A Sommelier’s Insider Guide to the Food and Wine of Champagne and Paris

Explore one of France’s storied wine regions with a professional whose job it is to know the Champagne region inside and out: Victoria James, once the youngest sommelier in the world. Now the director of beverage at Gracious Hospitality Management, the restaurant group behind Michelin-starred COTE, cocktail bar UNDERCOTE, and COTE Wine Club, James’s beverage programs have received a James Beard nomination for Outstanding Wine Program two years in a row. She has curated an itinerary of the only place in the world where Champagne is produced, filled with acclaimed, generations-old vintners big and small. Then you’ll visit Paris’s Left Bank, where Victoria will introduce you to some of its jewel-like wine bars, open-air markets, chocolatiers, and boulangeries.

We start our trip with time in Champagne, visiting the world-renowned House of Krug in Reims as well as some of the smaller family-owned wineries. And since there is more to Champagne than its effervescent bubbly, you’ll dine at a mix of acclaimed restaurants, including Les Avizés in Champagne. You’ll also experience the café in Montmartre where van Gogh would go to paint, as well as a handful of bistros serving the best food of the region. Between culinary adventures, explore Gothic churches, UNESCO sites, and fossil-filled caves.

Of course, no trip to France would be complete without a visit to Paris, where you will drink wines with a view to French gastronomy. You’ll learn about French cheeses and chocolates, check out the produce at the open-air markets, and be introduced to some excellent wines by some of Paris's most interesting sommeliers.

With an itinerary that offers meaningful encounters with vintners across Champagne and makers in Paris, this is a trip to be savored.

A Parisian wine bar.

Bon Appetit Culinary Getaway

A Parisian wine bar.
Photograph by Ditte Isager


  • Experience Champagne and Paris with Victoria James, a world-renowned sommelier, as your guide.

  • Indulge in a range of tastings across the Champagne region, visiting the world-renowned House of Krug in Reims as well as small family-owned wineries producing excellent grower champagnes.

  • Wine and dine at a variety of acclaimed establishments, including the fine dining restaurant Les Avizés in Champagne, popular local bistros, and a café in Montmartre where van Gogh went to paint.

  • Tour the gardens and greenhouses at Le Garde Champêtre, a farm restaurant built by famous restaurateur Juan Sanchez out of a passion for sustainable, local cuisine, then sit down to a farm-to-table meal.

  • Visit artisanal producers from boulangeries to chocolatiers on a morning tour of the open-air markets and food purveyors of Paris’s Left Bank.

  • Attune your palate to the nuanced flavors of French cheeses—and learn about the role of cheese in French culture and gastronomy—during an expert-led tasting experience in Paris.

Pricing and Details

Read on for the full getaway itinerary. In the meantime, some key information:

  • Dates: November 5–11, 2023

  • Deposit: $500 per traveler (required upon booking to secure a spot)

  • Price: $7,990 (double occupancy); $8,925 (single occupancy). Please be aware that airfare to and from the starting and ending point of the program is not included in the tour price. This gives travelers maximum flexibility in using frequent flier upgrades and selecting desired airports with no constraints. Agents are available to assist with reservations upon request.

  • Hotels: Reims’s Hôtel de la Paix (3 nights); and Paris’s Hôtel Royal Saint Honoré (3 nights)

  • To book your trip: Visit here or call 1-877-298-9677

  • Questions?: Reservations@academic-travel.com or 1-877-298-9677

  • Terms and conditions

Paris's Marché Mange.

Bon Appetit Culinary Getaway

Paris's Marché Mange.
Photograph By Joann Pai


Sunday, November 5: Bienvenue en Champagne

  • Arrive in Reims, one of the epicenters of Champagne production in the heart of France’s Champagne region.

  • Check in to the hotel in the city’s historic center.

  • Meet the group for an afternoon walking tour with a local guide. Once the site of royal coronations, Reims (pronounced rahns) suffered great damage during both world wars. Visit its 13th-century cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and admire the majestic Gothic architecture that somehow escaped bombing.

  • At 7 p.m., gather for a welcome dinner at Le Wine Bar by Le Vintage, a popular wine bar with a vast selection of acclaimed and lesser-known champagnes and wines from the region.

  • Included Meals: Dinner

  • Included Hotel: Hôtel de la Paix

Monday, November 6: Champagne: Côte des Blancs

  • Breakfast

  • Depart hotel on a full-day coach tour of the Champagne region, traveling through rolling vineyards dotted with villages and homesteads where sparkling wines are produced.

  • In the Côte des Blancs region, stop at Pierre Gimonnet & Fils, a family-owned winery that has produced fine Champagnes for three generations—and wines for much longer. Meet the family for a guided tour and a tasting.

  • Savor the cuisine of renowned team Stéphane and Nathalie Rossillon during lunch at Les Avizés. Both veterans of the three-Michelin-starred Maison Pic in southern France, the Rossillons design their menus in harmony with local wines.

  • On an afternoon visit to the Cave aux Coquillages, descend into fossil-filled caves to get a closer look at the geology that contributes to the unique properties of Champagne. These wine-aging tunnels were carved into the sediment of a 45-million-year-old sea; ancient shellfish and snail fossils are still visible in the walls. At the end of the tour, sample the organic Legrand-Latour vintages produced on the property.

  • Return to Reims for an evening at leisure.

  • Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Tastings

  • Included Hotel: Hôtel de la Paix

Tuesday, November 7: Champagne: Montagne de Reims

  • Breakfast

  • Take a private tasting tour of the House of Krug, established 1843, and learn how this world-renowned vintner weaves music and haute cuisine into the creation of prestige Champagnes—often derived from a single plot of vines.

  • Drive south to J. Lassalle, founded by Jules Lassalle in the 1940s and run since 1982 by three generations of Lassalle women. Sit down to lunch at the property and sample its cuvées, including its signature rosé brut.

  • Set off on an afternoon walk through the haunting Faux de Verzy, a forest of fantastically gnarled dwarf beech trees within the Montagne de Reims Natural Regional Park.

  • Drive to the village of Villers-Marmery for a visit and tasting at Champagne A. Margaine, a fourth-generation producer of primarily Chardonnay in the Pinot Noir–dominated Montagne de Reims region.

  • Return to Reims for an evening at leisure; Victoria can recommend her favorite bistros.

  • Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Tastings

  • Included Hotel: Hôtel de la Paix

Wednesday, November 8: Farm to Table in la Côte des Bar

  • Breakfast

  • Check out of the hotel.

  • Travel south to the Côte des Bar region, considered a secondary Champagne-producing region until the 21st century, when artisanal vintners began bottling their own wines, celebrating the distinctive flavors of the terroir.

  • Stop for a farm-to-table lunch at the Le Garde Champêtre, a railway warehouse-cum-dining destination created by renowned wine merchant and restaurateur Juan Sanchez. Here chefs Sayaka Sawaguchi and Gil Nogueira prepare delightful dishes using fresh produce harvested directly from the surrounding gardens and greenhouses. After a tour of the gardens, lunch will be served in the dining room or alfresco on the terrace overlooking the Seine Valley.

  • Continue by coach to Paris, arriving in the early evening.

  • Check into your hotel in the 1st arrondissement, just steps from the Jardin des Tuileries. The remainder of the evening is at leisure.

  • Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

  • Included Hotel: Hôtel Royal Saint Honoré

Thursday, November 9: Paris: Open-air Markets and Montmartre’s Secret Vineyard

  • Breakfast

  • Join American-born author and chef Charlotte Puckette for a food tour of the markets and epicurean shops of the Left Bank. Stroll past displays of seasonal produce, charcuterie and cheeses, fresh-made tapenades and regional wines at the open-air Marché Saxe-Breteuil, and take in views of the Eiffel Tower along the way. Then walk along the rue Cler, lined with gourmet food shops and florists that cater to the locals. A graduate of Le Cordon Bleu cooking school and a Paris resident for more than 20 years, Charlotte penned the cookbook The Ethnic Paris, full of seasonal French recipes influenced by the flavors of Northern Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.

  • Stop in at the Cave Vino Sapiens for a tapas lunch and a tasting of its fine collection of wines from throughout France.

  • Transfer by coach to hilltop artists’ district of Montmartre.

  • At the Café La Bonne Franquette, once frequented by artists such as Renoir, van Gogh, and Picasso, meet American sommelier—and Paris resident—Tanisha Townsend for a visit to the small but productive Montmartre vineyard. Return to La Bonne Franquette for a wine tasting led by Tanisha and accompanied by cheese and charcuterie.

  • Return to the hotel for an evening at leisure

  • Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Tastings

  • Included Hotel: Hôtel Royal Saint Honoré

Friday, November 10: Paris: Fromage and a Farewell

  • Breakfast

  • Set out to discover the nuances of French cheese during a fromage-focused tour led by a local cheese expert, Jennifer Greco. Learn about the time-honored processes of making and aging cheese as well as the role of cheese in French culture. Then select a range of prized cheeses to sample with fresh-baked bread and fine wines.

  • Enjoy free time this afternoon.

  • Raise a toast to your epicurean adventures during a farewell dinner at La Gentiane.

  • Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Tasting

  • Included Hotel: Hôtel Royal Saint Honoré

Saturday, November 11: Au revoir, Paris

  • After breakfast, transfer to the airport individually for flights home.

  • Included Meal: Breakfast

A Belle Epoque manor in Reims.

Bon Appetit Culinary Getaway

A Belle Epoque manor in Reims.
Photograph by Julien Capmiel

About Your Hotels

Hôtel de la Paix 
Reims, France

Set amid shops and restaurants in the heart of Reims, the Hôtel de la Paix offers modern comfort and convenience just steps from the city’s UNESCO-listed cathedral and other historic sites. Along with spacious, well-appointed rooms, the hotel offers a restaurant and bar, gardens and a terrace, as well as an indoor pool, fitness area, and sauna.

Hôtel Royal Saint-Honoré
Paris, France

A boutique hotel housed in an elegant residence, the Hôtel le Royal Saint-Honoré is within easy walking distance of many of Paris’s important sites, including the Louvre and the Jardin des Tuileries, the Place Vendôme, and the Opéra. Rooms are furnished in classic style with modern amenities, and the hotel features a restaurant and bar.

Paris's Saint-Germain-des-Prés neighborhood.

Bon Appetit Culinary Getaway

Paris's Saint-Germain-des-Prés neighborhood.
Photograph by Ditte Isager

About Your Expert Guide

Victoria James is the director of beverage and a partner at Gracious Hospitality Management, the restaurant group behind Michelin-starred COTE in NYC and Miami, the cocktail bar, UNDERCOTE, and COTE Wine Club. Her beverage programs have received a James Beard nomination for Outstanding Wine Program two years in a row, and she has received the rare Michelin Florida Sommelier of the Year Award in 2022.

<cite class="credit">Photograph by Alex Lau</cite>
Photograph by Alex Lau

She has worked in restaurants since she was 13, fell in love with wine while bartending in college, and when she was 21 became certified as a sommelier, the youngest in the country at the time.

Victoria’s name has appeared on many notable lists: Forbes "30 Under 30," Food & Wine's "Sommelier of the Year," Zagat’s “30 Under 30,” Wine Enthusiast’s “40 Under 40,” Wine & Spirits’ “Best New Sommeliers.”

She is the author of Drink Pink, A Celebration of Rosé and the international bestseller Wine Girl, The Trials and Triumphs of America's Youngest Sommelier , a Fortnum & Mason Drink Book Winner and recipient of the Roederer Chairman's Award. She also has contributed as a writer to EsquireCosmopolitan, Eater, and Bon Appétit.

In 2018 she cofounded Wine Empowered, a 501c3 nonprofit that diversifies the hospitality industry by offering tuition-free wine classes to women and BIPOC in hospitality.

A Parisian bakery.

Bon Appetit Culinary Getaway

A Parisian bakery.
Photograph by Ditte Isager


  • Double Occupancy: $7,990

  • Single Occupancy: $8,925

  • Deposit: $500 per traveler

  • Please note that airfare is not included. This gives travelers maximum flexibility in using frequent flier upgrades and selecting desired airports with no constraints. Agents are available to assist with reservations upon request.

Trip limited to 25 travelers.

Reserve your spot by calling 1-877-298-9677 or booking online. For more information, contact reservations@academic-travel.com. For terms and conditions, please see here.

Originally Appeared on Bon Appétit