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if you go.6c
If you want to visit Reims on the way back to see even more champagne brands, get on the train at Epernay for the half-hour ride. There are plenty of trains from Reims back to Paris.
Costs: Round-trip train tickets from Paris to Epernay cost $29.10 to $43.65. The basic tour at Moet & Chandon costs $6.80. Admission for the "visite simple" at Mercier and at de Castellane is $5.80.
When to go: Summer is probably the best time to go. It's warm, the vineyards are shimmering in the sun and the atmosphere is more relaxed. Another good time would be around the second half of September, when you might be able to catch a glimpse of the grape harvest.
In general, the maisons de champagne in Epernay are open to visitors every day during the spring, summer and fall, with restrictions in the colder months. Some, such as Pol Roger, require appointments. It's best to check the Web site or a guidebook, or call the Epernay tourist office, before you go.
What to bring: A guidebook that gives a little explanation of champagne and the Champagne region would be useful so that you can read up beforehand. And big bucks if you are planning on stocking up with champagne.
Lodging: Epernay is a day trip from Paris, but if you want to stay overnight there are a number of hotels in town, such as the Ibis and the Hotel de Champagne.
Tourist office: Epernay tourist office contacts from outside France (33 is the country code): phone (33) 3 26 53 33 00; fax (33) 3 26 51 95 22; e-mail tourismeot-epernay.fr.
The office staff speaks French and English, and can answer questions in Italian and German.
Here are some sites that you can look at before your visit:
www.veuve-clicquot.fr (Veuve Clicquot is located in Reims, not far from Epernay).