Habits de Lumière festival, Epernay
Facade of Epernay City Hall illuminated during the Habits de Lumière festival ©avis-vin.lefigaro.fr
Each year in December, the last week-end before winter starts, Epernay dresses with lights and celebrates for three days its festival “Les Habits de Lumières”. The 20th edition will take place on December 13th, 14th and 15th 2019. Illuminations of the Avenue de Champagne and of Champagne houses, street performance, fireworks, car parade, champagne bars, free entertainment, food and wine pairing workshops, activities for children, cellar visits … there will be something for every taste!
From Paris, it will take you 1 hour by train to reach the capital of Champagne and enjoy all the illuminations, shows and parades. Three unforgettable days that will immerse children and adults in the magic of Christmas.
Discover below the program of this festival and our selection of Champagne houses to visit during this festive weekend.
Epernay is the Champagne capital. Surrounded by vineyards, the city owns a network of more than 110 kilometers of cellars and its famous Avenue de Champagne attracts thousands of visitors each year, from all around the world. This avenue brings together several major champagne houses such as Moët & Chandon, Mercier, De Castellane, Boizel, De Venoge… Nearly 200 million bottles are stored in the kilometers of cellars located under the Avenue de Champagne and the streets nearby.
In 2000, Epernay organized the first edition of the festival Habits de Lumière in order to offer fairy and free animations and spotlight the city. Since then, each year, around 50,000 people enjoy animations organized around 3 high points: the festivities on Avenue de Champagne, the Habits de Saveurs culinary experience and the Car Parade. A children’s pastry contest and food and wine pairing workshops are also organized during this event.
Avenue de Champagne, Epernay ©habitsdelumiere.epernay.fr
FESTIVITIES AVENUE DE CHAMPAGNE
The first two days of the event, you can enjoy festive evenings on the Avenue de Champagne with street performance, art installations, video-mapping and fireworks. These evenings bring into light the Avenue de Champagne and large houses that made its reputation. The champagne bars open from 5pm and the festivities start from 6:30pm.
Facade of the City Hall, Vidéo-mapping ©legourmandvoyageur.com
On Friday and Saturday, the evening begins with a light show on the facade of the City Hall. Different paintings with multiple colors are projected on this facade. Then, a luminous parade will take place along the avenue of Champagne. If you follow the parade, you will arrive at the meeting place to observe a magnificent firework. Finally, you can admire and appreciate the buildings of champagne houses illuminated and decorated for the occasion. They will open their doors to help you taste their different vintages.
Parade along the Avenue de Champagne ©les-mots-du-vin.fr
HABITS DE SAVEURS CULINARY EXPERIENCE
On Saturday morning, Habits de Saveurs culinary experience celebrates the culinary heritage of Champagne in the form of challenge and you will discover recipes created by starred chefs coming from the most prestigious institution of the region. They will have to imagine and cook dishes paired with the champagne of the house that will have been assigned to them randomly. You will be able to observe the culinary techniques of the great chefs and learn more about the particularities of the selected champagnes. Then the dishes will be served with their paired champagne.
In the afternoon, the contest of young bakers will please children as they will have to cook a dessert linked to Christmas theme helped by a great chef.
Dishes realized during the Habits de saveurs culinary experience ©habitsdelumiere.epernay.fr
VINTAGE CAR PARADE
On Sunday morning, you can attend to one of the largest vintage car meeting of the North East of France. More than 400 vehicles of over 35 years will gather in the streets of Epernay. These rare and gorgeous cars will parade among the magnificent champagne houses. An atypical and surprising procession that will please both children and adults.
Car parade along the Avenue de Champagne ©habitsdelumiere.epernay.fr
CELLARS AND CHAMPAGNE HOUSES
During these three days of festivities in Epernay, you will get the chance to discover various champagne houses. We’ve selected for you famous champagne houses, cooperative wineries and smaller champagne producers that worth the visit in Epernay and in the surrounding villages. Beyond simple tastings, you will have the chance to understand all the secrets of the champagne making process through commented tour and tastings.
Cellars and Champagne Houses close to Epernay
You can start your discovery with the famous champagne house Moët & Chandon, the most famous and best-selling champagne brand in the world. Located under the Avenue de Champagne, the cellars of the house offer a unique testimony of several years of production. You can choose between several options of tours and tastings depending on which champagne you wish to taste.
Cellars of Moët & Chandon champagne house, Epernay
Boizel Champagne House is an other famous champagne house located on the Avenue de Champagne offering cellar visits or tasting workshops. If you choose the first option, you will discover magnificent century-old cellars dug in the middle of the 19th century that bring a unique character to the champagne of this house.
Cellars of Champagne Boizel house, Epernay
Located just across the street, Champagne De Venoge is one of the oldest champagne houses. It is not possible to visit cellars there, but you can have different meals paired with some champagnes of this house : cheese plate, marinated salmon sashimi… During summer, you can enjoy these meals on their terrace, but the interior decoration is really gorgeous.
Tasting room of De Venoge champagne house, Epernay
Still on the Avenue de Champagne, the De Castellane champagne house is a must. The architecture of this house is beautiful, and you can enjoy an incredible view over the city and the Marne Valley from the tower and the belfry built in 1900. A network of 10 kilometers of underground cellars stretches beneath this building and a tag room houses more than 5000 models depicting the history of the house.
Tag room of De Castellane champagne house, Epernay
A few meters away, the Mercier Champagne House, from the same group than Moët & Chandon (LVMH), was founded by Eugène Mercier in 1858. Presented at the 1889 World Fair, a giant vat, made previously, caused a sensation. With a capacity of 215 000 bottles, it is now settled in the reception area of the champagne house. An atypical visit is available there as you will undertake a spectacular descent in a panoramic elevator, followed by an audio-guided visit of the kilometers of cellars in small train. You will discover of course the stock of bottles stored in the cellars but also sculptures carved in chalk, made by Navlet, who also realized the giant vat.
Cellars of Mercier champagne house, Epernay
A few steps from the Avenue de Champagne, in the center of Epernay, we advise you to visit the Alfred Gratien Champagne house. This family owned-winery for four generations is regularly awarded in French specialized wine guides (Bettane et Desseauve, Revue du vin de France, …). Several options of tours and tastings are offered, some of which paired with cheese, foie gras or marinated salmon.
Tasting in food and champagne pairing, Champagne Alfred Gratien, Epernay
At 10 minutes’ drive from Epernay, in Chouilly, you can visit the Nicolas Feuillate wine center, one of the largest cooperative wineries in France which gathers more than 5000 winemakers. The volume of production is very impressive, and you will discover all the facilities of the production site in operation. An atypical discovery of each step of the champagne production: vat room, riddling, disgorging, dressing …
Nicolas Feuillatte wine center, Chouilly
Also at 10 minutes from Epernay by car, in Aÿ, the 2nd largest cooperative cellar of Champagne opens its doors for various options of visits mixing culture, art and history at the same time. At the foot of the hill of Aÿ vineyards, listed as World Heritage by UNESCO, la Cité du Champagne Collet will offer you a magnificent panorama of its vineyards that you can visit.
If you want to visit a small family-owned winery that produces champagnes with an excellent value for money, we strongly recommend the visit of the Champagne JL Vergnon, located at 20 minutes by car from Epernay. You will discover all the specificities of the Côte des Blancs and perfect your knowledge on the production of champagne, its conservation, its pairings…
Another family-owned winery located in Mareuil-sur-Aÿ, the Champagne Guy Charbaut. Winemaker from father to son for 3 generations, it is today the grandson of the producer and his wife who will welcome you to make you discover beautiful old cellars and taste their vintages made with care and experience.
Cellars of champagne Guy Charbaut, Mareuil-sur-Aÿ
We wish you a pleasant discovery of the Habits de Lumière festival and of the champagne producers of the region!