The Grand Est, or “Great East”, is a newly formed uber-region in eastern France encompassing the former regions of Champagne-Ardenne, Lorraine and Alsace. It offers a vast array of culinary delights and delicious wines.
Alsace is a region with noticeable German influence that is evident in the charming storybook villages and its bustling capital, Strasbourg. Located between the Vosages Mountains and the Rhine River Alsace has many quaint Christmas markets that are a special treat for the holiday season, but Strasbourg boasts the oldest Christmas market in Europe. The area also boasts the Alsace wine road (Route des Vins) which has more than 90 small towns and villages along the route. The Alsace wine region is known for its crisp white wines and enchanting medieval villages along the route. The castle was built in the 12th century and was once home to the German emperor Wilhelm II who began extensive restorations in the early 1900’s to restore it as a medieval fortified castle,
Not to be forgotten is the WW I and II history in this area that was taken over by Germany and returned to France on two different occasions.
Champagne and can satisfy not only the novice taster, but also the most experienced champagne connoisseur. Try a tasting at a famous champagne house and then take a drive through the “Routes du Champagne” to explore this wine-growing area first hand. See how champagne is grown, bottled and even partake in a tasting of the bubbly.
The city of Reims is a good place to start your exploration of the Routes du Champagne. So many of the world renowned champagne cellars are located beneath the city. Reims also has a one of the world’s most famous cathedrals, Cathédrale Nortre Dame de Reims.
Because of our nearly four decades of personal and professional partnerships with French providers, we are able to not only offer our clients premium value for these indelible Champagne and Alsace experiences but also the opportunity to savor them in a highly personalized luxury manner. Whether you are a budget minded traveler or one with Platinum travel tastes, let Endless Beginnings create a luxury custom journey to fulfill your dreams.
Its soil is not rich, but from it grows a precious treasure. A wine born of the alchemy of a temperate climate, chalkyfields warmed by the sun, and ancestral know-how. The techniques perpetuated here were invented in the latter years of the 17th century, when a Benedictine monk at the Abbey of Saint Pierre d’Hautvillers had the idea of blending grape musts from various vineyards and letting the wine ferment in corked bottles thick enough to resist the pressure created by the genesis of the delicate nectar. The result was champagne - more than just a wine, an effervescent elixir whose fame soon spread beyond its birthplace to grace the tables of the world’s elite. "If I were not King of France, I would want to be Lord of Ay,” said Henry IV, referring to one of the region’s winemaking towns.
Centuries have passed, but the legend lives on. Thanks to its eloquent liquid ambassador, the name of the Champagne region is known around the world. The visitor who roams the rocky slopes of the Côte des Blancs or the Montagne de Reims in the summer, when the sun infuses the grapes with sweetness on meticulously pruned vine stocks, enjoys the experience of contemplating a genuinely exceptional terroir. Alternating smoothly between flat plains and low rolling hills, the land was in fact well known even before the invention of its emblematic tipple. Starting in the 10th century, the Counts of Champagne made their domain the most important commercial hub in Europe.
With Champagne inextricably linked to the highly esteemed sparkling wines produced hereit’s essential that the region offers suitable fare as an accompaniment.
Dining in Champagne often involves tucking into meat and fish produce that is delicious and filling, such as Agneau à la Champenoise, a stuffed shoulder of lamb accompanied by tomatoes. Other favourites include game dishes like wild boar, pheasant, and guinea fowl, while meals prepared with ham, salami, and barbecued andouillete from Troyes provide a taste of traditional Champagne flavours.
Equally as delicious are the fish and seafood dishes available throughout the region. From crayfish and trout to oysters and caviar, there is something to appeal to all palates.
It wouldn’t be France without a wide selection of local cheeses on offer and Champagne’s produce includes such delights as Langres, which dates from the 18th century and goes through a long ripening process. With a strong aroma and a salty taste, it is the perfect accompaniment to a bubbling glass of Champagne.
Chaource has an even greater heritage and has been available from the town of the same name since the 14th century. Produced in miniature wheels and having a creamy taste, it’s an elegant choice that rounds off a hearty mean and complements the fine glasses of sparkling wine that it is so commonly served alongside.
It’s no secret that Champagne is a very special wine. Surprisingly, how these wines are made is still a mystery to many. At its core, Champagne is an incredibly well made wine that takes dedication and patience to produce. It is a wine that is intimately tied to the “terroir” of the region, and each house’s unique philosophy on production.
Champagne is made as a blend of three main grape varietals: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, & Meunier. The process has its roots in blending, in which still wines of each varietal are made from different parcels of land and then blended together, creating the signature cuvee for each producer.
In some cases, the winemaker may be working with as many as 400 different base wines! Once the blend is decided upon, the wine is inoculated with yeast for a second time, and sealed. As the fermentation occurs for the second time in the bottle, the bi-product — carbon dioxide — is trapped in the sealed environment. This creates the bubbles that make Champagne so famous.
The wines age with the yeasts in the bottle for a minimum of 15 months, but most producers choose to age their wines for much longer periods. This length of aging helps to create the toasty aromatic signature of Champagne.
Each producer has their own signature blend. For example, Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label is a signature blend for that producer. However, the same producer may also make a multitude of other “cuvees”, including single-vintage or single-parcel Champagnes. Tasting Champagne is a unique experience in that both the land as well as the winemaker hold so much influence over the final product in the glass.
Asace runs west to east from the pine-clad Vosges mountains through some of the most beautiful vineyards in France, to the mighty Rhine river and the border with Germany. Changing hands several times over the centuries between France and Germany has only strengthened the independent character of this fiercely traditional region, where a unique dialect is still the most popular spoken language.
The food is out of this world and distinct from other French regions. A foaming beer is just as popular as a glass of wine, and specialities include not just foie gras and escargots but juicy ham hock with steaming choucroute, pike-perch poached in riesling and spicy gingerbread.
With the Vosges mountains to the west, and the Rhine River and German border to the east, Alsace is in a uniquely protected spot. Though it’s one of the world’s northernmost winemaking regions, it’s also one of the driest, as the mountains protect Alsace vineyards from rain. The long, dry growing seasons allow grapes to ripen fully. These grapes are filled with sugar and aromatics; when they are made into dry Riesling or Gewürztraminer wines, the wines retain lovely fragrance, delicious spice and moderate alcohol levels.
Sometimes, Alsace winemakers just let the grapes keep on ripening – and then make vendage tardive, or late-harvest, dessert wines. Sweet Alsatian wine is also made in the same style as Sauternes, using dried grapes affected by the Botrytis fungus.
Cremant d’Alsace, the region’s sparkling wine, is made from Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Riesling and other select grapes. With a light body, zesty acidity and fine bubbles, the best Cremant d’Alsace wines rival the sparklers of the Champagne appellation, 200 miles to the west.
In 1983, regulators created the Alsace Grand Cru appellation, meant to signal particularly fine production of local wines. To date some 50 vineyard sites around the region have been designated Alsace Grand Cru.
Taking inspiration from the Germanic heritage of the region, Alsatian cuisine is defined by its rich use of pork meats, with generous portions and meals packed with flavour. In addition, with Alsace having a long history for the production of fine wines – dating back to the Roman occupation – there are plenty of quality refreshments to complement the various dining opportunities.
With the French reputation for distinctive culinary flair, being able to savour cuisine inspired by outside influences is somewhat rare in the country. In Alsace, however, experiencing the Germanic flavours and dishes of the area is all but inevitable, with rich, hearty meals packed with flavour certain to offer an enjoyable culinary experience.
Pork dishes are among the most wholesome in Alsace, with traditional meals such as baeckeoffe (pork, mutton, beef, onions, and potatoes) and choucroute (sauerkraut with sausage) having been served locally for centuries. Flammekueche, meanwhile, is a notable favourite for locals and travellers alike. Composed of bread dough, onions, lardons, and crème fraîche, it is a famed speciality throughout Alsace.
For a light snack or an evening treat, the cuisine of Alsace offers something to whet the appetite. Bredele is a traditionally baked cake/biscuit often reserved for the festive period, which can be prepared with a number of flavours, with orange and cinnamon, aniseed, and honey among the favourites.
Alsace Riesling Grapes
Storks nest on Roof in Alsace
Avenue de Champagne
Moet and Chandon Cellar
House of Bollinger
Champagne, Gastronomique, Etoges
Pinot- Noir Grapes used for Champagne
Museum Restaurant Courtyard Alsace
Alsace Pinot Blanc Wine
Le Château d'Etoges, Champagne, France
Chandon Dom Perignon Sculpture
Moet Chandon Champagne house Epernay
A gentle cruise on a hotel barge is the perfect way to discover the very soul of Europe, exploring its idyllic pastoral countryside and historical treasures, discovering unknown France experienced only from the intimate access a barge can offer. Far removed from the hustle and bustle of city life, hotel barge voyages allow you to travel in luxury without the strains of packing and unpacking all the while enjoying a blend of daily excursions, fascinating cruising, exceptional Cuisine and phenomenal wine.
Imagine a romantic hot air balloon flight in France. Floating majestically and effortlessly over the prettiest regions including Paris, Loire Valley, Provence, Burgundy, Auvergne. Hot air balloon flights can be enjoyed by everyone as there are no particular age or physical requirements. Take flight in the early hours just after dawn or later in the day just before sunset when the air is still and the light is perfect for drifting gently, gazing down at the countryside carpet below, including châteaux, medieval villages, and vineyards. Finishing up with the traditional Champagne "toast aux Aéronautes" at the landing