Today we feature a guest post from our friends at Grape Escapes, who organize tours to a number of great wine regions in Europe. We've asked them to share an upcoming wine tour that they're particularly excited about, and in some ways unsurprisingly they chose Champagne, France. Read on to see why Rachel thinks it's so special.
In my role as a Sales and Marketing Executive with specialist wine tour operator Grape Escapes, I am often asked which is my preferred region to visit? My answer is easy – Champagne! With bubbles on tap, an easy 2 ½ hour drive from Calais, the beautiful rolling vineyards and festive atmosphere make this French region a firm favourite. Here you can discover hundreds of Champagne Houses – not just the big name estates such as Moët et Chandon and Taittinger (whose tours are undoubtedly excellent with the opportunity to explore fascinating chalk cellars and taste the big brand Champagnes in their home), but also hundreds of smaller family-run estates.
We know from personal experience and consistent customer feedback that the most enjoyable tours are not necessarily given by those big names, but often by our carefully selected smaller growers who are infinitely passionate about their wines. On our tours, we therefore organise visits to a range of wine makers both small and large, to allow guests to compare for their selves. I love meeting the wine makers and learning first-hand about the numerous factors that influence the production of quality Champagnes and of course, no tour would be complete without tasting the wines and stocking your car boot with plenty of Champagne to bring back home! At the smaller estates, a bottle of Grand Cru quality Champagne starts at just €14 per bottle – what better excuse to head across the channel as soon as possible?
The best times to visit? In my opinion, July and August – the region remains largely uncrowded at this time of year, with many opting to travel in September over the harvest period, and you’ll benefit from great summer weather and enjoy cooling off in the cellars.
Where to stay? I personally recommend Reims – a lively large city, with plenty of shops, bars and restaurants to explore, as well as being home to a stunning cathedral and many of the big name producers. My favourite hotel is the 4* Hotel de la Paix, which benefits from a great central location, and boasts excellent facilities including an indoor swimming pool, Champagne bar and secure underground parking.
Especially for Lazenne customers, we are delighted to offer a special four day break, at an amazing price of £285 (GBP) per person. We have included three nights’ bed and breakfast accommodation at my favourite 4* Hotel de la Paix, and Eurotunnel crossings - so you’ll be able to transport plenty of Champagne back home with you in your Lazenne bottle protectors! The tour gives you the opportunity to visit 3 Champagne Houses with taxi transfers to the vineyards, including a tour at the prestigious Taittinger and two smaller family-run estates.
This offer is based on two people sharing a double or twin room, and travelling mid-week or weekends between 16th July – 31st August 2016; please note that a peak travel supplement may apply across selected weekends.
Rachel joined Grape Escapes as a part of the sales and marketing team in June 2015 and has a degree in Media (Advertising). Having lived and worked abroad, largely in Spain, for the past four years, she enjoys using her experience and passion for travel into her work with Grape Escapes.
Created in 2004 by wine lovers Mark and Claire Hallett, Grape Escapes is a specialist wine tour operator offering a broad selection of holidays and trips to the premium European wine regions, principally in France. From their flagship Premium tours to the popular regions of Champagne, Bordeaux and Burgundy to bespoke self-drive circuits and birthday weekends, their expertise is in creating perfect trips for individuals, couples, groups or companies. Grape Escapes offers you the flexibility to arrange your perfect holiday. They have experienced great success over the last few years, which has allowed them to spread their wings and develop their existing tours in France and also to start working with exciting new regions such as Porto, Rioja in Spain and Tuscany in Italy.