Did you know that you can not legally call that wonderful bubbly drink “champagne” unless it comes from the Champagne region of France? If the grapes and making of the champagne isn’t from this region, you must call it “Sparkling Wine.” If you want to read more on the history of this law, Forbes does a great job at explaining it in detail!
Champagne tasting in Champagne, France is the perfect day trip from Paris! Being less than an hour outside of the city, you get to see a strong contrast of the bustling city of Paris to the quiet and green region of Champagne.
When I was researching Champagne, it was so hard to find a solid guide on how to get around the area and which champagne houses in Epernay to visit. I felt like I spent hours piecing together little bits of information, so to make your life easier, I made a fool-proof guide to Champagne tasting in Champagne!
I’m assuming you are traveling to France (or at least thinking about traveling to France), if you are reading up on champagne tasting in Champagne. Don’t forget to check out my guide to The Louvre Museum and my long and wordy 10 day Itinerary to France! Spoiler Alert: It includes a day champagne tasting!
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Reims or Epernay?
There are two main regions of Champagne, France: Reims and Epernay. They both hold great champagne houses and years worth of history, so how do you choose?
Reims will be home to the popular champagne house, Veuve Cliquot. It also holds a downtown area with a lot of things to do other than just champagne tasting. If you are a huge history buff and want to see cool things like Dom Perignon’s grave sight, I would choose Reims!
Epernay is home to the popular champagne house, Moet & Chandon / Dom Perignon. What makes Epernay a selling point to most people (especially me) is the fact that you can travel outside of the downtown area to Hautvillers. Hautvillers is only 10 minutes up the hill where you can see expansive views of the vineyards – this is something that Reims does not offer!
I think one of the most beautiful views in the world is rolling vineyards, so I decided on Epernay and was not disappointed. The remainder of this guide will be on champagne tasting in Epernay, so if you decided on Reims click here to view a guide solely on Reims!
Getting from Paris to Champagne
If you have a car, you can drive for extremely inexpensive (just the price of gas). I would NOT do this because you want to be able to drink and enjoy the champagne while you are there!
The fastest and easiest way to get to either Epernay or Reims will be by high speed train. Trains run constantly throughout the day and will take you right to the city center. You can browse ticket prices and times on RailEurope! Trains get to the Champagne region in a little over an hour and are fairly affordable.
You can also sign up for day trips to Champagne tours, but these will be extremely expensive and are not customizable! This will obviously be the least stressful option, so if you know you get overwhelmed easily this may be best for you! Click here to view tour options and pricing.
Now that you narrowed down which city to go to and how to get there, you get to think of the fun stuff like which champagne houses to go to!
Stop 1: Moet et Chandon
Moet and Chandon is arguably the most popular champagne in the world. This elegant champagne house is located directly on the Avenue de Champagne and hosts tasting and multiple tour options.
They have four tour options ranging from 25 euros to 48 euros. The standard tour includes a one hour tour through the cellars and a glass of champagne in their beautiful tasting room.
They do a fantastic job at explaining the history of champagne, how it’s made, the differences between vintage and reserve, and the most interesting thing: The difference between Moet et Chandon and Dom Perignon!
The more expensive tour options are roughly the same in length, but you get to try more champagne. You can reserve your time slot here!
Stop 2: Champagne Paul-Etienne Saint Germain
Next up is one of the youngest and smallest champagne houses in the region: Paul-Etienne Saint Germain! This first-generation champagne house is ran by a wonderful husband and wife who have a true passion for champagne! I always prefer the experience of tasting at smaller, lesser-known spots. This will be a huge contast between the luxurious and famous Moet et Chandon and quaint Paul-Etienne Saint Germain, so you can see which one you prefer!
They have a beautiful home that they open guests in with open arms! When we pulled up to their champagne house, they were just walking in with arms filled with groceries! It was hard not too feel awkward at first, wondering if they were open that day, but they made us feel incredibly welcomed.
When the weather is nice, they have a beautiful patio with tons of greenery. Unfortunately it was raining on the day we went, which I guess is very common in Epernay! The weather is very similar to London, so make sure you pack an umbrella!
For only 20 euros, you get to try three of their champagnes. My favorite champagne (out of all the ones I tasted in Epernay) was their Charm Champagne that had a strong creamy flavor. Delicious!
Stop 3: Lunch at Au 36
Next up, it’s time to head up to beautiful Hautvillers (pronounced oh-vee-lay)! To get up to Hautvillers, you will need to call a taxi if you don’t have a car because there is no Uber/Lyft in the area. You can have the champagne house call one for you, but if you are on Avenue de Champagne, you shouldn’t have a huge problem getting one. They are around the train station ready to pick people up and will be roughly 20- 30 euros each way.
Once you get up to the adorable and quiet village of Hautvillers, head over to Au 36 for lunch. Get a glass of champagne (or a flight, I’m not one to judge) and the Poulet Fermier! You can thank me later.
Stop 4: Champagne G Tribaut
Last stop on your champagne tour is G Tribaut, which is only a 5 minute walk from Au 36. The walk is beautiful and on the way there, if you look to your right, you will see a gorgeous outlook of the Hautvillers valley. I encourage you to take your time, wander through the vineyards and take some pictures of the beautiful scenery!
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After your photo shoot is complete (do it for the gram), it’s time for your last tasting of the day. This champagne house is newly renovated and extremely modern. They have floor-to-ceiling windows that give you a wonderful view of the valley while you try their champagne.
You do not need a reservation, but note that they close for lunch between 12-2pm! And how could I almost forget the best part!? It’s only 10 euros for three tastings!
To get back to Epernay, you should call a taxi right when you are nearing the end of your tasting at G Tribaut. The staff there will be happy to call one for you!
I heard it is sometimes tricky to get a taxi in Hautvillers, but if worse comes to worse, you can always walk! It is a beautiful walk with champagne houses along the way. It would take about an hour to walk back to the train station, but if you stop at a champagne house half way, it’s only two, 30 minute walks! 😉
Bonus tips on coordinating train times with tasting times:
- I took the 8:36 am train ride to Epernay, arriving at 9:48 am. It’s about a 5 minute walk to Moet & Chandon, so it cuts it fairly close to the 10 am tour, but definitely doable!
- From there, I signed up for the 10am tour at Moet et Chandon. If you don’t like to cut things that close, they also have a 10:45 am tour that gives you time to wander around Epernay and explore the Moet et Chandon gift shop!
- After your tour, the walk to Paul Etienne Saint Germain is less than ten minutes. They open at 11 am for tastings.
- Taking the taxi to Hautvillers is only a 10 minute drive so you will arrive to Au 36 for lunch around 12-12:30 pm.
- Spend about an hour at Au 36 for lunch, walk over to G Tribaut and take some pictures at the lookout point until they open at 2pm.
- For the train time out, I would choose the 5:34 pm train so you have plenty of time to enjoy your tasting and walk back in case you can not get a taxi.
That’s a wrap! If you have any additional questions on champagne tasting in Epernay, don’t hesitate to comment below!
This was a HUGE bucket list moment for me, and I truly could not recommend it enough. I have a full 10 day itinerary to France that takes you to the highlights of Paris, Champagne tasting in champagne, lavender fields in Provence, swimming in the crystal blue waters of the Gorges du Verdon, and relaxing in the French Riviera (Nice/Monaco). To check out the full guide, click here! And if you plan on visiting The Louvre Museum, here is my guide on best things to see.
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