Visiting Champagne Cellars and Vineyards in Reims, Epernay and Troyes

  • 01 of 04

    Visit a Champagne Cellar in Reims, Epernay and Troyes

    Pommery Champagne
    ••• Pommery Champagne Estate. Getty/Owen Franken

    Which Champagne House to Visit?

    All the top Champagne producers offer tours of their extensive cellars. Many of them ask you to book in advance, but it’s always worth turning up, particularly off season, as they will accommodate you if they can.

    You can find out which houses are open and when through the tourist offices in Reims, Epernay, and Troyes.

    Where are the Champagne Houses?

    Champagne is divided into two main wine-producing regions: around Reims and Epernay in the north in the Marne, and around Troyes, the capital of the Aube region and the Cote des Bar to the south.
    In Reims, the most impressive cellars are clustered together near the Abbaye St-Remi, on top of the chalky quarries dug out by the Romans. Over 250 kilometers (155 miles) of champagne cellars lie beneath Reims, holding around 200 million bottles.

    Visiting Champagne Pommery in Reims

    Pommery is one of the largest champagne houses in Reims, and the most stunning. You start in the enormous entrance hall, then with a guide make your way down the 101 steps carved into the rock to the Gallo-Roman caves. There are 120 quarries here, storing between 23 and 25 million bottles.

    You’re taken through the whole champagne process though you don’t see where most of the champagne is made. Like many champagne houses, this is now a high-tech procedure in stainless steel vats working in more modern surroundings.

    But you do understand the age-old process, why wooden barrels were originally used, and how the champagne bottles were turned by hand. You walk through these extraordinary quarries hewn out of the rock, past millions of euros worth of champagne. You also see some of the vintage cellars, with the dates marked stretching back into the last century. Then you get to taste and appreciate the results of the long and laborious process.

    One of the great things about Pommery and what makes it stand out is the art that occupies the cellars. Each year there’s a different exhibition with objects, videos and installations taking over whole spaces. It’s impressive in the flickering light. You also see the permanent works of art, splendid huge reliefs carved out of the rock in the late 19th century, celebrating the famous house of Pommery and the family characters who made it great.

    The Story of Pommery

    The house was founded in 1856 by Louis Alexandre Pommery and Narcisse Greno but only became dedicated to champagne making when it was taken over by the redoubtable Jeanne, Alexandre’s widow. She built up the business and commissioned the present art nouveau buildings. After she died the business was run by her daughter, the equally redoubtable Louise, with her husband, Prince Guy de Polignac. Pommery then passed through various hands, including the LVMH group who sold it to the present owners, Vranken.

    In 1874 the Pommery chef de caves, Victor Lambert, created the first vintage ‘brut’ (dry) in the history of Champagne. He was backed by Louise, who had realized in her travels that the English (the biggest consumers of champagne) preferred a lighter, less sweet wine than the early heavy Champagnes. Today 95% of the production is of Brut Champagne and Pommery produces 500,000 cases a year.

    Practical Information

    Champagne Pommery
    5 pl du General-Gouraud
    Tel.: 00 33 (0)3 26 61 62 55
    Website

    Open April to October 9.30am-7pm
    Mid-Nov to March 10am-6pm
    Book an English speaking guide

    Tours from 12 euros

    Other Champagne Houses you can visit in Reims

    • Drappier
      11 rue Goïot
      Tel.: 00 33 (0)3 26 05 13
      Website
      See more about the main Drappier producing house and vineyard on the next page.
    • Lanson
      66 rue de Courlancy
      Tel.: 00 33 (0)3 26 78 50 50
      Website
    • Mumm
      34 rue du Champ-de-Mars
      Tel.: 00 33 (0)3 26 49 59 70
      Website
    • G.H.Martel & Co.
      17 rue des Créneaux
      Tel.: 00 33 (0)3 26 82 70 67
      Website
    • Taittinger
      9 place St-Nicaise
      Tel.: 00 33 (0)3 26 85 45 35
      Website
    • Ruinart
      4 rue des Crayères
      Tel.: 00 33 (0)3 26 77 51 51
      Website
    • Veuve Clicquot-Ponsardin
      1 place des Droits-de-l’Homme
      Tel.: 00 33 (0)3 26 89 53 90
      Website

    Tourist Offices

    • Reims Tourist Office
      2 rue Guillaume-de-Machault
      Tel.: 00 33 (0)821 610 160 (0.11 euros/min)
      Website
    • Champagne-Ardennes Tourism
      Website

    More about Reims

    Reims is one of France's 20 top cities for international visitors.

    Continue to 2 of 4 below.
  • 02 of 04

    Champagne House Visits in Epernay

    moetroadsign
    ••• Roadsign identifying Moet et Chandon Vineyards. © Ossi Laurila licensed to about.com

    Epernay is a one-industry town, totally given over to Champagne making and Champagne houses. It's pretty town, dominated by the avenue de Champagne which is often the venue for events associated with the famous drink, particularly in November and December.

    Champagne Houses to Visit in Epernay

    This is a very short list; for other houses, check with the Tourist Office

    • Moët et Chandon
      Probably the most famous of the champagne houses, and known also for creating the great Dom Perignon label, today it’s owned by the LVHM group (Louis Vuiltton, Moët and Hennessy), which also owns Mercier, Veuve Clicquot, Dior and many other luxury brands.
      20 ave de Champagne
      Tel.: 00 33 (0)3 26 51 20 20
      Website
    • Mercier
      Founded in 1858, Mercier is one of the less expensive houses. The house has one of the largest barrels in the world, created in 1889 to hold 200,000 bottles for the Paris Exhibition. It’s on display in the main entrance.
      70 av de Champagne
      Tel.: 00 33 (0)3 26 51 22 23
      Website
    • Castellane
      You get a good view of the workings of champagne production here. Castellane began producing in 1895, building the present extraordinary building with a tower in 1904. There’s a small museum as well, and a great view from the top of the tower.
      63 ave de Champagne
      Tel.: 00 33 (0)3 26 51 19 19
      Website

    Tourist Offices

    • Epernay Tourist Office
      2 rue Guillaume-de-Machault
      Tel.: 00 33 (0)821 610 160 (0.11 euros/min)
      Website
    • Champagne-Ardennes Tourism
      Website

    Read reviews, check prices and book a hotel in Epernay

    Continue to 3 of 4 below.
  • 03 of 04

    Drappier Champagne and Other Vineyards near Troyes

    champdrapovum
    ••• The Ovum Barrel in Drappier Champagne Cellars. © Mary Anne Evans licensed to about.com

    Troyes, the capital of the Aube region, is a delightful town and makes a good base for seeing the nearby vineyards. Start at Urville just south of Bar-sur-Aube, at the Domaine of Drappier Champagne, right in the Cote des Bars.

    Drappier Champagne Visit

    You begin in a grand drawing room, complete with open fireplace, for a short introduction. The visit then takes you through every process and through the cellars, originally part of a Cisterican monastery. The talk takes in anecdotes about the family and the history. There’s an extraordinary, and unique, egg-shaped barrel (called the ovum), made specifically for them and the only one in Champagne though there is one in Bordeaux and one in Australia. The shape is linked to bio-dynamic theories; the internal measurements are perfect for fermentation with every bubble hitting the side. 

    Drappier is an interesting house, describing itself as the ‘largest among the smallest’, producing 1.3 million bottles a year as compared to the 30 million bottles produced by Moet.

    The family founded the business in 1808 and it's in the same family, with the present head, Michel, being the 7th generation (and he has two sons and one daughter to take over).

    Drappier uses traditional three champagne grapes: Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay, but they've also introduced 2% of different, historic grapes: Petit Meslier, Blanc Vrai and the extremely rare Arbane.

    Drappier also specializes in large bottles which include the whole range: Magnum (1.5 litres, 2 bottles); Jeroboam (3 litres, 4 bottles); Methusalem (6 litres, 8 bottles); Balthasar (12 litres, 16 bottles); Nebuchanezar (15 litres, 20 bottles), and Saloman (18 litres, 24 bottles).

    But Drappier has gone further, and produced the mighty Prima (27 litres, 36 bottles), and at the request of one of their customers, the whopping Melchizedek (30 litres, 40 bottles), called after the King of Babylon.

    Practical Information

    Champagne Drappier
    Rue des Vignes
    10200 Urville
    Tel.: 00 33 (0)3 25 27 40 15
    Website

    More Champagne houses to visit near Troyes in the Aube

    • Champagne Marcel Vézien
      Celles-sur-Ource
      Tel.: 00 33 (0)3 25 38 50 22
      Website
      Location: South East of Troyes just off the D671 from Troyes to Chatillon-sur-Seine
    • Champagne Richard Cheurlin
      16 rue des Hugenots
      Celles-sur-Ource
      Tel.: 00 33 (0)3 25 38 55 04
      Website
      Location: South east of Troyes on D67 (off D671)
      Map of location
    • Champagne Rene Jolly
      10 rue de la Gare
      Landreville
      Tel.: 00 33 (0)3 25 38 50 51
      Website
      Location: South east of Troyes, just a little further along the D67 from Celles-sour-Ource

    Read reviews, check prices and book a hotel in Troyes

    Continue to 4 of 4 below.
  • 04 of 04

    More Champagne Houses to Visit and Practical Information

    champgenvines
    ••• Champagne Vineyards. © CRTCA

    Champagne houses in Champagne outside Reims and Epernay

    All of the following speak good English and welcome visitors.

    Near Epernay

    • Champagne Etienne Lefevre
      Verzy
      Tel.: 00 33 (0)3 26 97 96 99
      Website
      Location: North east of Epernay just off the A6 towards Chalons-en-Champagne
      Map of location
    • Champagne Tribaut
      88 rue d'Eguisheim
      Hautvillers
      Tel.: 00 33 (0)3 26 59 40 57
      Website
      Location: 5 kilometers north of Epernay on the D386 (off the D951)
      Map of location
    • Champagne Vilmart
      Rilly-la-Montagne
      Tel.: 00 33 03 26 03 40 01
      Website
      Location: North east of Epernay on the D26 (off the D951)
      Map of location
    • Champagne Charlier
      4 Rue des Pervenches
      Montigny-sous-Chatillon
      Tel.: 00 33 (0)3 26 58 35 18
      Website
      Location: North west of Epernay near the village of Chatillon-sur-Marne, on the D23 (off the D3)
       

    Champagne Pass

    The Champagne-Ardenne Tourist Office in conjunction with the online travel agency Via-Voyages, offers a special Champagne Pass (l’OenoPass Champagne) which enables you to visit various champagne sites at a discount. You can buy 5 visits for 25 euros (instead of 50 euros), or 10 visits for 50 euros (instead of 100 euros). As the pass is valid for one year from purchase it means you don't have to do all the discounted sites at one go.

    The participating sites are

    • Champagne Pommery or the Villa Demoiselle, Reims
    • Champagne G.H. Mumm, Reims
    • The wine museum at the Lighthouse of Verzenay
    • Champagne De Castellane, Epernay
    • Champagne J. de Telmont, Damery
    • Champagne Bonnaire, Cramant
    • Royal Crystal Works and Crystal Museum, Bayel
    • Champagne De Barfontarc, Baroville
    • Champagne Drappier, Urville
    • Champagne Guy de Forez, Les Riceys

    Buy the pass online at www.oenopass.net or at local tourist boards in Champagne. Also download a brochure with maps and detailed information from the same website.

    More to see in the Champagne Region

    Visit these little known treasures in the Champagne-Ardennes Region; you'll be delightfully surprised by them like the chateau where the writer Voltaire lived with his lover, Emilie du Châtelet.

    Or base yourself in the fortified city of Langres and take a tour of different artisan makers and crafts people, from basket makers to jam makers.

    Special Bespoke Tours of Champagne

    For a special bespoke tour, organised for individuals and small groups, contact the experts at Exclusive France Tours. The founder, Marie Tesson, knows her terroirs, and vineyards and can arrange a tour which takes in visiting Champagne houses that are usually closed to the public, private tours of the big names and the chance to taste champagnes with the owner. 

    Exclusive France Tours: Tel.: +33 493 218 119.