Champagne Region Revisited

Now it was time for the big hurrah of my family’s visit, a long weekend in Paris.  But to break up the drive a little, we stopped in Reims to give our visitors a little taste of the bubbly.  This time we visited the Mumm Champagne House.

  Everybody’s favorite part of the tour… the tasting!

The caves at Mumm were not as impressive as they were at Pommery or Taittingier, but they do an excellent job with the presentation.  We capped off our tasting with some lunch at an outdoor bistro and loaded back up for the rest of our drive!

A Bit of Bubbly in Champagne

We were on the go again shortly after returning from Amsterdam to the Champagne region of France.  This is the birthplace of champagne and if you want to get technical, it cannot be called champagne unless it is made here and adheres to very specific rules (it’s a law in Europe).  Everything else is just “sparkling wine.”  We spent most of our time in the city of Reims.  Notice I said city, I totally thought we were going to be out in vineyards, and sprawling countryside but actually, most of the champagne houses are in the cities.

Our hotel was on the same street as the Reims cathedral.  This is where French royalty was crowned all the way up to the late 1800’s.  Last year was the 800 year anniversary of the cathedral and to celebrate, a light show was designed and played on the facade of the church at night.  Apparently it was so popular that they decided to bring it back for this summer.  And we are so glad they did because it was awesome! I’ve never seen something like that and it was so fun to watch.

Cathedral during the day.
And lit up for part of the light show.

Our first champagne house to visit was Taittinger.  This was probably the favorite one we visited.  We had a very small personal tour, and the caves were amazing.  These champagne houses sit on top of massive underground chalk caves.  These caves were dug out by the Romans and then were put to use by the monks who made champagne.  Taittinger actually sits on the site of an old basilica that was destroyed during the French Revolution.

In front of the champagne wall.
Down in the caves.

Different sizes of bottles they make, second from the right is a normal sized bottle.
Carvings in the chalk wall, you can see where Rick Steve’s carved his name too 😉
About 60 meters underground looking up.

The caves all have these archways where tons of bottles are stacked while they ferment and age.  You can see how far back they go and just how many bottles are stacked in there.  We were told that the bottles stay in the cellars between 3 and 10 years depending on the type of champagne.

The bottom number on the sign says 72,202-the number of bottles in this archway.

Time for the tasting!

Pretty champagne boxes.

After the tour we had some time for lunch.  We went to a local market and bought meats, cheeses, baguettes, and fruit and had a little picnic in the park!  Our first time to do this on a trip, but don’t think it will be the last time.

Somebody carved a heart into the tree!
Where we had our picnic lunch.

Time for the next tour!  We were off to Vrenken Pommery.

Gorgeous grounds of Pommery.
Walking down into the caves.

This place was having a modern art exhibition in the caves.  We weren’t really fans of that but it definitely brought a different element to the tour.

Blue beam is a piece of “art”, but look how big the cave is, again dug out by Romans.
Cute individual size bottles!

Reims had a really nice street with bars, cafes, restaurants, and shops on it.  A very fun, lively atmosphere.  The people watching was great and we saw multiple stag/hen parties walking around in costumes too.

Opting for beer instead of champagne this time.
Adjusting, primping, and…
Smile!

The next morning before leaving Reims we walked inside the cathedral and were able to see the start of the service which was very neat to see.  They were also have a medieval fair so we walked through the street booths and saw the yaks and one wolf in the church yard.  Not sure what they have to do with the church or the fair.  Then we jumped in the car and drove about 30 minutes south to Epernay.  We had just one more place to visit, probably the most recognizable name in champagne-Moet & Chandon (makers of Dom Perignon).

We had to get some lunch first though 🙂
The men posing with Dom Perignon, the creator of champagne.

The caves here were a little less impressive because they weren’t as deep, and they were relatively “new” in comparison.  They were built in the 1700’s not by the Romans.

Cask stolen by Napoleon and given as a gift to the Moet/Chandon family.

Cheers!

I learned a lot about champagne and how it’s made which was interesting and definitely gave us a new appreciation for the drink.  We loved traveling with our friends and have to give all the credit to them for planning such a fun trip.  Thanks for letting us tag along!