Behind the scenes in Champagne with the Grape Escapes team

Grape Escapes team in Champagne in Billecart-Salmon cellars

To kick off 2024, it’s only fitting that, 20 years after we first started, we go back to where it all began with a few days in Champagne.

Still one of our best-selling regions today, we send thousands of our clients to this sparkling region every year, so we see it as essential for our team to go and discover Champagne for themselves.

Grape Escapes team in Champagne, Reims cathedral and Champagne house cellars

This time, six of our team (including some of the newest additions) ventured over to Champagne for a few days on the ground. We caught up with valued suppliers and met with new ones, so we’re always developing our wine tours to be the most unforgettable they can be in this sparkling region. Your Champagne Grape Escape will be so good, you’ll be thirsty to return for more 😉

Why Champagne? Here’s why every Champagne house offers a different experience…

One of the best things about a trip to Champagne is the variety. Every Champagne house you visit is different.

Grape Escapes in Champagne - Champagne Lanson

Meet with hospitable and friendly winemakers at smaller estates, where they’ll share their passion for Champagne with you. On this trip, we were invited to a hands-on experience at Champagne Vollereaux to witness the modern-day machinery used in the disgorgement process in action. “Even the owner of the estate was there with his wellies on! There is something so special about visiting smaller, family-run estates, they provide a unique experience that the larger estates cannot.” (Hannah, Product and Marketing).

Grape Escapes team in Champagne at Billecart-Salmon

On the other hand, visiting the larger estates means you get to go behind the scenes and learn about the history and winemaking process of your favourite Champagnes. “Champagne Ayala was my personal favourite – super interesting history, and the guide focused on providing us with a different experience to what we had already had, listening to our response, and adapting it to suit.” (Cathy, Sales).

Grape Escapes in Champagne at Champagne Ayala

We also experienced a premium and highly informative private guided tour at Champagne Billecart-Salmon, walked to the top of the Clos des Goisses (Champagne Philipponnat’s flagship single varietal vineyard), and enjoyed signature tastings at Champagne Lanson.

Grape Escapes in Champagne - Champagne Phillipponat

Sampling the region’s gastronomy – no Grape Escape is complete without some good food! 

In our opinion, no wine tour is complete without some delicious, local food. While many of our clients opt for Michelin-starred meals, some go for lighter bites in local bistros. We love to give our clients the opportunity to dine in the wineries, for a highly special and unique experience. On this trip, we ate lunch and tasted ratafia at Domaine Julien Chopin, as well as enjoying a delicious 4-course meal at Maison Penet. In the summertime, our clients may be swayed to enjoy a picnic in the vineyards – fresh, local produce, paired with Champagnes and stunning views – what more could you ask for?

Grape Escapes in Champagne at Champagne Pommery

Where to stay? Premium hotels in city, town, or in the heart of the vineyards?

While Reims is the bustling capital of Champagne, you can expect city nightlife, plenty of things to see and do, and of course the ever-impressive Cathedral, where the Kings of France were crowned. On the other hand, beautiful Epernay is widely considered the true heart of Champagne, with its avenue de Champagne home to a huge array of Champagne houses.

Grape Escapes in Champagne - Avenue de Champagne, Epernay

What’s stopping you from staying in both? Check out our Extensive Champagne tour which includes ample time to explore the whole of the Champagne region, or speak to one of our expert travel consultants to design your dream trip. At least you’ll be spoilt for choice on hotel options.

On this trip, our first night was spent at premium 5* L’Assiette Champenoise, which is also home to a renowned triple Michelin starred restaurant. The spacious suites are tastefully decorated, and we had a bottle of Moet & Chandon and some delicious patisseries waiting for us on arrival. The pool was a hit, as was the breakfast – a never-ending table service stream of delicious food. We certainly didn’t leave hungry.

For our second night, we stayed at La Caserne Chanzy, another 5* hotel that boasts an excellent location in the centre of Reims. Many rooms enjoy views over Reims Cathedral.

More of our favourite Reims-based hotels include Hotel de la Paix, whose comfortable facilities and friendly staff make this experience. The stunning Chateau les Crayères is also a bucket-list stay for those who prefer the sumptuous setting of a traditional French chateau.

Grape Escapes in Champagne - Chateau Les Crayeres, Reims

We visited and dined at both of these hotels on this trip, so you can rest assured that all of our recommendations come from personal experience.

We were also invited for a delicious meal paired with wines at the Royal Champagne Hotel & Spa. This stunning 5* hotel is in the true heart of the vineyards – every single one of its 47 rooms and suites feature floor to ceiling views of the Champagne hills.

It’s home to two restaurants to ensure its guests never go hungry; one being the gastronomic Michelin-starred Le Royal, and the other, a more relaxed brasserie with an exceptionally impressive menu and setting, Le Bellevue. We dined in the latter, and our entertaining sommelier – one of a team of 5 at the hotel – truly made our evening.

And one final thing – don’t forget to stop in Hautvillers, the sleepy village on the top of a hill, surrounded by views of lush green vineyards in every direction. Hautvillers is the village in which Dom Perignon himself was buried, so provides a unique insight into the history of Champagne – from a different angle!

Hautvillers and vineyards, Grape Escapes in Champagne

We offer a broad range of fully flexible and customisable wine tours, designed to suit every taste and budget – from a whistlestop weekend away to extensive, luxury breaks focused on Champagne with gastronomy and spa. We’re also experts at planning Champagne trips that combine with other regions – whether it be a city break in Paris or alongside more of France’s premium wine regions.

Whether you’ve already fallen in love with Champagne on another occasion, or you’re tempted to visit for the first time, look no further. Give us a call on +44 1920 46 86 66 to speak to a member of the team or email and we’d be delighted to help you with your enquiry.

We promise you won’t regret it!

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