Wine Tasting Weekend in Lille & Champagne
This innovative wine weekend from Arblaster & Clarke Wine Tours, is in response to demand from clients who have asked to have more opportunity to learn about wine tasting, but still in a convivial venue and in the company of an approachable wine expert. So, we are pleased to introduce this short wine tasting weekend, conveniently located in the attractive town of Lille and also with a day out to the vineyards of Champagne (the closest vineyards to Lille). The day in Champagne will also give you the opportunity to stock up with some excellent champagne at cellar door prices before your return and to see first hand the “methode champenoise”.
We are based in a Four Star Luxe hotel in Lille (the highest accommodation classification in France). The hotel combines old and modern design, being built within the walls of a 15th century abbey.
Lille is the destination, as this city is easy to access and a good base to visit Champagne. Lille features an array of architectural styles with various amounts of Flemish influence, including the use of brown and red brick. Due to the size of its permanent collections, the Palais des Beaux-Arts of Lille is considered to be the second largest general-interest museum in France, just after the Louvre.
The wine weekend begins with our first tutored wine tasting on Saturday morning at 11.00 to 13.00 – this will be a guide to How to Taste wine. Then there is free time to have lunch at one of Lille’s many brasseries or Michelin rated restuarants and explore Lille. We meet again at 5pm for ‘Wine Tasting Part Two’ where Andrew Wiliams will host a further tasting of a range of wines. This ends at 7pm ready for the evening meal either at your leisure or as part of an optional wine-tasting dinner with the wine guide. (additional cost of approximately £75 per person, pre-bookable before the tour).
On Sunday we depart after breakfast by coach for the vineyards of Champagne. Champagne stretches from around Troyes in the south (in the sub-district known as the Aube), to Reims in the north, which is in the Marne district. The vineyards of the Marne are the Montagne de Reims, the Côte des Blancs (where the white grapes are concentrated) and the Vallée de la Marne.
We will have a Champagne tasting and lunch at one of the many small producers in the region that we have been visiting for the last 22 years so you can put into practice some of what you have learnt on Saturday. This will also give you the chance to stock up at excellent prices. We then continue to Reims where you have the option of being dropped off at the TGV station for return train to London via Paris or staying on overnight in Reims or in Paris!
Travel Options and Extensions
In order to allow you to tailor-make this wine weekend to your own requirements, we have not included the travel – though of course the easiest way to get to the region is by direct Eurostar link from St Pancras (the journey is just one hour twenty minutes) and then by TGV from Reims and Eurostar back from Paris. You can make the wine break as short or as long as you wish! Your choices are:
Catch the early train from St Pancras to arrive in time for our first wine tasting session at 11.30, and depart on a train from Reims (the current train we would be aiming to drop you off for departs Reims at 1615 and arrives into St Pancras at 20.30 local time – the March timetables are yet to be confirmed – these are usually published about 3 months before departure). This option makes it possible for you to have a short and fascinating wine break without any time off work!
Arrive on Friday at a time to suit you: an additional night in the 4* luxe hotel is £85 per person per night in twin/double (or £160 in double for sole occupancy) including breakfast.
Stay on in Reims on Sunday night: 3* hotel for £60 per person per night in standard twin/double (or £110 in double for sole occupancy) including breakfast, or you are free to make your own arrangements. (The Michelin double rossette restaurant Les Crayeres is open on Sunday evening)
or of course you could continue on to Paris and have a night or two in Paris at a hotel of your choice.
Booking your train: Transport to and from the start and the end of the tour is not included, you can book this on the Rail Europe website, to Lille and back from Reims via Paris. Or of course you could drive, then follow the coach to Reims on Sunday morning, hop on the coach for the wine tastings and we will drop you back in the centre of Reims at the end of the day.
If you would prefer us to book your train for you, we will be pleased to do so when the fares and timetables come into range.