The Champagne region is an area of France best known for its sparkling wines of the same name – champagne! It is a place of rolling hills and vineyards, crisscrossed with picturesque towns and historical monuments. A visit to Champagne can be an unforgettable experience, as there are many things to explore, from tasting some of the world’s finest bubbly wines to taking in the iconic French countryside.
This guide is all you need to plan your perfect trip for visiting Champagne in France. We’ll explore the best sights, experiences and wines the area offers, from a day exploring the vineyards of Épernay to an evening sampling some of Reims’ finest sparklers.
So whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway or an adventure of epic proportions, this guide has you covered. Here is our ultimate guide to visiting the Champagne region.
Show Table of Contents
- The Down-Low on the Champagne Region
- Transportation Options for the Champagne Region
- Best Places to Stay in the Region
- Chateau de Sacy
- The Most Iconic Champagne Houses to Visit
- Moët & Chandon
- Veuve Clicquot
- Maison Michel Gonet – Villa Signolle
- Tips for Visiting the Champagne Region
- Tip 1: Make an Appointment
- Tip 2: Dress the Part
- Tip 3: Learn a Little French!
- Tip 4: Know When to Book Your Holiday
- Tip 5: What to Pack for Your French Champagne House Adventure
- What is the Champagne wine region known for?
- What is the difference between champagne and sparkling wine?
- Is it better to stay in Reims or Épernay?
The Down-Low on the Champagne Region
The Champagne wine region is divided into five distinct areas: Montagne de Reims, Vallée de la Marne, Côte des Blancs, Côte de Sézanne, and Côte des Bar. Each of these regions produces its own unique style of sparkling wine, so it’s a good idea to explore the different areas to understand the local wines.
Montagne de Reims is home to some of the finest pinot noir in France and is known for producing powerful, full-bodied champagnes. Perhaps the most well-known part of the Champagne wine region, the world’s oldest and most prestigious champagne houses are found here.
Vallée de la Marne produces a range of rich and fruity wines with slight sweetness. Vallée de la Marne produces lighter champagnes with a touch of acidity and a fruity flavor.
The area is known for its vineyards that fan out along the winding river and produce some excellent wines. It is locally known as the Pinot Meunier Territory.
Côte des Blancs focuses on champagnes using chardonnay grapes. The chardonnay grape here produces some of the most elegant and aromatically complex champagnes in the world.
Côte de Sézanne is often clustered together with Côte des blancs, as it is mainly comprised of chardonnay grapes. The wines tend to be softer than the other, similar whites.
Côte des Bar is the smallest of the five regions and is known for its pinot noir–focused champagnes. The region produces some of the oldest and most expensive wines in Champagne and is considered an area specializing in top-end, complex wines.
Transportation Options for the Champagne Region
Your Champagne wine region tour is going to begin in Paris, France. This is the City of Love, but it’s also the biggest commuter hub in the country. No matter where you’re flying in from, it’s often best to fly into Paris and then navigate to other parts of the country.
The quaint village of Sacy is just a short 2-hour drive from the heart of Paris. The drive takes you along a scenic highway showing off some of France’s best countryside.
There are no direct train routes between Paris and Sacy. If you’re looking to enjoy a cozy train adventure at the start of your wine tour, you will have to connect to another city to travel from Paris to Sacy by train. There are many FlixBus options between Paris and Reims for those not looking to rent a car.
For the best all-around experience, we recommend a day trip to Champagne with eight tastings and lunch. On this popular and highly-rated tour, you will be picked up from your hotel in Paris before being whisked away in an air-conditioned minivan to the Champagne region. Accompanied by your expert guide, you’ll visit at least two champagne houses and taste eight different wines, as well as enjoy a traditional French lunch.
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Best Places to Stay in the Region
Now that you’ve decided between a day trip or overnight stay, let’s get into some of the most popular accommodation options: no trip to the Champagne wine region is complete without finding some iconic places to stay. There’s no shortage of options when it comes to finding lodging in French wine country.
You’ll have your pick of everything from romantic chateaus to cozy bed and breakfasts throughout the area. These are some of the best places to rest your head after a busy day of sipping wine at some of France’s most historic vineyards.
Chateau de Sacy
Located in the heart of Montagne de Reims, the Chateau de Sacy is one of the best places to stay in all of France. It’s the perfect getaway if you want to explore the best of what the Champagne region offers.
Chateau de Sacy has breathtaking rooms that are something out of a storybook. They have options for couples looking for a romantic escape and spaces perfect for a family vacation.
At Chateau de Sacy, you’ll never run out of things to do. This chateau offers on-site yoga classes, a restaurant, and even hot air balloon rides! You can take in the best culture that Sacy and Reims have to offer, including seeing the opera or even learning how to open a champagne bottle with a saber!
Speaking of the Chateau de Sacy restaurant, I hope you’re ready for the best meal of your life. This delicious French restaurant has more than just high-end French cuisine; it also features a complete 360-degree view of Chateau de Sacy’s vineyard.
The Chateau de Sacy is known for its rich history and refined culture. This chateau celebrates women’s achievements in the history of French wine. If you’re looking to dive into the region’s unique history, there’s no better place to stay!
Located in the Montagne de Reims region, the city of the same name is considered the champagne capital of France. Reims is home to some of the most prestigious champagne houses in the area, and it’s a significant tourist hub full of excitement, entertainment, and everything you need to tour the local wineries.
Whether staying at the Chateau de Sacy or in Reims, you’ll be a short distance away from some of the best vintage champagne in the world. You can tour vineyards, explore historic wine cellars, and go on the champagne tasting of a lifetime!
Reims is also home to some breathtaking architecture. The Reims Cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage Site frequented by celebrities, artists, and the French nobility. The cathedral is home to over 2,000 statues and will make an ideal location to snap some trendy pics!
Reims also features some elegant vacation stays that are also budget-friendly. You’ll be breaking seals on bottles of bubbly, not your wallet when you stay in Reims! Hôtel Cecyl is a charming spot to stay in the center of Reims. The cozy rooms welcome you back after a long day of exploring.
For those looking to splurge a little, La Caserne Chanzy Hotel & Spa is a beautiful hotel in the town center, complete with a pool and spa to make the most of your luxurious stay.
Épernay is the ideal French village for fans of champagne history! Epernay has grown into a respectable city in its own right, but the main street is still rich with a historical presence. The narrow European-style streets and irregular buildings are something out of a fairy tale, making it a great base for your Champagne tours.
If you’re in Épernay, you have to visit the historic Avenue de Champagne! This avenue lives up to its namesake and is home to some of the world’s best champagne businesses. Épernay is also home to many historic mansions. You can take a break from all that wine tasting to stroll through stunning feats of architecture like Château de Pierry, Château de Montmort, and Château de Condé.
Épernay is where you’ll need to head to visit the best champagne houses in the region. They all make their home either right in this city or nearby, which also makes Épernay a great place to stay while you’re in town! We recommend staying as close as you can to the best wineries. Le Pink Lady is a delightful guesthouse located just a few steps from the Avenue de Champagne.
For an all out experience, why not stay directly on the grande avenue? Les Suites du 33 is a luxurious bed and breakfast just a short walk from the top champagne houses, complete with their own onsite winery.
See Related: Most Beautiful Small Towns in France
The Most Iconic Champagne Houses to Visit
No trip to this region of France is complete without visiting some of the world’s finest champagne houses. If you’ve ever wondered where iconic vintages come from, we’ll introduce you to some of the best-kept secrets about champagne. Get ready to be excited because we’re about to namedrop the biggest names in wine and champagne.
Moët & Chandon
Address: 20 Av. de Champagne, 51200 Épernay, France
The Moët & Chandon Maison is the modern-day home of Dom Perignon, aka one of the most famous champagne houses in the world! You can explore the largest network of underground champagne and wine cellars just a few steps away from the Avenue de Champagne in Épernay!
Dom Perignon started when a Benedictine monk, named Perignon, began experimenting with wines in the historic Benedictine Hautvillers Abbey. The monks at this abbey were legendary for their skills in producing new varieties of grapes and their ability to advance the craft of vinting.
The Moët & Chandon Maison offers guided tours with interpreters available. The longest tour lasts 1 hour and 30 minutes.
Each tour ends with a champagne tasting courtesy of Moët & Chandon. If you’d prefer to tour Moët & Chandon as well as another house, Taittinger, this 8-hour tour from Reims includes both houses.
Address: 4 Rue des Crayères, 51100 Reims, France
The grounds of the Ruinart champagne house are breathtaking. This is a champagne house just as focused on world-leading bubbly as they are on crafting an artistic experience for everyone who visits their Reims location.
In the 18th century, the Ruinart family made the clever decision to convert their chalk quarries into one of France’s most expansive and beautiful wine aging facilities. This site is renowned worldwide and recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. These chalk wine cellars are nearly 40 meters deep and extend over 8 kilometers across two levels.
Getting a tour of Ruinart is a bespoke experience. Tours of the grounds and the wine cellar are not regularly scheduled and need to be booked in advance.
Tour groups are limited to 12 individuals, so make sure to call ahead and reserve your spot. Of course, no wine cellar tour would be complete without a tasting. The end of your tour of Ruinart comes with a complimentary tasting of some of Ruinart’s finest champagne.
Address: 1 Rue Albert Thomas, 51100 Reims, France
The Veuve Clicquot estate spreads over an impressive 390 hectares, including its vineyards, the champagne house, and breathtaking wine cellars. No two trips to Veuve Clicquot are the same. Each tour of these wine cellars is a unique experience that takes you through historic chalk wine caverns and ends with a tasting of Veuve Clicquot’s world-famous sparkling wines.
Every tour comes with a wine tasting featuring some of their best vintages. We recommend paying a little extra for the blind tasting of Veuve Clicquot’s Yellow Label Brüt and their vintage cuvée!
Veuve Clicquot is also open to private events. You can book a private tour, tasting, or even a meal. If you’re looking for something bespoke, you can reach out to this champagne house to organize your very own event.
The dining experience at Veuve Clicquot is run by their own kitchen. It focuses on “food experiences” that are sure to provide the same level of luxury and history as their champagne. For the ultimate experience, we recommend a combined day trip from Reims that will take you to this iconic estate.
Maison Michel Gonet – Villa Signolle
Address: 37 Av. de Champagne, 51200 Épernay, France
Maison Gonet is one of Épernay’s most prestigious champagne houses. The stunning architecture is the first thing you’ll notice on your journey to Maison Gonet.
The building radiates the stately prominence that Gonet’s reputation is built on. The house is built in the 19th-century Gothic style and provides a stunning location to enjoy everything Épernay offers.
Your experience at Maison Gonet continues with an opportunity to explore the grounds and the house itself. Beautiful walking trails also take you through some of France’s most pristine countryside.
All the while, you can enjoy sipping on Maison Gonet’s world-class wine and champagne options. You can taste champagne on the terrace, in the garden, or lounge with your bubbly inside the historic champagne house.
You’ll get a first-hand journey through both their historic wine cellars and get the rare privilege of touring their processing operation. Maison Gonet is also conveniently located on the grande avenue, which means you can experience many of the world’s most outstanding wines in a single trip.
Tips for Visiting the Champagne Region
Tip 1: Make an Appointment
Maison Gonet, Veuve Clicquot, and just about any champagne house in France must be booked in advance. Even if their website says you can get tickets at the door, you should buy yours ahead of time. These are world-class destinations, and people flock from all corners of the globe to explore wine country.
Tip 2: Dress the Part
Visiting the chateau of a historic vineyard is not like taking a tour of your local brewery. This is a once-in-a-lifetime trip to one of the most prestigious destinations in the world, so why not have a little fun and dress up?
It’s not uncommon to run into celebrities, nobles, and essential figures while exploring the aforementioned champagne houses around Reims and Épernay. This is the perfect occasion to splurge on a new outfit or break out your special occasion outfits!
When it comes time to tour the wine cellars, opt to wear something a bit warmer. It might be tempting to go for heels and an eye-catching dress, but wine cellars are usually kept between 10 to 15 degrees Celsius (50 to 59 degrees Fahrenheit) and often have rough terrain that would be challenging to walk in anything but comfortable shoes.
Tip 3: Learn a Little French!
Parlez-vous Français? Knowing a little French before heading out on your trip will unlock a much more friendly side to the people who run and maintain these French tourism hotspots.
The biggest insiders in French tourism will tell you that knowing some basic French is the best way to get the locals on your side. While they are mostly all fluent in English and other languages, starting conversations in French is a cultural sign of respect that will get you places in wine country. Always starting a conversation with “bonjour” will already put you ahead.
Tip 4: Know When to Book Your Holiday
Most wineries only do tours and other experiences on working days. This means you should avoid booking your trip during major French holidays.
Weekends, New Years, and summer are some of the most popular times to book these trips. If you want to dodge the lines and save a little money, consider booking your trip during the off-season.
The French also enjoy taking a leisurely lunch break, including tour guides and champagne house staff. Take a tip from the French and kick back during the hours from noon to 2 pm when most businesses slow down anyway.
See Related: Best Holiday Destinations for Couples
Tip 5: What to Pack for Your French Champagne House Adventure
Here’s the biggest tip from anyone who’s vacationed in French wine country: leave plenty of space in your luggage to bring home some bubbly!
You want to make sure that you pack a flexible wardrobe that can handle cool French evenings and fancy dinner occasions. If you forget the little things like a phone charger adapter, Sacy, Épernay, and Reims are central tourist locations that will have everything you need. Some hotels even have these items stocked just in case a vacationer misplaces the essentials.
Now, you’re ready to hit the scene on your next trip to the Avenue de Champagne!
What is the Champagne wine region known for?
The Champagne region is one of the leading wine-producing districts in France. The soil and climate of the area are ideal for creating quality bottles of bubbly with a unique taste. It is made exclusively from chardonnay, pinot noir, and pinot Meunier grapes which are fermented in bottles using the traditional méthode champenoise, or champagne method.
What is the difference between champagne and sparkling wine?
Authentic champagne is a sparkling wine that can only be produced in the Champagne region of France. It is made with a specific blend of grapes, such as pinot noir, pinot Meunier, and chardonnay grapes, and must adhere to strict regulations in order to be labeled as such. On the other hand, sparkling wines are made worldwide with different types of grapes and various methods of production.
They can be labeled as sparkling wine or may take on a different name, such as Cava in Spain or Prosecco in Italy. Champagne is typically more expensive than other wines due to its specific production methods, which ensure that it has the unique flavor and characteristics that have made it a much sought-after drink.
Is it better to stay in Reims or Épernay?
Both cities are great for visitors to the region, but if you’re looking to stay in an area that specializes in champagne, then Épernay is your best bet. The city is home to some of the most famous houses in the area, including Moet & Chandon.
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Kyle Kroeger is the Founder and Owner of ViaTravelers.com. He is a seasoned traveler and entrepreneur. Kyle started ViaTravelers.com to help travelers find their next adventure, whether it’s exploring new places or revisiting old favorites.
He’s a converted finance nerd and Excel jockey turned world wonderer (and may try to get lost on purpose). He loves listening to people’s stories from around the world as well as sharing his own experiences traveling the globe. He loves travel so much that he moved from his hometown of Minneapolis to Amsterdam with his small family to travel Europe full-time.
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