Épernay Champagne: best Champagne houses to visit in Épernay and Reims!

Rolling hills, old churches and grape vines everywhere: welcome to the Champagne region, a beautiful area to the north-east of Paris. We are here, together with friends Thomas and Christine, at the invitation of some Champagne houses in the area of Épernay. In three days we visit several houses, vineyards and boutiques. Next to that, we enjoy the beautiful surroundings and the good French life. In this blog, I will tell you all about the best Champagne houses to visit in and around Épernay Champagne.

The Champagne region: where is it located?

In the middle of the French Ardennes, an area where the subsoil consists of a thick layer of lime chalk and fertile soil, lies the Champagne area. It’s the perfect basis for growing grapes! According to the stories, Dom Perignon invented the Champagne in 1688, by applying a second fermentation, which creates bubbles. This delicious drink got so popular so that currently there are 15700 different Champagnes, from the 200 Champagne villages of this region. There are over three hundred different Champagne houses and part of them can be visited for a tasting or sometimes for a tour of the wine cellars. Especially the cellars of the house De Castellane are very impressive: six kilometres of wine cellars where thousands of bottles of Champagnes are being stored.

In this blog, we will talk about Champagne houses in the northern region of the Champagne region. Are you interested in the southern region of the Champagne? Then read this blog on the Côte des Bar.

Map of the Champagne region:

Below you will find a map of France with the location of the champagne region.

Map of Champagne region vinyards France

Épernay Champagne: The Champagne vineyards

Unlike wineries in New Zealand, Argentina and South Africa, you often won’t get a tour of the vineyards when visiting a Champagne house. Most houses have dozens of vineyards in different places in the region or buy the grapes from farmers. In this way, a mix can be made of the three main grape varieties: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier. Do you like to see the vineyards? Drive out of the city and there they are. Everywhere around you will see beautiful vineyards which you can easily access to just wandering around a bit. Bring some baguette, cheeses and a bottle of Champagne, and you have the perfect French Picnic.

Read this travel guide on the Champagne region for more information on this area, activities in the neighbourhood of Epernay and nice restaurants!

Best Champagne houses to visit in Épernay!

A visit to a Champagne house often means a small tasting and sometimes a guided tour. Generally, you pay for the tasting and/or the tour an amount varying between € 10 and € 30 pp. With some houses, you get the amount of the tasting back after buying several bottles of Champagne. The prices for a bottle of Champagne start from € 20 and can go up to several hundreds of euros. So take a well-filled wallet with you.

It might take some time, but definitely worth it: finding out which Champagne houses in Épernay you want to visit. We have done our best to put down a list of the best champagne houses to visit (in Épernay and the surrounding area)!

Visiting Champagne with a baby:

With our 7-month-old baby, we will visit the northern champagne region again in June 2023. This time we stay in Hautvillers in a spacious apartment with its own kitchen and several bedrooms. We have a wonderful time and enjoy our favorite drink to the fullest. With a baby you are much less flexible in visiting champagne houses and that is why we deliberately choose Hautvillers, here several champagne houses are close to each other.

Tip: nowadays you really need to make an appointment in advance at most champagne houses. We visit more than eight houses, but we can hardly visit any of them without an appointment. So really make an appointment!

Our favourite champagne houses in Épernay

Épernay Champagne: Champagne De Castellane

The house of De Castellane immediately stands out because of the beautiful buildings in Art Nouveau style and the large tower that can be seen from all over Epernay. Not only from the outside, but the building is also beautiful, when we are welcomed inside by the nice Dutch guide Steffie, she takes us through an enormous wine barrel into the impressive wine cellars. Steffie tells us about the history of the house: founded in 1895 by the viscount Florens de Castellane.

Florens got a lot of help from his cousin Boni de Castellane, a man from the high society of Paris who, in addition to his knowledge of Champagne, also had a talent for Marketing. For example, he designed the red and white cross that is characteristic of De Castellane Champagne. Nowadays De Castellane is part of the Laurent-Perrier group.

Wine cellars over 6 kilometres long!

During our tour, we walk through parts of the wine cellars, which are over 6 kilometres long in total. Everywhere around you, there are thousands of bottles, sometimes bottles, sometimes already packed. A bottle of Champagne must age at least 2 years before it has the right flavour at De Castellane and sometimes even stays more than 10 years in the cellars. Steffie shows us, among other things, how the residue from the second fermentation is collected and then removed from the bottle.

After this, the bottle can be labelled and packed. During our tour, we walk through the factory where we can see how all of this is done. After the tour, we taste the famous Brut and the Brut Rosé, after which we decide to buy some bottles. A visit to Champagne The Castellane is not complete without climbing the tower. It gives you a beautiful view all over Epernay and the surroundings. Interested in this tour and tasting at De Castellane? Check the opening hours on the website and contact them in advance to be sure of a spot.

Ay Champagne: Henri Giraud

Champagne Giraud is a relatively small family house from 1625, a hidden gem in Ay, a place just 10 minutes from Épernay. We were given a guided tour by the spontaneous Melissa, a lady with lots of knowledge and humour, who told us about the house, the Champagnes and the production process. The owner, Claude Giraud, attaches great importance to high quality and modernization of the production process. For example, since January 2018, a ‘zero residue of pesticide’ label has been used, they are no longer working with steel fermentation tanks, but with oak casks and next to that they have a tree-planting project in the Argonne forest. All this results in a limited collection of delicious Champagnes.

After the tour, we taste three different Champagnes, rising from light to increasingly heavier Champagnes. We buy a bottle of the Esprit Nature Brut, delicious light Champagne that is perfect for the summer. Besides the Champagnes, a visit to this house is also very nice if you like art. They have a big art collection, both modern and classical art with as absolute eyecatcher the large paper tree that refers to the oak where the wine barrels are made from. Do you want to visit this house? This only goes by appointment, so be on time! Click here for the location of this champagne house in Ay.

Other nice champagne houses in Épernay or the surroundings

Hautvillers Champagne: Champagne G. Tribaut

This is a nice house on the edge of the village of Hautvillers. Picturesque Hautvillers is located on a hill surrounded by vineyards. From the conservatory you have a beautiful view over the vineyards, valley and rolling hills beyond. We enjoyed the Blanc de Blancs here the most. And with a very reasonable price of 22.10 euros per bottle, we took quite a few bottles with us. Also nice are the small bottles of champagne that they sell here (Demi Cuvee de reserve, of 375 ml). We bought a bottle to drink in the evening in our apartment.

Unfortunately, there are no guided tours here, but you can always walk in here for a tasting and that is a big advantage compared to many other champagne houses. Making an appointment in advance is therefore not necessary, but not wrong. Click here for the location of this champagne house in Hautvillers

Hautvillers Champagne: Champagne J.M. Gobillard et Fils

The Champagne house J.M. Gobbilard et Fils is also to be found in Hautvillers. Inside it is possible to do a popular tasting, the tasting room is always full. A guided tour is not possible here. Diagonally opposite this house is the little church Abbaye Saint-Pierre, the place where Dom Perignon is buried, certainly nice to visit swell. Click here for the location of this popular champagne house in Hautvillers.

Hautvillers Champagne: Champagne Marion Bosser

This beautiful champagne house (actually more of a boutique) in the middle of Hautvillers is a small family house led by a woman, Elodie. Together with her mother, Men does not use the heavy (and therefore seen as masculine) grape Pinot Meunier. So all champagnes are made with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

We are welcomed by Elodie’s mother, Bernadette, who founded this house and talks about her daughter with pride. In the nice inner garden we drink, among other things, the Brut Rosé and the Extra-Brut Blanc de Blancs. This last one is our favorite and we will take it home. An appointment is not necessary with this house, so that is a big plus. The inner garden also offers a nice place to find some shelter from the sun, but to be outside. There are no guided tours here. Click here for the location of this nice champagne house in Hautvillers.

More champagne houses in Hautvillers for next time:

Other champagne houses in Hautvillers that we would have loved to visit but were closed or full are Champagne Jean-Philippe Bosser which is known for its high quality and decent prices, Champagne Gauvain Jean-Pierre where you seem to be able to drink champagne in the garden with a beautiful view and Champagne Lopez Martin a small and warm family house.

Épernay Champagne: Champagne Charles Mignon

This small family house is located on the outskirts of Épernay. The tour and tasting are done by the daughter of the house, Manon. She takes the time to answer all your questions and describes in detail the entire Champagne production process. The courtyard where we drank Champagne was less beautiful, but the delicious Champagne more than made up for it! Click here for this nice champagne house in Épernay.

Champagne in Épernay: Champagne boutiques/shops

The Avenue de Champagne is located in the heart of Epernay. A beautiful street which you definitely should visit. On this street, there are all kinds of beautiful big Champagne boutiques where you can buy champagne and sometimes taste them. I definitely recommend you to go inside some boutiques, but don’t expect too much. There are mainly big brands located here and we found it very commercial.

The boutiques we visited were Collard-Picard and Moët et Chandon. At Collard-Picard we ordered the Champagne tasting menu in the courtyard. The Champagne was nice, but it was a pity that the ladies who served us the Champagne, obviously just spoke their pre-studied tekst about every Champagne. The building of Moët et Chandon was beautiful to see, huge and very impressive. Inside it was a bit like a Victoria Secrets store. Merchandise products were everywhere. From bath towels to beach bags and standing chairs. Other champagne boutiques that are located here are Mercier, Pol Roger, Champagne Boizel and Perrier-Jouët.

Visit Champagne houses in Reims

The above mentioned Champagne houses and boutiques are all located close to Epernay. However, perhaps you have Reims as a base from which you would like to explore the champagne region. Do keep in mind that Reims is a big city and there are only champagne boutiques (shops from a certain brand which will sell the champagne) in the city. This is not the place where the champagne is made. Of course, there are many different champagne tours departing from Reims. So, therefore, you will find below some Champagne houses and tours which you can do from Reims! We have not been able to visit them yet, but according to other people we spoke with, they are very nice to do and visit!

Reims Champagne: Visit the town Passy-Grigny in the middle of the Marne Valley.

This tour, departing from Reims, takes you to the town of Passy-Grigny, where you will learn more about the production of champagne, visit a champagne house and have a tasting of three different champagnes. Click here for more information.Champagne region, France

Reims Champagne: Visit the Taittinger Champagne house and see the vineyards of Montagne de Reims

Taittinger is a name you probably have heard before. This famous Champagne house has won many awards and has beautiful wine cellars. During this tour, you will explore these wine cellars, taste a glass of Taittinger Champagne and will then explore the vineyards of the Montagne de Reims, the most northern part of the champagne area. You will finish this tour with a tasting at a local family champagne boutique! Click here for more information.

Reims Champagne: Visit the Veuve Clicquot boutique and have lunch and a tasting at a local Champagne house

Another big name in the champagne world is, of course, Veuve Clicquot. And that is also where you will start off this day: at their boutique to taste their delicious champagne. This will be followed by a tour through Reims after which you will take off to see the Montagne de Reims (the northern-most part of the Champagne region), with its cute grand cru villages and beautiful vineyards. Hungry yet? You will have a special champagne lunch at a local family champagne house where you will also get an extensive tour around the production facility to see how champagne is created. As finish touch, you will have a tasting of three of their best champagnes. Click here for more information.

Keep in mind: if you are really coming to visit and learn about multiple champagne houses, then we recommend you to stay in the area of Épernay and visit the champagne houses on your own. 

Traveling further south? Then consider visiting Noyers sur Serein, Chablis or the Mâconnais in Burgundy!

Where to sleep in the Champagne region?

You are in France, so what is more idyllic than staying in a beautiful castle? Unfortunately, I have to shake you awake, accommodation in this area is not cheap and often fully booked months already. So be early with booking your accommodations. Below are my tips for nice hotels in or just outside of Épernay.

Comfort Suites €

This was the hotel where we slept. From the outside a beautiful castle, and inside … oh it was a bit like a hospital but a little further for the price really more than fine! Prices from 54 euros per night (2 people).

Book here

Le petit ChateauLe Petit Chateau €€

This new Chambres d’hofes is located in Baye, just south of Épernay. From the outside you are in a beautiful old castle, inside there are beautiful modern rooms fully equipped. From 160 euros per night including breakfast.

Book here

Hôtel La Villa Eugene €€€€

This very chic hotel has a beautiful swimming pool, typically French rooms and the bathroom has a roll-top bath. What else do you want? The location is also great, it is located in the heart of Épernay. Prices from 220 euros per night

Book here

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1 Comment

  1. by Dan on 14 September 2022  12:25 Reply

    What a cool idea for a trip to France! Thank you

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