Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Champagne region

My general opinion of Champagne to date has been formed, mostly, by the 'sparkling wine' we get in South Africa and I am very happy to have found that real 'champagne' is nothing like what I've had before; it was delicious and I'm thankful that we're flying back and have a weight allowance because otherwise Caron would have bankrupted us.

The morning didn't start so well because some miserable revellers decided to have motorbike races or something at 01:00 so it was a very broken and restless night for both of us. The first order of the day was to get some real coffee down our throats, the French may be experts in all sorts of food but coffee is not one of them. Generally the standard of the coffee in France is about that of Starbucks, that is to say; atrocious.

We drove to the start of the Champagne route and then found a very pleasant park where we made ourselves some coffee and had some breakfast. The scenery in Champagne is much like other wine growing regions except that one comes across names that one actually has heard of:


but other than that it looks like this.

We had a very pleasant amble through the small villages which make up the region before ending up in Epernay which seems to be like the spiritual home of Champagne. We walked up and down Avenue de Champagne admiring the houses of the great estates before we went to a Champagne bar. I wasn't expecting much and was really surprised at how good it actually tasted. There really is a difference between 'sparkling wine' and 'Champagne' and we ended up buying 3 bottles of the stuff which I am sure that we'll enjoy with someone although I can't quite see how our weight allowance is going to stretch to taking it home with us.

We had a bit of an afternoon brunch when we got back to Reims before retreating into the hotel for the remainder of the afternoon and the evening. When we walked into the restaurant the one elderly couple gave us such a look of contempt like we were cockroaches escaping from the kitchen. I'm not sure why, I think that they were just jealous that they were so wrinkly and we're not; at least by comparison. One of the nice things about hotels is that they normally come with good internet access so I'm actually completely up to date; until tomorrow that is!

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