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Published: July 24th 2018
This morning Peri, Janine and I walked to the Reims train station to catch a train to Epernay. Unfortunately by the time we worked out the ticketing system we missed the train. One of the best things about travelling without too many time constraints is that you can easily revert to Plan B. We bought tickets for the next train and had about an hour to kill so we walked to the main shopping strip of Reims and spent the time browsing and trying on outfits - and we were none the poorer for the experience lol.
Back to the train station with time to jump onto the correct train and we were on our way. The views along the way are a constant 'wow'. As we drew into Epernay station we were all blown away by the sight of the huge champion houses lining the track - Moët & Chandon being one of the most impressive. Google sent us on another goosey goosey track to find the Office de Tourisme on the Avenue de Champagne - it is actually very straightforward but we somehow went the long way.
Once we found the Tourist office, we queued to get
some info on where to go. When Janine and Peri were talking to the girl serving, a lady came up to me and gave me two free vouchers for a champagne tasting. She was from Australia and had heard our accent - she wasn't going to use her vouchers so gave them to us. Then another lady came up to me and said to skip the free tasting at the tourist office and to head along the Avenue to a champagne house she recommended as it was good and did 3 tastings for €16 and there was another next to it that did tastings for free. She said we needed to bear in mind that they would be shutting soon. As soon as Janine and Peri were finished, I told them what they lady had said and we agreed to head off.
So glad we did as we found the first Champagne house Collard-Picard and it was really lovely. At first the lady working there wasn't very friendly but she quickly warmed up and we enjoyed hearing her tasting suggestions. We took our glasses outside and sat under an umbrella, enjoying the whole experience.
From here we wandered
further along the Avenue and came across the next building. We went inside and there was a lady on the front desk. Just as we were starting to think this wasn't the right place, she gave us a puzzled look then exclaimed and placed a piece of paper on the desk. Written in English it said "we are an accounting firm who does the books for many champagne houses but we do not do tastings". We all burst out laughing, including the lady at the desk!! We kept laughing all the way until the next place we found.
The next place was a pop up champagne bar! This bar represents about 30 local champagne makers and each day they feature four different houses. Righto then, lets crack on! It was so lovely sitting under the shade and enjoying different champagnes whilst soaking up the atmosphere around us. Eventually it was time to move onto lunch. We found a place that had been recommended by the tourist office and it was a really lovely - we were the only people there! I asked if it is always this quiet but the girl said No, it was full yesterday. The young
girl who worked there was such a sweetie. She had just finished high school and was keen to talk to us to practice her English, which was really good.
We ordered two chartcuterie boards, one that included BBQ'd chicken and of course, some champagne to accompany them. After a little while, Peri had to shoot off as she needed to get the 2pm train back to Reims. She had committed to meeting up with Sue and Lou, who had been to a Verve tour in the morning, as they were all heading to The Perching Bar. This bar is in the forest and has swinging seats in the trees and serves, yep you guessed it, champagne. Janine and I had decided we would spend more time exploring Epernay. The Perching Bar was a bit tricky to get to and we didnt want to have to lock ourselves into a timeframe. We were happy with our decision as we were able to chill for a while and enjoy our long lunch. We enjoyed talking with a new friend - its meeting people like this that makes the whole travel experience even more special.
After lunch we walked back along
the Avenue, checking out all the amazing champagne houses along the way. We saw Pol Roger, Merier, Moët & Chandon, Perrier-louët and many more that I can't remember the name of. We then walked around the town a little and checked out the cathedral (seems every town had one!). We then decided we needed a beer chaser and found a bar not far from the station. It was a cute little pub and we enjoyed our beers sitting in the shade but on the street, where we could enjoy the people watching and emmersing ourselves into the sights and sounds.
We headed back to Reims around 5pm and then strolled our way back to our apartment. After having a little rest time we decided to head out to a little place I had found online that did steaks and meat on skewers that was just further along our road. We both had a steak and choose three accompaniments each. The steak was nice but no where as good as what we get at home.
Peri, Sue and Lou sent us a message saying they were going to have dinner at a restaurant in Reims and they wanted us
to join them but by the time we realised we had already eaten so we left that to them. They came homearound 12:30 and lucky I was still up as they had trouble getting into the apartment. Seems they couldn't unlock the door as we had locked it from the inside. They all enjoyed their night - which started by them drinking Krug at the Perching Bar at €100 per bottle! They decided to continue drinking Krug at the restaurant so a big night was had by all 🙂.
In summary - WE LOVE EPERNAY!!!!
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