One of my favorite things to do in Paris is grab a friend, find a cafe, and order a bottle of champagne to share over people watching and great conversation. The truth is, the only thing better than drinking champagne in Paris is visiting the cellars themselves in Reims, France. A short train ride from Paris, if you choose to make the journey, (which you should!), you’ll be sipping champagne and learning the history of the region before you know it!
Getting to Reims from Paris is simple. The TGV trains run every few hours and the trip only takes 50 minutes. You’ll board at the Paris Est Train Station in the heart of the city. If you book ahead the trip should only cost you about €20.
I only had a few hours to enjoy Reims, so I chose to hit the ground running. I made reservations before my arrival to tour the cellars of Veuve Clicquot, arguably the most famous of the champagne houses. Scheduling a tour of the Veuve cellars is quite easy, and can be accomplished directly through their website here. As the website provides, “We invite you to live your first Veuve Clicquot experience as you desire and at your own pace. The ‘‘Discovery Experience’’ will reveal our House’s history and wine style. Travel through time ‘‘On the Footsteps of Madame Clicquot.’’ You can also make this first experience ‘‘Aromatically Yours’’, through the history of our great vintage wines. Welcome home!”
I decided to go with the discovery tour and it was perfect. From the moment you arrive at the cellar you know exactly where you are. The location is impeccably branded and you feel as though you’ve been transported to an orange wonderland! Our guide was fantastic, telling us the history and prestige of the brand. The entire history of the Veuve Clicquot House is marked by mythical wines, all of which respect the demand for quality that was the force that drove Madame Clicquot. True to this heritage, the House is proud of its motto: “Only one quality, the finest”. A short lineage of just 10 Cellar Masters has led this quest for quality, thereby ensuring the continuity of the Veuve Clicquot style: strength and complexity. Veuve Clicquot prides itself on excellence and quality. Only the juice from the cuvee (the first and most noble pressing) is used.
After a brief introduction, the cellar tour began down a long flight of beautiful stairs. The entire site glows of Veuve orange, creating a mystical ambiance.
Deep beneath ground level is where the precious bottles of champagne are stored. Along the way our guide told us the story of Madame Clicquot-Ponsardin. In 1798 she married François Clicquot, son to the founder of the Maison Clicquot. François shared his passion and knowledge for champagne creation and distribution with his young wife. It was because she had spent this time at his side that Madame Clicquot was able to take the reins of the family house after the untimely death of François in 1805.
She would seize each new opportunity that arose, willing to take risks, and as such she was able to expand her business to all four corners of the world. Uncompromising when it came to the quality of her wines, she perfected new techniques of production. She invented the “table de remuage” (riddling table) to clarify champagne, and innovated the very first blend of rosé champagne. Within just a few years she made her name into a brand of excellence, a name today renowned throughout the world. Even then, her peers recognized her formidable contributions, and referred to her as the “Grande Dame of Champagne.
The tour of the cellars was fantastic and we got to see thousands and thousands of bottles of champagne while learning about the history of the brand and the wine making process. The entire property is impeccable – even the ground is branded, and used to guide visitors throughout the cellars.
On the way out of the cellar is a beautiful staircase that documents each year a vintage variety was bottled. Follow the staircase and champagne awaits! Trust me, after seeing where Veuve Clicquot is produced you’ll be ready to taste the product!
As we were heading out, and getting ready for our tasting, I couldn’t resist snapping a photo on the glowing staircase! It turned out being one of my favorite photos from the trip.
Above ground, everything was as we left it, beautiful, orange, and full of bubbles! The lobby and tasting room were perfectly decorated and a wonderful spot to relax and have a glass or two of the good stuff.
There’s also a lovely patio if the weather is accommodating. Luckily we visited on a beautiful, sunny day, and enjoyed plenty of time outside!
My day visiting Reims and the Veuve Clicquot cellars was fantastic. We stayed on site for a while, testing different varieties, making friends with others from our tour. It was an amazing day and I highly recommend a visit to Reims the next time you have an open afternoon in paris.
1, place des droits de l’Homme
+33 (0)3 26 89 53 90