Champagne for everyone in Épernay

Epernay ©T. Joly
As every year Epernay welcomes thousands of visitors on the occasion of the “Habits de Lumières” event held in December. The champagne houses are at the heart of the festivities that include musical entertainments, street performances and of course champagne tasting.

[ Practical ]

Getting there
- By road
148 km from Paris on autoroute A4 till Château-Thierry (exit 20), then on D1 and N3 till Epernay.
30 km from Reims on N51, D301 and D40.
- By train
TER Paris Gare de l’Est – Epernay. The journey takes 1 h 10.
TER Reims – Epernay. The journey takes approximately 25 mn.
Lodging
Hôtel de Champagne
Hôtel Les Berceaux
Hostellerie La Briquetterie
La Villa Eugène
Ibis
Comforts Suites
It’s also possible to spend the night in Reims.
Restaurants
La Cave à Champagne
Le Central
Le Chapon Fin
La Coquille
L’Oeil de Bœuf
La Table Kobus
Going out
C comme Champagne
Information
- Marne Tourist Office
Tel : 0326684645
www.tourisme-en-champagne.com
- Epernay Tourist Office
Tel : 0326533300
www.ot-epernay.fr
- Habits de Lumières
habitsdelumiere.epernay.fr
Surrounded by vineyards, Epernay is the real capital of the champagne and a wealthy little town. It is also a peaceful place except once a year, when thousands of people come to attend the Habits de Lumières weekend. This year, the 17th edition will run from December 9th to 11th and its theme will be “Champagne”. The opening, on Friday evening, is ritually the most festive moment holding illuminations, fireworks, street shows and champagne tasting.


Epernay © T.Joly
 Fourteen famous champagne houses
It takes place on Avenue de Champagne, so called because it is lined with private mansions housing the headquarters of fourteen famous champagne houses: Moët & Chandon, Boizel, De Venoge, De Castellane, Collard-Picard, Paul-Etienne Saint Germain, A.Bergère, Michel Gonnet, Comtesse Lafond, Demoiselle, Esterlin, Perrier-Jouët Mercier - that stands over a 18 km long network of underground galleries used as cellar to keep millions of bottles - and Pol Roger that was the exclusive supplier of Winston Churchill. From 6.30pm onwards people will be able to stroll freely along the Avenue de Champagne transformed in a pedestrian way champagne bars will also open in the courtyards of the champagne houses illuminated by fairy lights, candles and light shows. A good opportunity to taste excellent champagne at a decent price : €4 -5 a glass, €20 – 25 a bottle. In addition, brass bands, singers or groups give concerts in the courtyards of some champagne houses.


© T.Joly
 Warm and friendly atmosphere
All that creates a warm and friendly atmosphere and it’s not uncommon to see people who don’t know each other share a bottle of champagne. As every year the evening will be marked by two high points. From 7pm to 8pm, art companies specialised in street performances will entertain the public on the Avenue de champagne offering shows mixing fantasy, comedy, music and poetry. Then, at 8pm a fireworks display will take place at the top of the avenue, in the middle of Mercier’s vineyards. The only problem is that it ends around 10.30pm. Fortunately on that day, several restaurants exceptionally welcome people till 10.30pm for late diners. They offer specific menus on the theme of champagne. As an example, the Cave de Champagne usually have a three courses menu with dishes such as oysters cooked in champagne and each one is served accompanied with a glass of champagne. A king feast.


C comme Champagne © T.Joly
 The best Chefs of the region
Later, the night owls can still go to C comme Champagne, a wine shop and bar that sells the production of more than 250 champagne winemakers. One from each village of the appellation, and prices start at 12-13 € per bottle. Besides, each week, five champagnes from different producers are served by the glass and the selection is made on a way that allows to observe the difference of taste brought by each kind of grapes. Indeed, champagne can be elaborated from Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay. Such a festive evening already legitimizes by itself to come to Epernay. However there are more events on the weekend agenda. On Saturday morning from 9am ten of the most well known Chefs of the Champagne region will gather together near the Halle Saint Thibault to create original recipes especially conceived to go along with one of the champagne of the ten houses participating in this event.


Epernay © T.Joly
 Classic cars meeting
The spectators will be able to watch them working, to learn how to do those recipes by themselves and then to taste them along with a glass of champagne. In addition an exhibition featuring installations by visual artist Sylvain Lecrivain will be held at the the Mediathèque. Besides, from 6.30pm the Avenue de Champagne will be once again illuminated, the champagne bars will reopen and new street performances will take place along the avenue as well as a fireworks display. On the evening, the Gabrielle Dorziat theatre will also host a show. Lastly a classic cars meeting will be organized on the Sunday morning. More than 300 vehicles at least 30 years old are expected and will be presented on the Esplanade Charles de Gaulle from 9am to 11am. They will then parade around the city streets.

August 21, 2016
Thierry Joly