Champagne Routes, where famous labels and family-run vignerons open their cellar doors to reveal how the magic happens. The medieval city of Reims, Champagne’s de facto capital, is a must, says Virtuoso travel advisor Bonnie Sherman of San Diego, “if just to see the cathedral and have dinner in Le Parc, Château Les Crayères’ renowned restaurant.”
What Destinations In Champagne Must You Try?
Bob Preston, one of Virtuoso’s on-site tour operators in France, works with travel advisors to craft customizable journeys for wine collectors around the Champagne region. Here are his tips.
- "Ruinart has the most amazing cellars – it’s a national historic monument.” (4 rue des Crayères, Reims)
- “I love Billecart-Salmon, a high-end Champagne house near Épernay, where a tour takes you through the whole production process.” (40 rue Carnot, Mareuil-sur-Aÿ)
- “Stop in Hautvillers, just north of Épernay, to see where Dom Pérignon and Dom Ruinart lived.”
Where Should You Stay?
Champagne flows freely around 20-room Château Les Crayères
, set within a 17-acre park in the heart of Reims. “The best time to go is during harvest, around the end of September,” says Sherman, “but it’s also peak time.” Doubles from $413; Virtuoso amenities include breakfast daily and a Champagne tasting at an exclusive wine cellar.
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