On our second day in the Champagne province of France, we took off at what we considered to be an early(ish) hour (read: 11:30am) to explore the surrounding vineyards, Champagne houses and gorgeous little villages and towns.
We drove through the countryside towards Reims and found some amazing vineyards along the way, with incredible views of the rolling hills intertwined with villages and filled to the brim with rows upon rows of grape vines.
After stopping at the vineyard of one of our favourite, well-known Champagnes, Veuve Clicquot, we asked a stranger walking past (who turned out to be a professional photographer) to take a photo of us, totally natural looking of course 😉
The annual harvest had officially started, so the vineyards were filled with workers from all around Europe and the world, who are brought in each year for the harvesting of the grapes. I was assured that as alluring as spending a month in Champagne, picking grapes in some of the best vineyards of the world sounded, apparently it’s tremendously hard work and will give you nothing but some spare change and a sore back.
Then it was on to the city of Reims, the most populated city in the region and the traditional site of the crowning of the kings of France.
We went for lunch at L’Apostrophe on Place Drouet d’Erlon and chose a table in the warm sunshine, looking onto the main square. We ordered a glass of Veuve Cliquot each, which came out with a delicious olive tapenade and some toasted bread. For lunch I ordered another salad, this time with some chicken breast, avocado, boiled egg, blue cheese and walnuts on a bed of lettuce, tomato, cucumber and red onion. Delicious!
After lunch, we made our way over to Vranken-Pommery, one of the oldest Champagne houses in France (third oldest, to be precise) for a tour of the incredible underground Champagne caves.
The one-hour tour guided us through some of the 18km’s of underground tunnels which were built in the 1890’s to make and store some of the region’s best champagne. We learned about the history of the Pommery and Vranken families, saw how the Champagne used to be made, what the caves were used for and learned all about how Champagne is created and stored, as well as the different types and styles of bubbles.
After the tour we were treated to a glass of their own Champagne, which was appreciated so much more after knowing how it had been made and what I should pay attention to, though I must admit that due to its dryness, it wasn’t one of my favourites.
With our bellies full of champagne and minds full of knowledge, we then went on to explore the cathedral of Reims. This is a really important cathedral for the history of France, as it’s where the kings of France were all crowned. It’s also where, after many years of battle and hatred through both world wars, peace was declared between France and Germany in 1962.
It was then time to head home, but not before a quick stop to my friend’s favourite bakery for some delicious panne au chocolat’s and rosé biscuits, a local delicacy that goes perfectly with a glass of champagne, obvs.
After the evening’s dinner which consisted of fresh pasta, local mushrooms and champagne, the cheese board from the night before seem to somehow grow overnight and almost doubled in size, with even more cheeses to choose from!
September was such a lovely time to visit the Champagne region, the weather was perfect and balmy, and the tourist season had finished so we had the area all to ourselves!
The next (and final) post on the rest of our trip in Champagne is coming soon…