October 30th, 2022
Inna has already taken a look at where to go and what to do therefore, it was pretty easy for me to wake up, check out from the campsite, and pick her up from the railway station. It was about a 2-hour ride to Reims. Reims is the unofficial Champagne capital with many vineyards and champagne houses around. It also has one of the most impressive cathedrals in all of France.
Reims is quite small and quiet. Despite being Sunday, the streets were crowded and you could hear the chatter of people. We just strolled around in the busy streets, had some coffee, and visited the cathedral. Then we tried our luck to see if we could get to one of the champagne tours. The one that was near the city center was fully booked and it cost around 80€. I did not feel like spending 80€ for such a tour.
Then as planned, we drove to the countryside thinking that we either find a champagne house or at least see the countryside of the Champagne region. The countryside and villages of the Champagne region are gorgeous. All you see are vineyards, grapes, and cute villages.
Inna found a place on our way not too far from where we were. There were no opening hours indicated in Google Maps, so we decided to try our luck. The worst-case scenario was to take a walk and see a beautiful village.
We parked the car somewhere on the main street and took a walk. The weather was beautiful and the sun was getting ready to set. The fresh warm breeze was sweeping over carrying the nice smell of vines. We just walked to the champagne house which turned out to be a small family-run operation. The owner, Damien, was working in the yard with his 10-year-old son. When we asked him if we could have a tour, he just said sure, come one in, I don’t really have opening hours. His English was not that good, but we managed to communicate. When needed, we could use google translate to help the conversation carry on.
Damien showed us his operation, and warehouses, and explained how they harvest the grapes, ferment them, and prepare the final product. He is the 4th or the 5th generation running the business and commercially sold his first bottles in 1998. He was just a delight and his son was so funny. He was running around trying to impress us and help daddy.
After the tour of the operation, it was time to taste the champagne. The only comment I have is that it was absolutely delicious. Smooth, just sweet enough but not too sweet, with the right amount of bubbles.
We were so impressed that we decided to buy 3 bottles each. I wanted to buy more, but knowing myself, I resisted the urge to submit to my desires. Damien was so nice that he gifted me with a champagne cap to keep the half-drunk bottles fresh for a few more days. I do recommend checking him out if you visit the area and want to try nice locally-produced champagne. Check Damien Cez’s website.
It was almost a 3-hour ride back to Paris. We were entertained by music, chatting, and laughing until we reached Paris. We could not believe that our few days together is coming to an end. Inna had to fly back to Michigan and that was it for us. We promised to try and plan to meet each other soon and don’t let life keep us apart. After a long jug and goodbye, she left and I had to go find a place to stay overnight which became its own form of adventure.
It is so complicated and difficult to find a place to stay in a campervan around Paris. I pinned a few options in Park4Night app, but they were all unsuitable. After driving around for about an hour, I finally nailed it. I found a secluded parking area near a village right outside Paris. It was absolutely peaceful and the perfect spot for me.