Beginner’s Guide to
Touring Champagne

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Champagne is easily accessible North east of Paris, 45 minutes by train (TGV) or an hour and half by car, offering far more than just a chance to sample the delectable bubbles.

The historic towns of Reims and Epernay are often used as bases from which to meander the stunningly beautiful countryside. The region, made up of four main areas – La Montagne de Reims, La Vallée de la Marne, La Côte des Blancs and La Côte des Bars is a mosaic of stylish villages or “cru”, so take the road less travelled. The same applies to not limiting yourself to the Grand Marques – a visit to the famous Moet cellars is a must, but treat yourself to a visit to the boutique family owned houses as well as the grand old houses.

Some famous houses of Champagne to book a visit to:

  • Veuve Clicquot
  • Taittinger
  • Laurent Perrier
  • Mercier
  • And boutique houses:
  • Salon
  • Louis de Sassy
  • Duval Leroy
  • Bruno Paillard
  • Billecart Salmon

Best Time to Visit

It’s best to avoid harvest time, which is late August/September, especially if you want to visit the smaller vineyards. Autumn offers the advantage of being after the harvest while painting the countryside in gold and red hues, but it is starting to get cold.

Have a Plan

Before you set out, plan your route to visit the Champagne houses and any sightseeing you wish to do. Unlike many wine-tasting regions, Champagne tastings operate by appointment and not walk-ins. It’s best to book online for a tasting but be sure to build in time for spontaneous detours off your chosen route.  Wineries open in the morning, and most are shut over lunchtime. Either pack a picnic or aim to take advantage of the region’s culinary delights.  Drinking on an empty stomach is not recommended!

What to Pack

Bring trainers or walking shoes… Many of the roads are cobbled, cellar floors are uneven, and a wander through the vines is a must! Champagne is a cool region, so a handy jacket is essential as is a sunhat.

Champagne Houses not to be missed

Although Champagne has over 200 branded houses and thousands of smaller growers and producers, the real experience in Champagne are the grand historic chalk cave cellars, and none is as impressive as the cellars of the house of Pommery in Reims.

And don’t miss one of the best brazzerie lunches at Brazzerie le Jardin in the Pommery park.

To See

  • Reims Cathedral of Notre Dame

UNESCO-listed Reims Cathedral dates back to the 13th century and is considered one of France’s greatest Gothic masterpieces with over 2,000 unique gargoils and statues, tasked with keeping evil out of the catherdral, hence their devilish appearance,  adorning the exterior. It was the coronation site of many French kings and although it was shelled during World War I it has since been restored to its former glory.

  • Tau Palace

A beautiful Baroque place, it was once a sixth-century Roman villa, thereafter it became influenced by Gothic design and then the Baroque version we know today. The kings of France would stay at the palace prior to their coronations at Nortre Dame of Reims, but now it is home to the Musée de l'Ouvre. The palace is both a national monument and a UNESCO World Heritage site.

  • Troyes

Timber-fronted buildings, cobbled lanes, and Gothic churches, transport you back to times medieval. This scenic town is known for its art galleries, striking architecture, and traditional artisan workshops.

  • Verzenay Lighthouse

Spectacular views after the 102 step climb await you at the Musée de la Vigne (Vine Museum) which tells the story of Champagne production with interactive displays, touch screens and movies.

  • Avenue de Champagne – Epernay

The Avenue de Champagne is lined with magnificent Champagne houses. No visit to the region would be complete without wandering down this famous avenue. And stay over at Les Suite du 33 at the small but exclusive Champagne house of De Venoge.

Indulge your senses and savour every moment of the Champagne life in Champagne!

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