Although drinking Champagne and driving are not activities that be should done in tandem, you can drive to Champagne, have an amazing mini break and make it home with a boot full of premium bubbles in tow! Whether you’re at a loose end for the next bank holiday or even if you just need a short break, consider the short drive to Champagne.
Before we go on, here’s 5 reasons why driving to Champagne should be on your to do list for 2018:
Everyone loves a road trip and when it involves a bit of the French countryside and quality Champagne there should be no wine-ing (pardon the pun).
Champagne is an actual region of France and not just a wine. It’s located in the north east of France, and according to French law, it is the only place in the world that sparkling wine may be legally referred to as Champagne. It is here you will find the vineyards of household Champagne names such as Moet & Chandon, Taittinger, Veuve Clicqout and many more. Then there are the small independent Champagne houses scattered across the region, so that you can try premium bubbles from wineries you have never heard of. It’s this small batch, made with love wine that makes Savage HQ excited.
The Champagne region covers 130 square miles, home to 5,000 Champagne producers scattered throughout 5 distinct areas. The two main commercial centres are Reims & Épernay. The Savage Vines team prefers to stay in Épernay (Marne), due to its close proximity to a small village called Hautvillers, the birthplace of Champagne. It is here you will find a number of independent Champagne houses and decent places to grab a bite to eat after a few glasses of bubbles. There is also a great BBQ spot on the hill overlooking Épernay and a vantage point which looks straight down the Marne river. These are the type of places you should seek out–the small, family run growers who are making their own Champagne. They have small plots of land (which are some of the most expensive per square foot in the country) where they grow primarily Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier grapes. These two varieties are then used in the production of Champagne. We won’t go into how Champagne is made, as this will be one of the things the growers and winemakers will explain during your visit to the various Champagne houses.
All Champagne houses will offer you a tasting menu where you can taste their entire range of bubbles. You should expect to pay for this, usually between €5-€10 for 3 glasses of Champagne. If you end up buying Champagne from them, they tend to take this fee off your purchase price. One word of advice is to make sure you have a decent amount to eat before you set off on your tasting itinerary, otherwise it might end in tears or worse–hungover at 4pm.
Savage Vines drives to Champagne at least once a year to source wines. Over time, we have gotten to know a lot of the producers and now have our favourites. Here are 3 independent champagne producers we highly recommend you visit on your next trip:
Make sure you email them to make an appointment for your visit before you drive to Champagne. Most of the time, you can just turn up, although be mindful there are certain times of the year where they will be busy with harvesting, so it pays to check in advance. If you can’t make it down to Épernay don’t stress. We sell some of their Champagne’s in our online store:
France - Hautvillers
Refreshing citrus and floral aromas. Undertone of bread.
France - Hautvillers
Citrus notes of lemon and lime, combined with grapefruit and brioche
50% Chardonnay 25% Pinot Noir 25% Pinot Meunier
France - Hautvillers
Citrine fruit, bread
The cheapest option is nearly always Airbnb, where you can find an apartment in Épernay town for four people around £80 a night. The Savage Vines team have also used Bubble 8 for accommodation before, and you won’t be disappointed by what they offer. It’s located in the heart of Épernay. The rooms are clean, communication with staff is great and the living area is spacious. Our apartment had a large kitchen space and small courtyard where we could sit outside and have a drink each night. For 3 nights accommodation, it will cost you around £400-£500 for four people.
We have gone all out and created a 3-day suggested Drive to Champagne itinerary from London. Check it out below:
6:00am: Leave home (London) & drive to Folkstone
8:00am: Drive car on to Eurotunnel
8:40am: Arrive Calais and drive to Épernay (you lose an hour with the time difference)
12:00pm: Check into accommodation in Épernay
12:30pm: Eat lunch and walk around town
2:00pm: Drive to Hautvillers and check out a few Champagne Houses (see our favourites above)
6:00pm: Watch the sunset from the town lookout (Rue de Cumieres)
9:00am: Wake up and go get a coffee and fresh croissant
11:00pm: Take a tour of a vineyard and learn how champagne is made
1:30pm: Stop for lunch (the tour above will include some food)
3:00pm: Drive to xx and check out some more champagne houses
8:30pm: Go for dinner at Chez Max
9:00am: Wake up and grab a coffee and another fresh croissant (life is hard right!?)
10:00am: Make your final champagne purchases and pack the car
11:00pm: Depart Épernay and head back to the Eurotunnel at Calais
3:00pm: Drive car onto Eurotunnel
2:30pm: Arrive at Folkstone and drive back toward London
4:30pm: Arrive home and unpack your boot full of Champagne
If this all sounds like an amazing plan for your next break, share it with your friends via the link below. You can have an amazing 3-day Champagne region tour for £250 per person, which includes coming back with 6 bottles of Champagne each! A decent bottle of authentic Champagne in London costs a minimum of £30 in the store. At that rate, coming back with 6 bottles just about covers the cost of your trip. With Christmas fast approaching, I’m sure you can find a reason good enough to go and have a glass or two or ten! Cheers!
Here’s a breakdown of our budget for our Champagne Region Tour:
Eurotunnel: £120 (per car)
3 nights accommodation: £240 (£80 a night; 2 Bed, 1 Bathroom Apartment)
Fuel: £100 (or 700 miles return trip from London)
Champagne Fund: £200 (will get you 24 bottles of premium champagne)
Vineyard Tour: £120 (2 hours for 4 people)
Total Cost for 4 people: £980
If it still sounds like too much effort, don’t worry. The Savage team has done the hard work for you. We have Champagne from J.M Gobillard & G.Tribaut for sale in our online wine shop, which hail from the vineyards next door to the likes of Moet & Chandon and Dom Perignon.
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