Every year, Épernay, the capital of champagne, celebrates Les Habits de Lumière. It was originally launched as an event to thank the locals who are so important in champagne production. Now it’s open to the general public and is one of the major champagne events in France in December. Taking place over the second weekend, it is spectacular.
Les Habits de Lumière Weekend
This is champagne letting its hair down. Every year the town is turned into one glorious party. 60,000 people came to celebrate Les Habits de Lumière in 2022, a record number.
Avenue de Champagne
It starts on Friday evening at the Avenue de Champagne, the elegant boulevard that runs through the centre of town. The champagne houses that line the street are open, their façades lit up with glorious illuminations, their courtyards full of champagne bars, food trucks and in many cases rock bands. Pol Roger had a silent disco.
An acrobat performed impossible contortions in the first courtyard we came to; images of trains lit up another while a group of strangely dressed creatures danced and glided down the middle of the street. Were they creatures from the sea or from space, we wondered?
We stopped for a meal in a marquee in one of the champagne houses, washed down of course with bubbly.
Then the fireworks started shooting up into the sky and we stood with everyone going ‘oohh and aahh’ particularly the children.
The whole thing is repeated on Saturday evening.
Saturday morning and Les Habits de Saveurs
No French festival, particularly one in Champagne, would be complete without a gourmet tasting. And so it proved here. A large marquee opposite the covered Saint-Thibault food market was buzzing.
From 9am to noon ten well known chefs from the region demonstrated their skills, sponsored by one of the champagne houses. It was a pretty impressive line up with one 3-star Michelin Chef, Arnaud Lallement from Assiette Champenoise in Reims, 2 2-starred, 2 1 starred, 4 with no stars but who had come from Michelin restaurants and were clearly on their way. To finish, appropriately, a local chocolaterie-pâtisserie, Maxime and Vincent Dallet.
Sunday Habits de Lumière Events
On Sunday the French took to the road. Well, a large number of vintage cars and vans did. The procession made its stately way through the streets of Épernay, and particularly down the Avenue de Champagne, with onlookers clapping and cheering from the pavements. The French have a thing about old car rallies, and this one was full of cars and drivers from all over France.
Many people make a weekend of it, staying in or around Épernay. Museums and attractions, bars and restaurants are all open. If you haven’t been, it’s well worth going but you’ll have to book a hotel early.
Here’s my Guide to Épernay with attractions, trips outside, markets, restaurants and places to stay.
This year Les Habits de Lumière in Épernay will be from Dec 8-10, 2023
Visit a Champagne House in Reims
More to see and do in the December events diary
How the French celebrate Christmas
Visit a French château at Christmas