Eating and Sleeping
David Bennett: Les Berceaux is OK, cheap and the food is good of course. There is a very good hotel/logis out of town slightly from Epernay but I forget the name oops.
Julie, Picwines: I stayed at the Chateau d’Etoges, just outside Epernay, about 5 years ago and it was great – like being a guest in a small private castle. There was a huge drawing room with open fire, grand piano and we had it all to ourselves. The restaurant was good too. You can find it on a google search. Not sure if it has changed at all in the last few years
David Riach: la Briqueterie is a very special hotel near Epernay. The Chef is said to be a protege of Ducasse and Bocuse. I stayed there some years ago in a sumptous suite – it was the only room available at the time but well worth the monnaie.
Tom Cannavan: I stayed at La Briqueterie in 2007 and the 1* food was fantastic and rooms very comfortable. It’s slightly out of town, so you will need a car or to take taxis. I’ve also stayed and eaten in the super-expensive Les Crayeres in Reims which was simply wonderful if you can afford it. Finally, I stayed in the 3* rooms, l’Assiette Champenoise which again was superb, especially their renovated rooms. There’s a full report on three luxury nights in Champagne here.
Andy M: Restaurant Foch in Reims is excellent – the menu degustation a six-course blockbuster !!
John Holland: The only place to stay if you want any action is Rheims, preferably on the Place Drouet d’Erlon. Epernay is dead, and the out-of-town hotels even more moribund! There are many hotels, Hotel Crystal is recommended by M. Boulard, as being very “Frenchy”. I would agree. Rickety old lift and Art Deco. Top place. Do set aside about €180 each (including Champagne & wine) to dine at one of the best restaurants in the world, *** Michelin; Les Crayeres in Rheims. Do visit my local pub (when I’m in Rheims); Le Lion de Belfort, on Place Drouet d’Erlon, say hello to Thierry and ask him which of the twelve or so Champagnes by the glass he recommends. And then try the other eleven!
Wines and things to do
David Bennett: Sunday….humm Dead for tastings… unless you want to go to Mass that is..;-))
Paul Howard: some visits: Vilmart and Mathieu Tarlan both hugely impressive; Beaumont des Crayeres (exceptionally enthusiastic and welcoming if you want more everyday value); Moet is the obvious biggie I think, easy, lots to see, fun, English spoken.
Philip Vaughan: was the first wine region I visited (and, incidentally, where I proposed to my wife ;). We stayed in Reims and visited a number of large houses in both Reims and Eperney. To be honest, if you’ve seen one big champange house, you’ve seen them all, but I would strongly recommend a visit to either Veuve Cliquot or Pommery to see the Roman ‘cellars’ cut out of the chalk. Moet & Chandon is a good tour and Tattinger is good if you want to see a degorgement bottling line in operation at close quarters. Castellane has a great tower for photo’s, but crap champagne (well, not *that* bad, but it’s all relative!). After the big houses, it’s nice to do a bit of a tour round the smaller growers/producers. I used Tom Stevenson’s Sparkling Wine Guide to pick small grower/producers and managed about 3-5 per day. I cannot recommend highly enough making an appointment to see Francis Boulard at Raymond Boulard champagne. Not only will Francis spend time taking you through his c. 8 champagnes, but hearing about his experiments with biodynamics, oak, etc. is really interesting.
David Jenkins: For a biggie, if you’re in Reims, Mumm is worth doing – very interesting tasting of their various different cuvees – NV “Grand Cru” is fab IMO
John Holland: Always visit Pommery/Taittinger/Ruinart/Veuve Clicquot (one of!) for the Gallo-Roman crayeres cellars. Essential: DO NOT MISS THE MUSEUM OF WINE AND VINE of M. BERNARD LAUNOIS & FILS in Le Mesnil sur Oger!!!! Pre-book. Also visit the industrial / robotic plant of CVC (Nicolas Fuillatte) at Chouilly, to see how champagne is really made. Not a manual riddler in sight!