"Epernay is the city of Champagne. Nothing more, nothing less”, so said Victor Hugo. Situated in the Marne department, the “Champagne capital” is 26 kilometres from its sister city, Reims, and 120 kilometres from Paris. The history of Epernay is closely linked to that of Champagne, from the Gallo-Roman era to the Middle Ages when the fame of its vineyards was endorsed by Saint-Rémi, the Frankish apostle and bishop of Reims, under the name of wine “de rivière” i.e. from the river. This name defined the vineyards along the banks of the Marne around Epernay and Hautvillers. Saint-Rémi detected the very special environmental and geographical conditions which make this mythical wine unique: the transitional oceanic climate, the chalky sub-soil and the hilly landscape. In 1730, the Chanoine brothers founded the first Champagne house in the city, followed one year later by Ruinart in Reims. This was the birth of real Champagne as we know it today, praised by Voltaire in 1736 and byAlfred de Vigny in 1853 who wrote:” Dans la mousse d’Aï luit l’éclair d’un Bonheur” - The lightning of happiness flashes in the bubbles of Champagne. The city is home to prestigious cellars such as the one at Maison Mercier which boasts the largest barrel in the world. There is also Maison De Castellane with its famous tower, and of course the cellars of Moët & Chandon created in 1743 and greatly favoured by Emperor Napoleon I. You can find out how these famous wines are made and about the skills of the oenologists when you visit in person. And of course you will also enjoy a delicious tasting session. You can visit Epernay as part of Pariscityvision.com ‘s Reims, Champagne Country by minibus excursion.