Épernay is located at the Grand Est Région of France and is called the ‘Capital of Champagne‘, the drink, as Reims is the capital of Champagne, the region.
Hence, the best thing to do in town is touring cellars, vineyards and do the tasting of some famous bubbly around the area.
Most Champagne businesses are located at the “Avenue de Champagne”, a famous Unesco heritage site, that has beautiful buildings lined on both sides, including great names in Champagne as Moët & Chandon, G.H. Martel, Mercier, Perrier Jouët, Boizel, de Venoge and Pol Roger.
For you to have an idea, there are around 110km of subterranean cellars with more than 200 million bottles of Champagne in the little town. Having said that, the road can be considered one of the most expensive in the world.
Did you know that to be considered champagne, the grapes used for the process must be from this region and being under the rules of the appellation? If not, the drink is prosecco, sparkling wine or something else, but never champagne, although we call it anyway.
The grapes are harvested by hand and usually between late September and early October, but since 2016 they have been collected in late August and September, because of the intense anticipated heat.
Three types of grapes determine the champagne: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.
Each is processed separately and mixed between them only from January 1st, due to the laws of the region.
The town also offers an excellent base for exploring the Champagne Routes. Or, if you are not afraid of heights, you can take a hot air balloon over the Reims Mountains.
Other sights outside the town include Château de Pierry, Château de Montmort and Château de Condé.
Or you can do the tour called Ligne des Bulles, the Bubbles Line to explore the Montagne de Reims. It will pass by Rilly-la-Montagne, Ay, Avenay-Val-d’Or, Hautvillers and Épernay.
And if you are interested, 5km north of Epernay, in Hautvillers, is the place where, legend says, that the Champagne bubbles began.
There is no station there, but you can rent a bike and ride for about 30 minutes to reach the tiny village.
Épernay is twinned with: Ettlingen in Germany; Clevedon in the United Kingdom, Fada N’gourma in Burkina Faso and Middelkerke in Belgium.
How to get there?
From Paris, the train journey is quite simple, and it takes around 1 hour and 15 minutes. Or driving from central Paris, it takes about 2 hours.
As we went in August, most businesses were closed as it is summer vacation season here in Europe.
We wanted to go on a tour of the Mercier Champagne factory and cellars, but there were no more hours available, so we did it at the Champagne De Castellane.
The tour options between companies are different, some with visits to the cellars, others show the factory and the cellars, and there are also visits to the vineyards.
So, it is best to inquire about tours at the hotel or the information centre located on Avenue de Champagne.
The tour we took it lasted 45 minutes and cost €14 per person.
Castellane has around 6km of cellars storing the drink. But it no longer uses its dependencies for manufacturing, and at the moment, the machines are shut down and in disuse.
As you can see, the champagne route is an extraordinary thing to do in the area, and there is plenty of sights to see.We had a lovely day, and I hope one day I can come back to visit the other little villages in the area.
Don’t forget to tell me how was your day over there!