Only 3 hours from the transport hub of Calais, the town of Épernay in the Champagne-Ardenne region of France is a popular destination for a weekend break from London. We have stayed in Épernay several times on our summer road trips to the French Alps, and in this guide, I’ll share tips on planning a weekend in Champagne, France.
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Planning a Weekend in Champagne France
The historic town of Épernay is considered the capital of the Champagne region and makes an excellent base for exploring the Route Touristique du Champagne and surrounding area.
Épernay has served as a headquarters of champagne production and is home to many world-renowned champagne houses such Moët and Chandon, Mercier and Perrier-Jouët.
Visiting the Champagne Houses
Beneath the Avenue de Champagne where most of Épernay’s champagne houses are located, there are 110km of subterranean cellars storing over 200 million bottles of champagne under constant climate control.
One of the top things to do when visiting Épernay is booking a cellar tour and tasting with an expert. These experiences do need to booked well in advance, which you can do directly on most champagne house websites. I can also recommend checking the Champagne Booking website for available tours at champagne houses in Reims and Épernay.
Book champagne tasting experiences at Champagne Booking
Moët and Chandon, Épernay
20 avenue du Champagne, 51200 Epernay | +33 (0) 3 26 51 20 20 | www.moet.com
Founded by Claude Moët in 1743, Moët and Chandon is the largest producer and supplier of champagne in France. Their cellars are a 28-kilometre maze of tunnels, situated 10 to 30 metres underground beneath the Avenue de Champagne, and the cellar tour is a must do experience when visiting Epernay.
Tour and tasting experiences range from €40 to €180 per person. As of March 2023, the Imperial Moment experience costs €40 and includes a cellar tour and tasting of Moët Imperial and Rosé Imperial champagnes.
The Signature experience costs €60 per person and includes a cellar tour and tasting of 2 glasses, Moët Imperial and Moët Vintage champagnes. The Moët Collection experience costs €180 and includes a cellar tour of their vintage champagnes and a guided tasting of Moët Grand Vintage and Grand Vintage Collection champagnes in a private tasting lounge.
Book a cellar tour and tasting experience at Moët and Chandon
Champagne Alfred Gratien, Épernay
30 Rue Maurice Cerveaux, 51200 Épernay | +33 (0) 3 26 56 30 30 | alfredgratien.com
Founded in 1864, Champagne Alfred Gratien is a family-owned champagne house a few miles away from Épernay’s town centre. Alfred Gratien is one of the few champagne houses to perform all of its winemaking in oak barrels without malolactic fermentation.
We visited on a recent trip for a cellar tour and tasting, which was an outstanding experience. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable and engaging.
Alfred Gratien are also accommodating to families and our two children were fascinated to explore the cellars, located 18 metres underground and where more than a million bottles are kept. Cellar tours are free to children under 12 years old.
Tour and tasting experiences at Alfred Gratien start from €30 for adults, €8 for 12 – 17 year olds (includes a fruit juice) for the Discovery Visit. This 90 minute long experience includes a guided cellar tour, followed by a tasting of two cuvees, Alfred Gratien Brut and Alfred Gratien Cuvée Paradis Brut Millésimé.
The Alfred Gratien Footprint Visit includes a cellar tour followed by a tasting of four cuvées, including three vintages: Alfred Gratien Brut, Alfred Gratien Blanc de Blancs Millésimé and Alfred Gratien Cuveé Paradis Brut Millésimé.
A selection of tasting only experiences and private tours are also available to book. Cellar tours without tastings cost €15 per person.
Book a cellar tour and tasting experience at Champagne Alfred Gratien
Exploring the Route du Champagne
Épernay is also a great base for exploring the local area, and I would recommend setting out along the Route du Champagne to visit the vineyards and discover some of the small champagne houses of the region, many of which have been family-run for generations.
It’s a great opportunity to learn more about the process of growing and producing champagne directly from local producers. In this list, you’ll find the champagne houses we have visited that are a short drive from Épernay along the Route du Champagne.
Note that many small producers close for holidays in August, before the big harvest that typically begins at the end of the month, and are typically closed on Sundays.
Champagne Vollereaux, Pierry
48 rue Léon Bourgeois 51530 Pierry | +33 (0) 3 26 54 03 05 | www.champagne-vollereaux.fr
Just 10 minutes south of Épernay by car, Pierry is a small premier cru village at the foot of the slope where vineyards are located. There are a number of champagne houses based in Pierry and we can highly recommend visiting the family-owned Champagne Vollereaux.
Champagne Vollereaux was established in 1923 by Victor Vollereaux, a direct descendant of grape growers who had owned vineyards in Pierry and Moussy since 1805. Today, the champagne house is owned and managed by the sixth generation, Franck Vollereaux.
The Vollereaux family vineyard now consists of 40 hectares, split between the principle vintages in the Champagne region and on the slopes of Épernay.
Guided tours and champagne tastings start from €17 for adults (€7.50 for children 12-18, free for under 12s) for a 1 hour Discovery Experience. There are several more experiences available to book, from a champagne and Thibaut chocolate pairing, a picnic in the vineyard and the opportunity to help in the September grape harvest!
Book a champagne tasting experience at Champagne Vollereaux
Champagne Alfred Tritant, Bouzy
23 rue de Tours, 51150 Bouzy | +33 (0) 3 26 57 01 16 | www.champagne-tritant.fr
The family-owned Champagne Alfred Tritant is located in the village of Bouzy, one of the few highly coveted “Grand Cru” classified regions. Champagne Alfred Tritant offers a range of five Grand Cru champagnes, as well as a red wine Bouzy Rouge.
Out of 320 communes in the Champagne AOC, only 17 have the coveted “Grand Cru” appellation status. The Bouzy terroir has been classified as Grand Cru since 1895.
The Tritant family have been making wine since 1930, when founder Alfred Tritant decided to produce his own wines and sell them directly. He became a “Récoltant-Manipulant”, a wine producer harvesting his own grapes and would go through each stage of champagne making himself, from vineyard cultivation to bottling.
Now Champagne Alfred Tritant is run by the third generation, his grandson, Jean-Luc Weber-Tritant. Their champagne family estate have received numerous awards through the years, including a Gold medal in 2016 at the Concours des Vignerons Indépendants for their 2011 vintage and Silver medals in 2019 at the International Wine and Spirit Competition for their 2012 Brut Millésime and Brut L’instant Blanc.
Champagne Alfred Tritant offer three types of experiences that include a tour of their authentic Champenois cellar. The 1 hour Discovery visit includes tasting of 3 champagnes, as well as their Bouzy Rouge, and costs €12 per adult (or €24 per adult for 6 champagnes).
The Gastronomy visit (2 hour 30 minute) includes a cellar tour, learning about how they work and an original tasting experience, based on pairing each wine (5 cuvées and Bouzy Rouge) with various local savoury and sweet food items.
Book a cellar tour and champagne tasting at Champagne Alfred Tritant
Champagne Delavenne, Bouzy
6 rue de Tours-sur-Marne, 51150 Bouzy | +33 (0) 26 57 02 04 | champagne-delavenne.fr
Champanne Delavenne are a 4th generation, family run grower also based in the Grand Cru village of Bouzy. This independent champagne house are récoltant-manipulants, which allows them to control all stages in the production of their wines.
Champagne Delavenne is the first champagne house we visited for a cellar tour and tasting on our very first road trip in France. Currently, Champagne House are accommodating groups for tastings at their reception area.
Book a champagne tasting at Champagne Delavenne
Champagne Godmé Sabine, Verzenay
1 rue du Phare, 51360 Verzenay | +33 (0) 3 26 49 45 28 | champagne-godme-sabine.fr
Established in 1930, Champagne Godmé Sabine are a family-owned business, currently run by the fourth generation, with vineyards spread over five villages in the Montagne de Reims. All the viticulture is sustainable and on average, 30% of the primary fermentation is done in barrels.
The estate is located in the Grand Cru village of Verzenay, in the heart of the Montagne de Reims. Champagne Godmé are warm and welcoming, with a large reception area for tastings.
There is also a lovely terrace where you can enjoy a champagne tasting overlooking the vineyards in the summertime.
Tasting prices start from €15 per person for a champagne tasting of 3 cuvées. Guided tours and tasting experiences are also available to book starting from €20 per person.
Book a guided tour and champagne tasting at Champagne Godmé Sabine
Tip: Visit the Phare de Verzenay (Verzenay lighthouse) across from Champagne Godmé Sabine to enjoy more stunning views of the vineyards
Top Restaurants around Épernay
Chez Max, Magenta
Our top choice restaurant near Épernay town centre is Chez Max in the neighbouring village of Magenta. Lovely service and excellent food, definitely worth booking well in advance.
Read the latest Chez Max reviews and book a table on Tripadvisor.com
Grill N Chill, Épernay
Welcoming service and great food at this laidback, dog-friendly restaurant conveniently located in Épernay’s town centre. We came across Grill N Chill by chance on our last trip and it has become one of our favourite restaurants in Épernay.
Read the latest Grill N Chill reviews on Tripadvisor.com
Chez Ali, Épernay
Topnotch Moroccan restaurant located in the Épernay town centre.
Read the latest Chez Ali reviews and book a table on Tripadvisor.com
Where to Stay in Champagne France
Châteaus in the Champagne Region
For a unique, special experience, consider staying at one of the charming châteaus nestled in the rolling hills of the Champagne region.
On one trip, we stayed at Château d’Etoges, a 17th-century listed historic building located about 30 minutes south of Épernay surrounded by vineyards.
It is a wonderful place to relax and enjoy the countryside, while only being a short drive away from many of the Champagne caves and vineyards.
Check prices and reviews of Château d’Etoges at Tripadvisor.com
Apartment Rentals in Épernay
Airbnb and Booking.com offer a wide range of apartment rentals in Épernay catering to guests staying for short overnight stays or weekend breaks. As a family of four, booking an apartment rental has been the best option to have some extra space, a well-equipped kitchen and laundry facilities.
Check prices and book a holiday rental in Épernay at Tripadvisor.com
Hotels in Épernay
There are a number of hotels and B&Bs to choose from around the town centre of Épernay. An ideal location to stay is within walking distance of the shops and restaurants in the town centre and close to Avenue de Champagne, where you can tour the wine cellars of famous producers such as Moët & Chandon.
Check prices and book a hotel in Épernay at Tripadvisor.com
Several highly rated and conveniently located options are Champagne Andre Bergere, Hotel Jean Moet and L’Interfaces Chambres d’Hotes.
Traveling to Épernay
The Champagne-Ardenne region of France is a less than a 3 hour drive from Calais, and there are several options to get there for a weekend break from London.
Eurotunnel Le Shuttle
The easiest and fastest way to drive your car from London to Calais is to take the Eurotunnel Le Shuttle at Folkestone, Kent, which only takes 35 minutes. We have driven our car three times for road trips to France on the Eurotunnel Le Shuttle, and each time found the process easy and seamless from start to finish.
Another option for driving your car is to take one of the several ferry boat options from Dover to Calais, such as P&O Ferries. Ferry crossings take around 1 hour 30 minutes to arrive at Calais, and the ferry boats usually offer facilities on board such as duty free shopping, restaurants and toilets.
Travelling from London to Épernay by train takes about 5 hours and 30 minutes, including the time needed to change trains stations (1 hour 50 minutes) in between.
At last check, the train route recommended on Eurostar is from London St Pancras to Paris Gare du Nord (2 hours 15 minutes), then you will need to change stations to take the next train from Paris Gare de l’Est to Épernay (1 hour 21 minutes).
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PIN FOR LATER – Weekend Break in Champagne France
This post was updated on 14 March 2023 with new photos and recommendations for planning a weekend in the Champagne France.