Lovers of the bubbly who find themselves with two free days in Paris will be glad to know about TourCrafters’ 2-night Sipping Champagne Tour. It’s an easy—and inexpensive—way to see some of the great Champagne houses, the vineyards and villages of Champagne, as well as the renowned city of Reims and its cathedral.
The tour costs $489 and has daily departures until October 31. It includes transportation from Paris to Reims by private minibus, two overnights in the Holiday Inn Reims, daily breakfast at the hotel, a Discover Champagne Vineyards tour with wine tasting, a traditional French lunch, a guided tour of one of Reims’ most famous Champagne houses and its underground chalk cellar, and a guided tour of Reims Cathedral.
The departure from Paris is early, so coffee, tea, croissants and newspapers are offered on board the minibus. During the Discover Champagne Vineyards tour, a guide will explain the importance of the region’s soil, the three main grape varieties, and the vines through the seasons from pruning to ripening to harvest. A visit to a winery will be followed by a wine tasting session and lunch in a charming local restaurant.
After lunch there’s a visit to Reims’ majestic Gothic Cathedrale Notre-Dame, where all the kings of France were crowned for several centuries. And then a guided tour of one of the most famous Champagne houses (either Taittinger, Veuve Cliquot or Ruinart) and its underground chalk cellar to discover the méthode champenoise, the wine-making method of pressing, fermentation, remuage, dégorgement, corking and finally labeling that results in a bottle of the world-famous Champagne. A glass of Champagne will be served at the end of the tour and bottles will be available for sale.
The second day is at leisure, after breakfast, with time to wander the fascinating streets of Reims, its Roman ruins and St-Denis Museum; or take a bus to the town of Epernay and its avenue de Champagne with still more Champagne houses; or take an optional ($120) private guided bike tour to the vineyards, visiting cellars and enjoying two glasses of Champagne.
All prices are per person, double occupancy, and are subject to availability. For more information on the Sipping Champagne Tour and other TourCrafters European tours and packages, log onto www.tourcrafters.it and click “Deal of the Week.” For reservations, call TourCrafters toll-free at 1-800-ITALY95.