Author: Sanne WesselmanA traveler, wanderer, digital nomad, and entrepreneur. A visit to the Champagne region of France is quite different compared to visiting any other wine region across the globe. Reims is the largest city in the region and Epernay is the town with the famous ‘Champagne Avenue’ (Avenue de Champagne). Pin it! “Remember that it’s really important to have a hearty breakfast, since you may well have your first tasting at 10 a.m. [before drinking all day], and you may not be used to that,” says Jenna Jones, from wine tour specialist Grape Escapes. I would recommend to start with visiting some of the main, world-famous Champagne houses. Owner of marketing company A to Z Marketing. © 2020 Condé Nast. Located due Northeast of Paris, this small region produces what may be considered the most renowned and recognizable wine in the world. Epernay is one of our favorite home bases for a Champagne tour. Most household name champagnes lean heavily on pinot noir, she says, so visitors’ palates tend to be accustomed to this style. Champagne is the world’s most famous region for sparkling wine, and it undoubtedly should be on your list of places to visit in France. No part of this site may be reproduced without our written permission. Peek through wrought-iron gates at Moët’s private Hôtel Chandon, an early-19th-century pavilion-style residence set in landscaped gardens, which counts Wagner among its famous past guests. To revisit this article, visit My Profile, then View saved stories. The best towns to visit are Reims and Épernay. And if you have any questions, just leave a comment below. Imagine the extravagance of a French royal coronation. Epernay is where you go to visit the Avenue de Champagne. Another popular one among the big names is Taittinger. You can visit all three in a single day, albeit with a little planning, but if you’d rather spend less time commuting and dive deep into a single region, Jones recommends focusing on the Montagne de Reims. Épernay’s handsome av de Champagne fizzes with maisons de champagne (Champagne houses). Explore Champagne holidays and discover the best time and places to visit. Don’t expect to be spontaneous, either. The tourist office rents out audio guides for self-paced tours. Instead, Brun recommends going in October and November. As mentioned, if you don’t have a car and want to visit some of the smaller champagne producers you can book an organized tour. This 100km route, planted almost exclusively with white chardonnay grapes (the name means ‘hillside of the whites’), begins along Épernay’s majestic av de Champagne and then heads south to Sézanne and beyond. You could make Troyes your base if you want to explore two lesser-known areas: the Aube, which contributes grapes mostly for non-vintage fizz, and the newish Côte de Sézanne, which specializes in chardonnay-focused plantings. It’s not the prettiest French city but it’s a convenient base and offers the most facilities. This article about visiting the Champagne region contains affiliate links. One major advantage to visiting smaller produces like these: The entire process takes place onsite, so you can see the journey from grape to bottle. Such familiarity also makes tasting more accessible, and it’s easier for a newbie to discern the subtle differences between the houses there. I would recommend visiting Champagne between May to October. It really is a beautiful part of France! I hope all of this information helps you plan a perfect trip to the champagne region. We gathered our need-to-know tips into this handy primer to help you out. The interior is a rainbow of stained-glass windows; the finest are the western facade’s great rose window, the north transept's rose window and the vivid Marc Chagall creations (1974) in the central axial chapel. © 2020 Lonely Planet. The museum can only be visited by tour; these are available in French and English. Pinot meunier is usually blended with other grapes; for example, it’s used with pinot noir to make delicious blanc des noirs. This museum is so outstanding that it’s worth planning your day around a two-hour tour. Or for a high-end hotel check out La Villa Eugene, which is a beautiful 5-star hotel with a pool, set in a 19th-century mansion. They offer a great tour showing you not only their cellars and vineyard but also all of the machinery they use. One of them is the wood-timbered Maison de Rhodes, right in the historic center. If you are looking to avoid the crowds, November can also be a good month to visit the champagne region. Our most popular newsletter for destination inspiration, travel tips, trip itineraries, and everything else you need to be an expert traveler in this beautiful world. Of course, the most popular thing to do when visiting Champagne is taking tours of champagne houses and tasting a lot of champagne! Bring sneakers or flat shoes: Many of the roads are cobbled, the cellars are uneven, and you’ll likely be picking your way through the vines. Logistics in the region can be frustrating. The first house to be established in Champagne, in 1729, is Maison Ruinart. The haunted-looking Château Perrier, a red-brick mansion built in 1854 in neo–Louis XIII style, is aptly placed at number 13! The site affords breathtaking, sublime views of the Haute-Marne countryside. Tip: depending on traffic or which public transport you take, it takes only around one to two hours to get to Reims or Epernay from Paris. If you have a car you can drive into the countryside to visit these champagne houses yourself, but otherwise there are also organized tours you can join. A few of my recommendations: … Public transportation is patchy, and taxi prices are exorbitant: Call for a pick-up from a vineyard beyond city limits, and you’ll pay not only for your journey, but for however long it takes for the taxi to arrive, too. Condé Nast Traveler does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The best place for aimless ambling is the area bounded by (clockwise from the north) rue du Général de Gaulle, the Hôtel de Ville, rue Général Saussier and rue de la Pierre. My favorite family-run champagne producer is Bonnet-Ponson. It refers to a type of bubbly, made according to specific standards, within one of the sub-zones of France's Champagne region. If you decide to visit both of these towns it is important to understand that they are not close to each other. Audioguides are available. It's set to open as a new Champagne museum in 2020. This is also used in blends or to make the light, aperitif-style blanc de blancs Champagne. It doesn’t have as many facilities as Reims, but it’s a great place to stay if you want to soak up that typical small-town French vibe for a few days. Visit the About Me page for more info. Two days is plenty for a first visit, according to Caroline Brun, one of the area's foremost guides. Plus, they are quite unique in producing organic champagne! | Champagne arouses the senses: the eyes feast on vines parading up hillsides and vertical processions of tiny, sparkling bubbles; the nose breathes in damp soil and the heavenly bouquet of fermentation; the ears rejoice at the clink of glasses and the barely audible fizz; and the palate tingles with every sip.