Are you curious to uncover the origin story of its magnificent drink by visiting Champagne? Whatever your intention may be for visiting, Champagne certainly deserves a spot on your list while traveling to France!
The UNESCO World Heritage sites recognizes Champagne’s vineyards and prestigious houses in acknowledgment of their spectacular contribution to keeping the tradition of Champagne winemaking alive. This area stands out with its breathtaking views, humble wine cellars and notable champagne Houses – come discover them all yourself with the help of Winalist.
Are you ready to experience the renowned beauty, culture and gastronomy of Champagne? Look no further – this article provides a comprehensive guide for travelers looking to plan an unforgettable journey in the Champagne wine region of France and discover its best Champagne houses to visit. Whether traveling alone or with family and friends, this is your essential resource packed full of tips on how make the most out of your adventure in Champagne! So what are you waiting for? Let us take you into your champagne-filled getaway today!.
Where is Champagne?
Maybe this will come as a surprise to you, but did you know that Champagne is close to Paris? Yes indeed, only 45 minutes away by train, and about an hour and a half by car. So, in case you were planning a trip around Paris, a small detour is worth the shot, even for just one day! The champenois countryside and vineyards will treat you well.
Visiting Champagne: where to stay
Planning a trip is always tricky when it comes to choosing the right area to book accommodations. According to the kind of trip you wish for, and your personal taste, you can choose to settle either in Reims, Epernay, Troyes or outside big cities. The choice is yours to make!
Stay in Reims for a dynamic environment
The wine-producing city of Reims, just 45 minutes by train from Paris, is the largest of the region. If you are looking for a rather dynamic environment and sites to see just by taking walks in the city, Reims is your destination. The ideal place for your next reims champagne tour.
You will find a large choice of hotels and facilities in Reims. Reims offers beautiful sites to discover – among which 3 monuments are classified as World Heritage by UNESCO (the Cathedral, the Palais de Tau and the Saint-Rémi Museum) – animated nightlife and famous Champagne Houses to visit like Champagne Taittinger, Champagne Mumm tour, or even Champagne Pommery.
Let’s not forget to mention trying the Biscuits roses de Reims! To enjoy the true local experience, the traditions says you have to dip these dry biscuits into your Champagne glass.
Stay in Epernay, a cute and quiet village
If you’d like a quiet small-town kind of stay, you should plan to stay in Epernay. And even if you prefer to stay in Reims, Epernay Champagne houses are worth visiting while exploring the region. It is equally easy to access from Paris or Reims by train, located at about 30 km (15 miles) south of Reims.
The highlight of this cute typical French city is of course the Avenue de Champagne: a very unique-kind of a street, where you will find some of the most illustrious Champagne Houses, such as Champagne Moet et Chandon and Champagne Mercier.
The avenue will offer you many options: guest houses, champagne bars, tastings, cellar visits, thematic workshops, shops. You’ll also find nice accommodations in Epernay.
Stay in Troyes for time-traveling (and shopping)
Much larger than Epernay, Troyes is one of the historic towns of Champagne. Its half-timbered houses and its Gothic cathedral will transport you to another era! Also directly accessible from Paris, Reims or Dijon, you can count about 1h30 trip by train or car, and choose to settle in one of the city’s top hotels.
The city is culturally rich with its various museums and discovery trails of the history of Champagne. The surroundings of Troyes hide magnificent vineyards!
Special tip: Each summer, the region organizes the Champagne Festival around the beginning of August. This event takes place over an entire weekend in the villages of the Champagne area. Don’t miss it if you’ll be around during this time!
Shopping: you might be happy to know that the suburbs are surrounded by manufacture’s shop, where you can find branded good at very low price – thousands of tourists come each year to benefit from interesting deals there!
To get away, stay in the Champagne vineyards
Even if Reims, Epernay and Troyes are charming and typical French towns, you might prefer a more natural or rural setting for your stay while visiting Champagne.
Here are 4 villages in the Champagne surroundings that you might enjoy very much:
- Vernezay: in the middle of two hills, it is well-known for its historical lighthouse and characteristic windmill where you can actually spend a night!
- Sézanne: an open-museum in itself thanks to its Tour du Puis and special medieval dungeon.
- Joinville: a Renaissance princely city with historical monuments (Château du Grand Jardin, Nativité-de-Notre-Dae church), this village is a must!
- Ervy-le Châtel: small medieval village with narrowed stoned streets and beautiful views.
Things to do in Champagne: Wine-related activities
The beautiful champenois region offers you an extensive choice of wine activities, both from prestigious Champagne Maison and from smaller Champagne producers, all the more interesting when it comes to understanding the complete wine-making process.
With the help of our incredible partners, you can get access to the best Champagne tours and tastings with a few simple clicks! This is an unparalleled chance for you to explore the splendid heritage of champagne and plan your trip in no time!
Best Champagne Houses to visit
If you decide to settle in Reims, here is our top 3 best Champagne cellar visits in Reims:
Champagne Taittinger House
Step inside the door of Taittinger Champagne and witness one of the most beautiful house tours in history! Our guide interpreters will take you through time as they share with you the fascinating story behind this noble family. Throughout your experience, explore their cellars, partake in a variety of activities and uncover many more surprises along the way. Don’t miss out on such an amazing journey to discover all that Taittinger has hidden within its walls.
Visitors are very much delighted with what they offer, and particularly appreciated “L’Instant Signé”, one of the best visits to the Taittinger cellars punctuated by the tasting Brut Reserve and Counts of Champagne.
Champagne Mumm House
This magnificent Champagne House offers several tours and champagne tastings. Since its creation in 1827, the Mumm Champagne House has combined ancestral traditions and avant-garde to meet the requirements of the greatest tables on the planet.
Champagne Ruinart House
Rated 4.5/5 from Winalist’s guest, the Ruinart Champagne House is a true jewel of the French way of life. For more than two centuries, the family has cultivated the Ruinart spirit and is happy to share a memorable time with you while visiting their famous chalk caves.
If you settled in Epernay, make sure to visit at least one of these domains:
Champagne Mercier House
The Mercier Champagne cellars are among the most visited in France. In the 18km of underground galleries dedicated to the production of the precious beverage, you can enjoy several audio-guided tours aboard a small train, ending of course with a tasting. It is one of the only Champagne cellar tours in the region that cannot be done on foot!
Last but not least, you can find this prestigious Maison in Epernay and its vineyards around Reims:
Champagne Moët and Chandon House
The Moët Chandon Champagne House is one of the largest wine estates in Champagne (150 hectares). Perfect to enhance your wine trip, the whole team of Champagne Moët & Chandon welcomes you for guided tours, after which you will have the possibility of taste the famous Imperial Brut.
Can you visit cellars even if you don’t speak fluent Champagne?
First of all, don’t be so hard on yourself. Speaking fluently the wine language is not a requirement to enter Champagne cellar – or any wine-cellar at all! Most wineries speak English in France, along with a variety of other languages.
Meet winemakers who love sharing their passion
You might actually be happily surprised to see how much wine-makers are proud to tell their stories to anyone willing to listen. They love sharing their passion and that is why we like working with them so much. Meeting them is a true inspiration!
Experience the true “champenois” lifestyle
Why not go for the true champenois lifestyle and take the time to enjoy local food and wine during a picnic in the vineyards! You can even book a winegrower’s meal in a Champagne estate. Whether indoors or outdoors, this friendly time will make it a unique one and a highlight of your Champagne trip.
Wine tourism is both a noble and a fun way to discover a region, its specialties, its wines and of course the history of its craftsmen who work every day to perpetuate the know-how of several generations.
Things to do in Champagne: historical patrimony, outdoor and local events
Of course, visiting one of the most famous French vineyard in the world also means visiting cellars and tasting Champagne – but not only!
We have gathered here several other kinds of activities you might like to do, so as to give you a nice overview:
- Discover UNESCO World Heritage sites: Champagne encounters 365 classified monuments and 6 cities are currently labeled “City of Art and History” because they committed to introduce to inhabitants & locals the city’s heritage in educational ways: you will discover local crafts and learn about the art of stained glass and iron, meet glassblowers, baskets and knives makers.
- Musée Automobile Reims: if you are in Reims and you love cars, this is where you want to go! It is open all year long, including public holidays and Sundays.
- For foodies, Halles Centrales du Boulingrin: an extensive covered market where you’ll find typical French food, in Reims’ city-center.
- Nature and outdoor: with kids or friends, you might enjoy the great Lake Der, and go hiking to watch the 300 species of birds in Champagne’s trails. To gie you even more ideas, the official Champagne-Ardenne tourism website lists 983 sites to visit (tree climbing, leisure parks, and so on).
- Many celebrations:
La Champagne en fête: you will find tastings, wine pairing and musical entertainment.
Johannian Festivities of Reims: more history-oriented, it invites you to live the 33 royal coronations that the city has known!
Light shows: you can attend sound and light shows on the cathedral of Reims during the Dream of Colors, or on natural elements of the boat ride in Châlons-en-Champagne during the Métamorph’eau’ses event.
Logistics for a smooth organization
Now that you have a better idea on how to plan your French dream-trip, you might have questions regarding logistics. We are here to help!
Book your Champagne tours & tastings with Winalist
This is a must if you wish to do wine tourism. Visits, guided tours, tastings and any other wine activities must be booked. Fortunately, on Winalist you have access to all experiences offered by Champagne Wine Houses and local producers in just a few clicks: you can compare prices, locations and experiences. This is a very time-saving way to organize your stay in order to make to the most of it, and most likely to suit your expectations.
With or without renting a car?
In case you have a choice: do rent a car. Even if Reims, Epernay and Troyes are easily accessible by train from Paris, being able to drive through vineyards according to what you feel like seeing is a true privilege.
If however you are rather planning a one-day detour in Champagne, than settling in Reims and doing it all by foot and public transportation is already pretty fun and interesting! Read more on things to do in Reims!
How much time for this trip
If you wish to have a true immersive experience in Champagne, our suggestion is to at least plan a 3-day stay. If however your schedule cannot allow it, 2 days can suffice to already have an enchanted experience in one of the most iconic wine regions of the world, and the only place on earth that produces true Champagne.
Best time to visit Champagne
It is your choice to make according to personal preferences. Our suggestion is to come between May and October, knowing the summer is a particularly good time to visit the region. Late September is particularly busy as the fall harvest begins, but it’s also nice to witness this wine-making key-step.
One last thing
You probably didn’t leave yet, but before flying back home, don’t forget to bring with you:
- Reims’ pink biscuits: you’ll regret not sharing some with your close ones back home!
- The cork bottle plug of the Champagne bottled you tasted and liked most: it will carry the memory of this unforgettable tasting, and you can even turn it into a key-chain and keep it around for a long time. You might be surprised how many fun anecdotes this little souvenir can carry!