OK, so you want to visit Champagne country and you only have one day to do it. That’s enough, if you limit your itinerary to Reims, in the heart of the region. Here’s how:
09:28AM- Take the TGV from the Gare de l’Est station in Paris. Buy tickets here.
10:14AM- Arrive in Reims. Walk to the Notre Dame of Reims Cathedral (yes, that’s the name here as well) using the Place Drouet D’Erlon route. This will give you lots of photo ops.
10:40-Noon- Tour the cathedral using the Rick Steve Guide.
Noon-1:30PM- Lunch at Au Bureau on the Cathedral Square
1:30-2:00PM- Wonder over to your Vueve Cliquot tour. You will need to take the local
bus. It is walkable, but the walk isn’t scenic. You should make these reservations ahead of time. I chose this one because I love this Champagne and it is rated as one of the best tours. I wasn’t disappointed. If you haven’t planned ahead, I’ve heard that the Taittinger
tour is quite good and requires no reservations. As an additional bonus,
it’s much closer to town center than V.C. Ponsardin is.
2:00-4:00PM- Tour the V.C. caves. The tour isn’t this long, but I’ve allowed plenty of
time to taste and buy Champagne after the tour.
4:00-7:13PM- Here you have free time to possibly take in another Champagne tour like
Taittinger’s but I would just recommend buying a bite to eat at Le Foch,
which is an easy stroll to the train station (though not so easy on the wallet).
7:13-8:01PM- Take the TGV back to Gare de L’Est.
This itinerary is very easily done from Paris and it doesn’t wear you out. It’s true, you might cram more Champagne into the day if you skipped the cathedral. I wouldn’t because this one is actually the birthplace of Christianity in France and is thus of critical importance. In 496AD, Clovis, first king of the Franks, was baptized here, and it was here that Joan of Arc saved France when in 1429 she led Charles VII back to the throne…not to mention it is a Gothic masterpiece. But if you’ve had enough old churches already, go for it! Skipping the cathedral would allow you to add one more Champagne tasting.
I don’t think I’d bother with one of the bus tours unless you’ve never toured a vineyard in your life, but if you don’t like going it alone, there are many that will pick you up at the station.
Tips: Reims is pronounced “Rance”, with a rolling “R” sound