I’m talking about the bubbles in Champagne. Last week I went to France with Mr Moggle and my parents. The highlight for me was driving around the Champagne region. The lowlight was the ferry trip from Dover to Calais – it was very rough and I felt very sick.
We stayed in a fantastic B&B just outside of Reims. Our hosts were absolutely lovely, and fortunately Paul spoke very good English. My French is pretty limited, but luckily we got along okay. As on previous trips to France, I experienced very little of the stereotypical arrogant response to our limited language, and one of our best champagne house tours was with a lovely man called Gerard, who spoke no English and just gave us his tour in French. We all managed to make ourselves understood any way and his champers was delish!
This was one of our first views of the vines just outside of Reims (they’re white so I think they’re chardonnay), and only a few miles from the village where we stayed. You can’t really tell from this photo but the vines are really packed in close together, with each row about 2 foot apart. The first village we stopped in had about 10 little champagne houses, and some of the larger ones had up to 50. We only did a small part of one of 4 official routes in the region so there must be thousands of champagne houses of all sizes. We tasted at 6 different houses of various sizes on the first day.
One of them was Mailly, pictured above. A lot of the villages had grapes growing right in the middle of them and next to houses. I guess all the soil area is precious. My favourite drop of the day was from Ployez Jacquemart. I keep having to look that name up, I kept calling it the ‘orange lady’ place because the lady that served us the bubbles was wearing a particularly vivid shade of orange.
This champagne is probably not a good typical example, but it had a fuller flavour and some apricoty tastes in there as well and would be good to enjoy on it’s own rather than an aperetif. I bought one bottle to save for Christmas day.
After the little villages we went to Reims, which is home to Mumm, Lanson, Pommery, Veuve Cliquot, Piper Hiedseick and Taittinger. We’d been advised to go on the tour of Taittinger (or tet-an-jay as our guide pronounced it) so we paid our 7 euro and did the tour. Their underground cellars containing hundreds of thousands of bottles was amazing, but it also highlighted for me how impressive some of the cellars of the smaller owner-producers were. The Tattinger although probably a better ‘proper’ champagne, wasn’t my favourite of the day.
We drove from Reims to Paris (via a little village appropriately called Bouzy, and Epernay home of Moet and Chandon) and ended up just inside the ring road of Paris. We went in to museum overdrive over the next day and a half visiting the Orsay, Orangerie, Louvre, Arts Decoratifs, and Pompadieu. I have always loved the Musee d’Orsay and this was my third visit. They’d added some new impressionist paintings since my last visit 3 years ago, and I particularly liked seeing Monet’s paintings of the Rouen Cathedral in the ‘flesh’. We also saw the huge Monet’s at the Orangerie which only opened again last year after being re-done up.
While in Paris we went to La Drogerie, but made the mistake of going on a Saturday when it was very crowded. They seemed to only have one person serving in the yarn bit and I decided there wasn’t time to buy anything. All those hanks of yarn hanging on the wall looked pretty amazing though, and their cashmere was pretty tempting.
The drive back was long, but we managed to get a few bottles of cheap-ish red at a place in Calais called the Wine Temple. The crossing was also much calmer!
I did get a bit of knitting done in the car. I did a bit on the neckline of my v-neck jumper, but then found I’d done one too many decreases and had to undo quite a few rows. I did manage to finish my Argosy scarf somewhere on the drive from Paris.to Calais.
I’ll be blocking this in the next couple of days.