C is for Champagne
If it wasn't for the crappy climate in North of France we might have never had the bubbly luxury in a glass. There was simply not enough sun for a decent wine (vinegar anyone?) and the winter temperature it to ferment again in the cellar. The result? Champagne.
While industrial champagne producers are adding all sorts of things into their bubbly to make every bottle taste the same, the non-industrial ones have much more freedom and variety of different champagnes to offer. They are also usually significantly more affordable (14 - 20 eur/bottle).
We didn't visit Champagne only to taste the bubbles. The lanscapes that make you go 'wow' every two minutes are a sight for the sore eyes tired of metal and concrete.
Getting food is a bit tricky part. It's not as uch a queston what to eat as what is open. Chatillon sur Marne had two restaurants: one opened on Friday evening and the other on Saturday. Not much of help if you arrive on Thursday. Breakfast is another challenge, so if you plan to stay in small villages, booking B&B would be a wise choice. Other than this, food Champagne is freaking amazing.
For most of smaller champagne producers you will need to book an appointment. Some will just chat and offer to taste and sell champagne, others will show you around their cellar and explain their art (mostly in French). Charbaux Freres in Congy offered best tour of the trip, offering 3 generations worth of knowledge, everything from small details to cool things like why you shouldn't dishwash champagne glasses and how because of the global warming they now use less or no sugar in their products. Their champagne was simply delicious and we brought home many 'suveniers'.
For places to eat we mostly asked to locals and champagne producers themselves. This is how we discovered a small family restuarant Le Soleil (see the map), a bit hidden (definitely no Swarm place) but with great home made French cuisine.
More serious champagne explorers will want to visit places like C comme Champagne. Unlike with smaller producers and family businesses, you will need to pay for the tasting but their selection is quite big. If you like a bit of adventure though, you'll probbaly prefer to get lost in the small villages, discover their champagne producers (each village has at least one) and enjoy empty streets filled with cute mediterianian style houses.
To help find the good places to eat and taste champagne, check out our Champagne map. Most of champagne producers were very generous with the tasting and will usually taste the bubbles together with you. Yep, sounds like an awesome job.
This small restaurant that was open only in Saturday evening proved to be a jackpot. The good part of Champagne is that most of the restaurant have a deal with local producers, so their selection of bubbles is usually quite good. Something bubbly with that stake Monsieur?
The best part o the Champagne (apart from food and bubbles obiviously) is that it's quiet. No traffic jams (thank you Brussels), in fact not much traffic at all. Just endless vineyards, fields and cute little villages. Who needs anti-stress balls wiht vistas like this one.
There is a lot to see and taste in the region, which makes it almost impossible not to come back. After all, one needs to ukeep the Champagne map up to date.