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Savor the Luxurious Essence of France's Champagne Region

Updated: Jun 9



Beautiful view on the vineyards of the Campagne region in France

The Champagne-Ardenne region of France is an enchanting destination rich in culture, history and natural beauty. This region is known worldwide for its sparkling champagne and picturesque landscapes. I would like to take you on a journey through the diverse areas of Champagne-Ardenne, from the charming south around Troyes to the historic north around Épernay. Discover the hidden gems, taste the famous bubbles and experience the unique charm of this exceptional French region.


#1 Discover the champagne houses in Champagne-Ardenne


Some fun facts about champagne that you can use when tasting and possibly purchasing your favorite champagne brand.


The regulation of the name 'Champagne'


Champagne is a protected name to be used only for sparkling wine produced in the Champagne region of France, according to strict rules and traditions. This is so stipulated in international trade and wine laws. This protection ensures that the quality and origin of champagne are always guaranteed. Sparkling wine from other regions and countries may only mention 'méthode champagnoise' on the label.


Informational codes on champagne bottles


Did you know that on the label of each champagne bottle there is a number that refers to the origin and production of the champagne?


You can find the following codes:


RM (Récoltant-Manipulant): this means that the champagne is produced by the vintner, made from his own grapes.


NM (Négociant-Manipulant): this code indicates producers who buy grapes or basic wines to make champagne.


CM (Coopérative de Manupulation): these are cooperatives of winemakers who produce champagne together.


RC (Récoltant-Coopérateur): these are vintners who bring their grapes to a cooperative and then have the champagne produced and sold there under their own brand.


After this code follows a number e.g. RM-12345-1 or NM-12345-2, so there is always a number 1 or 2 at the end, what do these numbers mean?


Number 1: refers to the producer's primary location (often the best champagne grapes)


Number 2: indicates a secondary location


This information can certainly help you choose the best champagne houses.


map of Champagne region France

In Champagne-Ardenne there are numerous champagne houses, in each village you will find several winemakers who make their own champagne. Both in the south (the region around Troyes) and in the north near Epernay and Reims you can choose between different types of champagnes. Look here at the map of Champagne region in France.






Best champagne houses to visit


Small champagne houses


Visiting small champagne houses offers an accessible introduction to the world of champagne. These wineries often offer tours and especially tastings that provide more insight into the production process and the passion behind each bottle.


Some pro-tips:


  • A visit to the smaller, simple champagne houses is also best booked in advance


  • Keep in mind that some smaller champagne houses also charge a fee to taste the champagne, on average 15 €/person. Often you don't have to pay anything if you buy a few bottles.


Top champagne brands that are among the smaller champagne houses:


  1. Didier Ducos, rue Julien Ducos 9bis, 51530 Saint-Martin-d'Ablois


Champagne bottles made by Didier Ducos, Champagne region France

This charming, small champagne house is located in the heart of Champagne-Ardenne. Family-run for many years, it is known for its dedication to traditional production methods and personal touch. In fact, you will receive a very warm welcome here by the lady of the house, who will be happy to let you taste numerous champagnes.


We loved the premier cru l' Absolutien and the La Rosée. We also bought a special Cuvée Absolu Boisé, with wooden label and string on the stopper. On these bottles you will find the code RM and a 1 at the end. So they produce their own champagne from their own first quality grapes.




Tip: this champagne house does not require you to pay to taste


2. Autreau Champagne, 7 rue René Baudet, 51160 Champillon


Entrance of the Champagne house of Autreau in Champillon

This smaller champagne house, whose delicious champagne, by the way, we tasted in a renowned restaurant in Antwerp, is known for its excellent champagnes and rich family tradition. The roots of this renowned house date back to 1670. The vineyards are located on the slopes of the Montagne de Reims. Both the elegant brut and refined millésimes could charm us. (Millésime means that only grapes from 1 particular vintage were used). We bought here the premier cru as we tasted it earlier in Antwerp.

These bottles have the code NM and a number 1 at the end.


Tip: this champagne house does not require you to pay to taste



3. Champagne Mathelin, 4 rue des Gibarts Village "Cerseuil", 51700 Mareuil Le Port


This family business cultivates its own vineyard and produces refined champagnes.

Again, you get a warm welcome and can taste their most refined champagnes.

We particularly liked the L'Orée des chênes here, this champagne was kept in oak barrels over an extended period of time and bottled in 2016.

The Lady Coraly brut, a champagne inspired by Coralie Mathelin is also a good choice here.

Also on these champagnes you will the code RM, with number 1 at the back.


Tip: There is a charge of 15€/person for tasting here, if you buy at least 6 bottles of champagne this fee is waived.



4. Champagne Crucifix Père et fils, 3 allée de la livré, 51160 Avenay Val d'Or


entrance of champagne house Crucifix Pere et Fils, France

In this small champagne house, the 5th generation is now at work. Wife of the house Carole, is happy to explain to you where the vineyards are located and the composition of the terroir. Again, you get to taste several fine champagnes. Here we chose the Tradition, premier cru.


The bottles list code NM and number 1 at the end. So they also buy grapes from other producers.


Tip: in this champagne house you do not have to pay to taste






5. Champagne Hostomme, 5 rue de l'Allée, 51530 Chouilly


Bottle of champagne at Hostomme Champagne house in Chouilly, France

This champagne house has been around since 1930 and combines traditional craftsmanship with modern techniques to produce exceptional champagnes. Like the Vikka, located 60 meters deep on the ocean off the coast of Brittany. In this spot, ravaged by swell and wind, a symbiosis between the seabed and the chalky terroir of the Champagne region takes place in an almost mystical way. We bought the Gourmandise demi-sec there. These bottles also have the code NM printed on them.


Tip: this champagne house charges 15€ per person for the tasting, unless you make a purchase of at least 75€




Expensive Champagne brands


If you are looking for a luxurious experience, you can visit prestigious champagne houses such as Moët & Chandon in Epernay or Veuve Clicquot in Reims. They offer a glimpse into the rich history and sophisticated production methods. Visits to these houses usually include a tour of the impressive cellars and conclude with a tasting.


Also in these exclusive champagne houses there are numerous brands to choose from to visit, we chose the house Leclerc Briant because of its exclusivity (such as the gold-plated wine barrel and the latest new "Kronos," whose wine barrel is made of titanium inside).


Destination Explorer ready for a tour at Leclercq Briant Champagne in Epernay, France

Champagne Leclerc Briant, 67 Chemin de la Chaude Ruelle, Epernay

Champagne house Leclerc Briant, located in Epernay, is known as a pioneer in biodynamic viticulture. In 1966, it was Pascal Briant who started a radical conversion to biodynamic viticulture, a holistic approach that balances the ecosystem in the vineyards. No chemicals or pesticides are used but only natural preparations. This results in healthier grapes and a richer terroir.


Wine barrels in the cellars of Leclercq Briant Champagne

Champagne Leclerc Briant purchases its grapes from various biodynamic vineyards, which is why you will find the code NM on the bottles. It produces 200,000 bottles annually. Considering that about 340 million bottles are sold in the Champagne region, this is certainly not one of the largest Champagne houses. The Champagne produced at Leclerc Briant is kept in barrels for 9 months, some in wooden barrels, which are kept moist so that the wood does not absorb too much of the wine. Just before bottling in July, there is tasting to assess which flavors would make a good blend. In addition to wooden barrels, Leclerc Briant's cellars also have terracotta and limestone barrels from Italy made from natural materials, which then give the champagne a different touch. Their golden barrel is currently the only one in the world; according to the latest findings, this gives a pure, strong flavor to the champagne.



Their most exclusive champagne at the moment is the Abyss, it has lain as much as 60 meters deep in the ocean for 1 year. This method enhances the good initial mineral reduction.


After the very interesting tour of the company, our visit ended with a tasting. We were very charmed by the taste of the Brut Rosé and, of course, the exclusive Abyss.



#2 Attractions in the South of the Champagne region


In the south of the Champagne-Ardenne region, the following places are absolute must-visits:


Visit Troyes: a hidden gem in the Champagne region of France


old houses in Troyes, Champagne, France

This medieval town still has many beautifully preserved half-timbered houses, and you walk through numerous picturesque cobblestone streets and lively squares. What also particularly struck us in this city was its outstanding cleanliness. You can easily follow the mapped out walking route "the historic circuit" via the triangles marked on the road.


What must you see when visiting Troyes?


  • The Cathedral of Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul

This magnificent Gothic cathedral with its unique stained-glass windows is a masterpiece of medieval architecture.


  • The historic center


  • Les Halles

This covered market offers an authentic French shopping experience with fresh produce, local delicacies and artisanal goods. We bought La Prunelle de Troyes the original liqueur here.



Explore Le Lac de l'Orient: a natural oasis in the Champagne region


This large lake is located in the heart of Champagne-Ardenne. It is a paradise for nature lovers and adventurers.


What activities and attractions can you find there?

  • water sports and recreation: a real hotspot for water sports enthusiasts, you can sail, windsurf, kayak and swim.


  • hiking and biking trails: you will find numerous well-marked hiking and biking trails, where you can enjoy beautiful views of the lake and surrounding forests.


  • nature reserve: you can visit the nearby Forêt d' Orient, this protected nature reserve is home to numerous flora and fauna.


  • picnic and family fun: you can enjoy a picnic on the shores of the lake where picnic tables are provided in many places. In addition, you will find very nice playgrounds.



Tips for visiting

  • best time to visit: spring and summer for the outdoor activities and in autumn for the beautiful colors of the landscape


  • facilities: more than enough parking places, facilities such as toilets, cafes


  • do not forget: binoculars to spot various bird species and of course your camera


  • visit restaurant Le Belvedère in Mesnil-Saint-Pere (12 rue du Lac), this is an absolute must to enjoy a delicious dinner on the terrace overlooking the lake during sunset.



#3 Attractions in the North of the Champagne region


Experience Épernay in the heart of Champagne


View on the famous house of Moët & Chandon, on the Boulevard du Champagne in Epernay, France

This city is also not to be missed when visiting the Champagne region. This charming city offers a nice mix of rich history, architectural splendor and, of course, the world-famous champagne houses!


Sightseeing in Épernay


  • Avenue de Champagne: this legendary boulevard is definitely worth exploring. You will find the most prestigious champagne houses such as Moët & Chandon, Pierre-Jouët and Mercier.


  • Hôtel de Ville: Surrounded by a lush park, this magnificent neoclassical town hall offers an oasis of calm in this city.


  • Le Ballon Captif d' Épernay: For a different perspective on the city, you can step into this balloon and get a stunning view of the city and its surrounding vineyards.



Tip! If you are still looking for a good restaurant with tasty local cuisine, I can definitely recommend La table du 18. Location: 5 Place Auguste Chauvet, 51150 Tours sur Marne (about 15 km from Épernay)


Closed on Monday and Tuesday, other days open between 12-14h and 19-22h30, except Wednesday and Sunday only from 12-14h.


If you travel further North, you can also visit the city of Reims, which has a lot to offer. Since Reims was not on our itinerary, this city will not be discussed now.


#4 Where to stay in Champagne, France? Sharing our favorite addresses


Joie de Vivre in Doulevant-le- Chateau, 13 Rue Haute


entrance of the amazing Airbnb in Doulevant le Chateau, Joie de Vivre

Joie de Vivre is definitely a well-chosen name for this wonderful Chambres et table d'hôtes in the southern Champagne region.


We were very warmly welcomed here by Isabelle and Pieter, 2 Belgians who decided 6 years ago to move to France and bought this beautiful property. It's become a fabulous Chambres d'hôtes.


The majestic house had once belonged to a general of Napoleon according to Pieter and has lost none of its charm. In the backyard you can relax and enjoy a welcome drink on the terrace. Weather permitting, both breakfast and dinner can be served on the terrace. In summer it is also great to take a refreshing dip in the pool.



Pieter proudly showed us our beautiful spacious rooms with also very spacious and comfortable private annex bathroom. We slept there wonderfully.



Isabelle provides the culinary treats of dinner with great passion. Please note if you wish to dine, you do need to book in advance. I can highly recommend this, besides the delicious homemade dishes Joie de Vivre also has an extensive wine cellar and of course you can drink delicious champagne.


What makes it extra cozy is that all guests dine together at a long table where the host and hostess like to come after dinner to sit and chat some more.



In the morning you are spoiled with a delicious breakfast buffet with homemade bread, pastries and jams. Pieter also asks if you would like another egg. Fresh fruit juice, coffee and tea are also available on the extensive buffet.



There is an enclosed private parking lot on the property, and Pieter and Isabelle will be happy to provide you with any information about any attractions in the area. They are also happy to call a restaurant to reserve a table for you.


In short, Joie de Vivre is a real hidden treasure in the Champagne-Ardenne region, where most guests definitely return.


Royal Champagne Hotel & Spa, rue de la Republique, 51160 Champillon


Beautiful view on the terrace of le Royal Champagne, Champillon, France

This beautiful 5-star hotel, from the owners of Leclercq Briant has a fantastic view over the vineyards. From the lovely terrace where you have both the Abysse bar and the bistro Le Bellevue, you can enjoy a tasty snack or dish with great views of the surrounding vineyards. Be sure to book in advance if you want a table at Le Bellevue.



Interior of restaurant Le Royal at Royal Champagne, Champillon, France

Want an exclusive dinner? Then book a table at Le Royal, this gourmet restaurant you will enjoy a culinary journey prepared by chef Paolo Boscaro, with his delicious interpretation of the Champagne region. The restaurant was therefore rightly awarded a Michelin star.



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The hotel has 47 luxurious rooms and suites, all with balconies or terraces and stunning views over the vineyards. All rooms were also decorated with natural materials, with the interior architect taking inspiration from the natural and cultural materials of the region. Literally a dream to wake up in.



Be sure to pamper yourself in the hotel's spa & wellness area. Here too you have a beautiful view of the vineyards, there is an indoor and outdoor pool, as well as a sauna, steam room, Jacuzzis, yoga studio, gym & beauty bar. Various treatments are also offered here, which you should also book in advance. Only myBlend and Clarins Precious products are used.



Furthermore, the hotel also supports all kinds of sustainability initiatives: for example, as little energy and water as possible is wasted and they maintain a strict plan for waste. As much bio-waste as possible is also composted. They also work with "Côteaux propres," an organization that collects waste in the vineyards after harvest.


Finally, the hotel offers numerous activities such as: a visit to a champagne house, bicycle tours with electric bikes, baby carriage excursions in the vineyards, horseback riding, hot air balloon rides and a boat trip on the Marne. To make reservations, click here.


#5 Finally, some practical tips to properly prepare for a visit to the Champagne region in France:


1. Best travel time to visit Champagne region?

The best time is between May-October. During these months the vineyards are in full bloom and the weather is also pleasant. September is harvest time and there are numerous festivities and activities.


2. How can you reach Champagne-Ardenne?


The region is easily accessible from Paris. There is a train connection from Paris Garde de l'Est to Reims or Épernay, this ride takes about 45-60 minutes. By car, it is about 150 km from Paris. You can also book several tours from Paris, discover them here.


3. Which cities to visit in Champagne-Ardenne?


As described above, there is a southern and a northern region. The most impressive cities to visit are Troyes (in the south) and Reims and Épernay in the north.


4. What local dishes should you taste?


Besides champagne, the Champagne-Ardenne region also has a number of culinary specialties such as the 'Biscuit Rose de Reims' and the 'Jambon de Reims'. Delicious to combine with a glass of champagne.


5. How many days do you need to explore the Champagne-Ardenne region?


If you only want to visit the region around Reims/Épernay you can do so in two or three days. However, if you also want to explore the southern region, I would allow at least 5 days.


The Champagne-Ardenne region is a beautiful and sensory experience that you should definitely put on your bucket list. Besides the delicious champagne, you will also visit numerous picturesque villages, meet the friendly locals, enjoy the beautiful nature and delicious gastronomy of this region.


 *Disclaimer: This post contains affiliated links which means that purchases made through these links reward Destination Explorer a small commission without any additional charge for the purchaser. 

3 Comments

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Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

I have not been to the Champagne region of France for 20 years and when we had a car full of kids and had to visit Piper Heidsieck as they had a petit train des caves tour that the kids loved! Its great to have your suggestions, Joie de Vivre looks my sort of place to stay.

I hope we can return to champagne again soon!


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Thanks Jenny for your comment. In 20 years it has changed a bit I guess and without kids you are able to attend some tastings in Épernay and surrounding villages!

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Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

I have not been to the Champagne region of France for 20 years and when we had a car full of kids and had to visit Piper Heidsieck as they had a petit train des caves tour that the kids loved! Its great to have your suggestions, Joie de Vivre looks my sort of place to stay.

I hope we can return to champagne again soon!


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