Champagne is a north eastern, historical region in France. Just 160 kilometers away from Paris. The region is most famous for the sparkling wine (Champagne) that is made there. It is more commonly known as the Champagne wine region for this reason. The region was founded in 1065 and constitutes of old counties that were originally from the medieval kingdom of Austrasia.
Things to do & Places to see in the Champagne Region of France
1. Moët and Chandon
In the so-called capital of the Champagne region, Épernay you can find the house of two of the world's most famous champagne names, Moët and Chandon. The cellar of the champagne house, where all the magic happens, are 10-30 meters under ground. These cellars are extremely famous for being the largest in the entire champagne region. It is in these cellars that the famous champagne is developed into the delicious bubbles we are so familiar with today. The cellars provide a consistent environment that allows the maturation process to produce only utmost quality.
There are daily tours of the cellars that are open to the public. Where you can view the entire process and enjoy samples of the different champagnes they have on offer. Their visiting center is open every day from 9:30 am until 11:30 am and then again from 2pm until 4:30 pm. A standard visit and tour costs €24, however there are more luxurious offers that range from 30€ to 76€ just depending on what it is you want.
2. Dom Pérignon Statue
Located in Épernay is the statue of Dom Pérignon who was basically the founder of champagne. After lots of experimentation he discovered what it took to make the drink we are so familiar with today. Prestige Cuvée is named after this monk who was obsessed with the idea of champagne. Pérignon lived from 1638 until 1715. He was the one who had the revelation of putting wine in a second bottle for further fermentation that resulted in a sparkling wine. He was fascinated by the result and is famously known for saying that he thought he was 'tasting the stars' when drinking the sparkling drink. Unfortunately, like most great innovators, his discovery was thought insignificant for almost a century after his death before it was acknowledged as actually being brilliant. Almost everyone on their way to Moët and Chandon stop for a quick photo with the statue of the father of bubbly. It is definitely a landmark that is a must see considering you are in Champagne territory.
3. Sanger Cellars
In the early 20th century the champagne region began to crumble due to the vineyards being ruined and the winegrowers being wiped out due to a terrible virus from the US as well as the first world war. It was quickly realized by the local wine farmers that the only way to combat their loss would be to educate and rear a generation of youth that would be the future of the champagne industry. That is where the Avize Winemaking School came in. It was founded in order to educate a new generation of winemakers. Those who had become successful after their education at the school often came back and gave to the school what they could. It was due to this that the Former student co-operative was born. With it also came the 'champagne Sanger'. Thus altogether it formed a product that was funded by past generations and produced by further generations. Slowly things improved over the years and have resulted in a wonderful product that is not only made from the earth but from the passion of those that have made it. You can visit the cellar and watch the process of production whilst being able to purchase champagne at a 'cellar door' price or prix départ cave. All proceeds go straight back into the school to continue the successful cycle that is the future of Champagne. If you are in the Champagne region this cellar is definitely the place to visit. Not only are you supporting a local worthwhile cause but you are experiencing authentic champagne that is more than just grapes.
The Sanger cellars are open from Monday to Friday from 8 am until noon and then again from 2pm until 5pm. Cost of admission gives you a tour of the cellars and tastings. The price depends purely on how many tasters you wish it have. If you wish to have 2 flutes of champagne it will cost €10, if you wish to have 4 flutes of champagne it will cost you €17,50 and if you wish to have 9 flutes of champagne it will cost €30.
C.Comme is the top choice wine bar in Épernay that has a variety of over 300 varieties of Champagne in their downstairs cellar. The great part about this bar is that you are able to sample whatever champagne they stock for as little as €6 per glass, in the comfort of a softly lit bar. This is ideal if going into a cellar to sample champagne is not entirely appealing to you. You can also accompany your samples with a yummy side dish from the bistro.
How Do I Get Here From Paris?
Traveling the mere 160 kilometers between Paris and Champagne is made easy by the railway. The most popular way to get there is to take the TGV from Paris to either Reims or Épernay depending on which part of Champagne you wish to go to. It takes about 45 minutes from Paris to Reims and costs around 15€ where as if you travel to Épernay from Paris it takes about 75 minutes and costs around 22€. There is the option of hiring a car as well. It costs between 200€ and 600€ for three days, but it affords you the comfort of convenience. You can travel from Paris to the Champagne region in just under 3 hours. You can go all around champagne on your own time if you wished.