At 7:30, we left my apartment for the train station. Our train to Epernay was scheduled to leave at 8:30, so naturally, it was the only train that was delayed. While we waited, we ate over priced pain au chocolat from one of the train station boulangeries, and crept on people in the station. By 9:40, we were racing through the countryside, ready to explore caves and drink a lot of champagne.
We got to Epernay and we absolutely starving. We walked into one restaurant and asked if we could come in and eat, and they told us they didn’t serve lunch until 12. At that moment, I wanted to go back to Paris. All we wanted was some soup.
To occupy ourselves before noon, we started wandering around Epernay. It’s a pretty small town, so this was an easy thing to do. We hopped right on Avenue de Champagne, where all the champagne houses are. The first one was saw was Moet et Chandon.
We knew this would probably be one of the more expensive champagne houses, so we took pictures and kept walking. We were so lucky with the weather that day. We kept sauntering along, pausing to take pictures or take pictures for other tourists who asked us. After we got to the end of the row, we turned around and walked back to the center of
town for lunch.
Most of the champagne houses close for lunch and don’t reopen until two, so we had plenty of time to kill. We found a café, sat down and ordered kir. We were amazed with how cheap everything in Epernay was compared to Paris…both of us were able to get full meals and kir for under 10 euros!
We finished our lunch and hopped back on the road. We went to a small gelato stand that we had seen on our way in (I got foret noire), went to the park near the Epernay Hotel de Ville and laid in the sun for about half an hour. It was SO nice to finally be able to relax.
Around 2, we got up and started walking toward the champagne houses again. We went all the way to the end, Castellane, where we got a tour of the cave and a dégustation (if you do’nt know this word, you need to. It’s probably the best practice ever) of their champagne for 8 euros. It’s like we
died and went to a world without overly inflated prices.
However, the closest tour they offered us was two hours later (in English). Emily told them we could do it in French, so we joined a French retirement group on a field trip for their adventure through the caves.
Our tour guide was so nice, he kept asking us if we had any questions or if we needed him to repeat anything. Obviously, we were his favorites. Probably because we were the closest ones to his age. After the tour, we had our degustation in glasses that I wanted to steal but Emily wouldn’t let me, and I bought a bottle of their champagne. It was only 14 euros!
We tried to go to another house for a dégustation, but a friendly British man told us that we would have to do the tour as well. Since we had already seen the caves, we told him we’d come back if we had time. Honestly though, we were just really tired.
Next, we found a tiny place that only sold bottles and did degustations. We asked the man working what he recommended, and he said we could taste 3 types for 4 euros (yes, it WAS real life). We sat at the bar and tried the different kinds with our new friend, much to his dismay our favorite was the cheapest one. I guess we just have college-budget taste buds. But, at least I bought another bottle.
We had a few hours to kill before the train, so we went to another café and had kir royal. Mmmm. Then, we went to another café for wine and cheese (really, all we wanted was French onion soup, and only one restaurant in town seemed to have it). We met a semi-nice, semi-creepy man who was at the bar there, touristing from America, who asked where we were from. He said his wife and kids were at the train station and didn’t want to go to the bar with him. I wonder why.
FINALLY, we got our French onion soup. It was just what we had been waiting for all day. We ate it as fast as we could so we wouldn’t miss our train and then ran across the street to the station–yes, Epernay is that small.
On the train platform, we saw the man from the bar again. He was with his wife and kids this time; his kids appeared to be under the age of 13. Personally, if my parents took me to a region where literally all there is to do is taste various kinds of alcohol that I wouldn’t be allowed to drink in even the most liberal countries, I probably wouldn’t be too happy about it.
The train arrived, and we headed back to Paris, with champagne wishes and caviar dreams…