A weekend in the Champagne region isn’t complete without visiting a large and renowned champagne house. Though most of them are in the hands of conglomerates (Luis Vuitton-Moët-Hennessy is probably the best known) and are behind the scenes mere factories, such a visit is really worth your while.
A normal visit takes about an hour and usually begins with an exposé or a movie about the glorious history of the house and the skills of making champagne.
Afterwards you usually descend centuries-old steps towards the cellars, where the guided tour starts, on foot or by small train, through corridors stretching for miles.
Taking pictures is allowed. A picture of yourself, posing before a couple of thousand bottles “sur lattes” will look nice in your photo album.
After visiting the cellars comes the tasting. Most houses offer different tastings. The price of your visit depends on the different kinds of champagne you want to sample afterwards.
If you go for the cheapest option and you decide afterwards you want to taste more than is included in that option, you can always pay extra.
Every visit ends in an obligatory visit to ‘la boutique’. There you’ll be seduced by their champagnes in all forms and sizes, along with an array of champagne gadgets. Try to ignore the attraction of the bubbles and buy wisely. Remember you will often find the same champagne better priced in your usual store.
The gadgets however are unique and usually very stylish. You will no doubt be the centre of attention with an umbrella in the registered orange of Veuve Cliquot or a chic handbag of Moët et Chandon.
The larger houses have closing dates and fixed opening hours. Take a look at their website before you make your schedule. If you want specific information about a visit, tastings and price or if you want a private guided tour, contact them beforehand.
It’s not always possible to get a guided tour in your own language. Take that into account if you travel with children.
The really exclusive houses are not open to the public. Louis Roederer, Krug, Bollinger, Pol Roger, …can only be visited if you are in the trade, by invitation or if you are extremely persuasive. If you ever get the opportunity to visit one of these houses, do not hesitate. We were privileged to visit Champage Ruinart and were stunned by the tour of the cellars, the breathtaking crayères and the generous tasting.
Pommery | Taittinger | Veuve Cliquot Ponsardin | G.H. Mumm | Lanson | G.H. Martel |
Moët et Chandon | Mercier | De Castellane | Perrier Jouët |
Canard – Duchêne
Laurent – Perrier