You’ve planned a weekend visit to Champagne, and you’re wondering which tours are essential to make the most of this beautiful region of France. There are so many great things to do in Champagne! We live in Epernay, France, so we’re going to give you our top local tips in this article!
Reims, Epernay, heritage towns and villages, day trips, group tours, museums, gastronomy, vineyards, and champagne houses, we’ve put together our top local tips to discover everything that makes the Champagne region so charming.
What makes our region unique is that our city is as beautiful as the country, with the many nature walks along the Marne or in the Montagne de Reims Regional Park are also a must for a trip to Champagne.
Cave aux coquillages, a must-see tourist site to visit the Champagne region
It was unknown to us, but the Champagne region is a tropical region covered by a sea of strange animals. Isn’t that crazy? Well, that’s what the Cave aux coquillages (litterally The Shells Cellar) in Fleury-la-rivière offers you to discover!
The Cave aux coquillages de Fleury-la-rivière is located in the underground galleries of the Legrand-Latour Estate. It is a guided tour in an underground environment that takes us back in time, 45 million years ago, to a time when giant snails could be observed in Champagne!
Between the discovery of Lutetian fossils and a geological approach to the soil of our region, this is a fun and not-to-be-missed day visit, for young and old, during a weekend in Champagne region.
- Opening hours: All year round tours by reservation
- Prices: 15€ per adult with a champagne tasting / 10€ for children under 16
- More info: geologie-oenologie.fr
Visit Pressoria in Aÿ-Champagne, one of the top things to see when visiting the Champagne region
With an inauguration date of June/July 2021, Pressoria in the village of Aÿ-Champagne is already one of the must-see attractions of a weekend in Champagne. First of all, the village of Aÿ-Champagne is worth a visit for its typical French preserved architecture. But with the Pressoria, the village becomes even more interesting for visitors to our beautiful region.
The Pressoria was built in a former building of the Pommery estate dating from 1890 and transformed into a cultural facility and sensory interpretation centre for Champagne wines. A visit includes educational facilities, an oenology training centre, museum trails, and a tasting area with a bistronomic restaurant.
Pressoria offers an unusual sensory experience to understand and learn all about Champagne in a fun and interactive way.
- Opening hours: Monday to Sunday except Thursday (closed) / From 10am to 6pm from 01/11 to 31/03 (last admission at 4.30pm) / From 9.30am to 6.30pm from 01/04 to 31/10 (last admission at 5pm)
- Prices: 16€ per adult / 8,50€ per child from 6 years old
Dom Pérignon, a must-see tourist site to visit in the Champagne region
The village of Hautvillers, located 5km north of Epernay, is one of the most important places in the history of wine in our region. It is here that we find the tomb of the famous Dom Pérignon! Dom Pérignon was the Grand Cellérier of the Abbey of Hautvillers, i.e. the monk in charge of foodstuffs. He is considered to have “invented” the technique of champagnisation of wine at the end of the 17th century.
Hautvillers is known as the “village with 140 signs”. A stroll through the cobbled streets will allow you to discover the signs that reveal the activity of the houses and buildings, a tradition that goes back centuries, to the Middle Ages.
The Benedictine abbey of Saint-Pierre d’Hautvillers, founded in the 7th century, is today the property of Champagne Moët & Chandon, which produces one of the best-known champagnes in France and the world: Dom Pérignon champagne!
Climb the Verzenay lighthouse, an unmissable place to visit in the Champagne region
A lighthouse in the middle of the vineyards, but what a strange idea, isn’t it? In 1909, Joseph Goulet decided to build a lighthouse in the middle of the Champagne vineyards to do what we would call today a “publicity stunt” and make people talk about his champagne estate!
The Verzenay Lighthouse is located 20 km away from Reims. It quickly became one of the best local attractions for all the inhabitants of the region, especially when a restaurant and an open-air theatre were opened! After the Second World War, interest in the lighthouse slowly declined until the Verzenay town council bought it back.
Today, the Verzenay lighthouse offers a sublime 360° view of the vineyards, and its vineyard museum offers a guided tour of the history of Champagne. There is also a tasting area with some of the best and most prestigious champagne vintages from the Reims mountain.
- Opening hours: every day, from 10 am to 6.30 pm.
- Prices: 9€ per adult / 5€ between 6 and 16 years old / free for children under 6 years old
Tour and taste the specialities of the Champagne region
There is more to Champagne than just champagne tasting! Our beautiful region is full of French pleasures that you should definitely try during a trip to Champagne.
- Pink biscuits from Reims
A culinary speciality of the Champagne region (and more specifically of Reims), this is a kind of boudoir coloured pink. As luck would have it, local customs dictate that the pink Reims biscuit is best eaten by dipping it in champagne to soften it.
- Pâté en croûte
It is one of the symbols of French gastronomy, but did you know that the pâté en croûte was originally from the Champagne region? It is a savoury “pastry” made from puff pastry (or shortcrust pastry) surrounding a meat filling.
Obtained by maceration of grape must, Ratafia is a slightly sweet alcoholic drink. The perfect combo: pour a base of Ratafia into a glass, then top it with champagne, and you’ll certainly be smiling very quickly!
- Smile of Reims
Talking about smiles, here is our specialist of the Médicis dragée since 1929. You will find the best-coated almonds in the centre of Reims.
The best places to eat in Champagne
To begin with, our article on the best restaurants in and around Epernay may be useful. You should also know that the hillsides around Épernay are particularly good for picnics. By the way, we wanted to tell you about this very nice place in Moussy: La Loge Table. It’s not a restaurant, it’s just a table set up on the hillsides with a breathtaking view of the champagne vineyards. The ideal place to come and have a picnic during the day with the whole family!
- Travel: GPS coordinates: Latitude: 49.021529 / Longitude: 3.914154
- Website: vignart.fr/evenements/la-loge-table
Reims and its Cathedral, one of the best things to see in Champagne
Visiting the star of the Champagne region, Reims, is, of course, one of the unmissable things to do during a weekend visit in Champagne. We’ll start with Notre-Dame de Reims, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The sublime gothic cathedral was the coronation place of the kings of France for centuries.
The city centre of Reims is worth a visit with its rich heritage: the Carnegie Library or the Cinema Opera for the Art Deco architecture, the Gallo-Roman remains of the Porte de Mars and the Place du Forum, the Manège – Circus dating from 1865, the beautiful Place d’Erlon, and the possibility of visiting a beautiful Champagne house such as the prestigious Veuve Cliquot or Pommery houses.
Also, take advantage of your visit to Reims to discover the Palais de Tau, the royal residence where the kings of France stayed during the coronation ceremonies.
For a bit of nature in the city, go for a walk in the Parc de Champagne or a trip to the Parc Pierre Schneiter, and if you want to escape into the stars, head for the Reims planetarium!
Cycling along the banks of the Marne, a top experience when visiting the Champagne region
Our region offers more than 450 km of safe greenways, ideal for cycling day tours. This is an opportunity to discover the local heritage in a different way and to enjoy the fresh air and the surrounding nature!
The banks of the Marne are a delight for nature walks in Champagne. Get on your bikes, take advantage of the circuits and tours, and discover the villages along the canal or the river. There are various cycling routes in Champagne on which to travel. We recommend the itinerary that leaves from Epernay to visit the villages of Damery or Aÿ-Champagne.
Cycling around Epernay is also an opportunity to take the time to admire the Champagne wine-growing landscape, listed as a World Heritage Site! As the bucolic landscapes of the banks of the Marne pass by, the vines take on different colours depending on the season, and the champagne houses open up to you for a few tastings. But be careful on your cycle back to your accommodation!
Visit Epernay and its unmissable Avenue de Champagne
We can’t talk about things to do in Champagne without mentioning Epernay. As the capital of Champagne, the town of Epernay is one of the must-sees of a day trip or weekend in the Champagne region, France. And it’s not just because we live there that we’re telling you that (well, not only that!).
Epernay is, as we said in our article on the subject, the ideal town to stay in when visiting the Champagne region. It offers all the advantages of the city and the countryside combined and its central location is one of its best assets.
But above all, Epernay has a rich cultural and architectural heritage. In the town centre, the famous Avenue de Champagne is home to the most prestigious Champagne houses in the world, including the incomparable Moët & Chandon. But, the Avenue de Champagne is also 110 km of underground galleries where the precious nectar is kept!
If you stay in Epernay, don’t miss a trip to its captive air balloon! The balloon will take you to a height of over 150m to enjoy an incomparable view of the Champagne vineyard landscape.
Visit the Champagne vineyards with a guided tour
Visiting the great Champagne houses is one of the must-do things for a day trip or weekend in our region. As you have seen, you will find the most prestigious houses to tour in Reims and in Épernay and its surroundings. But what about going a little further and learning more about the Champagne vineyards?
We really advise you to take a tour of the Champagne vineyards with a specialist tour guide who will share his knowledge and anecdotes with you.
Many agencies offer guided tours of the Champagne vineyards with unusual means of transport: “My Vintage Tour” takes you on a 1980s dispatch van and “Ay-Champagne Experience” in an electric Mehari!
Taking a guided tour means taking advantage of the best guides from the region to learn more about the vineyards, the grape varieties, the making of champagne, the sabrage, etc. You can visit in private or on group trips. These walks in the vineyard, most often accompanied by tastings, allow a complete tour of what our beautiful region offers.
Some tour guides we recommend
- My vintage Tour Company
Romain and Maëva
Family-friendly / Warm / Relaxed
06 64 33 93 84
- Ay Champagne Experience
Private tours / Convivial
06 20 33 21 44
- Ludovic Paste
Tastings and private visits / Meals with food and wine pairing
06 40 47 88 36
- Groom VTC
06 03 31 27 15
Tasting tour at a small independent winemaker
From our point of view, doing a tasting at an independent winegrower’s is one of the things you can’t miss when you come for a weekend in Champagne. In fact, we talk about it in our article on how to do a Champagne tasting. It’s a very different atmosphere from the big Champagne houses. The welcome is often warm, and you meet passionate people.
If we had to recommend an independent winemaker, it would be “Le Champagne Maurice Choppin”.
Benjamin is an independent winegrower in organic conversion who will welcome you with a smile! He is a “récoltant manipulant”, which means that he does everything himself. Benjamin will share his passion for his vineyard with you. You will have the chance to taste his champagne at different stages of production, and he will explain his way of working his terroir.
For those who are used to drinking champagne, it must be said that his different bottles are little nuggets!
- Opening hours: You must call and make an appointment for a tasting visit and tour. It is a small estate, and Benjamin is often in the vineyards working.
- Contact: 06 65 43 45 79 / champagne-choppin.fr
Come visit us and take advantage of our advice on tours and tastings to discover the best of the Champagne region!