Champagne region: all you need to know about the champagne in France!

Only a 5 hours drive from The Netherlands and you find yourself sipping a glass of champagne in the sun, perfect! A long weekend is ideal for a visit to the Champagne region. Because of the hilly landscape, the delicious champagne and the French words around you, this really feels like a vacation. Last May, we spent a weekend getaway with a friend in this beautiful area. This blog will share all my tips for a trip to the Champagne region, and specifically for the area around Épernay. Next to that, recently I wrote a blog about the Champagne houses in Épernay I highly recommend.

The Champagne region

The Champagne region is divided into two parts: the northern region and the southern region. This Northern region roughly covers the area between Reims, Épernay and Châlons-sur-Champagne, also called the Golden Triangle. The southern region covers the area between Bar-sur-Aube,  Bar-sur-Seine en Mussy-sur-Seine, this is called the Côte des Bar. In this blog, we will focus on the Northern region, however, but click here to read more about the southern champagne region. The southern region is less famous but very beautiful ánd the place Ries and I will get married too! See the image below to navigate both the northern and southern champagne region. Map of Champagne region vinyards France

Épernay in the Champagne region

We found it a bit difficult to determine a convenient base for the Champagne region. After many hours of research, we decided on Épernay. And we did not regret this choice at all! Épernay is the city of champagne. It is centrally located, with dozens of champagne houses in the neighbourhood. Therefore, definitely go there! If you have a little more time, also spend a day in Reims. This medieval city is somewhat larger than Épernay and contains a number of beautiful sights, including Notre-Dame.

How to go to the Champagne region?

The Champagne region is located in the French Ardennes. From the Netherlands, you can best drive here by car. On the way, we took the scenic route instead of the highway, and we all came through nice little villages. Definitely, something I recommend you to do!

Map of the Champagne region:

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

Map of France top attractions and highlights.001

Are you already in France, for example in Paris, then a visit by train is also possible. Épernay is only one hour by train from Paris, and Reims just 45 minutes. Keep in mind that most champagne houses are not close to each other. It is therefore highly recommended to have a car (with Bob) in this area. It is a nice experience to drive from village to village and occasionally stop at a vineyard for some photos. Cycling is also possible, but keep in mind those hills and the distances that are sometimes quite large.

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

What to do in Épernay and its surroundings?

Besides visiting the champagne houses and drinking champagne there are more fun things to do in and around Épernay.

Visit the cute village of Hautvillers.

Hautivllers is located at the top of a hill, so you can look out over the rolling hills full of vineyards from various places in the village. It’s as if time has stood still here and everything feels quintessentially French. We visited the Abbaye Saint-Pierre church, the place where Dom Perignon is buried. We also visited the Antiquités et Champagnes shop here, where antiques and brocante from the 18th century are sold. You will find a great collection of vintage Chanel bags here. The entrance to this shop is to the left of a gate surmounted by ‘Entree Cave et Jardin’. By the way, in the courtyard next to the shop you can taste very good champagne.

We stayed in a big appartment in Hautvillers for a few nights in June 2023 with our 7 month old baby. It is a great base, because here are many different champagne houses close to each other. Keep in mind that in the evening both restaurants in the village are closed.

Make a balloon flight above Epernay and its surrounding champagne fields!

Yes, you read that correctly: you can view Epernay and its surrounding champagne fields from above. 150 Meters above to be precise, from a helium balloon which is tied to the bottom of the Avenue the Champagne in the middle of Epernay. Such a cool experience (and it only costs €14) Click here for more information.Champagne region, France 8

Visit the forest of Verzy (Les Faux de Verzy)

At 30 minutes located from Épernay is this special forest, where dwarf trees grow (birch, oak and chestnuts). In the summer, when many leaves grow, they look a bit like gigantic green igloos. Nice to take a morning walk and spot the special trees. You can also drink champagne here, but in a very special place: above the treetops. Perchingbar is a bar in a tree house, which you reach by following a course via rope ladders. Keep in mind that the prices here are high (you pay 21 euros for entrance to the trail, including 1 gal of champagne) and that a reservation is a must.

Have a picnic in the vineyards!

Buy some good food, take a plaid and drive up to the vineyards. Find a spot in the sun with a nice view and have a picnic. It doesn’t get more French than this!

Champagne run!

Fancy something sporty but are you also thirsty? Every year in May, La Champenoise is organized, a running race of 18 kilometres. You run along all of them, champagne farmers. The idea is to drink a glass of champagne at every farmer. Very special, don’t you think?Champagne region, France 2

Just a bit more south you will find the wine village Chablis. Read more about Chablis in Burgundy!

Where are you going to eat in the Champagne region?

The best restaurants in Épernay

Where we found Épernay’s restaurants a bit disappointing the first time, in 2023 many nice new hotspots have been added. So here are some new tips:

  • A recommendation from Melissa, the lady who showed us around Champagne House Henri Giraud, is Sacre Bistro. This is a modern restaurant with simple French and European dishes and an extensive wine list. Don’t forget to book!
  • Why not is a nice bistro with French dishes. They also have plenty of options for vegetarians!
  • Brasserie Le Parisien is the perfect place to have lunch outside on the terrace. According to Ries, the steak tartare was delicious and I enjoyed the huge portion of salmon tartare.
  • Restaurant Cook’in is the place if you are looking for asian fusion, reservations are a must!
  • Chez Françoise, where we could sit outside and have excellent French dishes (not much choice for vegetarians).

Restaurants in Hautvillers and Ay

  • Au36 is actually a champagne tasting in Hautvillers where you can also enjoy lunch. They serve all small dishes, including cheese and quiche. 
  • Something simpler? You can sit really nice in the sun at Cafe d’Hautvillers, in the middle of the village.
  • At Rotisserie Henri IV in Ay, you can eat simple but good. You won’t find many tourists here, just some locals. Would you like to dine here, then book in time, it is always full.
  • You can eat something more upscale in Ay at Avarum Restaurant.

Tip: in Ay you will find the beautiful champagne house Le Clos Corbier. Click here to read more about doing a tour through the vineyards and tasting champagne.

Are you on your way to the South of France? Then visit Grimaud in Provence, a beautiful authentic village near Saint-Tropez. Read more about it in our travel guide!

Other tips for the Champagne region

Best travel time for the Champagne region!

The best time to go to the Champagne region is between April and mid-October, with the busiest season in September when the grapes are being harvested. During the harvest season, there are all kinds of fun parties and events.

Map out your vineyard visits!

Search for some champagne houses and make contact in advance so that you are assured of availability for a tour or tasting. Here you find our favourite Champagne houses in Épernay.

Also visit smaller champagne houses!

Don’t only visit the big famous houses! Of course, Moët de Chandon knows everyone, but the smaller houses (and therefore less commercial) are very nice. A small house will feel more authentic and personal. For instance, the house Champagne Charles Mignon, which has been in the family for six generations. The youngest daughter now gives the wine-tours.

Interested in getting married in the Champagne region? Read our blog!

















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