Top 11 Things to Do in Epernay: From Bubbles to Balloons
Welcome to the sparkling gem of France’s Champagne region, Epernay! We fell in love with this charming town of cobblestone streets, a scenic meandering river, mom & pop restaurants, and lots and lots of exceptional Champagne. Discover my top 11 things to do in Epernay that will make your vacation unforgettable.
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01- Stroll the Famous Avenue de Champagne
Walking past Moët & Chandon, Jardins de L’Orangerie on Avenue de Champagne in Epernay, France
Lined with iconic Champagne houses, this prestigious tree-lined street is a symbol of the region’s connection to the world of these special little bubbles.
Some say this may be the most expensive avenue in the world due to the MILLIONS of Champagne bottles sitting in the underground caves.
It’s pretty stunning. We strolled along the cobblestone street past private mansions, gorgeous courtyards, and grand Champagne houses.
It amazes me to think that beneath this grandeur are hidden underground caves stretching over 68 miles, carefully cradling all of this exquisite Champagne.
02- Visit an Exceptional Champagne House
Leclerc Briant Champagne House
I love Champagne. I love hearing the “pop” as the cork shoots out of the bottle. I love seeing the little bubbles in the glass. I love the happiness it evokes when you take that first sip.
It’s no surprise then I was super excited to visit a Champagne house during our stay in Epernay to learn the production process of this magical liquid.
My husband and I reserved a wine tour and tasting at Leclerc Briant, one of the pioneers of biodynamic and organic farming practices. Their organic and biodynamic-certified vineyards are mostly classified as Grand Cru and Premier Cru.
Leclerc Briant Champagne Tour & Tasting
Leclerc Briant is known for experimenting with various winemaking techniques like aging one of their Specialty cuvées 60 meters deep in the Atlantic Ocean for 12 months!
We never got to try the Lerclerc Briant Abyss, but if you have, comment at the end. I would love to know if there’s a unique flavor profile due to the sea.
During the course of 1.5 hours, we enjoyed a lovely tour of the cellars and an exceptional tasting of 3 cuvées.
What truly made this such an incredible experience is that we happened to be there during Harvest Season. It was so much fun watching the wine staff press the grapes and feeling the excitement and energy in the air.
Harvest season at Leclerc Briant Champagne House in Epernay, France
03- Delve into Wine History at Chateau Perrier
Chateau Perrier in Epernay, France
This historic grand house inspired by French Renaissance architecture has changed identities over the years. It was the residence of Champagne wine merchants, a hospital during the First World War, and then occupied by the British, Germans, and the Americans for short periods of time.
It now serves as the home of the Champagne Wine and Regional Archeology Museum. Tickets are 9.50 €.
04- Enjoy the Best Steak Tartare
Steak tartare at Chez Max in Epernay, France
There is a little gem of a restaurant that just oozes charm, and it’s called Chez Max. We had a lovely classic French meal of escargot and homemade foie gras.
The star of the show was the delicious steak tartare that was prepared tableside by the incredibly kind Chef himself. It was amazing!
05- Float in the Air in a Tethered Balloon
Le Ballon d’Epernay
You cannot miss the iconic Le Ballon d’Epernay floating above the town. The idea started with a man named Eugène Mercier, who created the first tethered balloon in 1900 as a way to promote his Champagne.
If you want to get an epic panoramic view of the town and surrounding vineyards, you can book a 12-minute flight for 14 €. Add a glass of Champagne to the experience for an additional 10 €. Tickets can be purchased from the Epernay Tourism Office.
06- Take a Champagne Tour with a Wine Expert
Champagne tasting at Jean Milan
The French have very strict drinking and driving laws. The Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is 0.05%. In contrast, the limit is 0.08% in the United States.
If you drive in France, you are required to have a breathalyzer in the car. They cost about 1 € at local supermarkets.
Do not chance it. Designate a driver if you are going to enjoy a day of Champagne tasting. The best way to do that is to book a Champagne tour with a local wine expert.
We enjoyed a lovely afternoon of visiting two smaller Champagne producers with pick up/drop off at our hotel with Isabelle from Aÿ Champagne Experience. Don’t miss reading about our experience below!
07- Stay in a Boutique Champagne House Hotel
Bedroom No. 3 at Le25Bis by Leclerc Briant in Epernay, France
Another one to add to my growing list is Le25Bis by Leclerc Briant.
This charming 5-bedroom boutique wine hotel has the most prime location, Avenue de Champagne. We stayed in the very spacious Bedroom No. 3, which offered views over the terrace and vineyards. It has a nice separate seating area, a small desk, and a beautiful modern spacious bathroom.
Champagne breakfast at Le25Bis by Leclerc Briant in Epernay, France
Breakfast every morning included freshly baked croissants, homemade jams, cold cuts, French cheeses, fresh fruit, and of course, Leclerc Briant Champagne. After all, we are in France!
Additionally, the hotel features a beautiful terrace where you can sip even more Champagne on sunny days.
08- Cycle + Sip Champagne Along the Marne
Cycling among vineyards
I was disappointed I missed checking off #8 on my list. We ran out of time. I guess you have to leave something behind for your future return.
Our hotel, Le25Bis, offers four electric bike rentals with GPS to their guests. Reserve in advance! The bike route is on a greenway that runs along the Marne River and through the Champagne vineyards.
Alternatively, you can join À la Française Champagne-Bourgogne’s highly rated E-Bike Champagne Tour, which includes 5 tastings and a traditional lunch. The guide will meet you in Reims or Epernay.
Although I was not able to cycle in Champagne, my husband and I did get to experience something similar in Burgundy when we did our own self-guided bike + wine tour.
09- Climb the Champagne de Castellane Tower
Champagne de Castellane Tower overlooking the Marne River
When we were walking to dinner one evening in Epernay, we crossed over the Marne River and saw the Champagne de Castellane Tower in the distance.
I later found out one of the top things to do in Epernay is to climb the 237 steps of the Champagne de Castellane Tower, which is the highest point of Epernay.
This 360° viewpoint is stunning and overlooks the river, the town, and the surrounding rolling vineyards.
The cost of the cellar tour + 2 cuvées + access to the Tower is 30 €.
10- See the Final Resting Place of Dom Pérignon
Dom Pierre Pérignon burial site
Located just a short distance from Epernay, the charming town of Hautvillers holds a special place in the heart of Champagne lovers.
One of its most renowned landmarks is the Saint-Sindulphe Church. This historic site not only boasts architectural beauty but also serves as the final resting place of the legendary monk and “spiritual father of Champagne,” Dom Pérignon.
We enjoyed walking around this quaint village to gain a deeper understanding of the history and heritage of this world-famous sparkling wine.
11- Wine and Dine at the Belle Epoque Society
Perrier-Jouët Champagne House in Epernay, France
Maison Belle Epoque, the graceful residence once owned by the Perrier-Jouët family, has been transformed into an exceptionally exclusive gastronomic and wine-pairing destination. Book in advance or be disappointed.
Perrier-Jouët also offers a more casual food and wine pairing at its swanky-cool Champagne Bar. Enjoy a glass on a gorgeous sunny day while unwinding on the charming outdoor patio, enveloped by an impeccably maintained landscape.
Expect menu items like artichoke & oregano arancini, salmon gravlax & fresh raspberries, and Caesar salad with tarragon-fried chicken and croutons. The Champagne Bar also serves up some expertly made Champagne cocktails.
We spent several glorious days wining and dining in the Champagne wine region. We had the choice of staying in Reims or Epernay. Although Reims has plenty of interesting things to do, we loved the quaint charm and elegance of Epernay. Stay at Le25Bis, book a few Champagne tours, and enjoy some lovely local meals.
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