A visit to the prestigious wine region of Champagne, France is likely on the bucket list of anyone who appreciates sparkling wines.
Foremost, this is the best place to sip and savor various types of Champagne in their unique terroir. But visitors are also able to learn about the grapes and production methods and the history, people, and rich culture associated with the wines.
In 2015, UNESCO designated the hillsides, houses, and cellars of Champagne a World Heritage Site, noting their significance in creating a “product of excellence, renowned as the universal symbol of festiveness, celebration and reconciliation.”
This province, spread over some 84,000 acres in northeastern France, houses 360 Champagne houses (with 16,200 growers), many of which are open to the public for tasting and tours.
A visit to the region is a perfect day trip from Paris by car or train. But to truly appreciate the wealth of hospitality Champagne has to offer, visitors often opt to stay in one of the region’s historical cities (e.g., Reims and Epernay) or picturesque villages so they can travel more slowly, perhaps visiting multiple houses and simply enjoying the countryside and wonderful foods.
Here is a small sampling of five bespoke experiences that attract wine tourists:
Underground Tour at La Cave Aux Collage
Guided tours at this venerable Champagne house allow guests to explore its unique underground cellar. Budding geologists and sparkling wine lovers can learn about the fossiliferous site, said to date back some 45 million years, and learn how the terroir affects the grapes. A 1½ hour tour includes a glass of Champagne. Longer courses and workshops offer opportunities to participate in the various stages (excavating, clearing, restoring, etc.) of actual paleontological research,
New Regional Museum of Champagne
This museum is housed in an architectural masterpiece recognized as a significant cultural heritage site by the French Ministry for Culture. Château Perrier, inspired by the royal palaces of Paris, once housed the private residence and cellars of Charles Perrier, director of the Perrier-Jouët champagne house. Visitors can now explore the restored residence and its cellar; see geological and palaeontological collections unearthed from the chalky subsoil, and learn how humans took advantage of the land’s natural resources from prehistory to the Middle Ages. There is also a bookshop, boutique, cafe and documentation center.
Golden Bubbles Train Ride at Champagne Mercier
Guests can board a small train for a 75-minute audio-guided tour that takes them across part of the 11.2 mile-long underground cellars. On the way, they’ll learn about the Mercier Champagne house and its history dating from 1858. The package includes a tasting of three cuvées: Brut, Brut Rosé and Réserve cuvée. This and several other tastings and tours are offered in multiple languages, including English.
Canoe Trip at Champagne Devaux
One of several themed experiences, this 3½-hour-long round-trip canoe adventure starts at the foot of the Champagne Devaux manor. Led by an expert boatman, it meanders along the Aube River (which flows into the Seine). This “water workshop” includes a tasting of two Champagne Devaux cuvées accompanied by gougères (choux dough mixed with cheese), followed by a chic gourmet picnic. Note: Availability subject to weather conditions.
See A Cadole at Domaine La Borderie Champagne
Bar Sur Seine, France
Cadoles are the huts (made from dry, local stones) that once housed vineyard workers, protecting them from oppressive heat or cold as they worked. On a 3½ hour tour at La Borderie, visitors to this Champagne house can walk into the forest and vineyards, and visit the cellar and winery to taste three vintages of La Borderie Champagne. Along the way, they’ll learn about the history of one of these rustic structures on the property.
A few tips before you visit:
- Whenever possible, make reservations for tours/experiences, in advance, as space may be limited, especially given social distancing measures
- Find out whether the experience is offered in English. When tours are French-only, English-language written materials are often provided.
- Check the respective websites for opening hours, pricing, and COVID-related health and safety measures. As of July 21, 2021, some houses may require proof of vaccination.
For additional information about tourism in Champagne, visit: