Any trip to Paris should include at least a day trip outside of the city. While Paris is magical and full of history, it also has similarities of any other big city around the world. The countryside of France on the other hand has that alluring je ne sais quoi and has such a different style than the bustling streets of Paris.
Some of the most popular places to visit in a day from Paris are to the palace of Versailles & Giverny to see Monet’s gardens, but on my most recent visit to France, we took another route on a quick 45 minute train ride from Paris’s city center to the rolling hills and wide landscapes of the Champagne region.
The Champagne region isn’t necessarily the biggest tourist destination, but it definitely should be. The area played a major role throughout France’s history from hosting coronations of the kings to playing a central role in WWI and WWII. Now it’s expansive countryside displays endless fields of grapes, which in my opinion, create the best sparkling beverage in the world. I think the French would agree with that statement. 🙂
Below you’ll find my tips and the itinerary for planning the perfect day trip from Paris to Champagne.
Tips for Planning a Day Trip to Champagne:
- Take the Train
- The high speed train travels to and from Reims (the capital of the Champagne region) multiple times through the day. It’s a 45 minute, non-stop trip and takes almost an hour off of travel time as opposed to driving leaving more time for tastings. The further you book train tickets the cheaper they will be! We took the 7:00am train from Paris and left Reims at 6:45pm which was plenty of time to explore the region and still left plenty of time to grab dinner back in Paris.
- Book a Tour
- The highlight of our day in Champagne was easily the half-day tour we did with Sparkling Tour. Our tour guide, Valentin, was born and raised in the region so he had answers to all of our questions and showed us areas that we never would have explored without him. We did a tasting at a small producer, visited the Avenue of Champagne in Épernay for a tasting at Moët et Chandon, and stopped in the vineyards to taste and see the grapes used to produce Champagne. He dropped us back off at the train station in Reims and even recommended a place for lunch. For first time visitors to Champagne, this tour was the perfect introduction.
- Schedule Visits in Advance
- The tour was only a half-day so we had the rest of the afternoon to explore on our own. Everything I read highly suggested booking tastings and champagne house visits in advance. Fortunately, I was able to book an afternoon tour at Lanson in advance because by the time I had reached out to book visits at some of the smaller houses, like Henriot, they were already sold out. Some of the larger houses, like Mumm and Tattinger, have walk in availability for tours, and Veuve Clicquot and several others offer tastings without a reservation or a tour.
- Visit the Cathedral
- When we arrived in Reims, we had about an hour before our tour started so we walked from the train station to the cathedral. This might have been one of our favorite parts of the day! The cathedral is massive so it’s hard to miss but it was used as the location for all of the King’s coronations through French’s rich, royal history. Since Notre Dame is currently closed in Paris, the cathedral in Reims was a great substitution.
- Leave Time to Buy Souvenirs
- Our day was fully packed from start to finish, so we didn’t leave a lot of time to buy souvenirs. Many of the champagnes are done by smaller producers and can be hard to find once you leave the region. Everyone in our group regretted not taking the opportunity to buy champagne while we were there.
Here is a timeline of a day in Champagne:
- 7:45am – Arrive in Reims by train and walk to Reims Cathedral
- 8:40am – Meet back at train station to be picked up by Sparkling Tour
- 1:00pm – Tour ended and dropped back off at train station
- 1:30pm – Lunch at L’Apostrophe*
- 3:00pm – Tour at Lanson
- 5:00pm – Tasting at Veuve Clicquot**
- 6:45pm – Return by train back to Paris
*We did not leave enough time for lunch. We spent a little longer with our tour guide and then were rushed trying to make a 3:00pm tour at Lanson.
**We had to walk around most of the city but once we got access to WiFi, we were able to take Ubers to Veuve from Lanson.
Before visiting Champagne, I was always intrigued by the beverage but after learning about the process and effort that goes into making the bubbly, I have much deeper appreciation for it now and would highly recommend that everyone add drinking champagne in Champagne, France to their bucket list.