WOW was this ever a gorgeous trip! We pedaled through beautiful forests and along serene rivers. The food along every stop was OUTSTANDING. I loved that the Champagne region is a popular destination for French and European tourists, but you rarely see Americans. I felt truly immersed.
The tour starts in beautiful Reims, which is the most bustling of the cities you will visit. Check-in was simple, and the hotel had a beautiful view of a park and excellent air conditioning. There are plenty of great restaurant options nearby, and it's fun to wander the nearby city streets. Of course champagne is plentiful wherever you go!
The first day's ride is a long one, but gorgeous. Prepare for some uphill climbs. I also recommend buying snacks and even lunch food in Reims, because restaurants become scarce in the second half of the day. If you run slow, you may miss the meal altogether! (We did...). The hotel in Matouges is in the tiniest town with only a few blocks and no stores or restaurants to be found. You'll be eating in the hotel restaurant if you didn't grab food elsewhere. The hotel restaurant is delightful, though, so you won't be disappointed. There is also a POOL! It was great to take a dip after a long day's ride and cap of the night with a delicious meal.
The next day you ride to Epernay, which is a piece of cake compared to day 1. Epernay is an AWESOME city. You must make a stop in the town along the way for lunch (you'll see it in the guide book). Really, take the rides as slowly as you want. The point is to savor and enjoy! You may want to book tastings ahead of time, as it was difficult to figure out how to access some of the smaller champagne houses along the way.
You're in Epernay for a few days, and the rides out are loops. We chose to take one day off and just relax in Epernay, since we definitely did not train enough, and our legs had become a bit jello-y by day 3. There is plenty to do and see in Epernay, and we were very fortunate that the city was hosting a block party one of the nights we were there.
The ride up to the champagne tasting in Hautvillers is also steep! But WOW Is it ever a gorgeous view. And the steep ride down is also a treat. Definitely sign up for the optional tasting--the town and view and tasting room are all not to be missed.
The return to Reims is challenging but doable, and mostly beautiful. Navigating the city roads leading back to the hotel can be a bit annoying, but the map app is incredibly helpful. Treat yourself to a last night of delicious food before heading off. You could even catch a train out to Paris that night if you wanted to see it before heading home. The ride is quick and almost too easy.
Minor downsides were that the hotels did not have air conditioning, which made sleeping a bit uncomfortable. Also, the uphills climbs are TOUGH. If you are not training for this type of cycling, it may be quite the shock. SHOW MORE
This trip made me fall in LOVE with cycle touring. The pace is perfect for seeing little stops you would never get from a car or see from a major city. Every turn was a new adventure. Be brave! Try it! This was hands down one of the best experiences of my life. SHOW LESS