Épernay is one of the must-see places to visit during a stay in the Champagne region, France, and it’s not just because we live there and love our town that we’re telling you that! OK, maybe a little… but all the best tourist guides agree with us! So when you ask yourself, “What to do in Epernay”, we are here to give you our advice on the top attractions and things to do, as 100% locals tips.
The best view of the Region from the Epernay captive balloon
The what? Yes, it’s true that not everyone knows what it is! The story goes back to the 1900 Paris Universal Exhibition when Eugène Mercier decided to create the first captive balloon to allow visitors to fly over Paris and at the same time to promote his Champagne estate…a genius idea!
The “captive” balloon is a kind of hot air balloon linked to the ground by a cable. In Épernay, the tethered balloon rises to an altitude of 150m and allows you to enjoy a 360° panoramic view of the entire Champagne region!
With your head in the stars, you can admire the prestigious hillsides of Reims, the Champagne vineyards and mansions, such as Moët & Chandon and Perrier-Jouët, of the famous Avenue de Champagne, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Each “flight” duration is about 12 minutes in total silence thanks to the hydroelectric winch mechanism, which gently lets the helium-filled balloon rise without any noise.
- Price: 12€ per adult / 6€ per child (3 to 11 years old) / Free for children under 3 years old
- Opening hours: Remember to call on the day of your visit to check the balloon take-off times
- More info: 03 26 57 89 24 / ballon-epernay.com
Visit and tour a great champagne house and its kilometres of cellars
Visiting one of the great Champagne houses in Épernay is clearly one of the top things to visit in Epernay! Moët et Chandon, Mercier, Boizel, De Venoge, De Castelanne, Perrier Jouët, etc. So many prestigious names that put bubbles in our eyes!
Located on the Avenue de Champagne, you will be spoilt for choice to visit and tour one of these impressive 19th-century mansions and their kilometres of cellars where France’s and the world’s most famous champagne vintages are stored. This will be just the opportunity to learn more about the creation of these underground galleries dug at the end of the 17th century.
- Prices: Prices to visit and tour a cellar vary according to the house, count between 20€ and 30€ per adult
- More info: opening hours and day tours: maisons-champagne.com
Tour the museum of champagne wine and regional archaeology in Epernay
Take a day tour at the new museum in the cultural landscape of Épernay (its inauguration took place at the end of May 2021). At this attraction is the Champagne wine and archaeology museum!
With more than 2,000 exhibits, this museum offers different thematic exhibition rooms retracing the history of Champagne from prehistory to the present day. A tour of the museum starts with the formation of the Champagne landscape several million years ago, then we learn more about the settlement of humans in Champagne to end with the history of Champagne wine.
In 2011, the city of Épernay had the idea of creating this museum of Champagne wine and regional archaeology within the Château Perrier. It took 10 years to restore this magnificent 19th-century French castle to transform it into a true 21st-century museum and one of our best attractions in the region.
Both a fun and educational attraction, the museum offers a modern and interactive scenography that encourages personal experimentation and will appeal to young and old alike!
- Opening hours: daily 10am – 7pm (from April 1st to October 31st) / 10.30am – 12.30pm and 2pm – 5.30pm (from November 1st to March 31st)
- Prices: €9 (full price) / €6 (reduced price) / Free for under 13s and jobseekers
- More info: archeochampagne.epernay.fr/en
Stroll along with the Avenue de Champagne and see the attractions
The Avenue de Champagne is one of the reasons why 500,000 visitors come for tastings and discover our beautiful town of Epernay and its attractions every year! It is, of course, the must-see part of a visit to Épernay, France.
But what exactly is the Avenue de Champagne?
“The richest avenue in the world” is the superlative term used to describe the main artery of Epernay, which hides more than 100 km of cellars housing more than 200 million bottles of the most precious nectar! Imagine the value of all these bottles combined… Do you understand the nickname now?
The first Champagne houses settled on this avenue in the middle of the 19th century, and it was in 1925 that the Rue du Commerce was renamed Avenue de Champagne.
Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Avenue de Champagne is now home to some of the most prestigious champagne houses in the world. Amongst others, you can admire the châteaux or private mansions of Moët & Chandon, Perrier-Jouët, Boizel, de Venoge, Vranken, Pol Roger, Mercier, G.H. Martel…
Every year in December, the Avenue de Champagne is transformed for a weekend for the “Habits de Lumière”, festivities where you can enjoy street shows, concerts, old cars parade, gastronomy and champagne tastings of course!
Guided tours of Epernay with Greeters
We really advise you to take one of the guided tours of Epernay, right from the start of your stay! Taking a tour in Champagne will be useful for the duration of your stay in France! It allows you to understand the history of our city, learn many things, and get some tips on the best attractions from the local guides.
But for us, the best is to visit Epernay with “Greeters”! Greeters what? Greeters, of course! This is the name given to passionate inhabitants who will share their love of their town or their district on a voluntary basis. This concept was born in the United States and, more precisely, in New York. The idea is to see a city like Paris, Reims, Épernay in a different way, taking a tour with someone who lives in the city and can share their daily life and the things they love with visitors.
The Épernay Greeters, inhabitants who are passionate about our beloved town, will share their secret corners and their favourite things and places with you during a friendly stroll, so don’t hesitate to call on them!
- More info and tour hours: The Greeters of Epernay
Climb Mount Bernon for an exceptional view of Epernay and the vineyards
You will notice it when you take a trip to visit us, the surroundings of Épernay are hilly and many “mounts” mark out the Champagne landscape. You can walk to Mount Bernon from the town centre and discover its 3-hectare park and its panoramic view of the town and the Champagne vineyards.
A clearing with trees and picnic tables will certainly make you want to come and spend a day trip on Mount Bernon and enjoy a breathtaking view of the Avenue de Champagne and the captive balloon.
For the children, there is a course and play area, as well as interpretation panels on the themes of fauna, flora, geology and the landscape of the wine-growing hillsides.
Don’t forget that Mount Bernon is not the only exceptional viewpoint, many other viewpoints are accessible in the vicinity of Epernay, Champagne, with a simple bicycle ride! And if you feel like it, we really advise that you rent electric bikes for a day trip of discovering the region. It’s a great way of getting around on the small country roads without worrying about the difference in altitude!
It’s so cool and practical that we decided to offer electric bikes for hire to our guests for the duration of their stay at our gîtes in Epernay.
Our local tips for visiting Epernay
To finish this article, we are going to give you some of our practical advice for visiting Epernay. These tips are 100% local!
Where to stay in Epernay
As we explained in our article “Where to stay to visit Champagne“, Épernay is for us the ideal city to discover our region and neighbouring cities, like Reims. It is both a small town where you can do everything on foot and very central to get around with all the major tourist sites of the Champagne region within walking distance.
We offer flats for rent to visitors 10 minutes from the centre of Epernay .
There is also a wide range of accommodation in Épernay, but we advise you to book in advance of your trip to have the best choice, especially in high season. Easily travel from your accommodation to the best attractions.
Parking : where to park in Epernay
The whole city centre is paid parking, so we advise you to stay outside the city centre, which allows you to park your car for free and then do everything in town on foot.
That said, there is a large car park (P. Charles de Gaulle) in the town centre which allows you to park easily for the duration of your trip (also paying).
Where to eat in Epernay
Épernay offers a wide range of gastronomy. Many restaurants will welcome you for lunch, dinner or tastings. It is advisable to book the restaurants at least a few days in advance, especially for a weekend trip. If you want to know our best addresses, we have compiled our list of the best restaurants in and around Epernay!
How to choose your Champagne tours and tastings
It is very complementary to choose a big house (De Castellane, Mercier, Moët et Chandon, etc.) and an independent Vigneron. The big houses will allow you to visit the mythical kilometres of cellars under Épernay, but the visit of a more modest winemaker will allow you to enjoy a tasting and learn more about the functioning of a small house. It is often the opportunity to have a real meeting with a passionate winegrower. Don’t hesitate to read our article on how to do a Champagne tasting around Épernay.
What is the best season to visit Epernay ?
Épernay has charm in all seasons!
In spring, the vineyards in Champagne are in bloom, in summer everything is green and it’s quite quiet in the vineyards, at the end of August it’s harvest time, an interesting time to come because you can see the presses running in some of the vineyards, autumn is one of the prettiest times for the patchwork of colour in the vineyards.
Dates to remember, highlights in Epernay
- 22 January – Saint-Vincent: patron saint of the winegrowers, large costume parade.
- Second weekend in December – the Dress of Light: concert, show, parades, champagne tastings.
- 14th July – National holiday France: picnic, white evening and fireworks.
Photo gallery of Epernay , France
To finish this article we leave you with some pictures of the capital of Champagne, we hope that this will give you the desire to come to visit and tour our little home!