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Roll Call - Best of Eastern France - May 24, 2020

I just signed up for my first Rick Steves tour! Very excited!! Anyone else out there going? Hope to meet some new friends as we get closer to our trip. I'm traveling solo from Northern California. Picked this one because ancestry.com says I'm 40% French and, as you can tell from my screen name, I'm a big wine lover. Can't wait to taste those Rhones.

Thanks to the posters who have written trip reports on this itinerary. They were very helpful.

--Linda

P.S. If there's already a thread started for this trip please point me in the right direction.

Posted by
133 posts

I took this tour this past May and LOVED it. You will have a wonderful time - and the food and wine are amazing. Enjoy!

Posted by
25 posts

Hi, Jane. Yes, I remember reading your report a while back. You are an entertaining writer and included so much detail. I appreciate you including a link so I can find it again. Will be such fun to read now that I know I'm going.

Plumeria, so happy to know you loved the tour and that food and wine were amazing. Which one is next on your list? Can't wait til it's my turn.

-- LInda

Posted by
133 posts

Hi Gimme - you asked which is next on my list of tours -- I'm signed up for the Heart of France in April and then the Best of the Adriatic right after that. Looking forward to both. Enjoy your trip and the wines are all amazing that you will try.

Posted by
21 posts

Lucky you! We took this trip this past September and it was fantastic! The diversity of the areas you will see is really great. A few tips which you can take or leave :-)

When in Reims...if you're able to find out what Champagne house you're going to visit ahead of time, maybe survey earlier travelers and see where they went? We toured Pommery on our own in the afternoon before our tour, and then went to Martel with our RS group. Very, very different experiences and we were so glad we had the two to compare.

If you happen to have good weather and are feeling like you could use a break, the hotel we were at in Vaison-la-Romaine had a pool and it was sublime (Hotel le Beffroi)! The only touring outing we had that we didn't love was visiting Orange and the Roman Theater there. It was a long drive with not an awesome pay off. Of course all this is super personal but if a bottle of wine, some reading by the pool is your style, that afternoon would be the one to play hooky ;-)

As a wine lover too, we were so excited that we were able to buy and ship wine home from the two wineries we visited in Colmar and outside Vaison.

Chamonix had an awesome drop off laundry place and for 13 euros we did a big basket full of our laundry. Yay!

Are you going anywhere before or after? So much to look forward to! Enjoy your trip and feel free to follow up if you have any questions!

Posted by
25 posts

Katykrip- thanks for your reply. I’m spending 5 nights in Paris and then taking the train to join the tour on Sunday in Reims. Was thinking of doing a champagne tasting on Sunday afternoon. I live near Napa and Sonoma and have been to Mumm, Taittinger and Roederer. Would like to visit a smaller family run house whose name I don’t recognize. I know the tour visits a champagne producer but would like to do a second one. You’re in Champagne, so why not?! It seems that many small places are closed on Sunday so I may have to go to one if the big names. Any thoughts are welcome. Merci!

Posted by
1582 posts

Loved, loved, loved this tour 3 years ago in August/early September. There is such a variety of experiences from walking through vineyards to being at the top of Chamonix. It should be a little cooler in May, so your experience will be a little different.

We arrived in Reims on a Saturday. On Sunday, we did the Tattinger cellars and then stopped in at Martels. We waited until the manager (part of the family?) was finished selling several cases and then asked to try a flight. We opted for one at the low end and one at the top. He ended up sitting with us for about an hour chatting and having us try different things. We were devastated that he didn’t ship to the States, but dragging two bottles through the rest of the trip was worth every sore shoulder. Reims has excellent public transportation that can take you to some of the outlying champagne houses. There is a stop by the park near the train station.

We actually loved Orange , but it depends on your interests. Our wine order from the Domain Mourchon (which you visit while in Vaison la Romaine) arrived as promised and we still order wine from their Chicago distributor. We also carried a signed bottle of Chateau Ruilly, which I think you’ll visit during the Beaune stay, for the duration of the trip - but our Total Wine carries that in case you want more. On our way to Domain Mourchon, we stopped at a place that made olive oil and also had a santon maker. I wish I’d bought more of their fabulous lotion.

Each tour has tweaks from one year to the next, but I know you’re going to have a grand time.

Posted by
25 posts

Paty, thank you for sharing your experience. Sounds like this trip is the right one for me. I may have to rethink my packing strategy and take my chances with a larger suitcase! I guess I can always roll my suitcase with a few wine bottles up and down any stairs. I live in a three story townhouse and manage to do it all the time with my fully loaded 25” bag. Gotta remember to put wineskins on my packing list.

Posted by
4597 posts

Another vote in favor of the Roman Theater in Orange. It was one of the non-alcohol related highlights of the trip for us. There's a great audio guide that brings the theater to life. Loved it!

Someone mentioned the lotion from the olive oil/santon stop. The Mourchon winery also makes and sells a wonderful skin cream, made from locally produced ingredients, including from their own vineyard. I bought one jar (small enough to fit in your 3-1-1 bag) and liked it so much I ordered more. They don't have a US distributor for the cream yet, so we can only get it directly from them.

Posted by
1582 posts

Linda, we always bring collapsible duffle bags (think Nike/Adidas sports bag) that fold up on top of our 21” and they worked really well for holding the wine and carrying it up hotel stairs. The only hotel where we had to do stairs was Beaune, and then in Vaison La Romaine there was a long uphill walk from the bus. In the latter, the actual luggage went by small truck both ways. However, hotel rooms change from one tour/year to the next.

Posted by
4597 posts

Patty is right. We were on this tour this year, and our hotel in Vaison wasn't the one up the hill, but it did have a lot of steps and no elevator.

Posted by
117 posts

We did this trip a couple years ago in September. It was during the harvest from Reims on south. We visited Mumm—the hotel got reservations for us. It was nice. We also saw the light show against the cathedral. The last day of this was the first day of our tour but was cancelled at the last minute. It was interesting. One highlight was hearing the vineyard pickers singing. Loved this trip.

Posted by
1 posts

My Wife and I just booked for the May 24th trip! Very excited for our first trip to France! We're coming from Western PA.

Posted by
174 posts

This was probably my favorite tour of the 3 I've taken!

I opted out of the Orange tour in Vaison in order to take a cooking class with Barbara Engleberg (I think that's her last name, she's listed in the book) at her house. It was about a 20-25 min walk from the Beffroi, and definitely worth the experience!

Posted by
25 posts

Jane, Patty and Justin - thanks for your replies and valuable information. I probably will go on the side trip to Orange as I have a fear of missing anything. Your comment that it was one of the few non-wine related activities confirms that this is the trip for me! I will go unless a wine related activity presents itself instead.

Brett - glad to meet a fellow tour member. I'm from Northern CA so I know Western PA as Joe Montana country. (Go Niners!). The Kincade fire is about 70 miles north of me. My area is not threatened. by this fire. We only lost power for a couple of days. But we are holding our breath for the fire area as winds are due to increase tonight. Wish the east could send us some of their rain.