On hearing this I appreciate you may now want to switch blogs or at least find something sharp to poke me in the eye with, but I promise the intention is not to brag. See there were some aspects of the trip that may be worthwhile noting should you embark on your first trip to Champagne and so here are my top tips for visiting the heavenly region:
- Head to the Town Hall in Epernay, they have free tastings... Just don't choke and spit it back into the glass like I did - Classy to the end eh?
- But don't stay there. While the big champagne houses are impressive, they charge more for their tastings and are simply the same stuff that is sold all over the world. Plus the accommodation and food is more expensive.
- Instead aim for one of the smaller villages, they have just as many champagne houses and charge less - or nothing, for tastings. This is especially true if they have 14 yr old daughters who want to learn how to do a fishtail plait and you happen to have one in. Granted this is fairly specific advice but handy should you find yourself in that position!
- Make appointments. While some of the smaller houses are happy for you to just mosey on up and pop a cork, others prefer a little advance warning, especially in summer's busy season. The town hall will give you a booklet including all the houses, their opening hours and telephone numbers or email addresses.
|An array of the champagnes we tried in one house|
- Pace yourself, its easy to get carried away and be supping sweet nectar all day but this will most likely result in a sore head and acidic stomach
- Bring Rennie and Paracetamol (see tip above!)
- Try to either learn some French or have a French speaker with you. While most of the places we visited did speak English not all did. Either way a little effort goes a long way to dispel the "arrogant English speaker expecting everyone to talk their language wherever they are" label.
|Dom Perignon's resting place - no champagne bucket in sight.|
- Don't forget to take in the sights, a visit to Dom Perignon's abbey is a must on a beautiful sunny day and there is a cute antiques shop around the corner that's worth a potter around.
- Make sure you stop off at a hypermarket for stinky cheese, cheap wine and smooth luxurious chocolates or macaroons. Though do remember on Sundays they shut at 12 noon.
All images taken by myself.