If you’re spending a day in Chablis, France, then you’re probably wondering how to maximize your time there. After my last trip to this beautiful village, I compiled a list of my favorite things to do in Chablis that combine both food and wine. After all, you’re not going to Chablis to go visit museums or galleries, are you?
But why am I the right person to tell you where to go and what to do in Chablis? Well, first of all, I’ve lived in France for over 10 years and am a French citizen. I speak the language fluently and know how to avoid pesky tourist traps. I’ve also got a certification in wine (WSET level 2 and I’m currently working on level 3) and professional cooking (from the renowned Ferrandi cooking school in Paris). I’m passionate about organic, natural, and biodynamic wines, and love nothing more than eating and drinking my way through a new place.
Which brings me to Chablis.
Not only is it an absolutely beautiful, quaint village, but the food and wines are known throughout the world. It’s a great place to go on a day trip to stock up on Chablis wines and take in the beautiful scenery.
What kind of wine is there in Chablis?
Chablis is in Burgundy, a mere 2-hour drive from Paris. In Burgundy, the only authorized grape for making white wines according to the appellation is Chardonnay. Chablis is known for producing exceptional white wines that are typically dry, crisp, mineral, and almost saline, with predominantly citrus or white fruit aromas (pear, apple, etc.). That makes them perfect for serving with seafood, fish, oysters, clams, or even just on their own for aperitif.
So obviously, the main thing to do in Chablis is: taste wine!
And here you have two options that I highly recommend:
1. Head to a scenic wine bar with local nibbles: Marguerite de Chablis
This beautiful wine bar is in the middle of the village, in an ancient home that sits on top of the river. That means you get to sit right on the water, enjoying wonderful, inexpensive local Chablis wines by the glass, paired with freshly prepared sweet and savory bites that perfectly complement your drink. And on a sunny day, it honestly can’t get much better than that!
2. Taste wines at one of the local chateaus or domaines
My personal favorite that I highly, highly recommend is Jean-Marc Brocard.
Jean-Marc Brocard was one of the first winemakers to produce organic and later biodynamic wines in Chablis. Since 1973, Jean-Marc and his family have been growing Chardonnay grapes that fall under the following appellations: Chablis Grand Cru, Chablis Premier Cru, Chablis Village, and Petit Chablis.
When you drive up to their winery in Préhy located a mere 5-minutes from Chablis, you’ll notice that it sits on top of a small hill that boasts stunning views of the vineyards below. It’s also right next to an ancient church called Notre Dame that is absolutely worth checking out, too.
At Jean-Marc Brocard, you can do a full wine tasting to sample most of the wines that they produce, without having to pay (like you have to at most, more ‘commercial’ wineries in Chablis). Not only is the tasting free, but the people who work there (who are mostly family members), are absolutely lovely: they’ll explain the wines in a simple yet expert manner so that even the most amateur wine-lovers can understand the history and philosophy behind them. They’ll bring paper and pencils for kids to color, chairs for older people to sit down if they want to, and even the occasional gougere to nibble on. They truly seem to care about the clients that are coming to taste their wines, about transmitting their passion and know-how and making sure that everyone, wine-lover or not, enjoys their tasting.
Now I’ve done a lot of wine tastings in France at a lot of Chateaus, and I have to say that this kind of tasting is becoming very rare in France. You have more and more overly commercialized tastings (especially in places like Reims, for example), where it’s less about communicating with customers and more about bringing in as many people as possible, as fast as possible, and getting them to buy as much as possible. And at Jean-Marc Brocard, it was the total opposite: they don’t push you to buy bottles, they don’t make you pay for the tasting, and they really take wonderful care of you. Places like this are truly hidden gems, and I highly recommend visiting them if you get the chance to.
My wine recommendation at Jean-Marc Brocard:
My personal favorites were the VV46 and the 7eme, which were also very appropriately priced given the quality. The cheapest bottles here start at 11 euros and can go up to around 60 euros. But for approximately 15 euros a bottle you can walk away with exceptional Chablis that’s both organic and biodynamic. And that my friends, is a steal!
3. Eat gougeres
The last thing that you absolutely MUST do in Chablis is eat gougeres!
Did you know that gougeres are a specialty from Chablis? They’re little circles of pate a choux (so the same dough as for eclairs and cream puffs or chouquettes), that have a little bit of grated cheese in the middle. They’re light and airy with a delicate flavor of cheese, making them the perfect snack for washing down glasses of white Chablis 😉
Visit any restaurant or bar in Chablis and most places will either serve you complimentary gougeres for aperitif (which is way better than peanuts if you ask me!), or will feature some sort of gougeres on their menu.
So there you have it, my favorite things to do in Chablis! I’d love to know if you have a favorite restaurant or wine tasting that you can recommend. Let me know in the comments or on Instagram @gitanjaliroche!