Where to dine in the Champagne region
Time Out says
Le Bocal - Reims, 27 rue de Mars (03.26.47.02.51/www.poissonneriedeshalles.fr). Open Tue-Sat 11.30am-2.30pm, 7-10pm. €€. Set just behind the fishmonger’s stand in Reims’s Marché des Halles, Le Bocal is a new concept eaterie with a menu made up entirely of the catches of the day. Don’t expect luxury – this a market after all – but everything is wonderfully simple and fresh. Look out for occasional exhibitions by local artists on the walls.
Brasserie du Boulingrin - Reims, 48 rue de Mars (03.26.40.96.22/www.boulingrin.fr). Open 9am-1am Mon-Sat. €€. Art deco frescoes and 1930s furniture decorate this traditional brasserie, which turns out classics such as snails, foie gras, lamb with creamy gratin, and crème brûlée. The service is a great spectacle – a ballet of black-and-white clad waiters dancing in and out of the tables. Order a bottle of Buzet (the only red wine grown in Champagne) then sit back and enjoy the show.
Le Café du Palais - Reims, 14 pl Myron-Herrich (03.26.47.52.54/www.cafedupalais.fr). Open 10am-3pm Mon; 10am-3pm, 7-9pm Tue-Sat. €€€. This handsome 1930s-era café is packed to the gunnels with art collected by the family over the years: paintings, sketches (including a Chagall) and arty photos cover every inch of wall, and the back section contains a stunning art deco cupola crafted by Jacques Simon. In fact the only free space is at the tables, and even they tend to fill up faster than you can pop a cork. Dishes include a giant plate of Reims ham, potato gratin and cheese; foie gras and morel mushroom pasta; and potée champenoise. But whatever you do, leave room for the biggest home-made desserts you have ever seen, including a rum baba that can easily feed four.
Château des Etoges - 22km S of Epernay, 4 rue Richebourg, Etoges (03.26.59.30.08/www.chateau-etoges.com). Open 12.30-2pm, 7.30-9.30pm Mon-Fri; 7.30-9.30pm Sat, Sun. Closed end Jan-mid Feb. €€€€. You’d have to search far and wide to find somewhere more idyllic than this gorgeous 17th-century château surrounded by a moat. The restaurant is in a lovely orangery, which in summer opens its doors out on to the lawn so that you can enjoy the sunshine. The dining room is a modern, stately affair, with a huge stone fireplace, high ceilings and bright silky fabrics. Expect top-end cuisine such as a starter of red mullet and mussel roulade in saffron sauce, followed by sage-infused rabbit and exotic fruit mousse with coconut meringue; and, of course, an excellent champagne list.
Les Crayères - Reims, 64 bd Henry Vasnier (03.26.82.80.80/www.lescrayeres.com). Open noon-2pm, 7-9.30pm Wed-Sun. €€€€. Les Crayères is the finest place to dine in the Champagne region. This astonishing palace hotel, set in a 17-acre park, is worth every euro – and you’ll be spending plenty of them inside the elegant, wood-panelled restaurant, where chef Philippe Mille creates fantastic dishes such as Bresse chicken en croute stuffed with truffles; oyster, lobster and langoustine ravioli; and sublime black forest gâteau. If you’re on a budget, book the business lunch menu (Wed-Fri).
La Table Kobus - Epernay, 3 rue Dr Rousseau (03.26.51.53.53/www.latablekobus.com). Open noon-2pm, 7-9pm Tue, Wed, Fri, Sat; noon-2pm Thur, Sun. Closed 2wks Dec, 3wks Aug & 1wk Apr. €€€. Enjoy some of the best cooking in Epernay at this belle époque-style brasserie where chef Guillaume Bachellez prides himself on his rustic chic cuisine that might include foie gras rolled in speck with onion chutney, a surprising but utterly delicious magret of duck sprinkled with sugared almonds, and a splendidly runny chocolate moelleux. The dining room is also rather appealing, adorned with beautiful 19th-century paintings.
Reims (and around)
|Transport:||By Train from Paris Gare de l'Est (45-min to Reims; 1 hour 10-min to Epernay). To dine in the countryside, cars can be hired at the stations from Avis or Europcar.|