Cuisine Travel & Culture

Traveling to the Heart of the Champagne Region

Épernay, France | Champagne

“I only drink champagne when I’m happy and when I’m sad. Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone. When I have company, I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I’m not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise, I never touch it – unless I’m thirsty.”

Madame Bollinger, House of Bollinger Champagne

Is there any other drink on earth as elegant, as refined, as representative of celebration and friendship than champagne? First there is the almost ceremonious unwinding of the metal restraints, the removal of the foil, the pop! of the cork, and then the pouring of the golden, effervescent liquid into the crystal flute. There is nothing left to do but to sip and savor the glorious wine with its exhilarating bubbles and to enjoy the exquisite luxury of it.

Champagne pouring

Madame Bollinger, who ran the House of Bollinger, based in Ay, France, from 1941 to 1971, traveled the world to promote her brand and the magic of champagne. Lily Bollinger certainly had a sense of humor when she spoke of drinking of champagne in so many circumstances, but her point was that champagne is universal.

Whether out to a fancy dinner or enjoying a casual weekend brunch, whether one is happy or sad, alone or together in a large group, it is the introduction of champagne to the occasion that fully expresses the high quality of the moment and that particular zest for life for which the French are so famous.

Husband and wife celebrating with champagne

This beautiful drink that we so associate with happiness and good times originates from the region of Champagne in France, a very special and storied part of the world that I had the good fortune of visiting with my husband while on our honeymoon.

We were always interested in traveling to Champagne, but we were completely inspired to plan to visit Champagne on the first stop of our honeymoon after watching a documentary entitled, A Year in Champagne. You can watch the official trailer below. For those who would like to practice listening to French, this documentary gives you that lovely opportunity, but with the benefit of English subtitles to help you along.

**The following part of this post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking through my links. 

I thoroughly encourage anyone interested in traveling to Champagne and winemaking and wine tasting in general to watch this documentary! It costs $15.85 on DVD and only $3.99 to rent with Amazon Prime. You can rent or purchase it by clicking the image below. It is such a treat to watch and makes for a great date night or girls’ night in. Make sure you have some bubbly on hand as you watch!

So my husband and I drank champagne at our wedding on Cape Cod (see more about our wedding style in A Paris-Inspired Wedding: Part I and A Paris-Inspired Wedding: Part II), and next we were off to Épernay, France, the capital of the Champagne region, for a few sparkling days!

Champagne vineyards

We flew into Charles de Gaulle on a quiet, sunny Sunday morning in July and picked up our small, black Peugeot rental car that we would take on to Épernay, which is about an hour and a half drive east of Paris and about a 35 minutes drive south of Reims, where many famous champagne houses are also located.

If you choose to take the train to Épernay from Paris or from Charles de Gaulle airport, the trip should take just over an hour! We opted for the car, as we would be heading to Burgundy after Champagne and were looking for autonomy while on our trip.

Champagne is so close and accessible from Paris, and you could definitely opt for a day trip if you are staying in the capital. Ô Chateau, located in the 1st arrondissement of Paris, offers champagne tastings and also day trips to Champagne! Check out their video below to get a sense of what a day trip to Champagne with Ô Chateau would be like:

 

As my husband and I set off on our trip to Champagne a short time after landing at Charles de Gaulle, we were feeling very French in our small, black Peugeot and its French GPS (We became quite accustomed to assessing and discussing distance in kilomètres). Before long, we found ourselves smiling at the beauty that surrounded us.

We were suddenly in the heart of the French countryside, admiring the rows of vines in the vineyards and the shining, golden hay bails perched on rolling wheat fields. We were awed by the beauty and so happy with our choice to spend the majority of our lune de miel in the French countryside.

French countryside of Champagne

French hay bails in Champagne

As I gazed out the car window, I often felt as though I were looking out upon a tableau by Van Gogh or Monet. The colors were so vibrant, so alive. The open road was very quiet, and we would frequently stop just to take a few photos of the vines or to admire some of the beautiful animals that we saw along the way, like this pony below!

Horse in Champagne

Before long, we came upon a vineyard where workers were tending to the vines. It was the first time that we had ever seen the people who care for the vines and later harvest the grapes that will one day be made into champagne. The enormity of the whole beautiful process, and its deep-rooted connection to this terroir, or bit of earth and its accompanying climate, swept over us.

Champagne vineyard workers

Champagne truck and vineyard

Though there was some other agricultural activity, it was clear to see that the whole region of Champagne is predominantly dedicated to one sparkling beverage: champagne. Signs of it were everywhere. There were the vineyards, picturesque wine barrels stacked up by the side of the road, and signs enticing visitors of the Route touristique du Champagne to stop into the various small champagne houses for a dégustation, or tasting.

Champagne barrels and vineyards

Champagne vineyard grapes

We passed through quaint villages on our way to Épernay and sometimes deviated from the path laid out to us by our GPS, choosing to meander along the Route touristique du Champagne at times, just to see where it would take us.

Champagne village

Champagne village road signs

Hay bails and vines in Champagne

It’s times like this where you are glad to have your own car; my husband and I had a blast before we even arrived at our destination of Épernay!

We finished our picturesque drive and arrived in the city of Épernay, where we pulled onto the famous avenue de Champagne, which cuts through the center of town and along which sit most of the major champagne houses of Épernay, including Moët et Chandon. I chatted on the phone en français with our hosts, and while they readied our room, my husband and I lounged in the parc surrounding the Hôtel de Ville d’Épernay, or the beautiful town hall of Épernay.

Town hall of Épernay

After a brief stroll in the park, we got back in our now trusty Peugeot and pulled up to 27 avenue de Champagne, the location of the lovely bed and breakfast, Parva Domus, where we would be staying for the following few nights.

Parva Domus

Have you ever traveled to the Champagne region of France, or would you like to? I always fly on Air France when possible, since you already start to feel like you’re in France from the moment you board the plane! How do you prefer to travel to France? Answer in the comments below! We’d love to hear from you!
Air France

Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram, like us on Facebook, and follow on Twitter, Pinterest, and Bloglovin’! Stay tuned for an upcoming post about our stay at Parva Domus on avenue de Champagne as well as a cellar visit to Moët et Chandon and dégustations at a few of the other champagne houses in Épernay.

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À la prochaine,

Lindsay

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32 Comments

  • Reply
    Krystin
    April 17, 2017 at 10:21 pm

    This sounds amazing, it’s always been on my bucket list to travel to the champagne region – so exciting!

    Krystin
    http://www.girlinbetsey.com

    • Reply
      Lindsay Shores
      April 18, 2017 at 11:00 am

      Krystin, visiting Champagne is very much worth it! And in just a day or a few days, you can really get a sense for the region. If you ever visit Épernay, I recommend staying right on the avenue de Champagne. It’s beautiful and very easy to get to all the major champagne houses on foot. There is so much history there, too, which is incredible! Napoleon used to stay there with his friend Jean-Rémy Moët every time he passed through Épernay. I haven’t tried visiting Reims yet, which is another popular city in Champagne, but it’s on my list! xx, Lindsay

  • Reply
    Christina S.
    April 18, 2017 at 1:43 pm

    A colleague of mine is headed to Paris next week and is doing a day trip to Champagne – I’m insanely jealous! It’s definitely on my list.

    • Reply
      Lindsay Shores
      April 18, 2017 at 6:33 pm

      Pretty soon then it’ll be you heading to Champagne for a day trip or for a few days after Paris! Cheers to you, Christina! xx

  • Reply
    Ashley
    April 18, 2017 at 7:20 pm

    Moet & Chandon is the best champagne. Sounds like an amazing place to take a day trip! I love all things France related 🙂

    • Reply
      Lindsay Shores
      April 18, 2017 at 8:14 pm

      So true Ashley! Champagne is a beautiful part of France to visit – you must go! xx, Lindsay

  • Reply
    Cait Weingartner
    April 19, 2017 at 6:42 am

    These are such beautiful photos! The next time I travel to France, I am definitely going to try to schedule time to visit this region. It looks amazing.

    • Reply
      Lindsay Shores
      April 19, 2017 at 4:33 pm

      Thank you, Cait! I highly recommend it! You can get there in just over an hour from Paris, and it is so worth it, whether for the day or for a few days! xx, Lindsay

  • Reply
    Ali
    April 20, 2017 at 3:22 am

    What an awesome experience! I definitely want to go back to France some day – and this would be such a perfect way to spend a day!

    • Reply
      Lindsay Shores
      April 20, 2017 at 12:49 pm

      It really was awesome, Ali! And there’s more to come about this trip in my upcoming post about staying on the avenue de Champagne at this amazing bed and breakfast, Parva Domus, run by the adorable M. et Mme Rimaire, and visiting the cellars of Moët et Chandon! If you make the day trip, check out Viator for vineyard tours, lunches, and culinary lessons in the region! xx, Lindsay

  • Reply
    Marlynn | UrbanBlissLife
    April 20, 2017 at 2:49 pm

    I’ve been to France but not to the Champagne region before. I need to! Thanks for the tips in this post!

    • Reply
      Lindsay Shores
      April 20, 2017 at 5:55 pm

      You’re so welcome, Marlynn! So happy that you have visiting Champagne in mind now! Cheers! xx, Lindsay

  • Reply
    MaryAnne
    April 20, 2017 at 4:53 pm

    Sounds great! thanks for sharing this interesting post!

    • Reply
      Lindsay Shores
      April 20, 2017 at 5:27 pm

      Thanks MaryAnne! Glad you enjoyed it! xx, Lindsay

  • Reply
    Theresa
    April 21, 2017 at 1:38 pm

    Aw I just love France so much! Can’t wait to visit again this summer! Thanks for sharing your beautiful pictures!
    Love from Austria,
    Theresa | http://www.primetimechaos.com

    • Reply
      Lindsay Shores
      April 21, 2017 at 1:45 pm

      Thank you for the kind words about my photos, Theresa! I am so glad you are traveling to France this summer! I have been to Vienna once and cannot wait to get back – and I would love to travel to other parts of Austria! Bisous, Lindsay

  • Reply
    val hansen
    April 21, 2017 at 5:07 pm

    Your pictures are gorgeous and what a beautiful bride~ I am from the west coast and have yet to see Boston, am dying to!

    Valerie
    xo

    • Reply
      Lindsay Shores
      April 21, 2017 at 11:14 pm

      Val, thank you so much for your kind words! If you come to Boston, let me know, and I will point you in the right direction! Gros bisous, Lindsay

  • Reply
    Natalie
    April 21, 2017 at 5:30 pm

    What a fun trip! I was in France last summer but we weren’t able to stop by this region. Next time for sure!

    • Reply
      Lindsay Shores
      April 21, 2017 at 11:12 pm

      Natalie, I am honestly so excited for everyone to visit this region who hasn’t. Please watch the documentary “A Year in Champagne.” I referenced it in my post; it may be available on Netflix as well as on Amazon. It gives such a wonderful sense of the history of the region, including the wars that Champagne has endured and the culture of the families that have dedicated their lives to the vines. It is a truly beautiful place with a tragic and beautiful cultural story to tell. xx, Lindsay

  • Reply
    Logan
    April 21, 2017 at 5:41 pm

    Oh, how beautiful! I would love to travel to a vineyard!

    • Reply
      Lindsay Shores
      April 21, 2017 at 11:05 pm

      It is just a wonderful experience! I have never seen agriculture and luxury so intertwined as when my husband and I visited the vineyards of Champagne and Burgundy. You must visit! xx, Lindsay

  • Reply
    Kate
    April 21, 2017 at 9:09 pm

    So beautiful! I have the travel bug again after looking at your photos. It looks like you had a great time!

    • Reply
      Lindsay Shores
      April 21, 2017 at 11:04 pm

      Bonsoir, Kate! It was wonderful, and honestly the photos you saw were only from our drive into Épernay! What beautiful countryside we found in Champagne. The region almost feels like a best-kept secret, since it seemed quiet to us, though the most famous and the most luxurious sparkling beverage in the world comes from the vineyards of Champagne! If you ever plan a trip, let me know and I will give you what tips I can! xx, Lindsay

  • Reply
    Ruthie
    April 24, 2017 at 3:42 am

    These are such beautiful photos! I can’t wait to get to France!!

    • Reply
      Lindsay Shores
      May 21, 2017 at 4:38 pm

      Thank you Ruthie!! It is so worth the trip!! Allez-y!! xx, Lindsay

  • Reply
    Cat
    April 24, 2017 at 10:34 pm

    So gorgeous!! Loved your pics–makes me want to go there!

    • Reply
      Lindsay Shores
      May 21, 2017 at 4:39 pm

      Merci Cat!! Honestly, it is such a lovely trip to take to Champagne if you are visiting Paris and are looking for a short getaway. xx, Lindsay

  • Reply
    Kimberly @ Berly's Kitchen
    April 24, 2017 at 11:17 pm

    Those pictures are beautiful, and they do look just like a painting. Champagne looks so peaceful and quaint. Loved reading your post.

    • Reply
      Lindsay Shores
      May 21, 2017 at 4:41 pm

      Thank you so much, Kimberly! It is so peaceful, quiet, and beautiful there; it’s almost hard to believe that all of the champagne served at celebrations all over the world comes from this tranquil countryside. There will be another follow-up Champagne post coming up shortly on Paris, Meet Boston about staying on Avenue de Champagne! xx, Lindsay

  • Reply
    Cameron - Diary of a Southern Millennial
    April 25, 2017 at 10:19 pm

    It sounds and looks like you had a wonderful honeymoon! I’ve only ever visited Paris, but I would love to go back and visit other parts of France as well!

    • Reply
      Lindsay Shores
      May 21, 2017 at 4:45 pm

      Thanks Cameron! We really did! It’s such a worthwhile experience to visit the countryside of France, and it just changes your perspective when you come back to Paris. I think it gives you a greater understanding of the culture as a whole and how it varies from city to country and from region to region. I hope you do visit France again and explore some more!! xx, Lindsay

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