French Wine Tutor

48 Hours in Champagne

A weekend trip to Champagne: one of France’s most renowned wine regions. 

A view of Champagne's rolling hills.

If there’s one thing you should take away from this post, it’s that you should probably, at some point in your lifetime, spend much more than 48 hours in Champagne, but given that its capital city of Reims is only a 40 minute train from Paris, getting away for the weekend is extraordinarily easy. From great restaurants and museums to quite literally thousands of wine producers all within a few kilometers, you’d be remiss not to spend some time in Champagne on your next trip to France. Read on to discover my itinerary to plan your own visit. 

A group of buildings in Reims, Champagne.

DAY 1: 

My friend Steph and I took the very early train from Paris to Reims to make the most of our time in the region. Upon arriving, we picked up our rental car (for some reason I always end up renting with SIXT in France – the experience is always really great and SIXT has an office right outside the Reims train station) and head off to our first visit in the region: Larmandier-Bernier

Larmandier-Bernier is home to many of my now favorite Champagnes. A pioneer in organics and biodynamics in the 1990s, they were among the first in the region to abide by these techniques and methodologies of winemaking. What started as a crazy idea has now become a trend, with producers around the region adopting tenets of organics or biodynamics or going into the certification process themselves. I love how expressive yet balanced and pure these champagnes were – with soft bubbles, affectionately supple mousse, and stunning equilibrium between tasting notes. The Rosé de Saignée is incredibly good (especially with summer just around the corner!) but the Longitude cuvée is ultimately what stole me. Because of their small production and commitment to sustainable methods, they are a bit more expensive in the U.S. but believe you me – they are worth every penny.

After our incredible tasting at Larmandier-Bernier, we took a scenic drive through the neighboring villages: Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, Vertus, Cramant, and Chouilly. Don’t forget to ask Larmandier-Bernier for a map of this scenic drive before you leave! They gave one to us upon our departure and it was an unexpected perk that allowed us to languorously drive through the French countryside before lunch. 

We stopped for lunch in Oger at La Récré, an absolutely delightful bistro in the center of the village with exceptional food and of course, a great wine list. I highly recommend whatever seasonal soup they have on tap and the cabillaud – both were divine. 

Next we were off to the Champagne house that made me want to drink more champagne (I’m notoriously picky – more on that in another post): Champagne De Sousa. I’m not exaggerating when I say I simply did not like Champagne before I tried their Cuvée des Caudalies. It sounds a little crazy but it’s true – grower champagnes like De Sousa and Larmandier-Bernier are simply on another level. De Sousa is also organic, biodynamic, and family-owned and operated, with three siblings – Charlotte, Julie, and Valentin – running the show. We were lucky enough to be visiting during the bottling and disgorging process so we got to see it all up close! Plus: don’t miss a trip down to the cellars. Seemingly miles of intimate tunnels are divided by sibling and each has left their own quirky mark on the domaine, which we loved to see. The energy and vitality at this domaine was truly not something to be missed – don’t pass over De Sousa and make sure to take a couple bottles home with you as they aren’t widely exported to the U.S.! 

We drove back to Reims to check into our Airbnb, pick up some morning essentials like coffee and baguettes, and meet up with the rest of our small group (this weekend in Champagne was actually my bachelorette – more on that in another blog post). After a couple of hours relaxing at home over Champagne and snacks, we headed out to dinner at Giulia Restaurant in the heart of Reims (they sadly don’t have a functioning website at the moment but you can make your reservation here). It’s a delicious Italian bistro with great pasta – get the gnocchi! 

Entrance to Champagne De Sousa.

DAY 2:

If it’s your first time in the Champagne region, you should definitely pick at least one big Champagne house to visit. The history, savoir-faire, and cultural importance of these houses are an integral part of what makes Champagne well, Champagne. From the massive crayères to thousand bottle riddling machines, there is a lot to learn from the big houses and visiting one is a must. We decided to start our second day at Champagne Lanson, one of the region’s oldest houses and one that falls into the “big house” category. There’s a lot to love about Champagne Lanson: like the fact they are the only house with vines on site in the city of Reims (the Clos Lanson is one hectare of vines and it is small but mighty!), they are committed to consumer transparency, particularly as it relates to their labeling, and they are taking strides toward greater sustainability efforts. At their immaculate and modern tasting room and facilities, groups can book private or public tours in English, French, and other languages upon request. We greatly enjoyed our visit here and it was a lovely time to bond as a group together! 

Next it was off to lunch at Le P’tit Boursault. This is a classic French bistro with standard fare, and being one of the only sit down restaurants in the immediate vicinity of many Champagne houses in Boursault, they do great business. You can also get food to go if you are running between tasting rooms and don’t have the time to sit down! 

We finished out our second day with a visit to one of Champagne’s smallest producers: Champagne Le Gallais. Like De Sousa and Larmandier-Bernier, they practice organic farming on their four hectares of land. It’s also stunningly beautiful and has a dramatic and fascinating history. With sheep on site, vines located only a few hundred meters from a former Veuve Clicquot château, a stunning 19th century greenhouse in a romantic state of disrepair, and an epic view of the Marne Valley’s rolling hills, this visit is not one to be missed. Enjoy your tasting on the delightful patio or take it onto the tasting room’s balcony to admire the views. 

We headed back to Reims, dropped off the rental car, and headed out to dinner at what is now my favorite restaurant in Reims: Le Crypto. If you only book one restaurant recommendation from this list – book here – but only if your tastebuds can stand some adventure! Listed in the Michelin Guide, this restaurant looks like an unassuming French bistro from the outside but was the best food we ate the entire weekend. From a butternut squash soup with popcorn and balsamic vinegar to homemade deconstructed carambars and their (inside) jokes, we had an incredible time at this restaurant and highly recommend it. Not to mention the wine list is exceptional and the staff were lovely. Can’t say enough good things about this place! 

The château at Champagne Le Gallais.

If you’re heading to Paris, stopping in neighboring Champagne for a weekend or even just a day trip should certainly be at the top of your list of things to do. While you could easily spend a month exploring the region and all its incredible wineries and history, 48 hours is a great place to start. I’ll certainly have to return and stay at least a few more days. Until then, bon voyage!

Looking for more quick French travel guides? Check out my 48 Hours in Lyon, 72 Hours in Strasbourg, or The Paris List.

A spring photo of Champagne.

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