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Discovering Champagne

champagne bottles and glasses

Whether it’s your first trip to Champagne or a return visit to this beautiful area , you know the things that will make your visit extra special are meeting the friendliest people, tasting the most amazing champagnes and discovering the secret places that most visitors never get to find.

If that sounds like fun we can help you plan your perfect programme. We’ve lived and worked in Champagne for many years and can help you get the most out of your time here.

First of all here are a few essential tips so you know what to expect.

Getting to Champagne

champagne wine yards

Champagne is situated about 120 kilometres north east of Paris. There are 4 principal regions, three situated around Reims and Epernay, with the fourth lying a good 2 hours’ drive further south near the town of Troyes (pronounced “twar” )

From Paris Airport

flightThe Champagne region is about 1.5 hours’ drive from Paris CDG airport.

The A4 motorway will bring you straight to Reims and, if Epernay is your destination, you can turn off at the exit for Dormans.

You can also get a high speed train (TGV =Train de Grande Vitesse) from the airport to Reims station in the centre of the city, or to Champagne Ardennes station which is 8 kilometres outside Reims.

If you want to get to Reims, be careful when booking your ticket because not all trains that stop at Champagne-Ardennes continue into Reims. Instead they go east to Strasbourg – a lovely city, but not much champagne there.

So be sure to book a train that goes to Reims Gare (sometimes called Reims Centre)

trainFrom Paris

Champagne is about 2.5 hours’ drive from Paris. 

Alternatively a 45 minute journey by TGV from Paris Gare de l’Est will get you to Reims (one of the two stations mentioned above).
The other option is to take a local stopping train, also from Paris Gare de l’Est, to Epernay.

These trains take about 1.5 hours and follow the picturesque valley of the Marne River. If you have the time it’s a wonderful way to see more of the countryside. 

 From Calais

driving2.5 hours easy driving will get you to Reims on the A26 motorway. An extra 30 minutes will bring you to Epernay and the vineyards. Troyes and the southernmost part of Champagne lie a further 2 hours’ drive south.

 

Transport in Champagne

Reims

The centre of Reims is relatively small and it’s perfectly practical to explore much of it on foot: the main shopping area, the cathedral and many restaurants of all types and prices.

Many of the larger champagne houses that you may wish to visit are a short distance out of the centre so you may need to take a taxi. Taxis are not that easy to find so it’s easier to ask your hotel to call a taxi for you. There’s also a very modern tram service in Reims but, so far, it doesn’t cover the entire city.

Outside Reims

In Epernay and in the surrounding vineyards public transport is very limited, although Epernay is a small town and you can see most of it on foot without difficulty.

There is a train service between Reims and Epernay stopping at several villages in between. The journey is only 30 minutes, however the frequency of trains is limited outside the main periods of travel: 08.00 – 09.00 in the morning and 17.00 – 18.00 in the afternoon.

To fully explore the vineyards you’ll find it is essential to travel by car. There are a number of taxi companies although this could be a costly option if you relied solely on taxis for all your transport needs.

champag bottle coolinghertzavis


 

 

You’ll find the usual car hire companies at, or near, Reims station and Champagne-Ardennes station but beware: they may well not be open at weekends, so do make your reservation in advance.

 

 

 

 

Accommodationchampagne glass filled

Champagne has dozens of hotels and B & Bs to suit all tastes and budgets, both in the towns and in the vineyards.

If staying in the heart of the vineyards in a converted champagne maker’s house is what you’re looking for then do take a look at our B & B, “Les Molyneux” in the village of Verzy. Equidistant from Reims and Epernay, Verzy is a Grand Cru village nestled between a wonderful forest and the vineyards, both within a couple of minutes’ walk.

Here’s the web site where you can look at the rooms, check availability and book on-line. We’re delighted to say that we have received Trip Advisor’s Certificate of Excellence for 2012 and 2013 : bedandbreakfastinchampagne.com

 

Visiting Champagne Houses

river

Most of the largest champagne houses are to be found in either Reims (Veuve Clicquot, Pommery, Mumm, Ruinart, Lanson, Roederer and others) or in Epernay (Moët & Chandon, Pol Roger, Perrier Jouët). 

Some are not open to the public and can only be visited by private invitation; most others ask you to make a prior appointment.

You can visit Moët & Chandon (Epernay), Taittinger and Pommery ( both Reims) without making an appointment, but even at these three it’s wise to make an appointment to ensure you arrive at the correct time for a visit in your chosen language.

There is always a charge for a visit at the large houses. Expect to pay between 15 -30 euros per person, depending on what you choose to taste after the tour.

There are thousands of smaller champagne makers, many of whom welcome visitors. It’s always better to make an appointment if you can. At some you can simply turn up, but don’t count on someone being available to welcome you, not least because they may be out in the vineyards working.

At some houses you will have a visit of the cellars and a tasting of their champagnes whilst at others you can only have a tasting. In either case there will usually be a small charge (5 – 8 euros per person usually) but this is often waived if you purchase a few bottles, or more.

Don’t take it for granted that fluent English, or other languages, will be spoken at the smaller champagne producers.


What to do in Champagne

Apart from the champagne houses and a whole host of excellent restaurants there are dozens of other things to do and see whatever your interests and however long you plan to stay.
Here are just a few: A whisky distillery; Acrobranche ( tree top adventures for the young and/or sporty amongst you); childrens’ attractions, museums of all sorts, First World War battle sites; local markets; magnificent forests to explore; mountain bike trails; hiking routes; excursions on the river, or across the vineyards in a 4 x 4 and lots more.

environment

What time of year to come to Champagne

Although every season in Champagne has its own beauty, the vines are at their best between mid May, when the leaves come out, and mid October when the Autumn colours are magnificent.

August is quiet because many champagne makers take their annual holiday in this month; consequently some champagne houses may be closed. At Harvest time, in September, Champagne is buzzing with activity. It’s fascinating to see, but do be aware that the smaller producers will have less time to welcome you during this busy period.

 

What To Do Next

I hope this brief guide has been helpful and we’re looking forward to welcoming you to Champagne soon and helping you add an extra sparkle to your visit.

If you haven’t already done so, send us an e-mail to the addresses shown below telling us: when you want to come to Champagne, how many people are in your party and what particular things you want to do and see while you’re here. We’ll get back to you promptly with prices and some suggestions to suit your particular interests.

Here are the contact details:

Tours: JilesHalling

E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Accommodation: Yvonne Halling

E-mail :This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

14 Rue Chanzy, 51380 Verzy  Tel + 33 326 48 20 52

We’re looking forward to meeting you and to making your visit to Champagne absolutely magical.

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