Part One in a series of top things to do in Champagne (I don’t actually know how many more parts there will be yet) features my new, good friend Valentin Musset, founder of Sparkling Tour.
Now you know I love champagne but you probably also know I live in Australia, so when I want to know the top things to do in Champagne – the hottest (and the coolest) things to do in Champagne, I ask someone who is from Champagne.
And because I am super-nice, I share their secret tips with you.
Valentin was the first of my special hand-picked tour guides for my recent trip in champagne. I picked my tours and guides based on how much fun they looked on Insta or Facebook, how easy they were to talk to when I was working out my trip, and if they did different things (they didn’t follow a formula they repeated day after day).
There will be more about my day with Valentin and his top things to do in Champagne but first I want to introduce him to you so he’s your friend too … and you’ll be more likely to trust his tips – I do!!!!!
Five important facts about Valentin from Sparkling Tour
- He’s very clever… he has a Bachelor Degree in International Management.
- He’s well-travelled… he spent a year in the USA and another year in Dubai and six months in Brussels before coming back to France. But he hasn’t been to Australia … yet!
- He was born and raised in Champagne, in a town called Troyes, which is a ridiculously quaint and insta-perfect historic town in the south of the region that dates back to the middle ages and is remarkably well preserved. I’ve been there on a previous visit and it is really very, very pretty!
- He has cut his teeth working in two champagne houses, that he now takes his guests to on tours (which means he really knows and like the wines, and the houses know and like him too. He worked at Champagne Devavry (where he took me) & Champagne Lallier (if you’ve been following me for a while you will know I love Lallier) for 18 months.
- He is fun, funny, and totally genuine, which I think is summed up in my favourite quote from him about how he started Sparkling Tour….
“I wanted to work with international customers, in hospitality, and to work with a luxury product so champagne was a perfect fit. I was born & raised in Champagne, so you could say I have Champagne in my blood and I saw the advantages to work in Champagne… to have a bottle for free or get a discount but then I started working in champagne houses and found a real passion for it.” (Can’t say I blame you there, Valentin!)
Our group at Lallier
While he was working in the houses, he saw an opportunity for tourism in Champagne… and Sparkling Tour was born in November 2016. Check out his promo video below.
Valentin’s top things to do in Champagne
- Visit big name houses for their cellars & the small producers to compare.
- Visit the Cathedral in Reims.
- Have a glass at “Le Clos”, a bar in Reims where all of the locals go.
- Watch a football game in Reims.
- Eat a nice meal… with champagne pairing of course!
- Visit Hautvillers, a very charming village, or anywhere in the countryside… don’t just stick to the big cities!
- Have a glass at the Perching Bar… when it’s open. Ask a local to help contact the bar for a booking as it can be hard to get a table as a tourist (I know – crazy but true based on my experience and the advice of every local I asked about the Perching Bar!)
- Please stay at least one night in Reims or in the Champagne region in general…
“So many of my clients complain that they don’t have time to visit and that they didn’t know that Reims was that big. Everyone expects a very small town, but there is so much to do in Reims and it’s only 45 minutes from Paris by train and very cheap if you book your ticket in advance (maximum 30€/person – Average 20€/person).”
Our group in the cellars at Champagne Devavry
Valentin’s favourite moments as a champagne guide
- “It’s always funny when clients buy more champagne then they can actually fit in the car. It’s very hard sometime to find spaces but remember, there is always space for champagne!”
- “There was one time when I locked one person in the cellar… that was when I was working at a producer, not now. But trust me, the client was happy to stay in the cellar with all of the bottles.”
- “I love it when clients realise how affordable champagne is from small producers compared to the big names or prices in their country. It’s the best reason to keep coming back!”
Have you been to Champagne and have some tips? Share your top things to do in Champagne in the comments below or post a pic and tag @bubbleandflute #bubbleandflute #happychampers on Facebook and Instagram.
Bubble & Flute promotes the responsible consumption of alcohol for individuals of legal drinking age in their country.