If you’re a lover of bubbles and find yourself in north east France, then put a visit to Épernay in the Champagne region at the top of your must-do list. The picture postcard town offers stunning architecture in glorious vineyard surroundings plus the chance to visit the famed champagne houses to sample the fizz in situ. When it comes to tastings, you’re spoilt for choice but to give you some inspiration, we’ve put together a selection of champagne houses to visit on a trip to Épernay. Join us as we pop into the veterans, the newbies, the world famous and those not quite so well-known.
Capital of Champagne
First a bit about Épernay, the sparkling of fizz and the seat of the most important Champagne authorities. Set against a backdrop of far-reaching vineyards, the pretty town is home to numerous champagne houses as well as 110km of cellars that crisscross most of its subsoils.
No visit to Épernay would be complete without a stroll along the hallowed Avenue de Champagne. This pedestrian-friendly boulevard takes you past some of the most famous names in bubbles, all housed in stunning mansions and many with fine gardens.
The town’s Hôtel de Ville (town hall) also sits in pride of place on the avenue. But Épernay isn’t just about its most famous street; be sure to take a look at the Gabrielle Dorziat Theatre, the Synagogue and the Maison de Louis Savoie – built in Renaissance style.
Did you know? We have written a brief guide to champagne. Everything about champagne from its history and production to how to store and open it.
We’re starting our tour of champagne houses in Épernay at the most famous. This label along with its signature Dom Perignon, is renowned the world over and for many, epitomises the drink. It’s also one of the oldest houses. Founded by Claude Moët whose grandson Jean Remy introduced the world to sparkling wine. A visit offers a unique insight into the history of champagne plus the chance to try some of the fabled fizz yourself.
20 Avenue de Champagne
Did you know? Napoleon awarded Jean Remy Moët the Légion d’Honneur medal and his troops reputedly invented the tradition of opening a bottle of Moët with a sabre to celebrate a victory.
Also one of the big names, Mercier goes back to 1858 when Eugène Mercier set up the family business to make quality champagne available to everyone. He was also something of a pioneer – he made an advertisement with pioneers of cinematography, the Lumière brothers, and built the 18km of tunnels under the house tall enough for visitors to take a tour in a carriage drawn by four horses. Visit today and you see the tunnels by train.
70 Avenue de Champagne
Did you know? Mercier constructed one of the largest wine barrels in the world for the 1889 Paris Exhibition. Holding 200,000 bottles, the barrel received the award for second best exhibit behind the Eiffel Tower and today, stands at the entrance to the champagne house.
One of the newbies in the world of champagne production, A. Bergère was founded in 1949. The family quickly cemented their name and capability, and established themselves on the hallowed Avenue de Champagne in 2007. Tours only take place at weekends, but the shop opens daily.
38-40 Avenue de Champagne
Did you know? A. Bergère’s Brut Nature is made from 100% Chardonnay grapes, unlike most champagnes that combine Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes.
This champagne house in Épernay dates back to 1834 when the young (and enterprising) couple, Auguste and Julie Boizel, founded their wine production. The highlight on the tour of their extensive cellars comes in the Treasury Vault, home to the best bottles from each generation.
46 Avenue de Champagne
Did you know? The tasting of a 1929 bottle of Boizel Champagne was described as an unforgettable wonder. One customer even knelt down to drink it.
Not such a household name and not on the famed Avenue, but just as interesting is the Castellane champagne house in Épernay. Along with the bubbles, the star of the show is the stunning house complete with 66-metre tall tower with panoramic views of the surrounding vineyards. All champagne production takes place on site as you find out on a tour.
57 Rue de Verdun
Did you know? Castellane’s symbol, the red cross of St Andrew, is a tribute to the oldest regiment in the Champagne region and the tower stands proudly on the canalside beckoning you to stop for a tasting.
As well as taking a tour of one of the champagne houses in Épernay, you can try a more local experience. A group of local volunteers, known as Greeters, share their passion for and knowledge of champagne on special tours around the town. Find out more.
Champagne aboard the ultimate luxury
How better to explore the world’s most famous wine region than on board a luxury hotel barge? Take the River Marne from Paris through dreamy landscapes until you reach the gently rolling vineyards of Champagne. Spot the names of famous producers at the end of each row of vines and take a tour of a champagne house or two when you visit charming Épernay, before you return on board to fine dining and wining including the best of the local bubbles. Find out more now.
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