Just about two hours west of Paris is a city known for its champagne and general splendour. The city’s called Epernay and it is home to many of the world’s most celebrated Champagne houses. Here is where you’ll get to tour cellars with tens of thousands of bottles of Champagne that are aging to perfection for a future celebration.

Once you are done touring the cellars, you’ll even have the opportunity to taste the bubbly that you just watched being created. Epernay is an ideal destination for the traveller looking to unwind and enjoy the finer things in life, or more specifically, in France.

Top 5 Sights

  1. The Little Tourist Train of Epernay - This is a very pleasant way to get a good look at Epernay and all it has to offer. The train winds and twists through the main streets and the Avenue de Champagne for about an hour. As you pass all these institutions, there is a guide that runs you through the story and history of Epernay. During the hour you will pass by many of the famous Champagne houses and have fantastic opportunities for people watching. The price is affordable at 6 euro for adults and 4 euro for children.
  2. Visit Champagne Mercier - The most popular champagne brand in France, Mercier is headquartered in little Epernay. It was founded in 1858 by Eugene Mercier and since then has been a trailblazer unafraid of a good eye-catching promotion. They fully embrace publicity stunts and take credit for creating the cellar tour. Everything at Mercier is flashy and it’s easy to get caught up in the glitz and glamour of it all. The tour includes an audio-visual component and then you board a train for a guided tour through the cellar and caves. All of this concludes with a Champagne tasting where you get try the bubbly drink you’ve just learned everything about. Perhaps the coolest part of Mercier’s tour, there is a giant barrel they constructed that holds an impressive 200,000 bottles of wine and it took close to 10 years to build—don’t miss it!
  3. Tour Moët et Chandon - Where Mercier is flash and glitz, Moët et Chandon is a more subdued and classic champagne house. Before you even enter the Champagne House, there is an interesting statue that may catch your attention: Dom Pérignon. The Benedictine monk’s likeness is in front of the entrance with his words “Brothers, I am drinking stars” inscribed behind him. The tour lasts about an hour and will take you through the house and the caves where you will learn about the history of the brand and more.

  4. Stroll on the Avenue de Champagne - Epernay’s handsome and entirely walkable “Avenue de Champagne” fizzes with Champagne houses everywhere you look. The boulevard is lined with turreted mansions and neoclassical villas, which were rebuilt after the devastation of WWI. Peek through wrought-iron gates at Moët’s private Hôtel Chandon It’s an early 19th-century pavilion-style residence set in landscaped gardens, which counts Wagner among its famous past guests. The roundabout on the avenue presents great photo opportunities for tourists, what with its giant cork and bottle-top.
  5. Peruse the Perrier Castle - Also located on the Avenue de Champagne, the Perrier Castle is a mansion that was built in the style of Louis 13th in stone and has an impressive statue of The Huntsman in the centre of its immense courtyard. In 1940, this building was home to the German armies that occupied the area from 1942-1944. After General Patton was released, the Americans moved into the building to replace the Germans. It’s historically significant and a unique building that is worth a visit while you are in Epernay.

No one can debate the unofficial motto of Epernay—that it is the Champagne capital of the world. What with the number of famous Champagne houses, the enormity of the city’s collection of champagne bottles, and a full-blown history of the production and marketing of the bubbly drink, from now on you will always associate Epernay with Champagne. Celebrate your stay in Epernay with a few tastings of the impeccable Champagne available to try. Before you depart make sure your holiday is protected by choosing an international travel insurance plan from Cover-More Travel Insurance.

Image courtesy of Flickr user giulio nepi.