Considered in days gone by to be the preferred drink of the French royalty, nowadays a tour of the Champagne region, sampling all of its exports, is a popular holiday for those eager to learn more about this picturesque region of northern France, as well as the region’s most famous and prestigious product.
The birthplace of champagne is the perfect place to start. Northern France provides the perfect setting for your journey into the history of one of Europe’s oldest and most esteemed drinks. At the epicentre of the region, Epernay is home to some of the biggest names in the business; Moët & Chandon, Perrier, the list goes on. As well as this, Epernay offers lavish estates encapsulated by vineyards that stretch beyond the hills. Below these estates lies a 30km winding cellar, storing over 1 million bottles of France’s favourite commodity.
With over 288 hectares of vineyards, Reims is a must-see for anyone wanting to visit the Champagne region, as it bears a more authentic and agricultural feel to the more affluent areas of the region. Reims also plays host to one of the most spectacular cellars within the region. Within the Veuve Clicquot you will find the “crayeres” (or old quarries) that provide an ideal setting for an extensive tasting session.
While Troyes does not have any champagne cellars, it is a wonderful place to stop and shop in the Champagne region, with a number of large, cut-price outlet stores where you can pick up bottles of the best fizzy stuff around at great prices. Troyes is also a beautiful city, with gothic buildings, churches and cobbled streets to explore. Aesthetically, Troyes is like a time capsule from the France you see in the Three Musketeers and other such classic works.
Le Mesnil-Sur-Oger is a small village in the Champagne region. Despite its small size, it is very famous for its champagne, as the quality of the grapes in the region is scored at 100%, qualifying it for Grand Cru status. Le Mesnil-Sur-Oger is home to 2 of the most prestigious producers of champagne in France, with Salon and Clos du Mesnil both making champagne in the area. You can also enjoy a delicious meal in the Restaurant Le Mesnil, accompanied by a glass of the best champagne around.
Paris can lay claim to some of the best champagne bars in the world. Though it is not the sparkling wine’s historical home, it is very much at home in these surroundings. Le Dokhan’s stocks over 50 varieties of champagne at reasonable prices, partnered with idyllic views over the Parisian skyline and complementary chocolate and caviar tasting planks - it is not to be missed. Metropolitan influences on champagne have resulted in more adventurous bars specializing in champagne cocktails, for those looking for variations on the classic Le Baudelaire and Bar 8 are not to be missed.
When visiting Brussels, the Champagnothque de Bruxelles is the place to be for any champagne lover. Offering a vast range of varieties and styles, as well as, open or tutor-led tasting sessions. You will enjoy the knowledge bestowed upon you by the knowledgeable staff, dedicated to sharing their knowledge and understanding of this most historic French export. Once you have heard from the experts, head to Brussels’ late night champagne-based bar, Bar de l’Amusoir. A lounge bar which stocks a delightful range of champagne and champagne-based cocktails that would rival their Parisian cousins.
Champagne is not what springs to mind when thinking of the Dutch capital. However, a short walk from Dam Square, you will find one of the most highly recommended champagne and fish restaurants in Holland. Bubbles & Wines provide an extensive list of champagne that would satisfy even the greatest connoisseur, the perfect start to an evening of taking in Amsterdam’s rich culture and legendary nightlife.
In Düsseldorf, the Champagner Galerie is the perfect pit stop for those seeking to venture into the world of champagne. Located on the famous Konigsalle boulevard in the heart of the city it is almost impossible to miss, and why would you want to? The gallery stocks a huge range of champagne, and even hosts regular events for customers to enjoy.
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