From Strasbourg, we made the short trek to Reims, our last stop on our Christmas market tour. Upon learning that the Reims area is famous for Champagne and the Champagne houses, we decided to see what all the fuss was about before we checked into our accommodations and set off for the Christmas market.
After researching the local Champagne houses, we decided on Tattinger. I’d read some wonderful reviews of their tour so I went to their website and booked everything there, which was super simple and quick.
We were a bit early for our 1:00pm tour so we found food and snacked before we checked in for the tour. We didn’t wait long before our tour guide appeared to usher us into the first room where we watched a brief video on the history of Tattinger champagne before he led us out and down into the tunnels under the Champagne house.
Reims was once a huge chalk mining town so underneath the city is approximately 200-250 km of tunnels that are now used as wine cellars for Champagne. These tunnels were also used as refuges for the citizens of Reims during the world wars, giving them a place to hide from bombing raids. In WWI alone, nearly 80% of Reims was destroyed by bombs. During the tour, it’s easy to spot graffiti left behind during the wars.
The tour was extremely thorough, teaching the exact process of how Champagne is made and taking us through the different cellars all the way down to the lowest cellars which were chalk mines dating back to the 4th century. These caverns are 60 feet below the surface and are incredible to see. It’s no wonder the caves are a UNESCO World Heritage Site since they’re steeped in so much history.
Tattinger Champagne House is also built on the ruins of the St. Nicaise Abbey which originated in the 13th century and still has old staircases and embellishments from that original structure. The monks who lived there also made wine so the site is steeped in history when it comes to the tradition of making wine.
When the tour ended, we enjoyed our glasses of Champagne before we found the flat where we were staying the night. Once we settled in, we walked a mile or so to the town centre for the Christmas market.
Unlike Strasbourg and the German markets, the Reims market wasn’t spread around town but was isolated around the amazing cathedral. After clearing the security checkpoints, we wandered all through and toured the cathedral while we were there. It’s a beautiful Christmas market with lots of wares and great food to sample. The location really made it magical but all of the Christmas markets we visited had their own charm.
We roamed until we were tired and walked back to the flat. The next day we drove to the Eurotunnel and left France behind so we could spend Christmas Eve and Christmas day at home. It was a long trip but worth it to see the mixture of European Christmas markets. I want to do it again but maybe not so many in one go! It made for a long trip.