Small group Champagne day trip from Paris with Hot Air Balloon
Your day begins in Central Paris where you’ll meet your guide and small group of 15 fellow travelers before hopping in a comfortable, air-conditioned minibus for the 2 hour ride to the Champagne region. The first stop takes you back some 300 years with a visit to the Benedictine Abbey in Hautvillers, where the famous Dom Perignon pioneered some of the production methods that made champagne the drink it is today. As you tour the abbey and see where Perignon himself worked, you’ll learn about the dangers of exploding wine bottles and how the search to stop this phenomenon actually drove many of Perignon’s innovations, much more than his love of sparkling wine. Before leaving Hautvillers, you’ll stop by a scenic overlook to enjoy a snack and and then an amazing view.
The story of champagne will make you thirsty and we have just the solution: you next stop is a family-run winery where the owner will show you around and teach you how his family has been making champagne for three generations. You might be surprised to learn that the process has changed very little in the last 300 years, but you won’t be surprised that the next three wines you taste are out of this world.
As you learn to distinguish the tasting notes of good champagne, you’ll be treated to a little surprise: The owner will demonstrate the proper method for ‘sabering’ a bottle of champagne, and as you taste its contents, you’all also learn the myth-filled history of the practice. Like many French traditions, Napoleon was involved.
Your next stop is the champagne capital of the world; the town of Epernay, where you’ll break for lunch. It’s not included but your guide will be happy to direct you toward their favorite restaurants for champagne’s hearty Cuisine du Terroir.
Wine from vineyards all over Champagne floods into the town to be stored in the chalk caves excavated beneath the city streets. After lunch, you’ll head over to a centuries-old mansion to taste the champagne of a husband-and-wife-run winery and step onto a tethered hot air balloon that will take you up over the valley for panoramic views.
Back on solid ground, you’ll hop in the mini-bus and return to Paris, arriving around 6.30pm; just in time to get a few more recommendations from your guide and head out to dinner.