We have been to Paris many times but have never taken a trip to Champagne. We are great lovers of champagne and were very pleased that we took this trip as our first experience of the Champagne Region.
Our guide Brice was a wonderful host. He emailed the night before our tour to say that he had broken his ankle and would be bringing his friend, Numa as our driver. Brice and Numa arrived right on time at our apartment on a dark, cold Paris morning at 7am.
We had originally been looking at a small group tour but when I first emailed Brice he advised that the small group tours don’t run at that time so the alternative was a private tour. Although it was more expensive, it was well worth the investment, particularly as we were picked up from and returned to our apartment in Montmartre as part of the private tour.
It was an interesting start just to get out of Paris. Numa did an outstanding job with good directions from Brice. Numa is a fireman so he does know the streets of Paris pretty well.
Not far out of Paris, we had breakfast – fresh croissants, Pain au Chocolats and espresso coffee – delicious!
My husband, Ken and Brice shared a love of history and politics and had great chats along the way to our first stop, the beautiful Reims Cathedral. Brice shared the history of the cathedral, both inside and out. It’s considered to be the birth place of France because Clovis was baptised there in 508 before he became king. We had some time before we left to take photos and light a candle.
Next stop, Maison Fossier, the oldest biscuit factory in France. The tradition of its original recipe for the “pink biscuit” has been maintained for 250 years. We tasted the pink biscuit, a little dry but it is supposed to be very nice dunked in champagne!
Next stop our first tour and champagne tasting at Mumm – fascinating to hear the history of a champagne that we have enjoyed many times!
Lunch was at Brasserie Le Boulingrin which is well known as the place for men to take their “unofficial wives”. The paper tablecloths had cartoons of the men with their “unofficial wife” enjoying a meal and their real wife in the background! It was a delicious lunch which we enjoyed with Brice and Numa.
Back on the road to Veuve Clicquot for another tour. Again, fascinating to hear the history of a favourite champagne before four very nice tastings of different Veuves.
A bit of a drive to an independent wine champagne producer, Joseph Desruets. We met the champagne makers wife, Sabina who showed us their very small winery – she showed us the original 1888 press which they still use to make their champagne. We then went across the street to their office where we had a very relaxed tasting of three champagnes. So different from the big champagne houses! We bought two bottles to take home as we can buy Mumm and Veuve any old time!
Back on the road and the last stop was at one of the Commonwealth Cemeteries with headstones for the British, Scottish, Irish and NZ graves and black crosses for the Germans on the other side of a fence. We have done a battlefields tour before but the cemeteries never fail to stir emotions.
We left the cemetery at 5.15pm and didn’t get home until 7.45pm. The traffic in Paris is absolutely unbelievable. Numa did an amazing job of negotiating his way through the traffic and bikes. We couldn’t believe that we didn’t hit anything especially as we were in a van and the streets are incredibly narrow. We took a few different directions to get home as the traffic was jammed in a few places. At one point, we turned a corner and saw the Arc de Triomphe at the end of the street!
We would highly recommend this tour, it was a memorable day and Brice was a wonderful host, ably supported by his great mate, Numa in the driving seat.
Date of experience: November 2023
Champagne Enthusiast Tour