We visited Reims for a weekend for my birthday and how better to spend it than learning more about a favorite celebratory beverage, champagne? With only one day to tour them, it was important to me that we visit the best champagne houses in Reims. With so many to choose from (and so many with names I didn’t even recognize), this was no small feat!
I did a lot of research on the various champagne houses in Reims to figure out which would be the best tours. After scouring TripAdvisor, blogs and the houses’ websites, two clear winners emerged: Taittinger and Pommery. Based on their reviews, descriptions and pricing, the tours seemed as though they’d be more enjoyable than some of the more recognizable names, like Veuve Clicquot. Both of these houses seemed to offer more than just a cave and a glass of champagne.
Both Taittinger and Pommery have special histories that you can see as soon as you get down into the caves. This sets them apart from each other and the other houses. At Taittinger, we’d get to see very unique caves with a varied history. At Pommery, what initially drew me was the talk about the beautiful architecture of the house itself. We did not expect what we found there and its cellars were amazing to discover.
When we arrived in Reims, our Airbnb host recommended Taittinger and described Pommery as the “Disneyland” of champagne tours. He did recommend Villa Demoiselle, which is connected to Pommery, but we ran out of time to tour there. It looked fabulous and you can buy a ticket for both Pommery and Villa Demoiselle together.
After visiting both, I can report that they are indeed fabulous and if not the best champagne houses in Reims, then among the very best. In addition to delicious champagne, they both have incredible caves that were so fun to discover.
The Best Champagne Houses in Reims
I booked this tour first since it was the one I was really excited about. From my research, Taittinger was said to have the best cave tour.
Don’t let the looks of the house deceive you. It is the not the house you are touring, but the fascinating caves underneath.
Its caves, like all of the chalk caves in Reims, originated in the 5th century when the Romans came to the area and began digging into the chalk all around Reims. However, Taittinger’s caves became part of an abbey in the 13th century.
The monks dug out an even more elaborate network, building upon the work of the early Romans. The monks also left their mark upon the caves – you will find sculptures, staircases, doorways and ironwork around the dark corners of the tunnels that date back to the abbey. It is so cool to see!
There is even one of the best preserved Gothic arches in the world hidden down there.
On the tour we learned about both the history of the caves and the process that is used to make champagne.
It is all very interesting, but I’ll leave you to tour to learn more! The tour ends in the tasting room, where depending on the tickets you purchased, you can sample some of Taittinger’s champagnes.
We went for the tickets that included two tastings. We honestly didn’t know much about champagne before this trip, so figured being able to compare would be helpful in learning more about the wines. We tried the Taittinger Brut Reserve and then the Taittinger 2006 Grand Cru. The Grand Cru was our favorite champagne of the trip and Taittinger is now our go-to for celebrating big milestones with friends and family. Highly recommend!
Described by our Airbnb host as the “Disneyland” of champagne cellar tours, we had no idea what to expect from Pommery. When I had booked the tour, the draw was that its house featured beautiful Art Deco architecture and it would be neat to see how another house did its tours after seeing Taittinger.
It should be noted that the view from Pommery is pretty fantastic. It gives you a sense of just how large Reims Cathedral truly is. To think it was built in the 13th century!
Once inside, we understood. Greeted by larger than life art, this was going to be quite the tour!
We were able to rush through getting our tickets and hop on the tour before the one we reserved. After a jog through the large, art-filled tasting room, we met our tour group at the grand doors to the staircase down into Pommery’s cellars.
Pommery is insane! All throughout the cellars, among thousands of bottles of champagne, there are endless art installations right there in the cellars. It is surreal.
Crossing a huge variety of media, the art is often larger than life.
It seemed like around every corner or down every passageway, there was a new piece to behold.
We admired the art while learning about the art of making champagne and Pommery’s role in shaping the methods used today.
Though much of the art is modern, Taittinger has a tradition of large scale art in its cellars dating back to the 1800s.
These chalk carvings are gorgeous and it is neat to see them contrasted with more modern pieces.
The tour is stunning and it is so cool to see art down in those deep dark caves! Pommery is also interesting because it was Pommery’s widow who helped to steer the house to success in its early days. The house is very proud of its female leadership.
After the tour we climbed the quirky staircase to have our tasting! We did not like Pommery as much as Taittinger, but we still got a bottle to take with us (when in Champagne!). It was fun to enjoy our bubbly by even more art.
In all, it was a great day of cellar tours!
- I have absolutely no French background, so pronouncing Reims correctly is out of the question. Luckily, the champagne houses are a bit easier to say. Taittinger is pronounced “Tat-tin-jay” and Pommery is “Pom-ree.” Not too tricky!
- The houses are about a 20-30 minute walk from Reims city centre. We walked both legs of the trip (me on a sprained knee) and it was easy. Reims is charming, so it was nice to walk through and discover more of it.
- The caves stay between 9 and 12 degrees Celcius year round, so dress warm or wear your layers!
- Seeing as champagne the beverage is very fancy, I was worried about what to wear in the caves. Would my usual travel sneakers be fancy enough for a champagne tour? Once you get to Reims, you discover that Champagne the region is not all that fancy and my sneakers were totally fine. The houses are less a mansion as I was envisioning, as they are large, warehouse-like compounds owned by the champagne makers.
- Related to my last tip, you’ll want to wear comfortable shoes for the tours. The cave tours include lots of walking and at Pommery, you have the staircase to climb.
- We did two tours after touring Reims on foot. It was a full day, but taken at a lovely, relaxing pace. Depending on how much you sample at each house, two tours is plenty! We would have been bored seeing more cellars I think, since the houses mostly use the same methods to create their champagnes.