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First Time in France - Itinerary

Posted: December 2nd, 2019, 9:45 pm
by Frank Z
Hi Everyone,

I'll be traveling to France for the first time after the New Year and I have been looking at all of the travel forums for recommendations on wineries to visit in Champagne and Burgundy (but mainly Champagne) and restaurants to eat at in Paris and beyond, etc., but I wanted to get some feedback on whether the following itinerary is feasible. I go to Napa Valley like 4 times every year (and on occasion Paso Robles and Santa Barbara), but I've never been out of the country and from what I have read, things are slightly different. When I'm in Napa, I stick to private appointments, usually 2-4 hours in length - is this what I should expect in France as well?

1/1-1/4 Paris (I still am going through the Paris restaurants thread)

1/5 Travel to Reims; not much is open on Sunday it seems

1/6 Vilmart (AM) and Piper-Hiedsieck (PM)

1/7 Rent car and drive to Epernay; Philipponnat (PM); Jean-Pierre Launois (PM)

1/8 Pierre Peters (AM); Drive to Dijon/Beaune

1/9 Visit a smaller producer in Burgundy (any suggestions? I don't have too much experience with Burgundy); Drive back to Avize; Selosse + dinner at Les Avizes (was told that I had to go here)

I really wanted to visit Les Crayeres, based off of the forum, but it seems to be closed during the time I'm there. Same with most of the large champagne houses (all LVMH properties). Ultimately, I just want to see if the spacing is okay for my trip, to make sure I have enough time to relax and enjoy the scenery and not just rush from appointment to appointment. Thanks!

Re: First Time in France - Itinerary

Posted: December 2nd, 2019, 9:58 pm
by Mark Y
Why the one day drive to beaune? Seems a waste of 6 hours on the road? Not gonna cover much in half a day plus u are driving after PP. and then next day have to beat the clock back to taste at selosse?
I’d skip beaune and just chill in Reims area

Re: First Time in France - Itinerary

Posted: December 2nd, 2019, 10:08 pm
by Mikko R
I do agree with Mark. Maybe you could travel to Troyes and have dinner in Aux crieurs de vin which is one of the best wine shops and restaurants in Champagne. it's simply amazing!

https://www.instagram.com/explore/locat ... rs-de-vin/

Re: First Time in France - Itinerary

Posted: December 3rd, 2019, 5:13 am
by Victor Hong
Rent directly a Sixt car. Avoid EuropCar.

Re: First Time in France - Itinerary

Posted: December 3rd, 2019, 9:27 am
by dbailey
If Crayeres is closed, try Assiette Champenois.

Re: First Time in France - Itinerary

Posted: December 3rd, 2019, 9:37 am
by Mich@el Ch@ng
Clerget for burgundy?

Re: First Time in France - Itinerary

Posted: December 3rd, 2019, 11:44 pm
by Francois Olivier
Burgundy producers are mainly family business
They haven’t a marketing services.
Send an email or call before.
Otherwise you can find a winecellar, restaurant who are open sunday.

Re: First Time in France - Itinerary

Posted: December 8th, 2019, 9:47 am
by Gus Siokis
In Burgundy, I would stick with one of the big houses such as Drouhin, Bouchard or Jadot.....easier to get in and schedule.

Re: First Time in France - Itinerary

Posted: December 10th, 2019, 6:45 am
by Andrew Kotowski
Keep an eye on France 24 to see how the pension strikes are going. Paris is a goat rodeo right now with the metros shut down and TGV/AF service running at 50-75%... which means everybody and their mother is driving. This set of strikes is a bit different - it’s less violent than the yellow vest, but just about every union is participating.

https://www.france24.com/en/20191210-fr ... on-strikes

Other note - double check all of your reservations and plans for Paris, as you’re landing on New Years and staying through the weekend. Europe (but especially Paris) invented the bridge holiday, so I would expect quite a few places to be shut down until the following week, with the locals out of town, returning the following Monday.

Re: First Time in France - Itinerary

Posted: December 11th, 2019, 7:59 pm
by M. Taylor
Shame that Les Crayeres is closed. We stayed there in April — incredible place, and dinner at Le Parc was amazing.
tastings: we had private tastings in Bordeaux (Palmer, Beaucaillou and Chevallier) because we had a good connection. Tastings in Champagne were group, even at smaller producers.

Re: First Time in France - Itinerary

Posted: December 12th, 2019, 12:05 pm
by Andrew Kotowski
>> Keep an eye on France 24 to see how the pension strikes are going. Paris is a goat rodeo right now with the metros shut down and TGV/AF service running at 50-75%... which means everybody and their mother is driving. This set of strikes is a bit different - it’s less violent than the yellow vest, but just about every union is participating.

Will check in from time to time for you on this, as friends are ranting on my Facebook thread, but it's continuing to be a shit show. 10 of 14 Metro lines closed (i think 1 and 14 are driverless) and intra-EU travel is now backing up. Thalys (train) from AMS/Brussels is starting to cancel more and more trips and quite a few flights into CDG are delayed. Uncertain how this plays out over the holidays, but I'd keep it as a planning parameter. Unions are committing to strikes to the holidays, which might be a nice excuse to head to the countryside. https://www.france24.com/en/20191212-no ... ion-reform

Re: First Time in France - Itinerary

Posted: December 12th, 2019, 12:09 pm
by Russell Faulkner
Really depends where you are though. Bordeaux ran a practically normal service on trams and buses today.

Re: First Time in France - Itinerary

Posted: December 23rd, 2019, 8:50 am
by Frank Z
I apologize for not getting back to everyone earlier, but I really do appreciate all of the responses and advice given. Based on the above, I have decided to nix Burgundy from the trip, and focus on Champagne and visit a few more producers. Here is the updated schedule for the last two days:

1/8 Pierre Péters (AM); Leclerc Briant (waiting to confirm); Spa appointment at the Royal Champagne

1/9 Dom Pérignon (waiting to confirm), Add one more tasting here (Roger Coulon, Bollinger, etc.), Selosse + dinner at Les Avises (was told that I had to go here).

I did want to ask a few more questions:
1. For those who have dined at Les Avises, would you recommend the dinner menu or lunch? I was thinking of switching to lunch to help me to get back to Paris earlier, but if dinner is much better, I won't mind staying later.
2. Thank you Andrew for notifying me regarding the strike information, and I did notice the planned strike on January 9th. I was wondering will these strikes affect Eurostar trains and air transportation?

Thanks again to everyone who chimed in with recommendations. Hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas holiday!

Re: First Time in France - Itinerary

Posted: December 23rd, 2019, 10:23 am
by Andrew Kotowski
I’d keep a super close eye on all of your travel and recognize you might need contingency plans. I do not recall if it affects Eurostar; it is hitting other intra-EU transportation (I.e Thalys). Check France24.com for the latest.

Other note - if you’re a cheese fan, try the comte de Noel, which is aged for 36 months and usually only shows up around Christmas. And Mont d’Or, of course :)

Re: First Time in France - Itinerary

Posted: December 24th, 2019, 5:45 pm
by Andrew Kotowski
And this is why I love France. Ballerinas on strike, performing the Nutracker on the steps of Palais Garnier.
https://www.france24.com/en/20191224-pa ... de-strikes

Re: First Time in France - Itinerary

Posted: January 8th, 2020, 3:50 am
by Frank Z
Quick question - is it legal in France for restaurant to sell a bottle from their wine list to go? I have tried many wine shops to find this wine, as well as the producer directly, in order to find a wine, with no avail, but that same wine is available at the restaurant I am dining at. Would a restaurant do this?

Thanks!

Re: First Time in France - Itinerary

Posted: January 8th, 2020, 7:55 am
by Victor Hong
They are allowed to do so. I have been to various cafes which offered for bottle sale the wines on their dining menus.
France is not Massachusetts or Colorado.

Re: First Time in France - Itinerary

Posted: January 8th, 2020, 10:15 am
by IlkkaL
I’m not sure if it requires a separate license but many restaurants certainly do sell wines to go. However even if a restaurant does sell some wines to go they don’t necessarily want to part with their more strictly allocated wines that way. Never hurts to ask, of course.

Re: First Time in France - Itinerary

Posted: January 8th, 2020, 3:46 pm
by Ramon C
IlkkaL wrote:
January 8th, 2020, 10:15 am
However even if a restaurant does sell some wines to go they don’t necessarily want to part with their more strictly allocated wines that way. Never hurts to ask, of course.
This.

2 years ago, I ordered a bottle of 2004 Rogeard Bourg at a terrific restaurant near Laguiole in Aveyron and the price of the bottle was below any WS US prices. After the meal, I asked the sommelier if I can buy a few more bottles to take home, he politely said no as he'd prefer to serve his remaining bottles at his restaurant when ordered. Completely understandable.

in hindsight, should have also asked about the 2002 Poyeux that I also spotted in their wine list.

Re: First Time in France - Itinerary

Posted: January 8th, 2020, 6:03 pm
by Michel Couvreux
Do not plan too much in advance. Just go and enjoy.

Re: First Time in France - Itinerary

Posted: January 8th, 2020, 10:08 pm
by IlkkaL
Ramon C wrote:
January 8th, 2020, 3:46 pm
IlkkaL wrote:
January 8th, 2020, 10:15 am
However even if a restaurant does sell some wines to go they don’t necessarily want to part with their more strictly allocated wines that way. Never hurts to ask, of course.
This.

2 years ago, I ordered a bottle of 2004 Rogeard Bourg at a terrific restaurant near Laguiole in Aveyron and the price of the bottle was below any WS US prices. After the meal, I asked the sommelier if I can buy a few more bottles to take home, he politely said no as he'd prefer to serve his remaining bottles at his restaurant when ordered. Completely understandable.

in hindsight, should have also asked about the 2002 Poyeux that I also spotted in their wine list.
I discussed Rougeard when dining at Hôtel des Bains in 2018 and back then their allocation was 12 bottles per wine in a vintage. Considering that the odds of you walking out with the Poyeux probably would not have been great but who knows :)

Re: First Time in France - Itinerary

Posted: January 9th, 2020, 5:57 am
by Andrew Kotowski
Haven't been over there for a year, but the Le Grande Epiceries in Passy used to have several Rougeards on the shelf. I don't recall what the mark-up was, but I don't recall it being too bad, as I almost pulled the trigger a couple of times. Worth a call. Worst case, if you walk over and come up empty handed you can always grab a bottle of https://www.lagrandeepicerie.com/en/gin ... 97001.html

Re: First Time in France - Itinerary

Posted: January 9th, 2020, 6:48 am
by Ramon C
IlkkaL wrote:
January 8th, 2020, 10:08 pm
Ramon C wrote:
January 8th, 2020, 3:46 pm
IlkkaL wrote:
January 8th, 2020, 10:15 am
However even if a restaurant does sell some wines to go they don’t necessarily want to part with their more strictly allocated wines that way. Never hurts to ask, of course.
This.

2 years ago, I ordered a bottle of 2004 Rogeard Bourg at a terrific restaurant near Laguiole in Aveyron and the price of the bottle was below any WS US prices. After the meal, I asked the sommelier if I can buy a few more bottles to take home, he politely said no as he'd prefer to serve his remaining bottles at his restaurant when ordered. Completely understandable.

in hindsight, should have also asked about the 2002 Poyeux that I also spotted in their wine list.
I discussed Rougeard when dining at Hôtel des Bains in 2018 and back then their allocation was 12 bottles per wine in a vintage. Considering that the odds of you walking out with the Poyeux probably would not have been great but who knows :)
While they shut me out of the rest of their Rougeard at Restaurant Bras in Laguoile, the nice sommelier wrote me on his business card a recommendation for a small wine store in town where I purchased 5 bottles of 2014 Raveneau 1ers for Euro 30 - 40sh. I would have cleaned them out of Raveneau if I only I didn't have 4 more days of driving around to do with my wife.

Re: First Time in France - Itinerary

Posted: January 9th, 2020, 7:54 am
by IlkkaL
Ramon C wrote:
January 9th, 2020, 6:48 am
IlkkaL wrote:
January 8th, 2020, 10:08 pm
Ramon C wrote:
January 8th, 2020, 3:46 pm


This.

2 years ago, I ordered a bottle of 2004 Rogeard Bourg at a terrific restaurant near Laguiole in Aveyron and the price of the bottle was below any WS US prices. After the meal, I asked the sommelier if I can buy a few more bottles to take home, he politely said no as he'd prefer to serve his remaining bottles at his restaurant when ordered. Completely understandable.

in hindsight, should have also asked about the 2002 Poyeux that I also spotted in their wine list.
I discussed Rougeard when dining at Hôtel des Bains in 2018 and back then their allocation was 12 bottles per wine in a vintage. Considering that the odds of you walking out with the Poyeux probably would not have been great but who knows :)
While they shut me out of the rest of their Rougeard at Restaurant Bras in Laguoile, the nice sommelier wrote me on his business card a recommendation for a small wine store in town where I purchased 5 bottles of 2014 Raveneau 1ers for Euro 30 - 40sh. I would have cleaned them out of Raveneau if I only I didn't have 4 more days of driving around to do with my wife.
Damn! One can only dream of something like that happening, good for you :)

Re: First Time in France - Itinerary

Posted: January 9th, 2020, 9:23 am
by Russell Faulkner
Ramon C wrote:
January 9th, 2020, 6:48 am
IlkkaL wrote:
January 8th, 2020, 10:08 pm
Ramon C wrote:
January 8th, 2020, 3:46 pm


This.

2 years ago, I ordered a bottle of 2004 Rogeard Bourg at a terrific restaurant near Laguiole in Aveyron and the price of the bottle was below any WS US prices. After the meal, I asked the sommelier if I can buy a few more bottles to take home, he politely said no as he'd prefer to serve his remaining bottles at his restaurant when ordered. Completely understandable.

in hindsight, should have also asked about the 2002 Poyeux that I also spotted in their wine list.
I discussed Rougeard when dining at Hôtel des Bains in 2018 and back then their allocation was 12 bottles per wine in a vintage. Considering that the odds of you walking out with the Poyeux probably would not have been great but who knows :)
While they shut me out of the rest of their Rougeard at Restaurant Bras in Laguoile, the nice sommelier wrote me on his business card a recommendation for a small wine store in town where I purchased 5 bottles of 2014 Raveneau 1ers for Euro 30 - 40sh. I would have cleaned them out of Raveneau if I only I didn't have 4 more days of driving around to do with my wife.
Thanks his wine store. :)

Re: First Time in France - Itinerary

Posted: January 9th, 2020, 10:56 am
by Ramon C
Russell Faulkner wrote:
January 9th, 2020, 9:23 am
Ramon C wrote:
January 9th, 2020, 6:48 am

While they shut me out of the rest of their Rougeard at Restaurant Bras in Laguoile, the nice sommelier wrote me on his business card a recommendation for a small wine store in town where I purchased 5 bottles of 2014 Raveneau 1ers for Euro 30 - 40sh. I would have cleaned them out of Raveneau if I only I didn't have 4 more days of driving around to do with my wife.
Thanks his wine store. :)
He never told me while at the restaurant. So the following day I went to the store and only until after the sales person rang-up my bottles that I mentioned about the sommelier suggesting their store when she responded that the sommelier (Sergio) is also the owner of the wine store.

Plenty of geeky goodies in that little shop, btw.

Re: First Time in France - Itinerary

Posted: January 9th, 2020, 11:02 am
by IlkkaL
Alright, I’m heading to Laguiole next summer [cheers.gif]

Re: First Time in France - Itinerary

Posted: January 9th, 2020, 3:39 pm
by lsmorris
One thing: We did a spur-of-the-moment trip to Champagne, taking the TGV to Reims. Silly moi thought the station would be in town, but no. It's about three miles away. Hey see that way over there across the fields? It's Reims! Luckily there was an Avis office at the "station" and so we got a car. We ended up going to Epernay first, found the Avenue de Champagne and I parked the car and we just walked the Avenue. We did the tour at Moet and it was excellent. The place is gorgeous and the caves are mind-blowing. I was lucky enough to be able to buy vintage bottles from my kids birth years, and also a Dom Perignon bottle stopper. Most of the rest of the day we just walked up the Avenue and back, with my wife and our friend from the US getting totally hammered and me, the mature responsible adult and driver enjoying sips. We went back to Reims and found a nice cafe next to the magnificent cathedral, ate cheese and charcuterie with beer this time, and chilled until it was time to take the TGV back to Paris. All in all a splendid and easy day trip.

Re: First Time in France - Itinerary

Posted: January 10th, 2020, 1:40 am
by Ramon C
lsmorris wrote:
January 9th, 2020, 3:39 pm
One thing: We did a spur-of-the-moment trip to Champagne, taking the TGV to Reims. Silly moi thought the station would be in town, but no. It's about three miles away. Hey see that way over there across the fields? It's Reims!
Took the TGV from Paris to Reims, about 4 years ago. From the train station, it took us about 10 to 15 minutes to leisurely walk to, and back from, the Cathedral area which I presume is at the town center. Which means it was less than a mile.

Did they move the station since? Or, is there another train station in town that’s farther away?

Re: First Time in France - Itinerary

Posted: January 10th, 2020, 6:05 am
by Andrew Kotowski
FWIW - French strike is now impacting other European routes, as the air traffic controllers are refusing to show up to work. I'm seeing several colleagues rant on Facebook about other routes (London to Geneva, Madrid to AMS, etc.) being delayed because they are unable to fly through French airspace.

Re: First Time in France - Itinerary

Posted: January 13th, 2020, 7:10 am
by lsmorris
Ramon C wrote:
January 10th, 2020, 1:40 am
lsmorris wrote:
January 9th, 2020, 3:39 pm
One thing: We did a spur-of-the-moment trip to Champagne, taking the TGV to Reims. Silly moi thought the station would be in town, but no. It's about three miles away. Hey see that way over there across the fields? It's Reims!
Took the TGV from Paris to Reims, about 4 years ago. From the train station, it took us about 10 to 15 minutes to leisurely walk to, and back from, the Cathedral area which I presume is at the town center. Which means it was less than a mile.

Did they move the station since? Or, is there another train station in town that’s farther away?
Yes - we went to the Champagne Ardennes station, not knowing any better. [oops.gif]

Re: First Time in France - Itinerary

Posted: January 14th, 2020, 7:18 am
by Frank Z
Just wanted to thank everyone again for their insights regarding my trip! The trip was a blast and exploring Champagne was really fun.

Now, If only I didn't miss my flight back to the States, things would have been perfect HAHA

[thankyou.gif]

Re: First Time in France - Itinerary

Posted: January 15th, 2020, 12:41 pm
by Ian Sutton
oops! Great to hear you had a super holiday though