Moët & Chandon Mansion

Dive into the World of Champagne

Tiếng Việt

Perhaps everyone knows about champagne: the barely audible fizz, the tiny sparkling bubbles, the clink of glasses and the bliss when a bottle is opened. But have you ever wondered, where does the name of this drink come from? Rolling on the chalk plains and hills of northeastern France, the Champagne region has proudly given its name to the world’s most renown sparkling wine.


Champagne has a long tradition of winemaking. The Romans were the first to cultivate grapes in this hilly area in the northeastern part of France. In the following centuries, wines were produced by the monks and they were used in various church’s rituals, including the coronation. However, the first bottle of sparkling wine wasn’t produced until the 17th century and champagne became a status symbol associating with luxury, nobility and royalty.

Today, sparkling wines are produced globally. But only those that come from the specific geographic zone between Reims and Epernay can be labelled as champagne. The wines must also be made from at least one of these three grape varieties: black Pinot Noir, black Pinot Meunier and white Chardonnay. From Veuve Clicquot to Taittinger, you can find most leading manufacturers of champagne around Reims – the de facto capital of the region. However, my favourite one lies about 25 kilometres south of that city, in the small town of Épernay.

Épernay

Lying in the heart of the “champagne country”, Épernay is home to many of the most famous champagne producers, including Moët & Chandon and Perrier-Jouët. The small town might look ordinary at first glance, but beneath its main street – the Avenue de Champagne, millions of champagne bottles are stored in endless long wine cellars.

Moët & Chandon Wine Cellar

As fans of Moët & Chandon, we were keen to visit their wine cellar as part of a guided tour. The tour must be booked in advance on their website, but the payment is made when you arrived. The tour began with a brief introduction to the Moët & Chandon mansion and the family’s history. Then, we were lead to the wine cellar where our tour guide revealed the secrets behind the sophisticated processes – governed by the strictest of rules – that transform the world’s most pampered grapes into the fabled Moët & Chandon champagne. The tour ended with the wine tasting where one or two types of drinks will be served, depends on your choice when making payment.

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Reims

Besides the world-famous bubbly, the Champagne region is also home to several architectural wonders. Most noteworthy is perhaps the Notre Dame de Reims. Constructed in the 13th century, the Gothic cathedral was a masterpiece of the Middle Age with two soaring towers dominating the skyline of Reims and a magnificent façade craved with angels, saints and colourful stainless glasses. Notre Dame de Reims played an important role in French history as various French kings were crowned here, including Charles VI and Charles VII. Badly damaged in the First World War, the cathedral has been painstakingly restored to its true glory.

Notre Dame de Reims
The rose window of Notre Dame de Reims
Joan of Arc & Notre Dame de Reims

Practical Information

  • Just less than one hour by train from Paris, Champagne is ideal for a day trip.
  • Most champagne manufacturers offer wine cellar visits, including the small one. Check their respective websites for more information.
  • Both Reims (old town) and Épernay are relatively small, and thus can be explored on foot. Alternatively, you can use the modern and extensive tram network in Reims. It costs around 4€ for a day ticket.
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25 thoughts on “Dive into the World of Champagne”

  1. We recently came home from a road trip to France. Had a stop in Reims and really liked the city, well worth a visit. Even better with the possibility to try the champagne 🙂

    1. Indeed! In my case, the champagne testing was the main reason that lured me to the region. The cathedral is an add-on 😉
      By the way, how can I follow/subscribe your blog? It took me a while but I couldn’t find the follow button 🙂

      1. Same for us actually 🙂

        I will see if I’m able to re-add the follow button. It disappeared at the last update. Thank you for letting me know 🙂

  2. Excellent, Len! I keep very nice memories from the Champagne region, in my case we visited the Castellane’s cellars, but also popped in the boutique of Moët & Chandon. Very nice reportage 🙂

  3. Nemorino – Frankfurt am Main, Germany – Hello, my name’s Don. I’m an American living in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, where I teach, ride a bicycle and go to the opera. You can find me at https://operasandcycling.com/
    Nemorino says:

    Yes, the Champagne region is well worth visiting, even for those who don’t drink Champagne.
    Reims also has a nice opera house where I saw a beautiful production of Monteverdi’s opera L’Orfeo.

  4. Bama – Jakarta, Indonesia – Based in Jakarta, always curious about the world, always fascinated by ancient temples, easily pleased by food.
    Bama says:

    A visit to those impressive cellars, taking a sip (or two) of the lovely champagne, then a stop at the magnificent Gothic cathedral… sounds like a perfect getaway, Len! However I wonder about the food, though. Is there any local specialty in the region between Reims and Épernay?

    1. Ah, yes! There is the Champagne biscuit which is served together with the champagne. People dip it into the wine before eating. The most popular Champagne biscuit is the Pink Biscuit de Reims. Some people like it, but it is definitively not my taste 🙂
      Vietnam also has its own version of Champagne biscuit. Instead of sparkling wine, we dip the biscuit into ice-cream 🙂

  5. Nano @ Travels With Nano – Tokyo, Japan – Hi, I'm Nano! Welcome to my site! Travels With Nano is filled with everything I am passionate about: uncovering the world one sight, bite and cultural experience at a time. I'm here to share savvy travel tips and inspire (not influence!) your future travel adventures. Needless to say, I am thrilled to have you here reading!
    Nano @ Travel With Nano B. says:

    The title said it all! I really want to experience this when I go back to France.

    1. If you can hold liquor, I suggest you visit multiple champagne houses. I intended to do that but I was drunk after two Grand Vintage 🙂

      1. Nano @ Travels With Nano – Tokyo, Japan – Hi, I'm Nano! Welcome to my site! Travels With Nano is filled with everything I am passionate about: uncovering the world one sight, bite and cultural experience at a time. I'm here to share savvy travel tips and inspire (not influence!) your future travel adventures. Needless to say, I am thrilled to have you here reading!
        Nano @ Travel With Nano B. says:

        Haha sadly, I am usually done after my second glass

  6. Jolene – Sydney, Australia – Jolene is a banker by trade, a writer at heart, and is a contributor to Thought Catalog. You are welcome to peek into her adventures and reflections on films and life at "SoMuchToTellYou", her ultimate love affair with words.
    Jolene says:

    I didn’t know that champagne was actually referring to a region… silly me. Look like some very expensive mansions there. The French have expensive taste…

    1. I had the same thought before visiting the region. I thought “champagne” is the general term for sparkling wine 🙂

      1. Jolene – Sydney, Australia – Jolene is a banker by trade, a writer at heart, and is a contributor to Thought Catalog. You are welcome to peek into her adventures and reflections on films and life at "SoMuchToTellYou", her ultimate love affair with words.
        Jolene says:

        One of my colleagues just came back from France today and said she did a tour of 14 wineries in 5 days (including the ones in your post!). I would have been drunk by all of that…

  7. Covert Novelist – A Self Published eBook Novelist - Blog & Reviews of Books, Films, Authors & Music since 2016. Writer, Humorist, Cheesecake lover, and cat enthusiast.
    Covert Novelist says:

    I loved the pictures and really enjoyed the article. Delightful on every level.

      1. Covert Novelist – A Self Published eBook Novelist - Blog & Reviews of Books, Films, Authors & Music since 2016. Writer, Humorist, Cheesecake lover, and cat enthusiast.
        Covert Novelist says:

        You are so welcome 🙂

  8. Tina Schell – I am passionate about photography, love traveling and exploring new places and faces, and seeing the world from different perspectives. My lens is always on the lookout for something beautiful or interesting.
    Tina Schell says:

    Beautiful captures Len and a lovely tour of champagne country. My husband and I visited several years ago so it was a lovely reminder for me!

  9. Tina Schell – I am passionate about photography, love traveling and exploring new places and faces, and seeing the world from different perspectives. My lens is always on the lookout for something beautiful or interesting.
    Tina Schell says:

    We visited some years ago. My husband is an oenophile altho we are not champagne lovers. It’s very beautiful there and your images are wonderful. You brought me some wonderful memories too Len!

    1. Same here 🙂 I’m not a big fan of champagne (or bubble wines in general). But the estate is definitely worth seeing. It’s also an informative trip for me. Before, I thought making champagne is more or less the same with other bubble wines. But the process is more complex, and there are many strict requirements.

  10. Beautiful towns, wonderful drink….what’s not to love! I’ve been on plenty of wine tours/tastings but not specifically sparkling wine (which I adore!). I didn’t realize this region is so close to Paris. I’m heading to Normandy/Brittany in September, via Paris and now I’m very tempted to add in Champagne (too much great stuff to see)!

    1. You can make a day trip from Paris. It’s pretty simple and won’t take much time. How long will you be in Normandy? I guess St. Michel and St. Malo will be on your list 🙂

  11. We will be there for about a month, but doing slow travel with our bikes through coastal Normandy and Brittany. Yes, Mt. St. Michel and St. Malo definitely on the list, but itinerary is flexible.

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