Hearing the word Champagne you immediately think of the bubbly fancy drink you only have on special occasions. You maybe had it on your wedding, your birthday or when you were promoted at work. The word champagne is used to describe sparkling wines from other parts of the world, but maybe you did not know that it is only the wines from the district of Champagne in North Eastern France – with Reims and Épernay as capitals – and produced according to the méthode champenoise which are allowed to be called champagne, because this is a protected origin.
If you are in France – Champagne Épernay is only one hour away from Paris – you really should go visit this beautiful country side, but if you are located in Luxemburg, Belgium, Switzerland or Germany you can just as easily travel over to visit or have a course in champagne making. The train from Paris costs about £12 and leaves from Gare de l’ Est. Champagne is small, only 25 610 km2 and with about 1,4 million people living there. It is a popular travel destination and will probably be filled with tourists between July and August. Best time to travel there is later; between August and September when the harvest season is in bloom.
If you are going to stay in Champagne for a couple of days I suggest that you book a nice hotel in Épernay which is a great starting point for day trips around Champagne and the town is home to several nice coffee houses, restaurants and of course a nice Wine rank where you can also book a room among all the grapes with nice package deals with three dishes dinner, one bed and breakfast.
Of course the wine list can be miles long but what can you eat in Champagne? Of course things that suits the sparkling wine. You may want to do your homework before your trip and look at what dishes go with bubbly wine. Often it goes with smaller cheeses, truffles, lobster, scallops and crème ninon and while in France you may want to try out the traditional frog legs and snails if you dare.
Of course you will need to try out the champagne so to go to a wine tasting group is to recommend. You will have to book and be on time though if you want to taste a newly opened wine since sustainability in an open bottle isn’t very long.
What to see in Champagne then? A good way to start off you visit is to go to the charming little wine museum in Verzenay called Museé de la Vigine where you get a couple of head phones where a nice English voice tells you about the exemplars. You will of course want to see the famous wine cellars of Moët & Chandon where you for about £5 get a forty five minutes long guided tour around the remarkable cellar. Another nice attraction is the Faux de Verzy an old beech with a magical feeling to it.
If you want to travel around the area there are many ways, you could rent a car and have a look at mass graves from the war, wine ranks, battlefields etc. Another choice is to trek, horse ride or cycle around the landscape for a cheap price and in the summer maybe this might be the best choice, you know, to really take part of it. Champagne isn’t that big so you will have time to see everything. Just make sure that you know what you want to see before you leave. It is always good to read about the place you are going to visit before you go.