A trip to Paris is incomplete without a daytrip (at least!) to the beautiful region of Champagne. The two major towns within this region are Reims and Épernay. We visited both places during our first trip in 2010 and returned to Épernay last summer.
We purchased our roundtrip TGV tickets to Épernay the day before online. Since we were staying in the city, we took the Paris Métro to the Gare de l’Est stop where we switched from the subway to the TGV. It was about and hour and a half ride, taking you first through the suburbs before turning into beautiful rolling hills.
Once you arrive, all you need to do is walk a few short blocks and you are at the start of the Avenue de Champagne, a street lined with leading Champagne producing houses. Beneath this famous street is a miles-long network of chalk cellars containing millions of bottles of Champagne! Many Champagne houses, most notably Moët & Chandon, are represented along this avenue and for only a few euros a glass, you can taste their lovely work. While many of the smaller Champagne houses do not offer tours, almost all offer a small Champagne tasting menu. We found these smaller houses, usually hosted by one or two people, to be quite personable and at one we even got to meet the winemakers! Moët & Chandon does offer a tour in English and I would recommend booking this tour in advance of your trip to France as they book up quickly. One highlight there was seeing a caged vault containing every vintage dating back to the creation of the house.
We didn’t take a tour this trip since we had done in 2010, but we definitely enjoyed getting to visit the smaller Champagne houses whose labels may not even be available in the United States. Many of these houses have courtyards where you can sit in the sun and enjoy your bubbles. What a way to spend a day!