Many of the Champagne houses are based in Rheims. There, they are scattered around the parts of the city. The thriving town of Epernay took a different approach long ago - there, there's a single road where all the major Champagne houses crowd together, decadent, enormous buildings, many of which date from the early part of the twentieth century. Winston Churchill supposedly called it "the most drinkable street in the world". Underneath its streets and parks run a hundred or so kilometers of tunnels in which about 200 million bottles of Champagne are busy aging. Half of those bottles belong to Moët et Chandon.
Our guidebook tells us that most of the big houses offer tours throughout the day, the smaller ones by appointment. In practice, most of the larger ones were closed for normal hours too last week. You can see why - the entire road was under reconstruction. The rare pedestrian threaded their way through the tangle of diversions.