Top Activities to See and Do in Ay-Champagne

What to See and Do in Ay-Champagne ?

Head towards Ay-Champagne, a must-visit village in the Champagne region! I absolutely love this small town in the Marne Valley, with its incredible history and prestigious slopes.

Because my tenants love it too, I’ve taken the time to prepare a (very) comprehensive guide about the surroundings, with the best champagne-related activities, places to eat and sleep + all my top tips.

From independent winemakers to major champagne houses, and places to see in Ay-Champagne, I’m taking you on a journey that will allow you to have a memorable stay.

The History of Ay-Champagne: A Village in the Heart of a Wine Region

Welcome to Ay-Champagne, a charming winemaking village located on the champagne route! In addition to being an iconic village of the Champagne region, Ay boasts vineyards listed as a UNESCO world heritage site, a source of pride for local winemakers.

Ay can also take pride in its rich history and its influence, which predates that of champagne. Indeed, the wines of Ay were appreciated by the court, and even recommended to Henry IV as a medicinal remedy due to their unparalleled lightness. He fell in love with this drink and its terroir, to the point of asserting that he would be prince of Ay if he were not king of France.

Like the king, I particularly love to wander there, getting lost in the alleys of the center and observing the typical half-timbered houses of the region, it’s always a pleasure.

In recent years, Ay-Champagne has become a municipality comprising Ay, Bisseuil, and Mareuil-sur-Ay, three small villages populated by Champenois who put their heart into bringing the region to life.

Whether it’s during the day or in the evening, the historic center of Ay is always lively, with a great atmosphere to boot! Enjoy it, it’s the sweetness of life in the Champagne style.

A few minutes away is the equally lively center of Mareuil-sur-Ay, especially next to Billecart-Salmon House. Reach the large parking lot before enjoying the brewery, the camper van area, and the children’s playground, it’s always a joyful meeting place.

Ay-champagne by bike - Champagne region France

Stop for an aperitif in Bisseuil, the smallest of the three villages, but by no means lacking in life, especially at the center bar which is the essential meeting point for the Champenois.

Local tip: like a local, pronounce the name of the village “Hi-he”.

Ready to visit Ay? You are about to have a memorable day in the Marne Valley!

Visit Ay-Champagne with a Local Guide

When I discover new places, I must admit I enjoy doing so in the company of a local guide who knows the area like the back of their hand and knows where to take me for a perfect stay.

But what I appreciate most about choosing a guide are the little anecdotes you won’t hear anywhere else, the little spots you would never have found, and that delightful moment of sharing.

If you too appreciate these details that make all the difference, choose to visit Ay with one of the guides from my selection, they are all tested and approved by me!

Impérial Marie Antoinette

My Vintage Tour


À la Française

And for those who prefer to visit freely, use this article as your guide, I’ve gathered places to visit, spots to eat, cellar tours to do, and Champagne winemakers to meet.

To continue to honor the region and the terroir, we start this overview with the independent winemakers that I was able to discover and that I recommend for a dive into this sparkling world.

The Best Independent Winemakers to See

Wherever you are in Champagne, take the time to visit at least one independent winemaker, it’s an experience you must have!

Champagne Pierre Lebœuf

If I decided to return to school to train in wine tourism and to always better accompany you in the discovery of the Champagne region, it is also an opportunity for me to discover new places!

Visit and tasting in Champagne region - Winemakers in Ay-Champagne - what to do and what to see in champagne region - Champagne Pierre Leboeuf

Pierre Leboeuf Champagne house is one of those places that I was able to explore from my student’s perspective, and I can tell you that we all had a good time.

Upon arrival, I was charmed by the building, a 15th-century half-timbered house really representative of the region and its heritage. For the rest, I equally enjoyed discovering the place, the history of the family, and the anecdotes of the house.

In addition to making us travel through the vaulted cellars, Hélène shares her knowledge with passion, which is really very appreciable. We received detailed and precise information, particularly about the process of making their champagnes, a (almost) unique vinification of its kind.

Indeed, the originality at Pierre Leboeuf is that the riddling of the bottles is done entirely by hand! Yes, when 90% of champagne production is mechanically riddled, this house has chosen to preserve this ancestral know-how used for 5 generations.

Visit and tasting in Champagne region - Winemakers in Ay-Champagne - what to do and what to see in champagne region - Champagne Pierre Leboeuf

To give you an idea, it takes 10 times longer, but I think it’s great to find winemakers who still work with the methods of the pioneers of the bubble.

And after the history of this house, we take a leap into the past with the discovery of the press built by the first generation and used for vinification until 1950, a piece to see! Still operational, it cannot be used because the pressure exerted is not uniform, which would impact the good pressing of the grapes.

Visit and tasting in Champagne region - Winemakers in Ay-Champagne - what to do and what to see in champagne region - Champagne Pierre Leboeuf

As always after a cellar exploration, we finish with tasting the domain’s cuvées, all with Hélène’s expert and passionate comments. Halfway between know-how and tradition, the 5 champagnes from this vineyard composed of nearly 90% Pinot Noir are designed as unique occasions.

To top it all off, Hélène and her father welcome visitors with a smile, a point that makes the difference for me and changes everything during a visit, thanks again to them!

A must-visit, domain to discover, and champagne to taste for those passing through Ay, and even for the local Champenois.

  • €15 for the tour, including 3 tastings

Champagne Egrot & Filles

This is the story of Élisabeth and Jean-Marie, a passionate couple in love with the Champagne terroir who welcome you to present the domain of Champagne Egrot et Filles.

Having been immersed in the wine world since childhood, it was in 2012 that they realized their dream: to create their own champagne house.

From the vineyard to the cellars carved into the chalk, through to the welcoming of visitors, the duo transmits this love of grapes that has animated them for all these years, a small detail that makes all the difference.

In addition to the valuable information provided about the secrets of champagne making, I was able to explore the superb 18th-century cellars! It was truly immense, one could almost get lost.

The objective of the Egrot Champagne house? To produce champagnes in their image, bubbles that they love to taste and that they love to share with family.

© Michel Jolyot

The bet is successful, and the tasting of the Brut at the end of the experience comes to confirm it! Connoisseurs will appreciate tasting these bubbles straight from the Grand Cru and Premier Cru classified vines.

And since it’s a small price for this experience at 15 €, which is even offered if you leave with a box of 6 bottles per couple, you have only good reasons to go.

Be careful, reservation is mandatory, visits are only by appointment! Write an email to Élisabeth ( who always takes the time to respond, the network does not always pick up in the cellars to receive your calls.

And now, let’s head towards the champagne houses known around the world, all prestigious and fascinating!

The Prestigious Champagne Houses

In addition to visiting a local winemaker, I find it equally captivating to also explore a grand champagne house. These two experiences complement each other and allow for a true immersion in the world of champagne.

I must confess that these houses are all more spectacular than the next; they’re a feast for the eyes! If you’re wondering what to do in Aÿ-Champagne, my top 3 champagne houses to visit is an excellent start to your day.

Champagne Ayala

Welcome to the enchanting world of Champagne Ayala, a house with an extraordinary tale. It is not just any champagne house, but a blend of history and passion.

Founded in 1860, the creator sought excellence while infusing a dash of originality in the production, a recipe that skyrocketed its fame until the 1920s, marking a golden era for the Ayala family.

However, wars, diseases, and revolts gradually overshadowed the house. But the true connoisseurs could not let the expression of Ayala wines fade away: Bollinger acquired the estate.

To mark this new beginning, the house got itself a brand-new winery along with a young and ambitious team full of ideas, and the recipe for international success returned.

As before, excellence is paramount, always paired with creativity to offer unique champagnes to enthusiasts worldwide, each reflecting the emblematic grape variety, the Chardonnay.

Visit the champagne house Ayala in Ay champagne -Champagne region - France
Visit the champagne house Ayala in Ay champagne -Champagne region - France

After descending 82 steps and 25 meters, I entered the vast cellars extending over 2.5 kilometers – it was awe-inspiring! The pictures I had seen did no justice to the grandeur of this place.

Another highlight was the tasting of Brut Majeur, Ayala’s iconic cuvée. This champagne is a must-try. Having tasted other wines from this house, I urge all Chardonnay fans to savor Champagne Ayala. You will fall in love and likely leave with a few bottles.

Visit the champagne house Ayala in Ay champagne -Champagne region - France
Visit the champagne house Ayala in Ay champagne -Champagne region - France
Visit the champagne house Ayala in Ay champagne -Champagne region - France

The tours are always intimate, which I appreciate as it allows time for questions and a more personalized experience than larger groups. With only three tours a day, make sure to book your preferred time slot in advance!

The cherry on top is that the team can tailor the experience according to the group’s desires, such as delving more into the champagne-making process or focusing on the house’s unique history.

Champagne Bollinger

I haven’t yet had the opportunity to explore the cellars, estate, and experiences of Champagne Bollinger, but I had to mention it in this guide of things to do in Aÿ. Elegance and refinement are the words that define Bollinger and its cuvées, a champagne house renowned among bubbly lovers worldwide.

With a rich heritage, expertise, and love for the vineyard, the house has been excelling since 1829, persistently pursuing excellence and supreme quality from the harvest to bottling and vinification.

For me, Bollinger is also James Bond’s champagne; I can’t think of it without hearing the iconic theme song and envisioning myself as a Bond girl while sipping on one of the house’s exquisite cuvées.

As I eagerly await the opportunity to step into the world of Bollinger, let me introduce you to my absolute favorite in Aÿ-Champagne, the Billecart-Salmon house.

Billecart-Salmon: My Aÿ-Champagne Gem

“Wow”, is the word I’d use if I had to describe the visit to Champagne Billecart-Salmon in one word! Yes, indeed, it was magnificent, I absolutely loved it and I’ll never forget this extraordinary place.

Situated in Mareuil-sur-Aÿ, this prestigious champagne house blew me away, it was purely sensational, from the entrance through the tasting, including the walk through the French-style gardens.

Even without having seen the place or tasted the champagnes, the significance of the house’s logo is simply magical. The B of Billecart and the S of Salmon intertwine, mirroring the Champagne vines and the swirls of bubbles that are unveiled in each bottle.

It’s when discovering the process of making the champagnes of the domain that you understand why it’s so unique, so qualitative, and so appreciated in France and on all continents.

The specificity at Billecart Salmon is that since 1958, the grapes undergo a cold fermentation. In fact, the fermentation is carried out at a temperature below 13°C (normally 18/20°C), a process that takes six weeks instead of 15 days, but above all, a choice of quality.

The result? The champagnes are really very good, and I tell you this from experience, I was lucky to taste four cuvées, including the Brut Rosé, an iconic one that always arouses the curiosity of bubble enthusiasts.

Just before this unforgettable tasting, I discovered the superb stainless steel vat room and especially the house’s cellar, an impressive room, I again thought “wow” when entering it.

Visit the Champagne House Billecart Salmon in Champagne region - France
© Leif Carlsson

Same effect in front of the casks, these famous XXL barrels next to which one feels tiny! Then comes the tour of the huge cellars, with small vaults everywhere where bottles rest on laths.

Finally, even if I didn’t really want it to end, we pass by the wine library started in 1945, just before heading to the tasting that I mentioned earlier.

You will understand, the visit and tasting are up to Billecart-Salmon’s standards: excellent.

Always to favor quality, the visits are done in small groups and by reservation only. Good to know, the schedule opens 3 months in advance, which allows you to block a date before your visit.

One does not visit Billecart-Salmon on a whim, nor even by chance passing by, it is rather a visit that requires preparation and that I particularly recommend to those who already know the house.

Visit the Champagne House Billecart Salmon in Champagne region - France
© Leif Carlsson
© Leif Carlsson

To visit, to taste and to taste again!

As you know, I love visiting cellars, but when it starts to get hungry, I only have one desire: to join a good table to feast! Follow me, I will take you to the best restaurants in Aÿ-Champagne.

Where to Eat in Ay-Champagne?

Rôtisserie Henri 4 for a Good Meal in Ay

In the garden which serves as a terrace or under the glass roof, one is always well received at Rôtisserie Henri IV! And if I appreciate the quality service and the beautiful setting, I can say just as much about the dishes proposed by the chef who creates a gourmet cuisine.

Being a restaurant and wine & champagne cellar, you’ll always find fresh and seasonal products on the menu, a big plus that foodies like me always appreciate.

Reserve your table if possible, locals also love to feast in this restaurant, and it’s not for nothing that it has found its place among my best restaurants around Epernay.

REstaurant open on sundays in epernay Champagne Region - Best Restaurant in Ay-Champagne - Champagne region

Clos Corbier for Lunch

We push the doors of the Clos Corbier, a unique and special place where I had lunch recently, but above all a concept that I particularly appreciated! It’s not a restaurant like the others, but a guest house in the heart of a champagne house.

Because you’re looking for a place where to eat in Aÿ, I’ll first tell you about the very good cuisine proposed at the table of Clos Corbier. Here, no endless menu, you eat Champagne specialties prepared as for a Sunday family meal. Lentillons de Champagne, local pâtés-croûte or even ratafia, the unique menu is really very good.

Champagne lunch in Champagne region France - must visit experience

The culinary experience is accompanied by the family’s champagnes and wines from the estate, always perfectly matched with the dishes of the seasonal menu. If you love the pleasures of the table, you’ll adore this perfectly mastered mix of food and wine!

Champagne lunch in Champagne region France - must visit experience

In addition to having delighted my taste buds, I fell in love with the immense garden just at the foot of the vineyards, the building covered with vine leaves, and the atmosphere that prevails there. And if you fall for the guest rooms, you’ll even enjoy the heated pool with a view of the Champagne vineyards.

Personally, I was fortunate to discover the place and I 100% recommend it! In addition to the meal and its tastings, I was able to enjoy a cellar tour as well as games and other activities around the world of champagne.

Champagne lunch in Champagne region France - must visit experience

It was good, it was fun, it was informative: the perfect combo to have a great time among adults!

Le 19cent60: In the Heart of Ay-Champagne

In the heart of Ay-Champagne, 19cent60 is a delightful brasserie where simplicity meets quality. With only 20 seats, this spot offers a warm and welcoming atmosphere, perfect for enjoying homemade dishes in a relaxed setting. Homemade fries and a varied menu will satisfy all tastes, making 19cent60 an ideal stop for lunch during your visit to Ay. It’s the perfect choice for those looking to combine culinary discovery with conviviality in Champagne.

Restaurant ay-champagne le 19cent60

Discover Avarum, the Must-Visit Restaurant in Ay-Champagne

If you plan to visit Ay-Champagne, don’t miss out on discovering Avarum, a small restaurant located in the heart of the village. This restaurant offers inventive and refined cuisine using fresh, local products, accompanied by a beautiful wine list showcasing the best vintages of the region.

Restaurant in Ay-champagne - Avarum - Champagne region France
Restaurant in Ay-champagne - Avarum - Champagne region France

Avarum organizes champagne masterclasses for those who wish to learn more about this iconic drink.

It’s clearly a must-visit spot during your time in Ay-Champagne, so don’t hesitate to book a table and let yourself be charmed by its warm and friendly atmosphere.

Must-Do Activities in Aÿ-Champagne

Pressoria: The Sensory Museum Around Champagne

Head over to Pressoria! It’s a must-visit place for a weekend in Champagne for me, but above all, it’s a place I love to go to, especially with my daughters who always enjoy it.

Pressoria in Ay-Champagne - Champagne region - France

Far more than a simple wine tourism museum, Pressoria offers a unique sensory experience around the world of champagne, an activity to do during your stay in Ay-Champagne.

Hurry up and discover this exceptional place, you are going to LOVE it!

The Must-See Henri IV Festival

After two years of waiting, I finally got the chance to participate in the flagship event of Aÿ-Champagne: the Henri IV Festival! Champagne tastings, visits to the courtyards of Champagne houses, funfair, craft market, and other festive activities are on the weekend’s program.

This village festival known throughout Champagne is attributed to Henri IV, who fell in love with the wines of Aÿ, enough to become the owner of an authentic press in the 17th century.

To pay tribute to the man nicknamed the lord of good wine and good bread, the people of Aÿ hand over the keys to the city every two years, and they take advantage of the opportunity to have a party, a rather fun tradition!

On Saturday, the festival is inaugurated, punctuated by bands and the passage of flag throwers. When night falls, it’s time to marvel at the fireworks shot from the vineyards, all accompanied by a few bubbles, of course.

Visit Ay Champagne - what to see and do - Champagne region - France
© Vincent Zénon Rigaud
Visit Ay Champagne - what to see and do - Champagne region - France
© Vincent Zénon Rigaud

And to end the festivities, a large parade brings together locals, visitors, artists, and local players to accompany the mayor on his white horse, or rather the famous Henri IV. This year, we saw 500 extras parade with floats and horses, it was great, the girls loved it.

When is the Henri IV Festival held? Always during the first weekend of July, every two years. The next edition will be held on July 6 and 7, 2024, so block off your weekend!

Visit Ay Champagne - what to see and do - Champagne region - France
Cliché : Vincent Zénon Rigaud

© Vincent Zénon Rigaud

Remember to book your accommodation in Aÿ several months in advance to be well placed and party until the end of the night. Note that the city center is closed to traffic, so it’s in your best interest to be on the spot.

Good news, those staying in Epernay or Dizy can take advantage of free shuttles throughout the weekend.

To help you find a cocoon, I’ve prepared a selection of the best accommodations where to sleep in Aÿ, to keep preciously.

Where to Stay in Aÿ-Champagne?

If you’re not spending the night in our apartments, I advise you to stay on-site so that you really have time to enjoy the village. You can even savour the champagne until the end of the night before returning to your accommodation on foot, an opportunity not to be missed.

Located in the heart of the village of Aÿ, Aurelien’s two rental apartments are perfect for couples, families, and groups of friends. Whether you prefer a large 120 m² apartment or a small studio, these two cosy spaces are located in a beautiful half-timbered building close to all amenities.

While retaining the charm of the old, Aurelien has managed to create a neat, modern décor that offers an atmosphere where you feel good. What’s more, your host is always delighted to chat with you and guide you during your stay.

Studio for 2 people

Terrasse up to 8 people

Still in the town centre, Cédric offers you two fully equipped and comfortable accommodations. Whether you feel like relaxing, going to the morning market or to the restaurants after a day of sightseeing, these two apartments can accommodate couples and groups of up to 6 people.

Plus, Cédric is a pleasant, welcoming host who knows how to entertain properly! Like me, he’s a Champagne lover, which is why he takes pleasure in sharing his favourite spots for discovering the region with you.

Practical Information for Your Stay in Aÿ-Champagne

Easily accessible from Epernay or Reims, Aÿ-Champagne is THE winemaking village you must visit during your stay in Champagne.

Take advantage of the market on Friday mornings on Place Henri Martin, it’s great for tasting local products and filling your basket with delicious treats! I don’t know about you, but I like to experience life like the locals, and I think the market is a wonderful opportunity to do just that.

How to Get to Aÿ-Champagne?

By bus, bike, train or car, the village is directly accessible from Epernay and Reims.

If you’re cycling, plan on about a 20-minute ride on a flat, straight line, the route is accessible to everyone, whether you’re on an electric bike or not!

By bus, take line 10 from the Epernay bus station, with arrival in the centre of Aÿ in just ten minutes. Buses leave every 30 minutes throughout the day for the small fare of €1.10 with a Mouv’1 ticket.

Where can you buy your bus ticket? Directly from the driver when you get on the bus!

By regional train, it’s only a 5-minute journey from Epernay, just enough time to enjoy the scenery. And if you’re staying in Reims, plan on about twenty minutes to reach Aÿ-Champagne, perfect for spending the day before heading back to enjoy the evening in the city of coronations.

Where can you buy your train ticket? Online on Trainline or at the ticket machines at Epernay station. From Epernay, get on the train heading towards Reims, and vice versa to reach Aÿ from Reims.

And if you’re driving, you won’t have time to notice the 10-minute journey from Epernay! From Reims, it’s a 35-minute drive through the Champagne vineyards and forest.

Now it’s your turn to visit and discover Aÿ-Champagne! Above all, enjoy the Champagne region and its many treasures.

Remember, alcohol abuse is dangerous for health, please consume responsibly.

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