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Visiting Champagne

Champagne is the nearest French wine area to the UK. From Calais to Reims it is around 190 miles and about 3 hours drive.

Amongst the best tour operators is Arblaster & Clarke, a wine specialist. Guides are very knowledgeable. well connected and extensive tastings are included!

Independent travel is easy. Most of the major Champagne houses are located in Reims or Epernay. Many welcome visitors and a tour is usually followed by a glass. Check opening and tour times, Â particularly if English is required. Reservations are sometimes needed.

Major houses welcoming visitors

Reims: Lansen, Mumm, Pommery, Ruinart, Taittinger, Veuve Clicquot

Epernay: Mercier, Moet & Chandon Mercier perhaps offers the most leisurely tour that includes a train ride through the cellars. Moet & Chandon is also worthwhile. Tours cost around 14 Euros per person and end with a glass of Champagne. The main Epernay houses are on the Avenue de Champagne.

While the big Champagne houses can exude elegance and have attractive visitor facilities it would be a pity not to visit the countryside, the Champagne villages and some small grower or producers. However, visitors to the villages are often bewildered by the huge number of producers. Street corners may have a dozen signs indicating producers - mostly names that will be unknown - and pointing to premises that look no more than middle sized houses. Some pre planning can be useful although many places will receive visitors. The villages themselves may be small and with little else to attract the visit other than a restaurant, hotel and church.

Some suggestions

Montagne de Reims - Mainly Pinot Noir

Rilly-la-Montagne: Premier Cru village in Montagne de Reims; Chardonnay dominated.
Vilmart & Cie: has a reputation greater than the 7,500 cases only per year. Most are Chardonnay & Pinot Noir blends.
Mare Chauvet: a particular favourite of Jancis Robinson.

Cote des Blanes - Mainly Chardonnay

Vcrtus: Premier Cru village also in Cotes des B1anes.
Doyard-Mahe: small, grower/producer mostly 100% Chardonnay. A source for Champagne in quantity and with personalised label.
Duval-Leroy also in same town.

Valle de la Marne - Mainly Pinot Meunier

Hautvillers: village just north of Epernay. Abbey home of Dom Perignon. Attractive village with many tasting places, restaurants and museum. Tasting at Gobillard opposite the abbey.


Hotel prices tend to be high and there are particularly high priced hotels in Reims and Epernay. Epernay is a good base with many restaurants all within easy walking distance. Worth considering B&B in centre in grand houses. Parva Domus and Le Clos Raymi are small but extremely comfortable and convenient ... however, these houses can be heavily booked.

Hostellerie du Mont-Aime in Bergeres-les-Vertus, near Vertus, is a pleasant hotel with swimming pool and leisure facilities and a very good restaurant.