France Travel Planner by Tom Brosnahan & Jane Fisher   Visiting Champagne Houses in France
A trip to Reims or Épernay wouldn't be complete without a visit to a Champagne house!

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Many of the Champagne houses in Épernay, Reims, and the surrounding area offer guided visits of their caves and facilities. Generally you pay a fee, which includes a tasting at the end of the tour for those of legal age to drink alcoholic beverages. (In France, the legal age to drink wine and beer is 16, for spirits and liquor it's 18.) Teens and children can often tour for a reduced price.

We have visited several champagne houses recently and describe them to give you an idea of the different experiences.

Champagne Canard-Duchêne

Canard-Duchêne is in the small village of Ludes, in the Montagne de Reims area just south of Reims. It's a fascinating smaller house in the country, and you'll need a car to get there. More...

Champagne Mercier

Located in Épernay, Champagne Mercier is a large house, though not well known internationally. The visit includes a small train. More...

Champagne Moët et Chandon

This famous house, which also owns Dom Perignon, is located in Épernay, just across from the Tourist Information Office. It offers a variety of tours, with small groups. More...

Champagne Pannier

Champagne Pannier is at the far western edge of the Champagne region, in Château-Thierry. You can visit Champagne Pannier while also visiting World War I sites. More...

Champagne Taittinger

Champagne Taittinger, in Reims, is justly proud of its Gallo-Roman caves and its links to the 13th century Gothic church Saint-Nicaise. A large producer, it is well-known around the world. More...

Most champagne houses require advance reservations, though there are a few where you can simply show up and join a tour.

We recommend booking on line, if possible, as the tours are limited in size and often fill up. You can book through the individual web site of each company, or you can check web sites such as champagne-booking.com or rue des vignerons. These sites provide brief descriptions of a number of champagne houses that host visits, and provide booking service.

If you haven't reserved ahead and want to visit a champagne house, check with the Office de Tourisme in Reims or Épernay to find out which houses are open, their tour times, fees and requirements. For example, in Épernay, Mercier and de Castellane often have tours available without reservation, while Möet et Chandon requires advance booking. Some of the smaller houses may simply put out a sign indicating when they are open, but you can't always count on this.

Champagne winery visits differ in character, length, and price. Most will run an hour to and hour and a half. These are generally walking tours, and they often require going down stairs to reach the caves. Others are more accessible; for example, Mercier has an elevator and uses a small train. Champagne de Castellane (known by its ornate tower) also houses a museum of champagne history and the tools used in champagne winemaking.

The larger houses will offer a variety of options for tasting champagne. For example, at Möet et Chandon, the Traditional Tour includes one glass of champagne, while the slightly more expensive Imperial Tour includes two, and the Grand Vintage Tour (more expensive) allows you to taste two from that category. A few houses offer the option of a meal at the end of your tour.

The larger houses will have tours in French, English, and other languages. Smaller houses may only have French speaking personnel, so you'll want to plan accordingly.

One thing tours have in common is that they will go to the caves, some 30 meters/98 feet underground. Temperatures can range from 10 to 12 degrees celsius (50 to 54 degrees fahrenheit), so even if it's a hot summer day, be sure to bring a sweater or light jacket.

Some houses offer simple tastings, without tours, another option if you do not wish to visit the caves. And of course most restaurants have extensive lists of champagne, allowing you to taste champagnes from houses that do not export.

If you want to study up a bit before your tour, check out our page, All About Champagne Wines.

Champagne bottles, Epernay, France


All About Champagne Wines

About Épernay

What to See and Do in Épernay

Épernay Hotels

Épernay Restaurants

Épernay Transport

About Reims

Reims Hotels

Reims Transport

About Champagne

About Champagne Wineries

 

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Mercier giant keg, Epernay, France

Above, Giant foudre (tun) in the lobby of
Champagne Mercier, Épernay.

Below, Follow the Route du Champagne and you'll see lots of champagne houses!





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Route de Champagne, France

  Canard-Duchêne, Champagne, France
At Canard-Duchêne, the vineyards are just steps away from the house and tour.

 
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