A Year in Champagne, now on Netflix, documents the 2012 growing season in the Champagne region of France. I was lucky enough to visit Epernay and Reims in 2015, where the majority of this documentary takes places.
The narrative is broken up into the four seasons but takes some side streets along the way on the wars that disrupted the region and the champagne making process. The charming Saint-Chamant, Coquillette, Gonet-Médeville, Diebolt-Vallois, Gosset and Bollinger champagne houses are profiled. The narrative gets a little lost in some places, but overall earns ★★★★ out of 5 stars in my book.
The movie evokes luxurious fantasies of sipping champagne in Champagne without being bourgeois. You may be surprised to learn that a trip to Champagne is very affordable.
For a vacation in the Champagne region, it’s best to fly into Paris if you’re not already in Europe. From Paris Gare del’Est to Epernay it’s 1 hour and 26 minutes via a SNCF high speed train (Trainline). I paid €24.20 in 2015, although prices vary depending on the season and time of day of departure. Hotels are very reasonable in the €100 – €250 price range per night.
Epernay vs Reims – both cities have pros and cons. Reims is much bigger than Epernay but features a stunning cathedral. Tiny Epernay has a village vibe and is very walkable. There are a tremendous number of champagne houses to visit in Epernay and they are lined up on one long street called the Avenue de Champagne. Therefore, I recommend using Epernay as a base and doing day trips to Reims and Ay. A short 21-minute train ride (€7) connects Epernay to Reims. For a B&B try La Poterne (€115 a night) and for dinner Chez Max (€40 per person).
Moet & Chandon (Prebook)
Paul Etienne Saint Germain
C. Comme (Champagne Bar)
Veuve Clicquot (Prebook)