Champagne tasting in Epernay with Kids
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If you are traveling through the Champagne region in France, don't be afraid to take your kids Champagne tasting. They won't be tasting Champagne, but you can all still have a good time. One often doesn't think of alcohol and kids but you can still do some grown up activities with kids in tow. I'm sure you do a lot of activities for your kids, so it is absolutely possible for them to hang with you for a couple hours with an activity that doesn't necessarily revolve around them. If you are interested and explain things to kids, they most likely will be interested as well. We have been wine tasting with kids many times in Napa, Charlottesville, and other wineries, but Champagne tasting in France WITH KIDS intimidated me.
Prior to Epernay I researched Champagne tasting with kids and came up with nothing conclusive. There are opinions that are for taking kids and some highly opposed to it. I took a leap and went with my gut. I am here to tell you, it is appropriate and it can be fun for the whole family. Most Champagne tastings involved a tour and a tasting after. I'll tell you how we Champagne tasted in Epernay, some tips on how to take kids Champagne tasting, fun things to do in Epernay, and our favourite places to Champagne taste with kids in Epernay.
The Champagne Houses We Visited
We were planing a trip to the coast of France and wanted to stop in Northern France for some Champagne tasting (when in Champagne).Before planning our trip to Epernay , I looked up Champagne houses and contacted them to see if they were kids friendly or ok with having kids there. Most were delighted to have kids...so those are the ones we decided to go with.
The tours of the underground cellars were a big plus with Champagne tasting because I knew that kids would be fascinated by that. We chose Boizel Champagne House and Champagne Mercier.
The Boizel Champagne House
The Boizel Champagne House is a family owned company since 1834. As soon as you walk up to this beautiful French la Maison you will be smitten. It has a classic French feel that oozes elegance. The house itself is beautiful and as soon as my kids walked int the courtyard they whispered, "wow! Do we get to go in that house?"
The old cars sitting at the front of the house were a huge plus for my boys.
The tasting room and shop are in a separate building at the front of the house. There is a lovely courtyard in between the large Manor and tasting room and shop. Upon arrival, my kids felt very fancy hopping up to the little Champagne bar to select their fresh pressed juices from their own little menus. These orders were made in advance so they would be waiting for them during the tasting. The tastings all follow the tours.
There is a large courtyard where my kids ran around and played while waiting for the tour to start. One can also order a glass of Champagne and go sit in their patio seating while letting kids run around. You don't actually have to do a tour and proper tasting. Let your toddlers run around the courtyard while you sip some bubbly,
The kids enjoyed peeking down into the cellar from the production floor.
The tour was fascinating and we loved learning about the family history in the making of this delicious Champagne. After learning about the production of the Champagne, we got to go down and visit the cellars...my kids were super stoked about this...anything dark and old has to be cool right?
The kids had a great time enjoying the Champagne cellars. It's something new to them, so they really paid attention. The Boizel House has quite the collection of champagne. It was interesting for the kids to see the different years on the bottle. There is an antique selection option you can select for your tasting if you want to try some.
After the cellar, we made our way back up to the tasting room...yay! The kids were moving around most of the tour bc we walked everywhere so it wasn't hard to keep them entertained.The tour lasts about 30 minutes so it's not too long for little human's attention span.
The Boizel does a great job of making. a family with kids feel welcome. We walked into the tasting room and their pre-ordered pressed juices were waiting at heir spot, with some cool coloring activities.
My kids felt cared for and special. The coloring pictures were hilarious because they were all related to Champagne and the grapes they grow from. So even the coloring incorporated what they just learned in the tour.
Our host gave us a detailed description of the Champagne we were tasting and we chatted with the other 5 grownups on the tour with us. The kids colored happily and sipped their juices. The Boizel House is an intimate setting and we sat and enjoyed Champagne and good company for about 40 minutes.
This Boizel Champagne House has a very intimate experience and it was definitely my favourite. The other grown ups we met on the tour were very knowledgeable about champagne and loved sharing all of their knowledge with us...which is often the case at all tastings whether it's wine, beer or champagne. Everyone loves to give you their knowledge about wine and beer. The hubs and I will happily listen with a smile on our face because they are sharing their experience with my kids. It's nice to have some adult conversation... no matter the topic.
After tasting go to the connected shop and pick up Champagne and a Rose candle to take home. You can have them ship some home for you or grab a bottle to take back to your accommodations.
This Chapagne producer started in 1858 and is most famous for its giant barrel of Champagne that can hold up to 200,000 bottles of Champagne. They store their bubbly in a 30 m underground cellar. Their cellar is 18 km long and part of it can be explored by the public in a train. When I heard this, I knew I had to take my kids.
As soon as we walked in Champagne Mercier we were greeted with their famous Champagne barrel. It actually traveled across France to the World Fair In Paris. Each tour includes a flute of Champagne at the end. Once we checked in at the front desk we waited for our tour to begin. They gave us headsets to learn about the history while we waited.
The audio was interesting even though we were all a little tired by this point in the afternoon.
The tour starts with an interactive video that gives the history of the Mercier House. After, everyone gets in a large elevator to take it down the 30 m to the cellar. The elevator ride is interactive and my kids squealed bc the tour makes it very exciting to travel that far underground. Once we got to the cellar it was time to get on a little train.
It is amazing how large the cellars are at the Champagne Mercier House. They go on and on. You pass a lot of beautiful sculptures and art pieces placed through the cellars. We passed countless dark alleys which my kids pretended had scary creatures that were going to come out and chase the train. Lots of belly laughs at the back of the train where we were riding.
Once the tour ended, we rode the elevator back up to the tasting room. The Mercier House tasting room is a big room with a Champagne bar for a tasting. We opted for the "Golden Bubbles Tour" bc we got to taste 3 different Champagnes. You can chose between 1-3 tastings. The tasting areas is smaller by the bar and most people just tried one and moved on to the connected gift shop.
I had my kids sit on the floor and pull out some quiet activities from the bag. This tour didn't have kid drinks and there weren't any seats.
Next time I would opt for tasting just one type of Champagne. The Champagne Mercier is not very expensive so it is possible to get a couple of bottles to try back at home.
Champagne Mercier house is vey interactive and fun for kids. A lot of history that the kids can understand and incorporate into some of the history of France. The tasting is quick and not as relaxing as the one at Boizel Champagne House but you definitely don't have to worry about kids in the Champagne Mercier.
How to Champagne taste with kids
Call or email Champagne houses and ask them if it is ok to bring kids for a tasting. All cellar tours allow kids but tastings might not be as kid friendly. This will allow the champagne house to let you know the specifics of their tastings. Some have specific things just for kids during their tastings. Boizel Champagne house has special coloring and a menu of fresh press juices for kids to try. Some will make special accommodations for you and your kids because you gave them a heads up. They will also tell you if kids often come to their tastings. If they don't want kids there, they will tell you, and you really won't want to be there if you aren't wanted. This is my number one thing that will help you put your mind at ease before taking the kids on a champagne tasting excursion.
Bring quiet activities for kids to do during the tasting if they get bored. Example: colouring books, sticker books, puzzles, sticky straws, a travel size play dough (just bring a napkin for them to do it on and clean up before you leave as a curtesy), match box cars...preferably new so they are more excited to play with them.
Give kids a talk before hand about the underground tour and the history of the Champagne house. Remind them to be on their best behaviour during the tasting. It's worth a shot, right?
I am not opposed to bribery. Some of the Champagne houses have kid friendly beverages that are a treat for kids. My kids were super excited to order and taste their fresh pressed juice. If that doesn't do the trick ,there are lots of French bakeries in Epernay and you can pop in and grab something more indulgent. Bribery doesn't have to be treats. It can be going to a playground after the tasting or another activity that they usually enjoy.
Set the atmosphere for your kids early by having them wear some nicer clothes on the day of the tasting. This makes kids feel like it's a fancy experience and usually fancy experiences might require their best behaviour. Also, sometimes when you looked pulled together, people might think you know what your doing (appearances can be deceiving).
*If making your kids dress up adds drama, skip it. I do have 4 very normal kids and sometimes if they are unhappy with what they are wearing it is extra drama that isn't worth it.
Know your kids limits. We thought we were safe to do 2 champagne house tastings in a day if we broke it up. Don't over due it. Set your kids up for success. Two was totally doable for our family.
Take a break from manners in-between tastings. Go to a park or playground for lunch. Let your kids run, jump, play, and be loud. Offer to play hide-and -seek with them. There are plenty of yummy bakeries in Epernay. Pop into one and get some food to go. A sit down restaurant would be extra time that the kids have to sit nicely. We opted to pop into a bakery and grab some food. We stopped at "PAUL" for a quick and affordable lunch in-between tasting (Also part of my bribe: One of my children may or may not have had creme brûlée for lunch).
If you or the kids are having a bad day, go to plan B
Plan B: Pop into some of the Champagne houses' shops and purchase a bottle to try later at home or in your Airbnb. Go and see the house and walk around, take a couple pics, and grab a bottle to go. Most places will let you do an impromptu tasting if you are interested in buying some Champagne. This is quick and not a formal tasting. Might be perfect for you and your small humans.
Wear your Positive Patty pants and go with the flow. If you stay calm and happy your kids are most likely to feed off this energy. Easier said than done. I know!
Swap places with your spouse. When a wee one needs a break, take them outside for a minute and let your partner in crime finish their tasting. When they are done, swap places .
If you want to go to a sit down dinner, make reservations. Epernay is a small town and the day we went, there was only a couple restaurants open.
Other things to do in Epernay
This hot air balloon look alike goes 150 meters high and provides 360 degree views of Epernay. It is right at the foot of Avenue de Champagne. The kids were stoked to ride up into the sky on this gigantic hot air balloon. Parents can opt to drink champagne on the ride. The whole experience lasts about 30 minutes.
Walk along Avenue de Champagne.
There are so many beautiful houses and buildings in Epernay. My kid loved spotting houses and declaring which one would be there's if they got to chose.
Where we stayed
We stayed at La Petalene Epernay. It was reasonable and served breakfast. The location couldn't be beat. Epernay is small so we were able to walk everywhere from these accommodations. There was enough space for the kids and we even had a full kitchen to make dinner. Usually if we eat out for lunch we try to make a simple dinner back in our room that evening.
We really enjoyed our two days in Epernay. Writing this is making me want to go back right now. I hope you found this helpful and enjoyed reading it. What are your travel tips for kids? Have you been to Epernay? What Champagne Houses should I hit up the next time in the area?
Merci pour la lecture,
Reservations 4 Six