Private jets, helicopters and sleek, modern BMWs — these are typically modes of transport we associate with luxury. A sleeper train is, however, perhaps not.
There are currently many luxury trains operating around the world. From Japan’s Twilight Express Mizukaze, which launched last year and features standalone roll top baths in its onboard suites, to the Belmond Venice Simplin-Orient Express which is the UK’s only luxury sleeper train, which hosts an onboard spa.
However the Champagne Express, a new train to launch in 2018, is unlike other offering out there, because guests are escorted off the train at various points of interest in the journey to experience the area’s best food and wine. This way to travel is all about taking the scenic route, with added indulgences.
Stopping at Michelin star restaurants and some of the most famous wine cellars in the world, the itinerary of this luxe trip incorporates all the highlights of the regions the train passes though from starting point Venice to destination Paris (and vice versa). The founder, former wine merchant Tim Littler, told Verdict that the trip is inspired by his years of travelling.
I did a rail trip back in 1988 and the places the Champagne Express stops at are the hidden gems I found through my own travels and exploration of the area. We pass through some of the biggest and best wine-producing regions in Italy, Germany, France and Switzerland and we only stop at the best fine dining, and fine drinking, destinations.
Both the east and westbound journeys offer different itineraries.
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The 12-day westbound journey starts with two days in Venice, before guests board the famous Danube Express.
This train is known for its luxury finishing and attention to detail — think private waiters and even an on board doctor.
The train works its way up the Côte d’Azur towards Grasse and then up to the Rhône Valley. Guests get to take a tour of the medieval village of Saint Paul de Vence and sip some of their vintage wines down in a 14th century cellar.
The trip also includes a stop at the Moët & Chandon estate, one of the biggest champagne estates in the world, which produces over 28 million bottles of champagne each year. Before arriving in Paris, guests visit the cellars of champagne producer Krug for another tasting.
Littler recommends the eastbound journey for those who have already made their pilgrimage to Champagne before.
The eastbound journey offers something a little different, and unique, for those who have visited Champagne to death already.
The 12-day eastbound journey whisks guests from Paris, up through France and into Verdun in Germany, and then on into Italy. Highlights include tastings across the Moselle Valley, which spans across France, Germany and Luxembourg.
This journey also includes a Chianti tasting in Florence and a visit to a Soave winery in Verona, before reaching Venice.
How much does a trip on the Champagne Express cost?
A trip on the Champagne Express is costly — tickets start from $12,495 (£9,465) per person. However Littler thinks the price is justifiable.
When guests first hear of our Golden Eagle Luxury Trains trips, they say that they are expensive, but when they leave us they always ask how we make any money from them. Exploring a region through us is actually the best value for money you can get. If you tried to organise such a trip independently it would cost you almost triple.
Both itineraries will take place next October and bookings for the Champagne Express are now being taken.