As a fan of fizz, if there was ever a place in need of a stop-off on a road trip, it’s the capital of champagne, Epernay. It also happened to be almost halfway between London and our destination in the French Alps. And so it was decided (without any hesitation on my behalf) an overnight stay in Epernay it was to be.

Hôtel de Ville, Epernay
Hôtel de Ville, Epernay

It was not the first time we visited Epernay. Over six years ago, we hit the region to source some champagne for our wedding reception. The second time, we were heading to the French Alps by car for our eldest daughter’s first Christmas. And now, shortly after our youngest enjoyed her first Christmas, we found ourselves back in Epernay as a family of four.

It’s not exactly the place you’d think of visiting with children (and after our night tending to a coughing, crying seven-month-old child, our accommodation may think the same) but as a brief stop-off it did the trick.

My husband booked an impressive apartment attached to ‘de Venoge’ champagne house. It stands on the most prestigious street in Epernay, the Avenue de Champagne (the husband did well, didn’t he?). The street houses some of the best-known champagne houses from Mercier to Perrier Jouet and Moet and Chandon.

de Venogue champagne house, Epernay

Our accommodation was the newly opened ‘les Suites de 33’ which has just four guest rooms. Each one has a small kitchenette, lounge, main bedroom and bathroom. There was plenty of room for the four of us although the travel cot they provided could have done with an extra mattress as I don’t think it aided Cheeky’s unsettled night’s sleep.

de Venoge champagne guest house

Across the cobbled courtyard (where we could park our car) was the champagne bar where we had breakfast the next morning and where, upon arrival, we enjoyed a welcome glass of its bubbly. After a four-hour drive from London, it was more than welcome. I picked the Extra Brut option, a drier champagne which has less sugar. I actually preferred it compared to the Brut which my husband had. We bought a bottle to enjoy that evening. Mrs T gulped down an orangina.

Wander Mum and Mrs T in the champagne bar

Each champagne manufacturer on the Avenue de Champagne has its own large, majestic building, reflecting the wealth of its product derived from a complex process. Unfortunately, as we were visiting out of season, we didn’t get to do a champagne tour which the houses run as they were limited.

One of the few houses open and running tours (although they were fully booked) was the Moet and Chandon building. Its Premier Cru is named after the monk Dom Perignon. Lovers of champagne are indebted to this man who discovered the special technique of making champagne in the 17th century.

Statue of Dom Perignon outside Moet and Chandon champagne house
The complex process involves two fermentation steps using the grapes cultivated from the small region which is allowed to call itself ‘champagne’. There is a reason why champagne is so pricey!

We had a look inside the Moet building and found plenty of glitzy festive displays. There was a sparkling silver Christmas tree and a large golden star which my daughter insisted on having a photo with.
Moet and Chandon champagne house in Epernay

Inside the luxurious shop were bottles of champagne, young and vintage, and a display with the different champagne sizes. You would certainly need a lot of people to open the biggest, a Nebuchadnezzar. I like champagne but not THAT much. And you’d need a big fridge to keep that bad boy chilled!

Moet and Chandon champagne bottles at Epernay

On our way out, we looked up and saw the chandelier was made up from champagne glasses. Well, what else?

Chandelier in Moet and Chandon, Epernay

But it’s down below, underground, where the magic happens. 200 million bottles lie in cellars under the streets of Epernay. The champagne tours take you into the cellars and explain more about how champagne is made.

One of my favourite tipples is Perrier Jouet. Unfortunately it was shut but a photo was definitely in order.

Wander Mum on Avenue de Champagne, Epernay

After wandering the length of the Avenue, we headed into the heart of the town. Epernay is a pretty place with a seasonal ice rink, plenty of shops and a carousel which I was persuaded to go on by my daughter.

Carousel in Epernay

The town is a good starting point to explore the champagne region although if you’re not big on champagne there’s not a lot of point visiting.

With night drawing in came the need for food. The problem with France and other parts of Europe (Spain and Italy, I’m looking at you), is the lack of restaurants open all day. It’s very hard to find anywhere that serves food when children need it. With bellies rumbling and temperatures plummeting to near freezing, we had to settle on the first place we found which was open and serving food, Le Progres brasserie.

It wasn’t the best. The coup de champagne was great (as you’d expect) but the food very average: an oily omelette, chewy steak and sad-looking salmon tagliatelle which sounded far better on paper. The service from one female waitress was terse with the simplest of requests (like asking for a knife and fork) met with a scowl.

Fortunately, there are plenty of other good restaurants in Epernay. We have eaten very well at the Michelin starred Les Berceaux restaurant on one of our previous visits.

Walking back to our accommodation on the Avenue de Champagne, the name of each champagne house was proudly projected onto the pavement in green and orange hues. Perrier Jouet had gone one step further with a dazzling light display inside the gates of its building. It so impressed Mrs T, she declared it a “disco”.

Returning to our comfortable apartment, we polished off the bottle of champagne not knowing a restless night awaited us. In what was Cheeky’s worst night she has ever had, it ended with my husband driving her around the streets of Epernay to get to sleep (it worked). No doubt we will visit Epernay again though, ensuring we book a champagne tour this time so we can learn first-hand about the work which goes into making the bubbles (and get to sample more of the wares). At one hour long for the Moet tour, I think it would be just about possible with our two children. I would definitely go back to Les Suites de 33 too (if they’ll have us)!

de Venoge champagne house

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Experiencing Epernay,the capital of champagne in a dayLou Messugo

Mini Travellers

65 Comments on A Taste of Champagne in Epernay

    • Wander Mum
      January 3, 2017 at 8:58 pm (3 months ago)

      Epernay is very beautiful. Despite the bumps, we still had a good time!

      Reply
  1. Wandermust Mummy
    January 3, 2017 at 8:21 am (3 months ago)

    I’d not thought of visiting here with kids but glad to see it is possible. Bubbles and a restless baby isn’t a great combo though! I hope your little one is feeling better. I feel your pain – we are experiencing teething at the moment! #citytripping
    Wandermust Mummy recently posted…Why we have and why we will keep travelling with our baby! My Profile

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      January 3, 2017 at 8:56 pm (3 months ago)

      Teething is the worst – good luck with it. She has been alright since and I think the cold mountain air has helped clear the cough.

      Reply
    • Wander Mum
      January 3, 2017 at 8:56 pm (3 months ago)

      Thank you Tanja, it certainly does!

      Reply
  2. Ahila
    January 3, 2017 at 1:20 pm (3 months ago)

    The champagne tours with visits to the cellars sounds lovely. Good to hear that you enjoyed your stopover at Epernay, despite the restless night you had. Hope you enjoyed your holidays!
    Ahila recently posted…Bath Experiences: Visiting No 1 Royal CrescentMy Profile

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      January 3, 2017 at 8:55 pm (3 months ago)

      We have had a great time on our travels thanks Ahila. I’m very keen to return for a champagne tour!

      Reply
    • Wander Mum
      January 3, 2017 at 8:54 pm (3 months ago)

      It really was Tracy!

      Reply
    • Wander Mum
      January 3, 2017 at 8:54 pm (3 months ago)

      You should Trish. I think you’d love it!

      Reply
    • Wander Mum
      January 3, 2017 at 8:53 pm (3 months ago)

      Thanks Kat! The hubby did very well and I would definitely recommend it as an overnight stay.

      Reply
  3. Natalie
    January 3, 2017 at 7:04 pm (3 months ago)

    What an interesting place to visit! I love that you took the kids. We love taking the kids with us and find that they can find things to enjoy about any destination! We have taken them to a winery in Canada. I love the clever like the chandelier made of champagne glasses. That is so cool!

    Sounds like baby had a hard time, but if you were going to have to drive baby around the block to go to sleep…might as well be someplace fantastic, right? 🙂

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      January 3, 2017 at 8:52 pm (3 months ago)

      Haha, exactly…shame it was at 5am! It was a great place to visit and you are so right, there is always something to fascinate children and spot things you may miss. Sparkly gold stars and giant bottles made my eldest very happy.

      Reply
  4. Cathy (Mummytravels)
    January 3, 2017 at 7:38 pm (3 months ago)

    What a shame about your broken night and less than great cuisine- but at least you had the champagne to console you! Sounds a fascinating place to stop, especially for champagne lovers. #citytripping
    Cathy (Mummytravels) recently posted…City Tripping #58My Profile

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      January 3, 2017 at 8:47 pm (3 months ago)

      Exactly, the champagne definitely helped (and kudos to the hubby for getting up at 5am and driving her around the block)!

      Reply
  5. Hilary
    January 3, 2017 at 8:00 pm (3 months ago)

    Love this post! The photos and fun tone of your words!! Your accommodations looked so lovely! #citytripping
    Hilary recently posted…Three Days in BruggeMy Profile

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      January 3, 2017 at 8:43 pm (3 months ago)

      Thank you so much Hilary, very kind. The guest house was great and a very impressive location.

      Reply
  6. Topsy Turvy Tribe
    January 3, 2017 at 8:07 pm (3 months ago)

    It looks like such a decedent place to visit. The champagne tours and houses look absolutely fantastic and your accommodation luxurious. Shame about the restless night! It is so difficult to find somewhere decent to eat in Europe with kids, we struggle sometimes in Spain, but at least we have great tapas here! #citytripping
    Topsy Turvy Tribe recently posted…The Olive PickersMy Profile

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      January 3, 2017 at 8:42 pm (3 months ago)

      That’s true, the tapas is very good for family eating otherwise eating out in Spain can get very late.

      Reply
  7. Wilbur
    January 3, 2017 at 8:09 pm (3 months ago)

    Your husband did do well! I loved Epernay too – we visited Mercier and in fact cracked a bottle bought there on NYE. Cheers!

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      January 3, 2017 at 8:38 pm (3 months ago)

      Fantastic! Great way to see in the New Year! I take it the Mercier tour was good?

      Reply
    • Wander Mum
      January 4, 2017 at 1:36 pm (3 months ago)

      Yea, same! A tour (and revisit) is definitely in order.

      Reply
  8. Brooke of Passport Couture
    January 4, 2017 at 2:31 am (3 months ago)

    Sorry to hear your family had a tough time towards the end of your stay. However, where you stayed looks comfortable and I love the champagne chandelier. It sounds like you still enjoyed your time in Epernay, even though there were some bumps in the road.
    Brooke of Passport Couture recently posted…January 2017 AffirmationsMy Profile

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      January 4, 2017 at 1:50 pm (3 months ago)

      We did! It was great. Travelling with kids means you do get the odd bump now and then. The accommodation was excellent

      Reply
  9. Notmyyearoff
    January 4, 2017 at 6:21 am (3 months ago)

    Wow what an interesting place, the residents there must be so accustomed to fine tastes there 🙂 and that biggest bottle looks so huge! Sorry to hear your little one got poorly but sounds like you all had a good time despite it #citytripping
    Notmyyearoff recently posted…Things I’d love to do in 2017My Profile

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      January 10, 2017 at 4:44 pm (2 months ago)

      We did thank you. It was a great trip with a little blip in the middle of the night. Fortunately, I caught up on sleep on the next leg of our journey.

      Reply
  10. Lolo
    January 4, 2017 at 8:40 am (3 months ago)

    Pinned! I have honestly never thought about visiting the place where Champagne is made! Now it’s definitely on my radar! France seems to be somewhere we rarely go, as Czech and Austria are much closer to us. I have a ton of places I want to visit in France! I better get on it! #CityTripping
    Lolo recently posted…2016: A Year in ReviewMy Profile

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      January 4, 2017 at 1:35 pm (3 months ago)

      Sounds like a road trip is in order!

      Reply
  11. Daisy - DaisLikeThese
    January 4, 2017 at 12:37 pm (3 months ago)

    Sorry to hear about your restless night but looks like you enjoyed the rest of your time. The accommodation sounds fab – I will definitely be looking it up!
    We stayed at the B&B of Champagne Ployet Jaquemart, not far from where you were and we all loved it.
    Reims is a fab stop over city too.

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      January 10, 2017 at 4:43 pm (2 months ago)

      Oooh, will have to look that B&B up. We have visited Reims briefly before, a really great city!

      Reply
  12. Mandy
    January 4, 2017 at 6:29 pm (3 months ago)

    Sounds like a great trip to Epernay. I love that breakfast is served with champagne. (What else?!) Also love the champagne themed decor! 🙂 Hopefully, next time you visit, things will go much smoother… #citytripping
    Mandy recently posted…IWSG #1My Profile

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      January 10, 2017 at 4:35 pm (2 months ago)

      Maybe next time we ditch the children…just a thought. Champagne. No children. Sounds quite appealing.

      Reply
  13. Jonny (Daisy the bus)
    January 4, 2017 at 9:13 pm (3 months ago)

    Epernay really isn’t so far from where I live, but I don’t think I have ever been there. I have no excuse for that…

    On one hand, sorry to hear about your little hiccups, but on the other I really enjoyed reading about them (hope you take that the right way! ;o) ). The fact is that independent family travel isn’t always silky smooth, but it is almost always rewarding and memorable in the end. Thanks for sharing your experiences! #CityTripping
    Jonny (Daisy the bus) recently posted…Dark places of the MullerthalMy Profile

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      January 10, 2017 at 4:31 pm (2 months ago)

      You are so right Jonny. You take the rough and the smooth with family travel but it is incredibly rewarding in the end. You certainly learn a lot about yourself and your family. Thanks for your lovely comment.

      Reply
  14. Ruth
    January 5, 2017 at 2:24 am (3 months ago)

    I can’t believe I didn’t know about this place. An Avenue de Champagne? That sounds fantastic! Will need to do some research. You are giving me ideas for this year! #citytripping
    Ruth recently posted…New York City’s Holiday Train ShowMy Profile

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      January 10, 2017 at 4:29 pm (2 months ago)

      Oh yes Ruth, this would be right up your street…ahem, literally! Glad to provide some inspiration.

      Reply
  15. Jill BARTH
    January 5, 2017 at 4:20 pm (3 months ago)

    Indeed, we must start our little ladies out right… an inclination towards grand cru bubbles never hurts an upbringing. Cheers to this lovely post — thank you for sharing the photos and your story.
    Jill BARTH recently posted…Lessons for 2017: Wine writer editionMy Profile

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      January 10, 2017 at 4:28 pm (2 months ago)

      Haha – for sure Jill – start as you mean to go on! Thank you for your very kind words and stopping by Jill.

      Reply
  16. Phoebe | Lou Messugo
    January 5, 2017 at 4:39 pm (3 months ago)

    I remember the days of driving babies around till they fell asleep, we’ve done it in many French towns, but possibly not Epernay…Reims yes! What a shame you couldn’t find anywhere nice to eat but luckily you had that lovely room to go back to and a bottle of bubbles! Thanks for linking to #AllAboutFrance
    Phoebe | Lou Messugo recently posted…All About France #24My Profile

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      January 10, 2017 at 4:27 pm (2 months ago)

      Glad we’re not alone on that one Phoebe. Who needs good food when you have bubbles, ay. Thanks for hosting #allaboutfrance

      Reply
  17. CatherineRose
    January 6, 2017 at 6:18 am (3 months ago)

    I’ve never been to this region of France! My favorite bits of this post are the champagne glass chandelier and the giant bottles of champagne! I’d be quite nervous to pop the cork on that one 🙂 #AllAboutFrance
    CatherineRose recently posted…100th Post: Looking back at 3 years of bloggingMy Profile

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      January 10, 2017 at 4:26 pm (2 months ago)

      Sounds like a trip there might be in order for you. I have no idea how you pop the corks on those huge bottles of champagnes!

      Reply
  18. Katy
    January 8, 2017 at 8:58 pm (2 months ago)

    Ooh love, lucky there was a river of champagne to get you through the rough nights. Visiting Epernay will be somewhat of a pilgrimage for me so I might do it sans kids but if we cant manage that I am taking your tip on the one hour Moët tour.
    Katy recently posted…Faraway Files #12My Profile

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      January 10, 2017 at 6:44 am (2 months ago)

      It would be a great one to go to sans kids – you could really let go with the tasting.

      Reply
    • Wander Mum
      January 17, 2017 at 11:08 pm (2 months ago)

      What? Oh well, not for everyone.

      Reply
    • Wander Mum
      February 27, 2017 at 8:56 pm (4 weeks ago)

      Yep, mine too Fiona!

      Reply
    • Wander Mum
      February 27, 2017 at 8:55 pm (4 weeks ago)

      Ah, that’s lovely to hear…do it!

      Reply
    • Wander Mum
      February 27, 2017 at 8:55 pm (4 weeks ago)

      Thanks Jo, we had a great time. Loved the chandelier too!

      Reply
  19. Ruth
    February 28, 2017 at 3:46 am (3 weeks ago)

    We are twin minds this week! I heard about the Avenue de Champagne for the first time thru this post. So great when you can continue learning about a place after learning about it because of the travel community. I won a trip to the region, so, I hope to redeem it soon. #MondayEscapes
    Ruth recently posted…Champagne: 9 Reasons to Visit this Region in FranceMy Profile

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      February 28, 2017 at 9:20 am (3 weeks ago)

      We are Ruth, I thought that! I do love this community! How fantastic that you won a trip – that is SO brilliant!!

      Reply
    • Wander Mum
      March 6, 2017 at 10:00 pm (3 weeks ago)

      Hee Hee – I know. Thank goodness for the champers!

      Reply
  20. Sarah Christie@gmail.com
    March 2, 2017 at 7:32 pm (3 weeks ago)

    This is on my wish list, I so want to tour the champagne region and what a wonderful time of year to visit thanks so much for linking up #MondayEscapes

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      March 3, 2017 at 3:37 pm (3 weeks ago)

      It’s a great experience. I’m looking forward to going back sometime.

      Reply
  21. Mini Travellers
    March 4, 2017 at 10:03 am (3 weeks ago)

    Sounds fab, not the restless night or the driving round town but all the champagne and I love the disco lights too! One for the list. I’ve done fizz tasting in Napa but not champagne in France!

    Reply
    • Wander Mum
      March 6, 2017 at 10:09 pm (3 weeks ago)

      Hope you get to go soon!

      Reply

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