Surrounded by vineyards as far as the eye can see, the champagne capital will win your heart with its elegant architecture, peaceful atmosphere and delicious wines.
Épernay is situated in Champagne-Ardenne, in the superb wine-growing region of the Marne Valley. This very popular destination owes its success to the hidden treasure under its grand buildings: more than 60 miles of cellars cut from limestone and used to store 200 million bottles of fine champagne made by some of the world's best and oldest producers. A stay in Épernay is inevitably to some extent a wine-tasting trip, but it also offers time for contemplation: its peaceful environment dotted with luxurious buildings and charming green spaces makes an ideal setting for those tastings!
Ideally, start your visit by exploring the city's main thoroughfare, the suitably named Avenue de Champagne. There, you will be able to admire the grand buildings home to the big Champagne producers and also visit their vast cellars which were dug out in the 18th century. The most highly reputed companies include Moët et Chandon, De Castellane and Mercier – whose cellars you can explore in a small train. To relax for a while, make your way to the splendid Town Hall Park with its rockeries, lakes and statues.
After that, you will be ready to set off on one of the numerous possible excursions through the Marne Valley. Tucked into the hillsides, you will see churches from the Middle Ages, majestic châteaux including Dormans, with its Memorial of the Battles of the Marne, and picturesque villages like Œuilly and Hautvillers. The latter is the place of birth of Dom Pérignon, the monk who, according to legend, invented champagne in the 17th century. As you make your way around you will also be able to meet some of the local winemakers at their visitor centres, during which they will happily reveal their secrets to you.
Épernay is about 3 hours' drive from Calais, or you can take the train from Paris (approximately 1 hour 10 minutes). Once there, the Mouvéo bus network is handy for getting to the surrounding villages, but a car is ideal for travelling around at your own pace. For a truly immersive experience, consider staying at one of the countryside B&Bs surrounded by vineyards. The champagne capital awaits you!