During Pentecost weekend we went to the Champagne Region for the weekend. We booked a hotel in Epernay: Hotel Kyriad. This hotel is located at walking distance from the Avenue de Champagne with champagne house Mercier around the corner.
The rooms are reasonably small, but they are clean and with some extras such as bottles of water, coffee, tea and cookies and even free slippers in the bathroom. Parking space is right in front of the hotel, which comes in handy. We also decided to have breakfast at the hotel but the price of 9 euro per person was pretty high for the choices you had.
The first afternoon we went to Mercier. We took the Golden Bubbles Tour that included a tour of the cellars with a train and 3 glasses of Champagne: Brut, Brut Reserve, and Brut Rose. During the tour, you learn a lot about Mercier but also about how Champagne is made. During the tasting, some more explanation was given about the different kinds of Champagne.
In Hautvillers, we visited 3 Champagne houses.
The first one was Joseph Desruets, a small Champagne house where we were received very friendly in a nice environment, an old farm with some Champagne making attributes. Here we tasted a Cuvee Nature (without added sugar), a Cuvee Rose, and a Cuvee La Bacchus. We liked all the different Champagnes and decided to buy some bottles Cuvee Nature and Cuvee Rose. Especially the Cuvee Nature was something we didn´t see anywhere else.
The next was G. Tribaut. Here you have to pay for the tasting except when you bought 3 bottles of Champagne per person. Here we tasted a Reserve Cuvee, a Rose Reserve, Blanc de Noirs, and the Special Cuvee. After tasting the Champagne of Joseph Desruets, these were less special and we decided not to buy something.
The last one in Hautvillers was JM Gobillard et Fils. Here we tasted a Brut Rose, a Brut Blanc de Noirs, and a Brut Tradition. Especially the Brut Blanc de Noirs was very good, which we end up buying. Because we bought something, the tasting was free instead of 5 euro for 3 glasses.
The next day, we decided to stop at Haton et Fils in Damery because a friend recommended it. Although it was a bank holiday, they were open for tastings and we were welcomed very friendly. We received different papers with an explanation of the different Champagne they have. We tasted the Cuvee Renee Haton, a Cuvee Agathe, and a Cuvee Prestige. We bought a bottle of each.
If you are driving a car, it is easy to buy some bottles of Champagne and just take them with you. But if you are flying home after your time in the Champagne region, you will need the best champagne or wine carrier bags. You wouldn’t want to break those precious bottles of Champagne.
Of course, we also went to a number of different restaurants. Here is an overview of the restaurants we ate at in Epernay:
Bar Le Centre: not very special but a decent Nicoise salad
La Cave a Champagne: Rather small portions, especially the number of vegetables served with the main dishes.
La Sardaigne: Very large amount of choices. Good portions, not the most refined cuisine but decent food with good value for money.
In Hautvillers, we had a cheese sandwich at Cafe d´Hautvillers. This sandwich was not good at all, to greasy and too much cheese.
On our way back to Belgium, we had a short stop in Reims. We only had lunch here because everything was closed. We had lunch at Le Latin where we were served some amazing pizza´s.
This was such a nice weekend and we have to visit places close to home more often. Till now, we didn´t use our car to go on ´holiday´. There are so many nice places in the surrounding countries that we still have to visit.
Because we took the bike to Hautvillers, we couldn´t take a lot of bottles with us. So next time, we would bike to the different places and go back the next day to buy some bottles.