Champagne, the famous bubbly everyone loves to celebrate to, is a region in France located 90km outside of Paris. All of the famous Champagne companies like Moet and Chandon, Veuve Cliquot, GG Mumm, and Pierre Paillard have cellars and vineyards in this region. The high speed trains make it easy to get here and makes for the perfect day trip for those looking to escape the crowds of Paris. I read countless blogs and articles on doing this trip and there really wasn’t a good resource that was helpful for those looking to do the trip on your own. Hopefully, this post will help those looking for the right information.
If you have even more time in Paris and want to explore more French wine regions, because who needs a reason to explore France’s amazing wines, then make sure to also read my Paris to Burgundy day trip itinerary where you can sample some of the world’s most famous Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays in a setting that may be even more beautiful than Champagne!
In addition, I also visited the beautiful wine region of Provence famous for its wine, beautiful villages, and lavender fields!
What makes Champagne Champagne?
Champagne, for those that do not know, is sparkling wine specifically from the region of Champagne. Any sparkling wine that is not from this region in France is simply sparkling wine and cannot be called Champagne. It is made from a combination of three grapes: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Meunier.
It wasn’t until recent years when I started drinking wine that I learned of this fact. I, along with many others in the world, just considered Champagne the de facto noun to denote any sort of bubbly wine. It’s similar to people mistaking Kobe cows in Japan as all Japanese cows when it just means it is grown in the prefecture of Kobe, adhering to the stringent standards of the area.
In fact, only about 5% of the world’s sparkling wine is produced in France’s Champagne region.
Organized Tours or Do it yourself?
Given Champagne’s fame, you can expect a ton of organized tours that pick you up from Paris for the day. Given its popularity, these tours can book months in advance, especially for the summer months when the vineyards are their most vibrant right before the harvest. These tours are also quite expensive at 200-300 euros per person or so for just the day trip.
I was actually planning to visit The Palace of Versailles until I realized they were closed on Mondays. We decided to visit Champagne the night before so obviously booking a tour was out of the question. This is Europe however, and the transport is fantastic all over so there is absolutely no need to book a tour to visit Champagne. Doing this tour on our own was incredibly easy and this was easily one of the highlights of my time in France. Of course I would always recommend to rent a car and properly explore the region over the course of a few days like I did while visiting the Tuscany wine region of Italy but it just wasn’t in the cards for this trip.
As I planned this trip last minute, I did everything on my own. The rest of this post will be for those looking to plan this trip on their own, or just to have a general idea of what the Champagne region is like.
Where to go in Champagne?
Champagne is the name of the region, and there are numerous towns within the region. Reims and Epernay are the largest and most central towns within the region. These two towns are about 40 minutes away from each other and for Paris day trippers, you’ll need to choose one or the other. There is not enough time to do both in the same day.
After doing a ton of research, I settled on Epernay. This is the smaller of the two towns and has a higher concentration of Champagne cellars and is less built up. Having been in Paris for a few days, I was keen to get away from the hectic nature of the city. Epernay is the perfect antidote. The town’s iconic Avenue de Champagne houses some of the most famous Champagne brands like Moet and Chandon, Pol Roger, Boizel etc and feels like you’re walking on a gold paved road.
Book cellar tours
Each Champagne house in Epernay works differently. Some only do reserved tours at set times, while others allow you to walk in and just taste their wines for a price. I would recommend booking a tour or two to get an overview of champagne production and then just tasting champagnes on your own. There’s no point to book multiple tours in a day as the variation between champagne making techniques is not something a novice champagne drinker will understand, let alone remember.
Champagne Cellars in the town, vineyards outside of town
The town of Epernay is where all the major champagne brands have their cellars and houses. The Avenue De Champagne runs through the town and is lined with dozens of huge and beautiful houses. Each house houses the company’s champagne in their underground cellars, as well as a house to showcase their product by offering tours, and just because they are cool enough to have an old estate.
The Vineyards themselves are located outside of the town. For example, Moet and Chandon produces and bottles all their wines at their estate in Epernay, but the grapes are grown outside of the town. I was envisioning sipping champagne with views of the vineyards and the rolling French countryside like my time in Stellenbosch, South Africa, but Epernay and Reims will not offer this. You’ll need to get out to the countryside yourself.
This is part of the reason I chose Epernay. While looking at a map, I could see that Epernay was right near the countryside whereas Reims is a bit further out. Logically, I just figured it would be easier to get to the countryside from Epernay than Reims (and I was correct!)
Getting to Champagne from Paris
The high speed SNCF trains make it a breeze to get to the Champagne region. All trains leave from Paris Gare De L’est and take roughly 40 minutes to Reims, and 80 minutes to Epernay. The high speed bullet trains are immaculately clean and incredibly comfortable (as I’ve grown accustomed to with my train experiences in Europe).
The further in advance you book these tickets, the cheaper they will be. As I only planned to visit Champagne the night before, the tickets were 24 euros one way to Epernay. I saw tickets for 13 euros one way if I were to book a week later. Tickets can also be purchased at the station for the same price. As of July 2018, there were strikes (It’s France, when is there not a strike?) so the train only left every two hours. No one checked our tickets at any point on the train ride so I suppose we could have gotten away without paying anything!
There are also buses that make the regular journey to Reims and Epernay. These buses are normally much cheaper but take over 2 hours to get there. Not ideal for a day tripper.
Renting a car in Paris
If you don’t want to deal with timing the trains correctly, consider renting a car in Paris and driving to Champagne yourself. Not only will this allow you to see more places in Champagne, but will also give you the freedom to explore at your own pace. Cruising through the French countryside is an experience in and of itself! The roads in France are in great condition and finding your way around is efficient and simple.
Visiting Moet and Chandon Cellar
Moet and Chandon, easily one of the most recognizable and famous brands is located in the town of Epernay. Their cellars are some of the largest and oldest in the country. They offer daily tours where you spend 1 hour learning about the history of the Moet and Chandon family, touring the cellars and learning about the production of Champagne, and finally a tasting of the good stuff.
There are different price points for the tours but they just involve different grades of champagne at the end of the tour. I booked the standard tour for 25 euros and I very much enjoyed my tour.
The Moet and Chandon grounds are very nice and the cellar tour was very informational. They went through the origin story of the Moet name and how it became the formidable brand it is now over the course of many generations. I was especially intrigued at how Moet and Chandon branded themselves as a brand synonymous with luxury.
While the vineyards are not in Epernay, the cellars where the champagne is produced is located on these exact grounds. They have an extensive 30km underground system where they store, age, and bottle their wine. The tour took us through the underground system where we learned about champagne production from start to finish. We capped off the tour with a glass of bubbly in their beautiful tasting room.
Visiting Hautvillers from Epernay
At the recommendation of the people working at the Epernay Information Center (which was extremely helpful I must say), they recommended I visit the town of Hautvillers to actually visit the vineyards and champagne taste with views. I was envisioning of going from vineyard to vineyard like when I was wine tasting in Stellenbosch, and Hautvillers is as good as it’s gonna get without my own car. From Epernay, I had the visitor center call a taxi to take me to Hautvillers (there is no Uber here sadly). The cost was 15 euros one way.
Hautvillers was honestly more what I was envisioning when I decided to come here. Situated in the heart of the Reims Mountain vineyards, this quaint and rustic little village is the cradle of champagne making. It is here that the the monk Dom Perignon (yes that one) discovered the art of champagne wine-making. The main street of the town is aptly named Rue Dom Perignon and the Saint-Sindulphe abbey church still houses his tomb to this day.
We had lunch here at Le 36 restaurant. They had a champagne tasting menu of their own as well as tasty French cuisine with plenty of bread and cream sauces.
Champagne Tasting in Hautvillers
After lunch, I visited the Champagne G. Tribault vineyard which had fantastic views of the vines and was exactly what I was looking for (champagne tasting with views) followed by a visit to Fedyk Olivier which had delicious rose and brut. There are many more champagne houses here but many of them are closed on Mondays.
I took a taxi back to Epernay at 16:30 for a final champagne tasting on Avenue De Champagne before taking the train back to Paris at 18:30.
We got back to Paris around 20:00, which was more than enough time to get dinner in the city, visit the Eiffel Tower for the sunset and enjoying some champagne that we had bought during the day!
I think if we came back, we would most definitely spend a night or two in Hautvillers or Epernay so we could visit more of the wineries in the region. We saw so many cute little bed and breakfasts that would be perfect for a side trip out of Paris. Here is a list of amazing bed and breakfasts which are definitely the way to do it in the French wine country!
Hour by Hour Itinerary for Paris to Champagne Day Trip
8:30am – Depart Paris Gare De L’Est
9:45am – Arrive in Epernay
10am – Visit the tourist office to plan out the day
10:45 – 12:00 – Moet and Chandon Cellar Tour
12:15 – Taxi from Epernay to Hautvillers
12:30 – Lunch at Le 36 restaurant
14:00 – Champagne Tasting at J.G
15:00 – Champagne Tasting at Champagne Kedvi
16:00 – Taxi back to Epernay
16:30 – Champagne tasting at Bruno Paillard
17:30 – Champagne tasting at l’Ete Des Savignons
18:30 – Train back to Paris
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Hi this itinerary is amazinggggg but I cannot find any information on Champagne Tasting at Champagne Kedvi! do you have a website?
Hi nicolette, glad you found this helpful. Now sure what you mean by kedvi?
On your itinerary at 15:00!
Ah apologies it is a typo I hadn’t found until now! It is supposed to be Fedyk Olivier!
Love this for a do it yourself! Love Au 36. If any of your readers want a driver for a day trip to champagne please email me! I set this up. I’m Sydney at email@example.com. I’ve been doing that for 9 yrs
I would say you did a great job for an easy to follow trip! I would suggest though that you visit more small champagne boutique style growers 🙂 They are the heart and soul of the region! Champagne G. Tribault vineyard is quite gorgeous but commercial and there are so many others to choose.
Actually there are 19,000 other small vineyards to choose! You can see the vines, taste 3 glasses and interact with the whole family. For a more off the beaten path schedule w/ a driver:
8:50am – Depart Paris Gare De L’Est
9:20am – Arrive in Champagne Ardenne
9:30am – Visit the Cathedral w/ insane Marc Chagall stained glass and shell wounds from WWI
10 – 12:00 – Champagne Ruinart Tour and Tasting- The oldest caves from 1720 and the most insane lux tour and tasting of 2 glasses of some of the best large producer champagne in France!
12:15-14:15 – Lunch at Les Crayeres- 2 Michelin stars and 75€ for the 3-5 course menu is a steal! Plus wine pairing is 30€ extra. Thursday to Saturday included, only for lunch
15:00- 16:30 – Champagne Le Gallais tour of cellar, vines, tasting of 3 glasses of champagne and sabering a bottle! So so special and a tiny grower that produces 30,000 bottles a year. Your driver and guide will translate for you.
16:45 Chocolate cork tasting filled with champagne liquor at La Petite Friande
18h20 – Champagne Ardenne train back to Paris
Hi Sydney, this looks fantastic! Will def look into this for the next time I’m in Champagne. And yes, totally agree that if we had a car meeting us in the Champagne region, we would have been able to see a lot more!
Yes totally, you can see even more with a car! Let me know when you are back and I can help. My favorites are-
Champagne Ruinart, the private Dom Perignon visit at Moet et Chandon, Champagne Pommery (the most gorgeous Castle), and then taste with a few growers. You can taste a higher percentage of Pinot Noir champagne in Mt of Reims, Chardonnay champagne in Cote de Blanc and Pinot Meunier champagne in Valley of Marne! All small boutique champagne producers are about 20 minutes from Reims!
Johnny what a great Blog! Keep going! Such a good itinerary and very helpful too. Thank you ! I will follow your steps! I was between Reims or Epernay. I just have 4 nights in Paris but really wondering if I should stay overnight. YOur thoughts ?
Hi Flavia, I wouldn’t rush it and staying the night is probably unnecessary beacuse there is so much more to do and see in Paris. If you had a car, I would consider it but otherwise it’s just not as fun.
Sidney I am going to email you. Going to visit the area March 25 for a day trip from Paris .I am planning to take the train . On a budget with my niece that is studding in France. We both love Champagne. I am wondering if I should sleep there or come back to Paris as my trip is super short. 4 nights only.
This is super helpful! Do you know anything about whether or not the below website its legit?
The times they have available for Moet tour/tastings are different than what Moet has on its site, but this website doesn’t require any payment to “book”. The time available on https://www.ruedesvignerons.com/en is 10:30, which most closely matches your itinerary and is preferable for us.
Any insight on the best booking practices would be helpful–thanks!
Are these venues open in Epernay the week of Thanksgiving?
Yes they should be!
Are these venues in Epernay open the week of thanksgiving?
OMG, you just made my day! Going to Paris with my high school friends to celebrate our 50th birthdays and we want to go the champagne region. I’ve been before, but on an organized tour. While nice, it was unnecessary. We live in CA and have done plenty of wine tastings. This will get us to the area to do things on our own. Thanks soooo much 😊
Amazing glad it could help! Will be perfect for your guys reunion! You should also check out the burgundy wine region too 🙂
This is exactly what I was looking for in regards to visiting Epernay! Was wondering what time of year you did this trip?
Hi kelsey! Glad you like it! I went in June
This seems a tour specifically made for me, I love champagne, this tour is like a dream came true, moet is one of my fav brands
Hi Johny. Thanks so much for this detailed post. This is exactly what I was looking for. Wanted to check one thing. Are there are any bus or train options between Epernay and Hautviller or can anyone go from Paris directly to Hautvillers.
Hi arpita, hautvillers is a pretty small village and there’s no busses that I know of. There’s definitely not a Train station there either. Hope that helps!
Hi! Thanks so much, this is really helpful. I know lots of champagne houses require you to schedule a tour in advance. Did you have to schedule any of the tastings you did in advance or were you able to just show up?
Hi Emma, I booked the tour with Moet and Chandon and that was it. THey have a nice website to reserve everything and I actually did it the evening before. ALl the other wineries in Hautvillers, we just rocked up and tasted the champagne
Thank you so much for this detailed itinerary! Exactly what I was looking for. I saw this trip on Viator but very expensive. I’m planning on going to Paris at the end of September. I’ll be going with my daughter (mother-daughter trip) 🙂 so this information is extremely helpful! I think we could do it on our own!
Glad it was helpful! I too thought the same thing when I looked for guided tours to the region. Enjoy your trip!
Seriously, all this is amazing. Thank you so much. I am a timid traveler and this made me feel 100% more confident about venturing out to Champagne land on my own.
Question: you may have mentioned it, but what month did you visit? We are planning to go at the end of May on a Wednesday.
Also, is there a website to book that high speed train you spoke about from Gare De L’est to Epernay? Or Should we go to the station a few days before and purchase like that?
Glad to be of help erynn! We went in mid June and we also booked tickets from the French SNCF main website beforehand and picked it up at the Gare. It is better to book in advance as it will be much cheaper
Thank you for all the information-the research was getting to be a drag, but you made it all neat and tidy 🙂 Quick question, do you speak French? I love the idea of taking the cab to the vineyards…I too envisioned sipping bubbles looking at rolling vineyards, but I don’t speak the language and I am a bit hesitant not being able to communicate once we get to the smaller towns… thoughts?
Hi Leah, glad you found it helpful! I do speak French but it is not required because most of those wineries speak English to some degree. Worst case just tell your cabbie hautvillers s’il vous plait and he will drop you off at the town square! Enjoy your trip!
Thanks for this write up. Exactly what I was looking for after much googling fatigue
Thank you! glad it helped out.
Thanks for the details. I don’t really like the organized tours and your detailed outline for a day trip is incredible. With that said I hope to add this to my Paris trip itinerary.
Hi Rhea! Glad you liked the itinerary. I also agree that it is totally doable on your own and for a fraction of the price. Those tours really take advantage of the name to overcharge their customers!
Thank you so much for your recommendations! My Husband and I are planning a day trip to Champagne from Paris at the beginning of June. Can’t wait!
Thanks Bethany! You will have a great time there. Enjoy!
Hi, thanks for this ! Really helpful !
Do you need to prebook the tour ?
Hey Kenneth, are you talking about the Moet tour? Yes I prebooked it and would recommend to as well as they book up pretty quickly. I booked my tour the night before if that helps.
Yes. That’s right. Shall do the same. Thanks !
FINALLY!! I have read soooo many guides on wine tasting in Champagne and always left the site with more questions than I had coming in. This is the only guide I need and answers everything I have been looking for! Thank you thank you thank you!!
Can’t wait for my trip in July! 🙂
Thanks Monique! I felt the same way when researching it like you did and that is why I wrote it 🙂 Enjoy!
Hi Johnny, which link did you book the Moet tour tickets on and what did they cost? I’m planning to do the tour tomorrow
Hey Marco, I booked it on moets official website for €25.
This is exactly what i wanted to know. Thank you for all the details! Your information is great.
No problem! Hope you enjoy your trip there!
Could you include a summary of all costs? I.e. of each train, taxi, tour and a total?
Hi Nicole, the train was about €50 rt per ticket. Taxi was €15 one way between epernay and hautvillers. Moet and chandon tour was €25 per person. Tastings at various wineries was €4 to €6 per glass. In total I would budget €100 per person for everything. Hope that helps!
Hi, thanks for your detailed breakdown! Is that 100Euro per person including the Lunch as well? Also, are the Taxi’s freely available there in both Epernay and Hautvillers. I would also like to know if all the tastings you done are within in walking distance from each other in each town?
Hi Marco, 100 euros per person sounds about right for the whole day. Lunch is obviously whatever you want to spend. You can get kebabs for €5 if you wanted. As for taxis, they are pretty readily available but you just need to go into the information center and have them call one. I found it quite simple. And yes, the tastings are all walking distance, the only taxi we took was between epernay and hautvillers. Enjoy!
Thank you for your detailed suggestions. Yes, there aren’t many websites that made recommendations like yours. Truly appreciated.
Thank you! Glad you found it useful
Hello thank you for this great info I will be going there in March.
Hi!! Thanks so much for the information! Quick question: how did you get from the train station in Espernay to the Moet and Chandon cellar? Is it walking distance?
Hi jeanisha! Yes it is very easy and quick from the train station to the moet and Chandon cellar. 10 minutes walking at the most. The town is very small so if you do get lost, people will for sure be able to point the way! Enjoy the visit!
Great post! Thanks for the helpful tips for making this trip.
Glad you enjoyed! thanks.