The Taittinger Champagne House was founded in 1734, and is famous for its Comptes de Champagne made from Chardonnay. It’s located in Reims, France, a charming, small city about 80 miles northeast of Paris, where winding streets are filled with cheerful people and endless cafes.
I visited Taittinger as a day trip while studying abroad in France. A friend and I took an early train and arrived in Reims mid-morning. We wandered around and explored the town, picked up some fresh produce from the open-air market, and found a park to enjoy our picnic of strawberries, avocados and the best mango I’ve ever eaten.
After lunch, we toured the winery. We were the only people there who weren’t a couple! We saw the cellars where the champagne is made and learned about the champagne-making process, then ended our tour with a glass of (delicious) champagne.
How to get there: I took a train from Metz to Reims to visit Taittinger. If you’re travelling from Paris or another city in Europe, taking a train is the perfect way to get here. The Estate itself is a within walking distance from the train station, but you could also take a taxi if you have luggage.
How to get around: Since the weather was so nice when I visited, I walked everywhere, but there are also taxis and a tram system in Reims.
What to see: The Taittinger Estate for a champagne tour, of course! We didn’t need reservations for our tour (although you may need them if you are planning to visit during tourist season.) There is also a beautiful cathedral in Reims, and it’s fun to just around the town.
What to eat: If the weather’s pretty, I recommend picking up some fresh produce for a picnic (you could also pick up a baguette from one of the boulangeries) and I always love finding a cute cafe to have coffee and pastries for an afternoon pick-me-up.
One of my favorite memories from my trip to Europe last year was my day trip to Paris in April. I was living in Metz, France, a beautiful city about 200 miles east of Paris, so it was the perfect distance for a day trip. It was the first time I’d traveled alone in a foreign country, and it was nothing short of magical.
I started the morning off with a pain au chocolat and coffee from my favorite bakery. I sipped my latte on the train and looked out the window trying to take in all of the beautiful scenery: beautiful pastures, little towns, fields and fields of yellow flowers. It was invigorating and peaceful at the same time.
Before I knew it, I was in Paris. I navigated the bustling metro system and found my way to my first stop, La Tour Eiffel. It was exactly like the pictures! Surrounded with cherry blossoms and people picnicking, I found myself a strawberry ice cream cone (lots of sweets that day!) and a bench to sit and people watch.
I started making my way to the Louvre when I got a bit turned around and stumbled into the Opera Garnier. I hadn’t planned on visiting the opera house, but I was enthralled. It was under construction, so parts of the majestic building were roped off and it was nearly empty. I felt like I had stepped into a storybook. Gorgeous gold ceilings with the most ornate details, marble floors and sprawling staircases… it was breathtaking, and it felt like I had it all to myself.
I spent the afternoon window-shopping and went on a quest to find the best macarons in Paris (Pierre Herme gets my vote!) I found a little corner café and sipped a cup of black tea while I tried all of the flavors (lychee and dragon fruit were the most exotic, and rose was my absolute favorite.)
After I enjoyed my macarons, I did a little shopping, and by the time I finished it was time to catch my train back to Metz. What a magical day.
Au revoir, beautiful Paris. Until next time!
What to See: If you only have a few days in Beijing, I recommend visiting:
Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City: Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City are must-sees in Beijing. I recommend using a tour guide who is knowledgeable about history and can help make your experience unforgettable.
The Great Wall, of course! The day I visited the Great Wall, the weather was overcast. Even so, it was an incredible sight. It blows my mind to think it was constructed over 2500 years ago! How incredible.
Local Markets and Shopping: Exploring a local market is one of my favorite memories from Beijing. I spent the day snacking on traditional baby candy apples and had custom shoes made (does it get any better than new shoes and sweets?!)
How to Get Around: I found that the subway system and taxis are the best way to get around the city.
What to Expect: Expect lots of crowds. Lots and lots of crowds. The first time I rode the subway in Beijing, my friends and I got separated from each other because we couldn’t all squeeze off the subway we were riding before the doors closed. Beijing is super crowded. The amount of personal space I had while riding the subway is about the same as I would have in a mosh pit of a concert. Just remember to go with the flow, stay calm, and have a plan for how to meet back up if you get separated from your group.
No need to tip: The government doesn’t allow tipping and locals normally don't tip in restaurants, for cabs, etc. (Note: some tourist attractions may be an exception to this rule.)
Incredible food: Take time to explore local cuisine in Beijing. Peking duck is wonderful, of course, and my favorite restaurant was Din Tai Fung. They have the most delicious jiaozi (dumplings) I’ve ever tasted.
Never pay sticker price for clothes: With the exception of luxury brands and international brands like Forever 21, H&M, etc., you should bargain when you shop. You can lower the price of items quite a bit by bargaining at markets, subway shops and even department stores. Negotiating the price is commonplace (and really fun!)
What to Pack: Money: Most places accept credit cards but it’s a good idea to have some cash with you, especially for shopping.
A converter: Remember a converter for your electronic devices and make a plan for how to communicate without using Facebook.
As always pack light and wear comfy shoes!
Thanks for stopping by. A little about me — I have a latte each morning and drink about 7 cups of tea a day (I'm not exaggerating.) I live in Atlanta where I'm going to law school. I like long distance running and I love my city and I love exploring our beautiful earth. I believe in being vulnerable, following our passions & being free.
I started this blog to document and share my favorite moments while traveling. This is a place where I process my ideas, share the aches and joys of my heart, speak truth, and shine light on the beauty I see in the world.
I've realized that what I probably love most about traveling is the same thing I love about writing — the way it connects me to myself and other people. I hope as you read my words, you feel connected to our shared humanity.
Thank you for reading. :)
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