The Champagne area of France is unique, gorgeous and delicious and it has justifiably recently been made a UNESCO world heritage site. I propose a photography workshop in Champagne as well as custom-made photography tours in the area for anything from 1 to 5 days or longer. I love champagne and know the area very well as it where I unwind at weekends off and especially after a tiring assignment abroad.
I have been taking friends and family to Champagne for years and got the idea when I overheard some other visitors complaining that they were not given enough time to take photos. My open air and cellar photography classes in this superb and delicious are geared to taking great pictures. The best time of year for these trips photography wise is certainly from the beginning of June until mid October, although I did take a couple of keen photographers there in March.
Champagne is really easy to get to from Paris. Get yourselves there andI will take care of the rest. We will meander by car and foot through the vineyards that criss cross the hills on either side. In June they are peppered with people working as they cut back the vine after flowering. Having people in the landscape always adds a splash of colour and life to the scene. I have contacts with so many champagne growers that we can get up really close. In September during the vendanges (the grape picking) I can arrange for us to spend a day in the vineyards photographing the picking of the grapes all done by hand. There is a great ambiance and a fantastic massive lunch too!
As well as the beautiful landscapes, there are the villages and of course the champagne caves of which we will visit several smaller ones, where we can take pictures without being rushed. There are also the towns of Epernay and Reims offering a contrast to the photos of the vineyards and the caves so that all aspects of photography can be covered.
For photographing the caves a tripod is really useful. Long exposures at high f stops look good, giving the pictures depth. Out in the vineyards choosing different apertures and shutter speeds can give very different effects and variety in the images.
There is a cave well worth visiting that I include in my photography workshops and tours which shows a magnificent collection of shells and fossils going back millions of years. Historically this is very interesting and it makes for unusual photos that are none the less part of the story of champagne. La Cave au Coquillage is owned by champagne makers, and as with most visits, a glass of it finishes off the visit perfectly!
There are a few charming and comfortable bed and breakfasts that are much better than a lot of the hotels but these get booked up quickly as there is a general lack of accommodation in champagne, so it is best to reserve a trip there in advance. It is possible to spend just the day in champagne but it’s a shame really to do it in such a rush. The area is much bigger than one would imagine. There are three main areas to explore, the Vallée de la Marne, the Montagne de Reims and the Cote des Blancs, each one offering different landscapes and villages.
I have some great addresses for buying very good champagne too, at a fraction of what it costs even in Paris. Mainly though, is the fact that you can buy superior champagne locally at exceptional prices. Last year an Australian I took to one of my favourite suppliers managed to wrap 4 bottles up in his clothes and took them back!
Visits to champagne for photography are best between end of May to end of October.