ICYMI, Holly, and I traveled to France this past September to visit Champagne, Burgundy, and Paris. It was a beautiful trip full of Champagne, wine, and cheese!
How we Traveled
- We flew out of Dulles on a direct flight to Paris — this is the way to go!
- We traveled by train to all the major cities and walked a lot.
- In Beaune, we rented bikes and traveled the Véloroute to visit wineries outside of town in Meursault and Pommard.
- In Paris, we used the Metro a lot. It is very easy and accessible.
- We did Uber a few times from the train stations to the hotel, and we used a Taxi for our transfer to the airport,
- We averaged 10 miles a day! Make sure you have comfortable shoes.
On the first day, we landed in Paris and hopped on a train to Reims, Champagne. We arrived at our Airbnb to freshen up and visited Pol Couronne. This was a tasting room downtown and the perfect start to our trip. We tasted three champagnes — my favorite was the Extra Brut Blanc de Blanc Grand Cru.
Following the tasting, we stopped by Sacré Burger for a fantastic lunch. I learned that you do not eat a burger with your hands in France — it’s appropriate to use a fork and knife!
That afternoon we had an appointment at Ruinart. Ruinart is the oldest established Champagne house that has produced Champagne since 1729. The chalk quarries of Maison Ruinart extend over two levels and 8 kilometers. These chalk cathedrals, which are still active, are the only ones in the city of Reims to be both listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and classified as a historic site. Their Champagne is mostly made from Chardonnay —the grape is mainly harvested from the Côte des Blancs and Montagne de Reims terroirs. In celebration of Ruinart’s 300th anniversary, they commissioned artwork by artist duo Mouawad Laurier, entitled ‘Retour aux sources’ (Back to the source). The installation visually mimics a root and is powered by a sensitive artificial intelligence, which uses its technology to react to the changing conditions of the actual natural elements used in the champagne production process (!!!) It was a magical show/experience!
That evening we headed to Le Coq Rouge — a stellar wine bar that serves amazing charcuterie. We enjoyed a bottle of Champagne, a charcuterie board, and a truffle sandwich. I was in heaven.
We woke on the second day to head to Epernay. This was my favorite day of the whole trip, and I definitely will be returning to Epernay to stay for a whole week! We spent the whole day on the Avenue de Champagne and visited these houses:
We did the tour and tasting at Moet & Chandon; they have been producing Champagne since 1743. Their cellars are situated 10 to 30 meters underground in chalky soil and are the largest in the Champagne region. They are the only Champagne house that uses their own yeast during fermentation. The Champagne they produce is a blend of the three Champagne grapes: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier. They age all of their Champagne double the legal time to produce tiny bubbles.
We also did the tour and tasting at Champagne Mercier. Mercier was founded in 1858 and is well known for its massive barrel, large enough to hold 200 thousand bottles of wine, located in its tasting room. We were excited about this tour since you ride a train through their cellars!
Following our fantastic Champagne day, we had dinner at Le P’tit Champenois.
We arrived by train very early and had a short walk to Hôtel Villa Fleurie. We dropped off our luggage and made our way to Bien et Bon for breakfast; we ate here several mornings, and their crepes were delicious.
After getting our bearings, we rented bikes to have during our stay in Beaune. If you ever visit this area, I strongly recommend traveling by bike. My favorite memories of this trip are our vineyard rides.
We hopped on our bikes and rode to Mersault (30 min ride) to visit Maison Shaps. If you are a Virginia lover, you may know Michael Shaps — he also has a winery in Meursault! Maison Shaps is a small garage-iste winery producing less than 40,000 bottles per year from Burgundy’s finest appellations and vineyard sites. I had the pleasure of visiting and tasting a fantastic wine + cheese pairing with Hanna, Michael’s daughter, who runs the production in Burgundy. This is what we enjoyed:
- Brillat Savarin (triple cream cheese) paired with 2019 Bourgogne (CH)
- Tour du Mantat (goat milk cheese) paired with 2020 Saint Romain (CH)
- Comté 18 month (unpasteurized cow’s milk from the Comté region) paired with 2020 Meursault (CH)
- Délice de Pommard (created by Alain Hess in the 90s — triple cream cow’s milk enrobed with Dijon mustard seeds) paired with 2019 Bourgogne Cote-D’Or (PN)
- Tommede Brebis (made from sheep milk) paired with 2019 Volnay (PN)
- Epoisses (famous cheese made in Burgundy) paired with 2018 Pommard Les Vignots (PN)
I personally enjoyed the Délice de Pommard cheese, the 2020 Saint-Romain Chardonnay, and the 2019 Volnay Pinot Noir.
Following our tasting, we rode back to Beaune and enjoyed dinner at Brasserie au RenDez Vous. We had a bottle of Pinot Noir, and I had the beef bourguignon.
We were lucky enough to be in Beaune on a Saturday to enjoy the Saturday Markets. The fresh produce food market is located in Place de la Halle beside the famous hospital, Hotel Dieu. The second market, open only between March and November, is an antique market in Place Carnot. We strolled through the streets, taking in all the beautiful colors, fresh produce, and antiques.
Our first tasting of the day was at Bouchard Père et Fils. Bouchard is one of Burgundy’s oldest wine-merchant houses that was founded in 1731. It’s the second biggest house in Burgundy that produces about ~2 million bottles! Bouchard Père & Fils owns plots across 450 different vineyards, including 183 acres in premier cru appellations and 30 acres in grand cru appellations. Their tasting room is based in a historic fortress that was completed in the 15th century by King Louis XI and currently holds thousands of bottles in these cellars, with some 2,000 dating as far back as the 19th century. The oldest is an 1846 Meursault Charmes. I tasted my first Grand Cru, and it was pretty fantastic.
We were excited to be able to book a cheese tasting at Alain Hess. This famous cheesemonger has an amazing store with cheeses, meats, wine, specialty grocery items, and more. We sampled several kinds of cheese paired with a delicious Pinot Noir.
Our second tasting was at Maison Joseph Drouhin. Drouhin was founded in 1880 and owns vineyards in Chablis, the Côte de Nuits, Côte de Beaune, and Côte Chalonnaise, as well as in the Willamette Valley in Oregon — I have visited that location, too! Drouhin is also one of the major négociants of Burgundy and produces wines made from purchased grapes grown in different parts of Burgundy. Maison Joseph Drouhin is one of Burgundy’s largest wine estates, with more than 193 acres of vineyards. Today both Maison Joseph Drouhin and Domaine Drouhin Oregon are owned and operated by the great-grandchildren of Joseph Drouhin.
We headed to La Comédie du Vin for dinner. We loved the vibe here — they had a DJ, and the mood was ~perfect~ We each ordered the ravioli, and I am still thinking about it.
Our final day in Beaune started with a wine tasting in Pommard. We hopped on our bikes and rode to Château De Pommard. I really enjoyed our visit here because we learned a lot about the terroir of Burgundy. Burgundy’s wine-producing land parcel is called “Climat” (climate). This plot of vines, carefully described and named for centuries, has its own history and benefits from specific geological and climatic conditions.
We picked up a bottle at Château De Pommard and packed a few picnic items so we could cross off a bucket list item and have a picnic in the vineyards of Burgundy. We loved riding our bikes through the vineyards and enjoying the stunning views.
That afternoon we had to visit the Hôtel-Dieu Museum – Hospices de Beaune! The Hospices de Beaune was a hospital created in the Middle ages for the poor and most disadvantaged. It is also famous for this 60 hectares wine estate, producing prestigious wines, sold at auction on the third Sunday in November.
We enjoyed the Bistrot des Halles Baltard café near the Hôtel-Dieu Museum for drinks and dinner. We enjoyed a bottle of Sparkling Bourgogne and a bottle of Pinot Noir to pair with steak and ravioli.
We arrived early by train to Paris from Burgundy. We took an Uber from the train station to our hotel. We dropped off our luggage and started walking to the Eiffel Tower! We grabbed lunch at the cutest spot, Cafe Fleur, which was perfect. We sipped on a bottle of rose, and I had the best French onion soup of my life. Following lunch, we had tickets to the summit of the Eiffel Tower — I heard mixed reviews about this, but I am SO glad we did — it was probably the highlight of our Paris experience. The tower is truly magical… going up in the lift was fun, and the views were stellar. At the top, we enjoyed a glass of Moet Champagne — it’s worth it; when will you ever be at the top of the Eiffel Tower again?
After exploring the tower, we strolled through Rue Cler — a market street where you can stock up on picnic provisions. We grabbed a ton of food and wine and decided to enjoy dinner on the lawn in front of the Eiffel Tower. We stayed until it sparkled; it sparkles every hour on the hour for only five minutes from nightfall until 1 am.
Day two started with a metro ride to have breakfast at Le Saint-Regis, I had an omelet, and Holly had crepes — we both left very happy and full. Following breakfast, we walked to Notre Dame to take it in and *had* to stop by Shakespeare and Company to visit the famous bookstore.
We were near Le Marais — a great area for boutique shopping, so we walked around and went in and out of shops. For lunch, we visited Artisan de la Truffle — Holly and I have an *obsession* with truffles, so this restaurant blew us away. The fact that there was truffle oil and salt on the table made us SO happy!
I think we returned to the hotel to take a nap following our big morning of walking and big truffle lunch.
That evening we had dinner reservations at Ober Mamma — I read a lot about the Pink Mamma Group. They have two restaurants that got pretty famous from TikTok, so I was thrilled to get reservations. Ober Mamma was a bit out of the way, but we loved our experience. We shared the truffle pizza and pesto pasta and washed it all down with a bottle of Chianti.
Our final full day started with breakfast at a cafe near the Louvre. We had tickets to enter the Louvre at 10 am, so we had plenty of time to start our day slowly. The Louvre was a very cool experience, but it was so MASSIVE — I honestly wasn’t ready for it. I got very overwhelmed here, so we both agreed we would only spend a few hours and just see what we see. We decided to follow one of their self-guided tours on their website. We did the Beyoncé and Jay-Z Louvre Highlights tour that featured artworks in the ‘APES**T’ music video — I figured this one got all the big pieces, lol.
Following the Louvre, we headed to see the Arc de Triomphe. We did not go to the top, but we did take some photos, visit the area, and take it all in — this monument is MASSIVE and stunning.
We also visited the Princess Diana memorial and had lunch at a nearby cafe.
We had dinner reservations, but we ended up canceling them to enjoy dinner on the Seine at sunset — we picked up charcuterie items and a bottle of champagne to have a slow evening. We also saw the Eiffel Tower twinkle once more to close out this amazing trip.
Please let me know if you have any questions or need tips/tricks for your France adventure; I am happy to help!