Guide to Champagne Region France – where to go, what to do
Champagne has been associated with celebration and luxury for hundreds of years.
Over the centuries, the kings of France that were crowned in Reims Cathedral would celebrate with a glass of champagne; champagne was often used as gifts for royalty.
There are around 14,000 winegrowers in the Champagne wine region and more than 320 million bottles are sold a year (and demand is growing to the point that it may exceed supply!)
The Champagne region is the only area in the world that can legally produce and market bottles labelled ‘champagne’, and there are specific laws in place that govern where and how the grapes are grown.
Enjoying french champagne
If you’ve never been to Champagne before, we’d highly recommend it – especially if you’re coming to Paris as it can be a great little side trip.
If this is your first time to Champagne, you’ll want to visit a few of the famous wine houses…you can sample the finest champagnes in the world. Expect to be dazzled! After all, you’re in one of the most famous wine regions of France.
There’s another side to Champagne though, which we encourage you to explore; smaller, little known and family run producers, which we’d like to introduce to you as well.
Where to Start?
Champagne Region France:
The Famous Champagne Houses
The most well known wine growing areas in Champagne are around the cities of Epernay and Reims, in the Marne departement (district):
- Montagne de Reims (south of Reims – Pinot Noirs)
- Cote des Blancs (south of Epernay, Chardonnay)
- Marne Valley (west of Epernay, Pinot Meunier).
Reims and Epernay are the official ‘twin capitals’ of Champagne.
In Reims, you’ll need a car to get around as the champagne houses tend to be spread out.
Epernay, just south of Reims, has most of the famous champagne houses on or near the Avenue de Champagne and can be explored mostly on foot.
Here are their contact details to get you started; we’d suggest getting in touch with them by email (or phone) to confirm opening days/times and in case you need to book advance.
9, Place Saint-Nicaise
1 Place des Droits-de-l’Homme
Moet and Chandon
#18 Avenue de Champagne
#68-70 Avenue de Champagne
Lesser known champagne routes with smaller scale producers are worth seeking out – you’ll find they’re much more down to earth and friendly.
One of the best places to do this is in the departement of Aube en Champagne – the Côte des Bar trail. This runs south of Reims, from Bar-sur-Aube down to Bar-sur-Seine and Les Riceys. The countryside is pretty – forests, lakes and rolling hills, sleepy villages and rivers.
You could visit the area as a day trip from Paris (about 1.5hrs drive south east of Paris; or you could base yourself in Troyes, the medieval capital of Champagne and worth a visit in itself for its wonderful collection of medieval and renaissance half-timbered buildings.
Some producers allow casual visits; with others you’ll need to phone ahead and book. It’s best to avoid Sundays; and in September it’s harvest time so some of them could be closed to visitors.
You can pick up a map of this wine route and contact details of producers in the area, from the Aube Champagne website (select info and brochures on the left hand menu).
Map of Champagne Region France
Here is a map of the champagne region of France, with markers indicating the Aube wine route, as well as Reims and Epernay.