Visiting Paris in the Winter

Don’t let the colder temperatures deter you, visiting Paris in the winter is a wonderful idea. You can experience Christmas markets, taste plenty of seasonal foods and drinks, and finish your holiday shopping – all with the City of Light decked in holiday lights and decorations in the background. We’re sharing some of the highlights of visiting Paris in the winter.

Visiting Paris in the Winter

Take in the Holiday Lights and Decorations

visiting paris during the winter notre dame decorations

They take holiday lights and decorations very seriously in the City of Light. As a result, pretty much anywhere you go you’ll be struck by the magic of the season. Even small boutiques and neighborhoods participate in decorating – the results are charming and make Paris feel like a small village.

However, don’t miss the holiday lights and decorations found along the major avenues and places in Paris. Highlights year after year include the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, Avenue Montaigne, Place Vendôme, and Boulevard Saint Germain.

paris by night 2cv

Illumination Tour of Paris with A Glass of Champagne in a Classic French Car

Paris, City of Light, is never more stunning than at night, when she truly lives up to her name. With illuminated avenues and spot-lit monuments Paris takes on a fairy-tale dimension. The city becomes extra magical during the holiday season!

You’ll be welcomed with a glass of champagne and visit Paris in a classic Citroën 2CV with an English-speaking guide. See the highlights of central Paris including the Avenue des Champs Elysées, the Arc de Triomphe, the Trocadéro, the Eiffel Tower, the Invalides, Pont Alexandre III, the Petit and Grand Palais, the Place de la Concorde, the Garnier Opera, the Place Vendôme, the Louvre, the Île de la Cité, and the Notre Dame Cathedral. You’ll also enjoy a stunning perspective of the city from the top, at the balcony in Montmartre. Truly the perfect way to see all of the holiday lights!

See the Christmas Markets in Paris

paris christmas market in the tuileries

A must-see when visiting Paris in the winter is one or more of the fabulous Christmas markets in Paris. You’ll find the markets sprinkled throughout the city. Each is different and provides a festive mix of ways to take in the holiday spirit. We recommend getting a cup of hot chocolate and wandering the various stalls. You’ll find holiday decorations, regional and seasonal food specialties, music, sometimes rides and attractions and just general merriment!

Some of our favorite Christmas Markets in Paris can be found in the following locations: the Tuileries Garden (formerly along the Champs-Élysées), Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Saint-Sulpice, Place de la Nation, Place des Abesses in Montmartre, Gare de l’Est and Trocadero.

Get Your Holiday Shopping Done

visiting paris in the winter shopping

Year-round, the shopping is fabulous in Paris. Once the department stores and boutiques install their famous holiday window and interior displays they become nearly impossible to resist. And what better way to surprise someone on your list than with a special gift from Paris? The Grands Magasins, Galeries Lafayette and Printemps have some of the most impressive window displays in the city year after year, and the Christmas tree inside Galeries Lafayette is truly incredible. On the Left Bank you’ll find the oldest department store in Paris, Le Bon Marché, which always has impressive window displays and decorations. This year Samaritaine reopened in Paris after extensive renovations and the holiday display is sure to be fabulous!

Paris’ Wonderful Covered Passages Private Walking Tour

Your guide will take you through these secret passages and shopping arcades on a wonderful walk. Located on the Rive Droite and near the main boulevards, these structures were created for wealthy clients. The passages experienced their prime in the first half of the 19th century.

You will get to enjoy the beauty of these passages that have been finely preserved over the years. It truly feels like traveling back in time! This is not only a wonderful opportunity to do some holiday shopping, but also a great time to see some more fabulous decorations and take a break from the chilly weather!

Taste Traditional French Christmas Foods and Drinks

vin chaud and chocolat chaud

Throughout the holiday season you’ll find seasonal foods and drinks sprinkled throughout restaurant and café menus, bakeries, as well as in markets and grocery stores. There’s always plenty of seafood including oysters, scallops, smoked salmon and lobster, as well as foie gras and capon. Bûche de Noël is a favorite dessert. Many of the city’s top pastry chef’s each create a version with their own special touch.

To drink you’ll find the Alsatian specialty vin chaud at many cafés and Christmas markets. There’s no better way to warm up than with a glass of mulled wine. Chocolat chaud is also a must. Angelina is known for their thick and rich version of hot chocolate, but we also love chocolate master Jacques Genin’s delicious version of the drink. For people-watching, you can’t beat a cup of hot chocolate at Café de Flore.

And of course, when in France, Champagne is always a good idea. Stop for a glass at a café or restaurant, treat yourself to an exceptional setting at a hotel bar, or better yet, enjoy a private Champagne tasting in a magnificent cellar to learn even more about this delicate drink.

galerie vivienne christmas decorations

Luxury Christmas Food & Decoration Private Walking Tour

Get into the Christmas magic with this exceptional walking tour. Your itinerary will start at the Grands Magasins, where you will discover what makes Christmas in Paris so special: food, wine and decorations. We’ll enter into a paradise of gourmet connoisseurs for an oyster and white wine tasting. Next, we’ll discover the best of Christmas foods all in one place (cheese, salmon, caviar, foie gras, chocolate, gingerbread and more).

After the tasting, you will admire the Christmas lights, decorations and trees in the stores. We’ll continue our walk to Madeleine where we’ll see the church as well as numerous gourmet shops.

Finally, we will take the little streets and passages, full of Christmas lights and decorations until we reach one of Paris’ best wine bars for a foie gras and champagne tasting!

Where to Stay in Paris During the Winter

hotel vernet paris

To maximize your holiday spirit and experience in Paris during the winter we recommend staying in the heart of the city. The five-star Hotel Vernet is located in one of Paris’s favorite neighborhoods, just off of the Champs-Elysées and close to the Arc de Triomphe. You’ll have the best of Paris during the holidays at your fingertips with incredible access to Christmas markets, lights and decorations, shopping and more. After a long day, enjoy a dinner at the hotel restaurant featuring fine cuisine and a lovely glass dome ceiling by Gustave Eiffel.

If you’re visiting Paris with children, consider an extra memorable stay at the Palace Hotel Plaza Athénée. This absolutely gorgeous hotel turns its inner courtyard into an ice-skating rink for children. They also create a gourmet cabin surrounding the ice-skating rink for adults to warm up with a sweet treat or a beverage while watching the children delight in their fun.

plaza athénée ice skating rink christmas
© Romeo Ballancourt

Ready to visit Paris in the winter? There’s still time to plan a trip for this year! Our travel designers are standing by to create a tailor-made itinerary just for you.

A Gourmet Tour of Strasbourg

In Northeast France not far from the German border lies Alsace, a beautiful region nestled at the base of the Vosges mountains. The picturesque half-timbered villages, stately castles, and distinct wines attract plenty of French and German tourists. Alsace remains largely under the radar for other travelers. Strasbourg, the capital of Alsace, is a wonderful spot to base to discover a gourmet tour of the region.

A Gourmet Tour of Strasbourg

Strasbourg was the first urban center in France to be listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. This will come as no surprise after wandering through the charming small streets lined with half-timbered houses in various colors. You’ll also see the Strasbourg’s gothic Notre Dame Cathedral, which Victor Hugo described “a gigantic and delicate marvel.”

The center of the town is pedestrian, inviting visitors to take in the beautiful scenery, great shopping, and tasty local cuisine at winstubs – small Alsatian wine bars. One of the best ways to get acquainted with a city is through a private walking tour. Your guide will point out the highlights of the city, as well as make recommendations of things to do, see, and taste.

gourmet tour in strasbourg notre dame cathedral
Notre Dame Cathedral in Strasbourg

How to Get to Strasbourg

Strasbourg can easily be reached from Paris by train in under two hours. Since it’s in the eastern part of France, trains depart from the Gare de l’Est station. Alsace and Strasbourg are a great addition to a trip to Paris or the Champagne regions. There are also direct trains between the Charles de Gaulle airport and Strasbourg.

If you’d like to have a car to explore the region, it’s about a five hour drive from Paris.

Strasbourg Gourmet Tours

For a day filled with walking, sightseeing, and tasting take a full day Gourmet and City Tour of Strasbourg. Your guide will take you to meet with regional specialists to truly discover the best of the best of Alsace. You’ll visit a local winemaker, cheesemaker, brewer, and distiller among others. Of course, there will also be plenty of tasting including wine, beer, gingerbread, foie gras, cheese, Alsatian pastries, and local spirits.

After sampling the best of Alsatian food and drinks, the following day you can test your cooking skills! You’ll meet with a chef to learn all of the tips and tricks of preparing French cuisine with a focus on Alsatian specialties. When you’ve finished cooking you’ll sit down for lunch or dinner to enjoy the food you’ve prepared.

strasbourg citroen 2cv tour

Visit Strasbourg in a Convertible Citroën 2CV

Admire the beautiful sites of Strasbourg through the open top of a legendary French car during a private two-hour tour. You’ll see Palais Rohan, a royal residence and a masterpiece of French Baroque architecture, the world-famous Gothic cathedral, Place Gutenberg, and the Medieval bridge Pont Couvert. You’ll also discover the picturesque neighborhood known as ‘Petite France,’ an impressive region with many beautiful renaissance style houses, often with flowers tumbling from windows and pretty bridges across the River Ill.

Next, you’ll drive through the area where the most important European institutions are located: the Council of Europe, the European Parliament, the Palace of Human rights.

To finish the tour, you’ll take a short walk along the Mimram footbridge and cross the mighty Rhine river into Germany. Your guide and vehicle will pick you up on the German side and show you the charming German town of Kehl before returning to your accommodation.

alsace wine route gourmet tour of strasbourg

The Alsace Wine Route

A major highlight on a trip to Strasbourg is discovering the Alsace Wine Route. French Side Travel can arrange a variety of different tours, over multiple days to cover the most ground possible. Each tour includes private wine tastings to discover the diversity of Alsatian wines. Thanks to the rich soil and generations of winemakers in the region you will find 51 Grand Crus and seven types of grapes!

However, there is more to the Alsace Wine Route tours than just great wines. You’ll see towns with Medieval and Renaissance architecture ranked among the Most Beautiful Villages in France.

After stopping at a winstub for lunch, a local restaurant offering regional cuisine, you will continue along the Wine Route. More places ranked among the Most Beautiful Villages in France are on the itinerary, including Colmar, the Alsatian wine capital and castles depending on which route you take.

hotel regent petite france in strasbourg
Overhead View of Hotel Regent Petite France

Where to Stay in Strasbourg

One of our favorite 5-star hotels in Strasbourg is the Hotel Regent Petite France. The building dates from the 17th century and is located just on the banks of the river in the historic ‘Petite France’ district. Each room in this elegant and charming hotel offers a unique view of either half-timbered buildings or the River III. During the summer, guests can enjoy a lovely terrace that offers regional cuisine. The sophisticated bar offers over 50 champagnes.

Les Haras hotel in strasbourg
Les Haras

Les Haras was formerly the National Stud Farm of Strasbourg and was reborn as a luxury 4-star hotel. The comfortable contemporary design is a tribute to the property’s former life as a stable, and seamlessly merges past and present. Don’t miss the fabulous brasserie restaurant that offers both French cuisine classics and Alsatian specialties.

Stay Along the Alsace Wine Route: Château d’Isenbourg

For a stay along the wine route with panoramic views of the surrounding Vosges Foothills, Rhine Plain and Black Forest look no further than the gorgeous 5-star Château d’Isenbourg. You’ll feel like you’re truly living at a castle while staying at this stunning property.

Enjoy traditional Alsatian cuisine at the restaurant in two dining rooms: one decorated in the Louis XV style and one decorated in the Louis XIII style. On warm days, dine outside on the terrace that overlooks the vineyards and town of Rouffach.

chateau d'isenbourg alsace
Château d’Isenbourg

Ready for your own gourmet tour of Strasbourg? Our travel designers are standing by to create a tailor-made itinerary just for you. We recommend adding Strasbourg as an extension to a trip to Paris or Champagne. Interested in more French food and wine? We have plenty of trips to help inspire you!

Fall in France 2021: What to See and Do

Fall in France brings out some of the best of the country from the crisp weather and stunning fall colors to special seasonal foods and more. It truly is a wonderful time to visit and you can’t go wrong with almost any region. We’ve identified some of our top picks for what to see and do during fall in France in 2021.

Fall in France 2021: What to See and Do

Normandy: Authentic Cider and Cheese Tour

fall in france normandy camembert

Fall is a great time to discover Normandy with fewer crowds compared to the summertime. No trip to the region would be complete without at least a day spent tasting some of the gourmet regional specialties, namely ciders and cheeses. You’ll learn the ins and of the famous Camembert de Normandie and will have the opportunity to meet with the last remaining producer of the cheese in the village of Camembert. Next, you’ll see the cows, discover the production process, and taste two other regional cheeses: Pont l’Évêque and Livarot. After stopping for a fabulous picnic lunch, you’ll be learning all about ciders: apple, pear, pommeau and Calvados. This delicious day ends in one of the most beautiful villages in France with colorful half-timbered buildings and great shopping.

Paris: Colorful Modern Art Museums

fall in paris

While the trees in Paris are filled with beautiful colored leaves in the fall, rain can be common, especially further into the season. A great way to escape the rainy weather is with a museum visit. Classics like the Musée du Louvre and Musée d’Orsay are always wonderful options, and are always ever-changing thanks to temporary exhibits. However, if you’ve had enough of the grey skies, consider the Centre Pompidou for colorful modern and contemporary art or the intimate and beautiful Musée Picasso in the heart of the Marais.

Fall in Paris from the Ducasse sur Seine
What better way to take in the fall colors than from aboard a Ducasse sur Seine cruise? This electric boat glides along the river to show you a side of Paris you may have never seen before. During the journey, you’ll enjoy a four or five course menu filled with seasonal products all complemented by prestigious and eclectic wines. A romantic and magical way to see Paris!

Burgundy: Fall Along the Wine Trails

burgundy wine trails in fall

For wine lovers the Burgundy wine trails are a highlight no matter what time of year. The visits are especially spectacular drenched in the gorgeous fall colors. Our local wine expert guides will lead you through the renowned estates and surrounding scenery. Throughout the day you’ll taste exceptional Premiers and Grands Crus wines. Truly an extraordinary way to see and experience Burgundy!

Loire Valley: A Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Ride

loire valley hot air balloon

For a unique perspective of the majestic Loire Valley châteaux, we recommend taking a hot air balloon ride at sunrise. Imagine floating above on a misty fall morning with gorgeous golden light touching the vineyards, forest, rivers, and châteaux below. This fabulous experience ends with a breakfast and you’ll have the rest of the day to continue exploring!

Bordeaux: Market Visit, Cooking Class, and Lunch

fall market foods france

Southwest France is a region known for fabulous fall foods including foie gras, truffles, and nuts. During a private market visit, cooking class, and lunch in Bordeaux you’ll have the opportunity to learn even more about and taste these delicious fall specialties. A chef will lead you on this experience that is both gourmet and a unique look into life in France.

Provence: Visit Chateauneuf-du-Pape with a Local Wine Expert

chateauneuf de pape

During the fall, you can take in the mesmerizing beauty of the historic Châteauneuf-du-Pape village and vineyards dressed in a layer of gold. Chateauneuf-du-Pape is famous for powerful, full-bodied red wines, made from the southern Rhône grape trio of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre. Besides the golden leaves, you’ll find distinct lightly colored stones amongst the vines: a spectacular fall combination. During this day your local wine expert guide will take you to meet with three winemakers. Next, you’ll stop for lunch in a charming Provençal restaurant. Afterwards, you will get the chance to make local confectioneries in copper cauldrons!

Fall in Provence: Truffles and Wine Tasting
The ultimate unique fall in Provence experience! Take a two-hour tour of an estate and its vineyards in a 4×4 where you’ll learn about biodiversity. Next, meet with a truffle farmer and his dog to learn about the fascinating world of truffles and the nuances of growing tuber melanosporum and tuber aestivum truffles.
The visit concludes with a lunch centered around the estate’s truffles with a wine pairing!

Ready to experience fall in France? There’s still time to make it this year! Our travel designers are standing by and can help you book any of these activities and create the perfect fall itinerary in France. Some of our most popular fall destinations include Normandy, Burgundy, Bordeaux, the Loire Valley, and Southern France.

Our Seven Favorite Classic French Restaurants in Paris

When it comes to traditional French cuisine there are choices galore in Paris. Sometimes the options can be overwhelming, so to help narrow your search we’ve identified our top seven favorite classic restaurants in Paris. These tried and true places are not only delicious, but also have lovely atmospheres and reliably friendly service.

Our Seven Favorite Classic French Restaurants in Paris

La Fontaine de Mars

la fontaine de mars classic french restaurant
Fontaine de Mars

La Fontaine de Mars opened in 1908 making it one of the oldest bistros in Paris. The charming tiled floors, red and white checked tablecloths, and friendly service will make you feel as if you’re in a Paris from yesteryears. They are known for their incredible Escargot de Bourgogne “Fontaine de Mars,” roasted chicken with mashed potatoes (a Sunday specialty), and incredible wine list. When the weather is nice the restaurant also has a wonderful terrace. A great option not far from the Eiffel Tower! La Fontaine de Mars, 129 Rue Saint-Dominique, 75007 Paris

Bistrot Paul Bert

bistrot paul bert restaurant
Courtesy of Sébastien Muylaert/Michelin

In France, a bistrot is different from a restaurant. A casual neighborhood bistrot has quick and efficient service, a simple menu, and a lively atmosphere. Bistrot Paul Bert is a quintessential Parisian bistrot, which is why locals and visitors alike love it. Expect high quality, carefully sourced ingredients and wines that come straight from the vignerons (winegrowers). You can’t go wrong with just about anything on the chalkboard menu. Bistrot Paul Bert, 18 Rue Paul Bert, 75011 Paris (closed Sundays and Mondays).

french cooking class in paris

Paris Food Experience: Morning Market Visit, Cooking Class, and Lunch
Embark on a unique culinary and Parisian cultural experience completely inspired by its gastronomical fare!

At a local market you will have to opportunity to buy fresh produce and learn about the French market culture. You’ll discover how to choose the ingredients, why, as well as where they come from.

Then it’s back to the kitchen. You will learn basic and advanced French cooking techniques through the process of creating a three-course French meal. You will cover five to seven fundamental cooking techniques as each theory will be explained.

During lunch, your host will share stories about each of the dishes to help illustrate various aspects of French culture. A bit of history, a touch of sociology, tongue-in-cheek humor, and quite a bit of gastronomy as one might expect. This is quite a unique, intimate and quite delectable experience in Paris indeed!

Restaurant Joséphine “Chez Dumonet”

josephine chez dumonet paris restaurant
Courtesy of Joséphine Chez Dumonet

When it comes to traditional French food in Paris, Restaurant Joséphine “Chez Dumonet” is a shining star. Walking inside feels like stepping inside a time machine. The menu is small at this family-owned restaurant and everything is excellent. You won’t want to miss the beef tartare that’s prepared table-side or the beef bourguignon, which cooks for three days. Save room for dessert – the massive Grand Marnier soufflé is accompanied by a glass of eau de vie. Restaurant Joséphine Chez Dumonet, 117 Rue du Cherche-Midi, 75006 Paris (closed Saturdays and Sundays).

Le Voltaire

restaurant le voltaire
Courtesy of Le Voltaire

Le Voltaire is beloved by both local regulars and loyal visitors who return time and time again. This chic restaurant, located directly across from the Musée du Louvre along the Seine, is unassuming from the outside but warm and inviting once inside. Although prices are high, the food, service, and attention to details are all immaculate. Each dish is accompanied by Le Voltaire’s famous crispy matchstick frites which are impossible to resist. Le Voltaire, 27 Quai Voltaire, 75007 Paris.

Bouillon Chartier

bouillon chartier favorite classic french restaurant paris
Courtesy of Bouillon Chartier

Bouillon Chartier originally opened in 1896 as an inexpensive restaurant for workers in the neighborhood. Since that time there have only been four owners and Bouillon Chartier has remained a Parisian institution that continues to draw crowds night after night, 365 days a year. Expect hearty French classics, waiters dressed in black and white, and a bustling ambiance. Bouillon Chartier, 7 Rue du Faubourg Montmartre, 75009 Paris.

Le Grand Vefour

le grand vefour paris
Courtesy of Le Grand Vefour

For a truly fine dining experience and impeccable wine list go to Le Grand Vefour in the Palais-Royal. The two Michelin-starred restaurant has hosted many top French politicians, artists, and literary geniuses over its storied 200-year history. The décor is in the incredible 18th century art décoratif style and is filled with elegant gold and red tones. Be sure to make a reservation well in advance at this opulent restaurant. Le Grand Vefour, 17 Rue de Beaujolais, 75001 Paris.

Le Train Bleu

le train bleu paris
Courtesy of Le Train Bleu

You may not expect one of the most beautiful restaurants in Paris to be found inside the Gare de Lyon train station, but that is indeed the case with Le Train Bleu. This beautiful Belle Epoque restaurant is perfect for a romantic dinner date. Spend your meal admiring the dreamy frescos. They feature places in France that you can catch a train to just downstairs. Le Train Bleu, Gare de Lyon, Place Louis-Armand, 75012 Paris.

cheese and wine tasting class paris

Paris Food Experience: Cheese and Wine Tasting
You will embark on an incredible cheese and wine tasting experience in a 17th-century cheese maturing cellar in the heart of Paris. On the agenda today: learning the skill of tasting exceptional cheeses and pairing them with wonderful wines. You will never taste cheese and wine like this again!

Ready for a trip to Paris? Our travel designers are standing by and can help incorporate these seven favorite classic French restaurants in Paris into your itinerary. Some of our most popular Paris wine and food tours include A Foodie Tour of Paris, Champagne & Bordeaux, Food and Wine Lovers Tour of Paris and Bordeaux, and an Exclusive Private Tour of Paris.

French Winter Ski Guide: Courchevel

Courchevel is part of the Trois Vallées the world’s largest ski area with over 370 miles of slopes and 58 lifts. It is synonymous with luxury and is a favorite winter retreat of both royals and celebrities. There are also fabulous aprés-ski options including Michelin-starred restaurants, wonderful shopping, and gorgeous hotels packed with amenities for young and old. Read on to discover the first of our French winter ski guides featuring Courchevel.

French Winter Ski Guide: Courchevel

How to Get to Courchevel

french winter ski guide courchevel what to do

There are several different ways to get to Courchevel. Because of ease and convenience, one of the most popular options is flying into Geneva and then taking a private transfer to Courchevel. The transfer time by helicopter is 30 minutes and by car two and a half hours.

It’s also possible to take a high-speed train from Paris to either Chambery or Moutiers. From Chambery the drive to Courchevel is just over an hour. From Moutiers the drive is about 20 minutes.

Lastly, you can drive to Courchevel. While this option might be tempting for those who like to try different ski areas, we don’t recommend it in case of inclement weather or heavy traffic.

What to Do in Courchevel

french winter ski guide courchevel slopes

Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, the most popular activity in Courchevel is skiing. With eight black runs, 34 red runs, 35 blue runs, 19 green runs and fun and relaxed ‘zen’ areas, there is truly something for every level in Courchevel.

The best way to discover the slopes in Courchevel is with an official ski guide. Guides can take you to the runs with the best snow conditions and that best match your level. Another bonus of using a guide is you’ll have lift queue priority, so you’ll be able to spend more time skiing and less time waiting.

view from the helicopter

Helicopter Tour of the Alps
To see the snow-covered alpine peaks like never before, consider taking a helicopter tour. During this exclusive ride you’ll marvel at seeing the Haute-Tarentaise, Mont Blanc or the Tignes-Val d’Isère area from above. Truly an unforgettable experience!

When it comes time for aprés-ski the choices are plenty in Courchevel. There are fabulous restaurants, sophisticated bars and nightlife, renowned boutiques for shopping, and activities ranging from snowmobiling to hiking. It’s impossible to mention aprés-ski without mentioning La Folie Douce, a popular spot between Courchevel and Méribel for an afternoon of celebrating. Even non-skiers will love Courchevel!

Where to Eat in Courchevel

where to eat in courchevel la table des airelles
La Table des Airelles

There is no shortage of delicious food in Courchevel with eight Michelin-starred restaurants.

After a long day of skiing, the best way to warm up and recharge is with local Savoyard cuisine, where cheese and potatoes take the center stage. Be sure to try raclette, a melted cheese scraped off from the wheel and typically served with potatoes and meats, tartiflette, a gratin-like dish made with potatoes, reblochon cheese, onions, and lardons, and fondue, a melted mix of Comté, Beaufort, and other local cheeses that you dip bread into using a fondue skewer. Two restaurants where you can find typical Savoyard cuisine in Courchevel are L’Arbé and Restaurant Le Petit Savoyard.

To satisfy everyone in your group, La Table des Airelles is a wonderful option. You’ll find a fabulous lunch buffet filled with all types of food: seafood, meats, cheeses, regional specialities, Italian food and an almost limitless assortment of desserts to name but a few of the choices.

For a special occasion in Courchevel, visit Le 1947. Located in the Cheval Blanc hotel, Le 1947 is the only three-star Michelin restaurant in Courchevel. Diners will enjoy Chef Yannick Alléno’s creative cuisine in a light and bright setting.

Where to Stay in Courchevel

penthouse apartment at les airelles courchevel
The Panoramic Terrace of the Penthouse Apartment at Les Airelles

Our favorite hotel in Courchevel is Les Airelles. The location of this ski in ski out property is perfect for both serious skiers and those who want to enjoy the Courchevel 1850 district. You’ll feel warm and cozy in this extraordinary property that truly resembles a winter palace. At Les Airelles you’ll have access to five restaurants – three on site and two on the slopes, a La Mer spa, a kids club, and unparalleled service including ski butlers.

ormello chalet in courchevel
Chalet Ormello

If you prefer a private residence to a hotel, we recommend the Chalet Ormello. Just steps away from Les Airelles, this nine bedroom chalet can sleep up to 15 people. Guests will have access to a private spa, swimming pool, fitness room, game room, and home theater. You will also have team of 10 people including a chalet manager, chef, butler, housekeeper and valet services at their fingertips. Truly an amazing way to experience Courchevel!

the children's kingdom at les airelles
The Children’s Kingdom at Les Airelles

Les Airelles for Children
Children will be delighted and enchanted by Les Airelles’ kids club, The Children’s Kingdom. The youngest of guests will be entertained with a fort, arcade, private cinema, air hockey table, ice rink, video games, and daily afternoon tea time. During the holiday season there are extra activities including dog-sledding, magic shows, pastry classes, hockey games, and formal dress parties. Les Airelles makes it easy for the whole family to enjoy the best of Courchevel!

We hope our first French winter ski guide to Courchevel will help inspire a trip. With the winter ski season rapidly approaching, don’t hesitate to contact French Side Travel to start creating your custom itinerary. We offer a whole host of itineraries based in the French Alps including a Ski Trip in Luxurious Courchevel and the Three Valleys, World-Class Skiing and Partying in Chamonix, and A Week of Chamonix Skiing with the Family

What To See During The European Heritage Days 2021

Each September during the European Heritage Days (Journées du Patrimoine) visitors and residents alike have the unique opportunity to discover museums, monuments, and private spaces that are otherwise closed to the public. These days provide a fantastic look into some of France’s most spectacular sites. This year, the Journées du Patrimoine are September 18th and 19th. We’re sharing some of our top picks for what to see during the 2021 European Heritage Days in France.

What To See During European Heritage Days 2021

The French Ministry of Culture created the Journées du Patrimoine in 1984. They take place on the third weekend of September see approximately 12 million visitors annually. One of the purposes of the Journées du Patrimoine is to highlight the unique stories, histories, and collections of the 17,000 participating sites. These places include embassies, theaters, hospitals, schools, castles, factories and more.

Because of their popularity, the European Heritage Days can involve some time spent queuing in line. Since the pandemic, there has been a shift towards using a reservation system. While not every place has adopted this system yet, more and more places are starting to.

The 2021 European Heritage Days theme is Heritage for All. There is also a special focus on railway heritage and the history of the rail in France. You can browse an interactive map of participating sites here.

Paris and Île de France

european heritage days 2021 paris

You’ll find options galore during the Journées du Patrimoine in Paris and the Île de France region. Some perennially popular places to visit include the Elysée Palace, Hôtel Matignon, the French Senate, and the Institut de France. It’s also a wonderful opportunity to explore places like the National Assembly, the greenhouses in the Luxembourg Gardens, and the Oratoire du Louvre.

This is also a fantastic time to visit some of the castles in the Île de France region surrounding Paris. You can visit rooms normally closed to the public at Château de Champs-sur-Marne, the dungeon at the Château de Vincennes, and the family-owned Château de Saint-Jean de Beauregard.

hotel cheval blanc paris
Photo: Alexandre Tabaste

New Opening in Paris: Cheval Blanc
Located at the edge of the Seine and few steps from the Pont Neuf bridge, this newly opened 5-star hotel is set in a renowned Art Deco building. Rooms have panoramic floor to ceiling windows with beautiful views of the Seine from the Eiffel Tower to Notre Dame.
French Side Travel Tip: Treat yourself to a gourmet experience at one of the four restaurants and bars in the hotel. You’ll find unique gastronomy and incredible views of Paris at each!


journées du patrimoine normandy

There are plenty of ways to celebrate the 2021 European Heritage Days in Normandy. You won’t want to miss the David Hockney exhibit in Pont l’Evêque.

At famed French interior designer Jacques Garcia’s Domaine du Champ de Bataille there will be a special evening program. Visit the fabulous apartments and French gardens illuminated by candlelight with a firework show to follow.

In Villedieu-les-Poêles, a town known for its copper production, you can visit the Cornille-Havard bell foundry. This is the foundry that produced the bells for the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris.

Loire Valley

chateau de chambord

In the Loire Valley, you can expect to see the Château de Chambord differently during the Journées du Patrimoine. All weekend long there will be special activities including visits to the chapel roofs, stone carving introductions, and a horse show.

At the Château de Maintenon, enjoy fashion over the centuries through an exhibit of the château owners’ clothing.

Lastly, at Château de Villandry you can tour the famous French gardens in a horse-drawn carriage.

Bordeaux and Southwest France

dordogne european heritage days 2021

Since this year there’s a focus on railway heritage, why not take a backstage tour of the Bordeaux Saint-Jean station? Other unique offerings in Bordeaux include tours of forgotten theaters, an ironmaking workshop and demonstration, and a variety of different cultural walks.

In Biarritz you’ll have the opportunity to discover the roof terraces of the Galeries Lafayette or to explore the fisherman’s port with a guided walk.

In Sarlat, many places that are normally closet to the public will be open including the Lanterns of the Dead and private mansions. Don’t miss Saturday night’s “Heritage Under the Stars” in Sarlat to discover the city’s alleys illuminated by candles.

Take a Tour to Explore the Périgord Noir
Sarlat has the highest density of classified historical monuments in France. As you stroll through the cobbled streets of the medieval city, look up to observe the architectural richness. With its history dating back to the Middle Ages, Sarlat has an exceptional heritage to take in. After touring, you’ll understand why famous filmmakers use Sarlat’s medieval scenery as a location for many cult films.

The Sarlat Market on Wednesdays and Saturdays is renowned for being one of the best in France. Fall is the perfect time to taste some of the Périgord’s finest regional produce: foie gras, truffles, walnuts, and wine to name a few!

To learn even more about these regional specialties, be sure to visit the Walnut Ecomuseum where you can learn how walnut oil is made, the Turnac Farm to discover the secrets of foie gras production, and the truffle farm in Péchalifour where you can taste and buy truffle products accompanied by regional wine!

Provence and the French Riviera

glanum st remy de provence

The Provence region is filled with activities for the European Heritage Days. In Marseille you can visit the normally closed to the public Château Saint-Victor. Another highlight this year is a guided architectural visit of the Marseille-Saint-Charles SNCF station.

In Saint-Remy-de-Provence take a “flash tour,” a quick 15-minute introduction to the building or a specific work at the Alpilles Museum or a guided walk through Glanum, the ancient Roman city.

Lastly, in Hyères there will be a sensory guided visit to discover the crafts and traditions of Provence.

The possibilities are almost limitless when it comes to celebrating the 2021 European Heritage Days in France. Each region puts its cultural gems front and center so that participants can have a deeper understanding of French heritage and culture. French Side Travel offers a whole host of itineraries focused around history and culture including the Provence and French Riviera Discovery Tour, the Highlights of Normandy by Train, and a Classic Tour of the City of Light.

10 Essential Loire Valley Châteaux

Thanks to an abundance of vineyards, orchards, and artichoke and asparagus fields, the Loire Valley is often referred to as both the “Cradle of the French” and the “Garden of France.” It’s a region filled with charm and history as well as notable towns, wines, architecture, and over 300 châteaux. We’ve narrowed down our picks for 10 essential Loire Valley châteaux to visit.

10 Essential Loire Valley Châteaux

Château de Chambord

chateau de chambord 10 loire valley châteaux

Château de Chambord is an exceptional masterpiece of Renaissance architecture. A UNESCO World Heritage site since 1965, François I built the Château de Chambord as a hunting lodge. It’s the largest château in the Loire Valley and most prestigious of the French Renaissance châteaux. Leonardo da Vinci inspired parts of the château, particularly the double-helix staircase.

From the terraces you’ll find incredible views of the fascinating architecture of the château and the entire estate. You could easily spend a day exploring the domaine on foot, by bike, or on horseback.

relais de chambord

Unique Stay: Relais de Chambord
Just a four minute walk from the castle, you’ll find this small and refined 4-star boutique hotel in an unrivaled location. With captivating views around every turn, you’ll get to know each turret and spire of the castle’s famous rooftop skyline.
Each room is unique and filled with natural light. Some rooms offer a view of the Château de Chambord, while others overlook the river, Place Saint-Louis or the forest. Guests can enjoy hot air balloon rides over the estate, boat tours along the Cosson River, 4×4 safari rides through Chambord’s reserve and more.

Château de Blois

The town of Blois is located in the heart of the Loire Valley. It’s home to one of the most iconic châteaux in the area and is also a recognized Ville d’Art et d’Histoire (Town of Art and History).

The Royal Château of Blois is a true synthesis of the art and history of the Loire Valley châteaux. The four distinct wings are a prime example of the diversity of styles and architecture over the centuries. Be sure to take a moment in the courtyard to admire the four architectural styles: the 13th century Medieval fortress, the Louis XII Gothic wing, the François I Renaissance wing, and the Gaston of Orleans Classical wing. Over time, seven French kings and 10 queens lived at this royal château.

Château d’Amboise and Château du Clos Lucé

chateau d'ambois chateau clos luce 10 loire valley châteaux

The Château d’Amboise has a picture-perfect setting overlooking the Loire River and the charming town of Amboise. It holds an impressive collection of medieval and Renaissance furniture. The council chamber and the royal chamber are absolute must-sees.

Amboise is also the location of Leonardo da Vinci’s last home, the Château du Clos Lucé. This relatively small 15th century palace was the childhood home of François I. The château is especially well-known because Leonardo da Vinci spent his final three years living here as a guest of the king. Today, the Château du Clos Lucé is a museum dedicated to the life and work of Leonardo da Vinci. You can see Leonardo da Vinci’s tomb on the grounds of the Saint-Hubert chapel at the Château d’Amboise.

Château de Beauregard

chateau de beauregard

One of our favorite smaller châteaux in the Loire Valley is the privately-owned Château de Beauregard. Built at the end of the 15th century and set on an expansive 173-acre estate, it houses an exceptional portrait gallery featuring 327 European monarchs, ministers, clergymen, and diplomats among others.

Want to Be King of the Castle?
Enjoy a private tour of the Château de Beauregard followed by a wine and cheese tasting with an oenologist. This exclusive experience takes place in the late afternoon on a château terrace. You’ll be able to watch the setting sun with a glass of local wine in hand. Truly an unforgettable moment!

Château Azay-le-Rideau

Château Azay-le-Rideau is perfectly set on an island in the middle of the Indre River. This 16th century is an early example of French Renaissance architecture blending French tradition with innovative Italian decorative arts. Thanks to both the beauty of the château and its sublime natural setting, Azay-le-Rideau is one of the most popular châteaux to visit in the Loire Valley.

Château de Chenonceau

10 loire valley châteaux

This prestigious château spans the River Cher. Château de Chenonceau is known as the Château des Dames because of the women who built, expanded, defended, restored and ultimately saved it. Built by Catherine Briçonnet in 1513, it was later embellished and transformed by the likes of Diane de Poitiers and Catherine de’ Medici.

Be sure to visit the garden of Diane de Poitiers, a “floating” parterre created in the Renaissance. You’ll also want to see Catherine de’ Medici’s Italian-style maze and separate smaller garden facing the lake and the park. To the north, there is an English-style Green Garden. Last but not least, visit the Flower Garden where you’ll find over 100 varieties of “cutting flowers” used for the château’s floral arrangements. Yes – the château does organize floral workshops!

Château Chaumont-sur-Loire

10 loire valley châteaux

Set the banks of the Loire River, Château Chaumont-sur-Loire blends defensive Gothic architecture with aesthetically pleasing Renaissance architecture. The landscaped English-style grounds offer a spectacular, unique vista of the untamed Loire.

Each year between the end of April and November, the Festival International des Jardins invites landscape artists from all over the world to dream up and create extraordinary gardens on a different theme each year. The theme this year is “Biomimicry in the Garden” which proposes ambitious and exemplary creations that feature fresh and contemporary scenes, aiming to surprise, give understanding and capture imaginations all at once. The festival goes through November 7th.

Château de Villandry

chateau de villandry garden

The Château de Villandry is one of the most impressive of the Loire Valley châteaux. While the château itself is beautiful, the extensive gardens are the highlight of any visit.

The château is best-known for its formal French-style garden. There are also several smaller gardens in various styles that are worth exploring. Our favorites include the vegetable garden, the ornamental garden, the water garden, the sun garden, and the herb garden.

Built in the early 16th-century, Château de Villandry was the last Renaissance-style castle constructed in the Loire Valley. The interior of the Château de Villandry, although less frequented than the gardens, is well worth a visit. Highlights include the kitchen, the main staircase and dining room (classified historical monuments), and the ceiling in the oriental drawing room.

Château de Brézé

Classified as a Historic Monument, Château de Brézé is unique because of its remarkably well-preserved troglodytic cave network, richly furnished rooms, and highly detailed neo-Gothic architecture. Many visitors come to see the “castle under a castle.” This nearly four kilometer underground route holds unexpected underground rooms including stables, kitchens, a bakery, and a wine cellar.

Stay in a Château at the Loire Valley: Château d’Artigny
An unmatched experience of living in a château and feeling the grandeur is what this 5-star hotel promises.
Located south of Tours, Château d’Artigny offers the best of comfort and opulence to its visitors. During your stay you’ll enjoy marble statues, a French garden, beautiful woodwork, and amazing views over the Indre Valley.

This majestic region of France begs exploring. Whether you want to spend a few days visiting from Paris or extend your stay to see all 10 essential Loire Valley châteaux, we can help you plan the perfect itinerary. Some of our Loire Valley favorites include A Loire Valley Road Trip, An Exclusive, Romantic Visit to the Loire Valley, and Loire Valley Wine and Châteaux. French Side Travel has something for everyone whether you’re interested in food and wine, history and culture, adventure, or romance and scenery.

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The 2021 Grape Harvest in France

It’s an exciting time of year for grape growers and wine lovers alike as the vendanges, the period of grape harvesting, has officially begun. Each year is slightly different depending on the region, mother nature, and the grapes themselves. Typically the vendanges begin in late August and can last through October. Read on to learn more about the process, how to take part, and how to celebrate the 2021 grape harvest in France.

The 2021 Grape Harvest in France

When is the Harvest in France this Year?

2021 grape harvest in france

Each prefecture must lift the ban on grape harvesting (lever le ban des vendanges) before picking begins. This date is typically about 100 days after the vine flowers. Ultimately, the harvesting date depends on the grapes. Wine growers monitor levels of sugar and acidity as well as the amount of tannins, especially for red wines.

Vendanges typically begin in late August in southern parts of France like Corsica and Provence and can last through October. Severe frosts make the date later and heatwaves make it earlier. The 2021 grape harvest in France will likely have a low yield. There were severe late spring frosts coupled with mildew caused by heavy summer rains and hot temperatures. Harvesting typically lasts for about 15 days, depending on the size of the vineyard.

This week, Bordeaux entered the harvest period with crémant, which is 1% of their production. They’ll start harvesting grapes for white wines on September 6th. The first grapes for red wines will follow between September 15th and 20th. Between September 20th and 25th the bulk of grapes for red wines will be harvested.

hotel de pavie saint emillion

Where to Stay During the Grape Harvests in Bordeaux: Hôtel de Pavie
This magnificent 5-star hotel is on the right bank of the Garonne river in the center of medieval Saint-Émilion. Rooms and suites are tranquil and modern. You will feel transported back in time surrounded by Saint-Émillion’s cobblestone streets and vineyards.

French Side Travel Tip: Be sure to make a dinner reservation at Chef Yannick Alléno’s in-house 2-Michelin Star restaurant where you will sample wonderful local wines paired with the elegant modern cuisine.

How Grapes are Harvested in France

2021 grape harvest in france vendanges

Grapes are largely harvested by hand. Some regions like Champagne even require it. This means bringing in some extra help – about 300,000 people in order to cover the approximately 750,000 hectares (1.9 million acres) of vineyards in France. It’s a seasonal job open to anyone older than 16 and is popular among students.

In some cases, machines harvest the grapes. Machines increase productivity and can harvest about 200 times more grapes per day than a person. They also run day and night, no matter the weather conditions. However, machines are less accurate and can sometimes damage the delicate grapes. Machines also require sorting to remove any grapes with undesirable qualities.

Participating in French Grape Harvests

participating in french grape harvests

Visiting the cellars during the vendanges can be complicated. Many wineries close for tours. For a unique experience, we recommend attending a grape picking festival. This year, for the first time, thirty estates in the Blaye-Côtes-de-Bordeaux appellation are inviting wine tourists to join in on the harvest. On September 4th and 5th, participants can cut and collect the grapes themselves as well as enjoy events around the history and savoir-faire of winemaking.

Celebrating the Grape Harvest in France

vendanges france 2021

There are many different harvest festivals throughout France. One of the first is the Festivini Festival of Food and Wine in the Loire Valley. Perhaps the most well-known is the Montmartre Grape Harvest Festival in Paris. More than 40 bars and restaurants take part in the four day event which includes activities like concerts, entertainment, tastings of regional and local products, dances, walks, special exhibits and more.

Where to Stay During the Grape Harvests in Burgundy: Hostellerie de Levernois
Set in the heart of the Burgundy vineyards, this 18th century manor and surrounding buildings were converted into a 5-star hotel. You’ll surely find peace and tranquility surrounded by a large park.
Motivated by a desire to respect the Earth, the Michelin-starred Chef offers a colorful and flavorful cuisine with respect to local produce.

hostellerie de levernois

Whether you can experience the 2021 grape harvest in France in person or not, it’s an exciting time for wine lovers. The French wine regions are diverse and worth exploring whenever you have the chance. Some of our favorite tours include A Road trip through Bordeaux and Dordogne’s Nature and Wine Country, The Best of Beaujolais, Burgundy, and Champagne Vineyards, and A Luxury Escape to Burgundy’s Vineyards. French Side Travel has something for everyone whether you’re interested in food and wine, history and culture, adventure, or romance and scenery.

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Seven Unmissable World War II Sites to See in Normandy

Normandy is a wonderful part of France. It’s dotted with picturesque half-timbered villages and seaside towns and is renowned for its cuisine. The region is perhaps most known for the historically significant D-Day beaches and memorials. We’ve created a list of seven unmissable World War II sites to see in Normandy.

Seven Unmissable World War II Sites to See in Normandy

Caen Memorial Museum

The Caen Memorial Museum is a great place to start any visit to the World War II sites in Normandy. This museum is dedicated to the history of the 20th century and a large part of it focuses on World War II, the D-Day landings, and the Battle of Normandy. You’ll get an overview of the events before moving on to see the beaches, monuments, and memorials in person.

Pointe du Hoc

seven unmissable world war ii sites in normandy pointe du hoc

Pointe du Hoc is undoubtedly one of the most impressive World War II sites to see in Normandy. As you walk through, you’ll notice numerous bomb craters and German bunkers. Lieutenant Colonel Rudder lead 200 men from the 2nd Ranger Battalion up the 100-foot cliff to destroy a gun battery located between Utah and Omaha beaches. Upon reaching the top, the rangers discovered that the guns were already removed. They fought back counter-attacks for two days until reinforcements arrived.

La Cambe German Cemetery

La Cambe is the largest German military cemetery in Normandy. When visiting this cemetery, you’ll want to notice the somber color tones, design, and layout. It’s thought-provoking to compare it to the nearby Normandy American Cemetery.

Omaha Beach

seven unmissable world war ii sites in normandy omaha beach

Omaha Beach is a main site for American D-Day history. On D-Day, it was the destination for over two-thirds of the seaborne troops. Many of the courageous soldiers drowned or were killed on approach. The Americans suffered over 4,000 casualties on Omaha Beach, making it the bloodiest of the D-Day landing sites.

French Side Travel’s Tours and Unique Experiences in Normandy
Want to experience the World War II beaches, monuments, and memorials differently? French Side Travel can organize the perfect tour for you to see the unmissable World War II sites in Normandy. We can arrange tours in a classic Jeep, multiple day excursions to dive deeper into the history with an expert guide, day trips from Paris to see the sites from a helicopter and more.
French Side Travel Tip: Weather in this part of Normandy can be unpredictable. We always recommend bringing extra layers and rain gear.

Normandy American Cemetery

seven unmissable world war ii sites in normandy american cemetery

One of the most emotional World War II sites to visit is the Normandy American Cemetery. Here you’ll find crosses and Stars of David that mark the nearly 9,400 who died during the Allied Liberation of France. Three Medal of Honor recipients rest here as well as 45 sets of brothers. You’ll also find over 1,500 names carved on the walls of the Garden of the Missing.

The design of the Normandy American Cemetery is particularly powerful as the long, regular rows of headstones almost appear to rise from the water below. In the center, there is a bronze statue, “Spirit of American Youth Rising from the Waves.”

Longues-sur-Mer Battery

The German artillery battery at Longues-sur-Mer, located directly between the Gold and Omaha landing beaches, offered great positioning to oppose the D-Day landing. The immaculately preserved battery is the only place in France where you can see four original artillery guns.


arromanches les bains

Arromanches-les-Bains is in the center of the Gold Beach landing zone. Here, the British set up Mulberry Harbor (also known as Port Winston), a man-made harbor assembled in Britain and towed across the English Channel. Made up of sunken ships, concrete caissons, and floating roadway, Mulberry Harbor was essential to the war effort. Over 10 months, over 2.5 million soldiers, 500,000 vehicles, and four million tons of supplies came through the harbor.

You’ll also find the Musée de Debarquement and Arromanches 360°, a circular cinema with archival footage from the D-Day landings.

Chateau d’Audrieu
Looking for the perfect base to stay in while exploring the historical World War II sites in Normandy? Try the 18th century Château d’Audrieu, a delightful property set amongst beautiful parks and gardens. From this hotel you’ll be able to easily reach Caen, Bayeux, Mont Saint-Michel and more!

chateau d'audrieu

The unmissable World War II sites in Normandy will surely inspire you to spend more time in the region. Our expert travel designers are available to suggest the perfect extension to your Normandy trip whether you want to focus on the Best of Normandy, a Foodie Roadtrip, or the Best of Normandy by Train. To extend your trip even longer, or start dreaming about a future trip to France, check out our sample trips focused on food and wine, history and culture, adventure, and romance and scenery. There’s truly something for everyone in France!

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How To Spend Two Days in Champagne from Paris

A two-day trip to another region from Paris is always a wonderful addition to any France itinerary. There are plenty of options, but a top pick is always Champagne. The region boasts some of the best of France: fabulous food, a unique culture, history, and of course…Champagne! Read on to see how to spend two days in Champagne from Paris.

How To Get to Champagne From Paris

how to get to champagne from paris

There are a few options for how to get to Champagne from Paris. The quickest choice is taking a train. Trains to both Reims and Épernay, the two major cities in the Champagne region, depart from Paris’ Gare de l’Est train station. There are five direct trains between Paris and Reims daily, and the ride is about 45 minutes long. There are nine direct trains between Paris and Épernay daily, and the ride is about 1 hour and 20 minutes long. You can also take a train to the Champagne Ardenne TGV station, although it’s about 8km (5 miles) outside the center of Reims.

If you have a little more time, driving from Paris to Champagne, either with a driver or rental car, is a nice option. It’ll take about 1 hour and 45 minutes to either Reims or Épernay depending on traffic. Along the way you’ll have the opportunity to follow the wine roads that mark the Route Touristique du Champagne. If you see an Accueil sign along the way, you can stop in for a cellar visit and tasting. You’ll want to stop in Hautvillers located between Épernay and Reims which was the home of Dom Pérignon.

Where to Stay in Champagne

where to stay in champagne domaine les crayères
Bar La Rotonde at Domaine Les Crayères

For a two day trip to Champagne from Paris we recommend staying in Reims. You’ll be able to maximize your time with sightseeing, incredible dining options, and of course Champagne tastings. There are a handful of recommended hotel options near the famed Gothic cathedral, perfect for exploring the city on foot.

For an extra special stay, we suggest checking in to Domaine Les Crayères. This hotel, set in a former château surrounded by 7 hectares (17 acres) of English-style gardens, is quite literally a dream. The 20 spacious rooms are decorated with classic French furniture and fabrics. They’re guaranteed to make you feel like royalty! Domaine Les Crayères has two restaurants: Michelin 2-Star Restaurant Le Parc and the more causal Brasserie Le Jardin. In the warmer months, you can enjoy a meal on the terrace overlooking the park. Be sure to stop in the intimate Bar La Rotonde for a glass of Champagne or two!

royal champagne hotel and spa in champagne

Royal Champagne Hotel & Spa
If you’re looking to stay amongst the vines, we recommend the Royal Champagne Hotel & Spa near Épernay. This exquisite property was once a coaching inn where French kings stopped en-route to their coronations in Reims. The hotel’s contemporary design blends seamlessly with its surroundings, and each of the 47 guest rooms feature views over the vineyards. Don’t miss the spa and the Champagne bar that has over 200 vintages.

Which Champagne Houses to Visit

ruinart tasting in champagne, how to spend two days in champagne from paris

It’s important to reserve your visits to Champagne houses well in advance, as spaces are limited and always in demand. Perennial favorites include Moët and Chandon, Veuve Clicquot, and Ruinart. We recommend a mix between larger, well-known houses and smaller family-owned independent producers. On a two day trip to Champagne from Paris, three visits to Champagne houses is a good number to target that will leave you with plenty of time to otherwise enjoy the region.

Timing and transportation logistics can be tricky, which is why we always recommend booking tours that include transportation. We offer several options from fabulous small-group shared tours for Champagne amateurs to connoisseurs, as well as private, fully-customizable tours that include unique experiences like a picnic among the vines, exclusive private visits and more.

What to Do in Champagne

notre-dame cathedral in reims

In Reims a visit to the famed Gothic Cathedral of Notre-Dame is a must. This UNESCO World Heritage site is where Clovis, the king of what would become France, was baptized. This event made the church a symbolic space where a millennium of French monarchs would be crowned.  A private guided visit is an especially great way to learn about the storied history and importance of the Cathedral. World War II history buffs won’t want to miss the Musée de la Reddition where you can see the actual room where the Germans surrendered to the Allies. Furnishings are all original and you’ll even find maps with troop positions still on the walls.

To discover the region from another vantage point, consider taking a private cruise along the Marne River in a beautiful wooden boat built in 1927. You’ll depart near Épernay and can enjoy a Champagne tasting, picnic or both while taking in the UNESCO World Heritage sites from the water. A peaceful, romantic, and unforgettable way to mark a two day trip to Champagne from Paris!

When to Go
Champagne can be visited and enjoyed year-round. Avoid harvest time in late September, when many vineyards close to the public. The fall months of October and November are a magical time to visit when the colors are beginning to change.

The weather in this region is mild and consistent, perfect for growing grapes. The temperatures range from the 30s °F (1-5°C) in the winter to upper 70s °F (21-26 °C) in the summer. 

French Side Travel Tip: The wine cellars are chilly, so pack a sweater. You may need it even on a hot day.

Where to Eat in Champagne

racine restaurant in reims
Photo Courtesy of Racine

There are fine dining options galore in Champagne with five Michelin-starred restaurants in Reims alone. Top picks for a memorable tasting menu experience include the 3-star L’Assiette Champenoise which serves organic, local, and seasonal foods in a warm, contemporary setting and Racine for perfect Franco-Japanese fusion.

There’s also no shortage of charming, casual French brasseries in the area. Two that we return to time and again are Brasserie du Boulingrin and Brasserie Excelsior. The restaurants feature beautiful art deco and art nouveau interiors and serve reliably delicious traditional French dishes.

Be sure to also try some of the regional cuisine while in Champagne. The area is known for Jambon sec des Ardennes, a salt-cured ham leg, as well as other pork delicacies. You’ll also want to try the popular Biscuits Roses de Reims. You can dip these pink vanilla-flavored cookies into Champagne!

After spending two days in Champagne from Paris we know you won’t want to stop exploring France. Our expert travel designers are available to suggest more easy trips from Paris including Normandy and the Loire Valley. Ready to immerse yourself in France for longer? We can help with that too. Whether you’re interested in food and wine, history and culture, adventure, or romance and scenery there’s truly something for everyone in France.

Need some help planning your trip?

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