France's most popular champagne: Moët & Chandon
France's most popular champagne: Moët & Chandon

6 tips for visiting the Champagne region in France

by Taylor Gillespie
Stripes Europe

CoCo Channel said it best, “I only drink Champagne on two occasions, when I am in love and when I’m not.” This luxurious wine is often confused with other sparkling wines, but real champagne must be produced in a specific region in France in order to be worthy of the title Champagne. Reims and Epperney are the two major towns most people visit when checking out the Champagne Region of France. I would highly recommend stopping in Epperney and staying in Reims. Both locations are great and filled with incredible Champagne houses so you won’t go wrong either way. Before you head out the door, consider these tips.

1. Book your champagne houses before you go

Most champagne houses offer tours between 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. but you will want to check to see when the English tours are offered. I would recommend shooting for three champagne houses per day and mixing up the number of tastings you do at each location. Most offer multiple versions on the same English tour.

2. Mix up your champagne houses

The most famous champagne houses are a must, but you do not need to visit them all. Make sure to include some smaller producers and houses you have never heard of before. One reason is that the champagne is typically more affordable at the smaller houses, so if you are trying to bring back some champagne, this could be a good way to add more bottles to your collection without hurting your wallet. Insider tip: There are great tour groups that offer tours outside the city to visit small houses. Also, some of the small storefronts in the city act as the champagne house for smaller producers. Be sure to check in advance to see if some of them offer tastings.

Endless amounts of grapevines waiting to be turned into champagne. Photo by Taylor Gillespie

3. Drive, park, ride and share

If you are within a reasonable drive to the Champagne region, I would absolutely recommend driving. The views, flexibility and ability to bring champagne back definitely makes it worth it. There is Uber in the city so once you are done exploring outside the city, you can park and call an Uber to get around and enjoy the Champagne tastings. Insider tip: Check to see if your hotel offers free parking. Parking in the city center of Reims can be difficult and pricey, so hotel parking is a must.

4. Make sure you eat before your tastings

None of the tastings offered snacks throughout the tour and the tasting. Make sure to pack some snacks or eat well before the tastings. Several glasses of champagne can add up quickly, so it’s best you balance the tastings with food. I would highly recommend a decent breakfast if you are doing the morning tastings. Insider tip: Check to see if your hotel offers free breakfast.

Glasses of crisp Moët & Chandon. Photo by Taylor Gillespie 

5. Dress in layers

The perfect weather for growing grapes is not always the most comfortable for us. The weather in Reims and Epperney can be chilly and rainy one minute and then perfect the next. I hate overpacking, but I highly recommend packing layers for this trip. Jackets, scarves and light pieces will be perfect. It can get chilly in the cellars on the tours, so be sure to tote some of those extra pieces around with you.

6. Take a moment to reflect on some of the history from the World Wars

The Musée de la Reddition is the actual site the Germans surrendered after World War II. The Fort of the Pompelle is in the city of Reims also. This site was a major part of the resistance from the Allies in World War I. The second largest American Cemetery and Memorial called the Oise-Aisne American Cemetery and Memorial is about 30 minutes outside of Reims. Take a few moments to visit at least a few of these historical sites while you are in town.

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