Smaller Champagne Houses to Visit

Handling the caissesMany people who visit the champagne region really don’t know how and where to find the smaller champagne houses where they can meet the champagne makers themselves and sit down and taste with them, and often with the family too.

This is not surprising as the smaller champagne houses are not brilliant at self-promotion preferring instead to tend to the vines and make the bubbly, rather than open the doors to tourists who may or may not buy anything.

So I’ve just compiled a brief list of our favourites and where I know you will receive a warm welcome and a glass or two of the famous bubbly, while you chat and learn with the makers themselves.

You may need to make an appointment ahead of time because they do have other things to do and are not always available.

La Maison Penet, Verzy

Alexandre and his wife Martine took over the family business quite recently and have invested a small fortune in their new reception area, tasting room and cellars.  Alexandre is a savvy businessman and has developed a niche “low dosage” champagne for discerning bubbly-lovers.  Not everyone will love it, but it’s certainly different and well worth your time to explore.

Hure Freres, Ludes

Francois Hure is one of three brothers and having travelled to other wine-growing regions of the world, has brought international expertise to his champagne making process.  Based in the “Montagne de Reims” area of the region, his champagnes are Pinot Noir bassed which makes them very fruity and full-bodied (which I personally love) One to put on the list for sure.

Benoit Marguet, Ambonnay

If you’re looking for some “out-there-woo-woo” thinking, then a visit to this smaller champagne house won’t disappoint you.  Benoit is very much into the bio-dynamic production process, paying close attention to the cycles of the moon, ploughing the furrows between the vines with his horse-drawn plough and using herbal concoctions, rather than chemicals to keep the bugs at bay.  Well worth a visit to just experience his philosophy

If you’d like to find out more about how meet these small champagne houses and the people involved, then just email me and I’ll be happy to help.

Meanwhile, why not CLICK HERE and hop over to our Facebook page and say hello

See you soon in Champagne


Yvonne 150

Champagne Christmas fun in Epernay

The weekend of the 9th/10th/11th December 2016 is a great time to come to Epernay, where the Christmas street party takes place on the Avenue de Champagne.  Usually, not many of the big champagne houses on the Avenue are open to the public, but on this weekend, they all are!  And not only are they open, you are invited to join in, with champagne flowing, food to go, live music, fun and fireworks.  If you’ve never been to Epernay for  this brilliant event, then put it in your diary for 2016.

The “Habits de Lumiere” event (which literally means “dressed in lights”)  is where the Avenue de Champagne is lit up like Disneyland,  with even a Disney-esque procession and spectacular fireworks on the Friday night, cooking demonstrations and champagne and food matching on Saturday, and a vintage car procession on Sunday.

Hundreds of locals flock to this event, and you should be there too!

We’ve put together a very special weekend around this amazing event, for a limited number of people, so if you’d like to find out how you can be there this year, then email us at or call us on  0033 (0)3 26 48 20 52 to find out more

Curious about what to do, where to stay, who meet in Champagne?
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Happy Christmas from Les Molyneux



Just a quick post to thank you for choosing Les Molyneux as your destination in Champagne and to wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas and peace, love, prosperity and happiness in 2015. I want to thank you also for writing great reviews for us and for making 2014 another great year for us.

A special gift below is a short video that Infusionsoft made for me as part of my prize for winning their online marketing award last year. I hope it will bring back happy memories for you of your time here at Les Molyneux and that you will think about returning again in 2015.


In the meantime, wishing you a very Happy Christmas

Yvonne x

Yvonne June 2014




Curious about what to do, where to stay, who to meet in Champagne?

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Tasting champagne in Champagne – are you coming?

Artisan_du_Champagne_MKB_34April is one of the best times to come to Champagne, before the season really gets going, and if you’re a champagne enthusiast, you’ll definitely want to be at one of four of the best and most dynamic champagne tastings taking place this year.

The first is the Terroirs et Talents de Champagne and  takes place in Epernay on  Sunday 13th and 14th April at the Restaurant Au  Théatre. In no particular order (!) Champagne producers taking part at this tasting will include:

From La Montagne de Reims:

  • Aspasie
  • Maxime Blin
  • Penet Chardonnet

From La Côte des Blancs:

  • de Sousa
  • André Jacquart
  • Vazart Coquart

From La Vallée de la Marne:

  • Janisson Baradon
  • Michel Loriot
  • Sélèque

And Jacques Copinet from Le Sézannais
and  Coessens from further south in La Côte des Bar

To book your place at this event, simply email:

Your next date is on  Monday 14th for the Terres et Vins de Champagne at the
Hotel Castel Jeanson, Ay, and in no particular order,  the champagnes being presented at this tasting will include:

  • Horiot
  • Agrapart
  • Françoise Bedel
  • Bérche
  • Francis Boulard
  • Chartogne-Taillet
  • Couche
  • Doquet
  • René Geoffroy
  • Etienne Goutourbe
  • Jeauneaux-Robin
  • Benoit Lahaye
  • Laherte Fréres
  • Tarlant
  • Leclapart
  • Franck Pascal
  • Hubert Paulet
  • Pouillon & Fils

Go here to book your place at this event (unfortunately their website is not up to date for 2014)

Go to Formulaire d’Inscription

And third is Les Artisans du Champagne on 15th April at Chateau Les Crayeres, Reims.  You’ll be able to meet and chat with these producers there:

  • Maillard
  • Paillard
  • Savart
  • Huré
  • Hébrard
  • Gerbais
  • Doyard
  • JL Vergon
  • Alfred Gratien
  • Margaine
  • Vilmart
  • Lancleot Pienne
  • Dehours
  • Gonet Médeville

You’ll need to go here to get yourself into this event:

Go to Inscription en Lignes,

And finally, on the 16th April, David Pehu and his group in Verzenay will be presenting their champagnes, venue to be confirmed, so let us know if you want more details and we’ll be sure to get them to you when we know more.

Well, if that’s not a great selection of small producers, I don’t know what is!   CLICK HERE to book your room.  Looking forward to seeing you in Champagne in April.

Stay Bubbly!







Curious about what to do, where to stay and who to meet in Champagne?

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Questions raised about living in Champagne

Hello again,

We’ve had a lot of questions about what it’s like to live in Champagne, so I thought I’d do a blog post to answer them for you.  So here goes…

What are the costs of running the house?

There are three charges to pay that are relatively fixed:

Taxe d’Habitation (residents’ tax) which is approximately €80 per month

Tax Fonciere (property tax) again about €80 per month

Assainissement ( Local water cleaning services ) around €430 per year

 Variable running costs

The house is heated by gas, and including electricity,costs approximately  €330 per month

The water supply is metered and costs approximately  €77 per month

Keep in mind that the approximate costs mentioned above include the costs of running the whole house including the B & B.

I work from home. What’s the Internet access like?

There is broadband service to the house which is reliable and comes in at around €36 per month

There is reasonable coverage for mobile (cell phones) which can vary in different parts of the house, but it is generally reliable.  SFR is the best service provider for the village

I don’t have much experience of driving in France. Is there any public transport?

There is little in the way of local transport. A car is necessary. The huge advantage though, is that there is very little traffic and driving around here is still pretty enjoyable.

What are the neighbours like?

In general people are very family-oriented and tend to keep themselves to themselves. Nevertheless we have never experienced anything but kindness and helpfulness from any of the villagers.  We’ve made some great friends here.

The house itself is one of several in the centre of the village with adjoining walls and/or gardens. As happens the world over they occasionally have parties, but these are once or twice a year and not a problem.   The upside of that is whenever we have a party, no-one complains.  The French really do “live and let live”.

How easy it is to set up a business?

This is an area in which you need to take specialist advice but our own experience is that there are two main options:

a)You can register as an auto-entrepreneur (self-employed sole trader).

This does not require any capital investment however there are certain limits to the turnover you are allowed before you have to register as a company. No bookkeeping is required; you simply report your turnover each month or each quarter and pay a percentage of tax on that amount.  At the moment, the flat rate is 15%.

b)If you register as a business you will need to invest a capital amount. In this case complete bookkeeping is needed to record income and expenditure. Tax is paid on the net profit.

The current upper income limit for a B & B is €81,500 per year

Note that a B & B may have up to 5 bedrooms. More than that and it is classified as a hotel which brings with it a lot more regulations and costs.

Will I have to learn to speak French?

That depends on you, and what you want to get out of your experience in France.  You know when you see foreigners all grouped together in your country, how does it make you feel that they don’t speak your language, and yet they are living in your country?   If you want to get the most enjoyment and the best experience of France, then you’ll need to be able to speak a little French.  And when you try to speak French, they will help you, (except in Paris of course!)

Are there many English speaking people living there?

Yes, in fact there’s a small but growing, supportive ex-pat community in the region, and we get together regularly to do silly anglo-saxon things, like carol singing, bonfire night etc. The French think we’re mad, and we probably are!

Do you have some more questions?  Simply drop us an email at and we’ll be happy to answer them 🙂


Champagne Harvest

Tt le mondeThe dates for the champagne harvest for 2013 have been announced, and it starts in Verzy on the 4th October for Chardonnay grapes and the 6th October for Pinot Noir grapes.

And you can come and get involved if you want to experience the atmosphere and the excitement of the highlight of the year here in Champagne.

Your day starts with a trip out to the vineyards and armed with a pair of secateurs, you’ll be instructed on what to pick, how to pick and where to put the grapes when you’ve picked!

And then, off to the press house to enjoy the process of crushing the grapes and watching the juice being extracted, followed by a tasting of the juice straight from the press.

Lunch follows where you’ll enjoy 3 champagnes and a typical harvesters lunch with the team.  Would you like to come?

Click here to find out more

“These people simply effervesce, they really are bubbly in every way, the welcome, the room, the breakfast and of course Verzy, this sleepy village surrounded by vines and Champagne Houses.”

We’re looking forward to seeing you in Champagne for the 2013 harvest 😉


Yvonne 150



Why is champagne so expensive?

Tasting at Henriet-Bazin 2Fancy making your own champagne ?

Many people who come to our B&B ask if we own vineyards or is the champagne we’re serving, the one we make ourselves…..

Well, no, on both counts, and here’s why…

A hectare of champagne vineyards at the lowest quality (cru) is currently valued at and costs in the region of 1m euros to buy, with a hectare of grand cru vineyards valued at 2m euros, that’s if you could ever find any vineyards to buy.  Vineyards typically change hands between existing champagne producers, by word of mouth, so as foreigners, this would simply not be available to us, even if we wanted that.

There used to be strict rules governing the sale and purchase of vineyards, meaning that the larger champagne houses were not allowed to buy up the smaller vineyards, otherwise there would be a monopoly.  In France, everyone has to have the opportunity to make a living, and so the larger houses and the small producers co-exist happily together, with no-one holding all the power.

I am not so sure any more  that there are official rules about this or that it would even be legal for there to be rules. I think that people try to avoid selling to the big brands if they can for exactly the reasons I’ve mentioned, but money talks and sometimes people will sell for a good deal whoever the buyer is.

new vinesHere’s a new vineyard that’s just been planted in Verzy.  I’ve been following the work going on in this vineyard while out on my daily walk with Pepper, our dog.  These little babies will one day be adult vines, producing beautiful juicy pinot noir grapes to make into champagne, but it won’t happen overnight, which is another reason why we would never want to own any vineyards.

Here’s what happens…..

The little vines will take 5 years to be fully fruit producing adults, worthy of producing good champagne.  During that time all the money is tied up in the investment, with no cashflow whatsoever.  And  then when the vines are fully grown and the grapes worth picking, it will then be another 3 years before the champagne is made and on sale  for you and I to buy.

I make that a total of 8 years investment, with no return, and no guarantee of the end result being good enough to be part of the champagne making process.  Plus, our one hectare will yield around 10,000 bottles and let’s say the selling price is 12 euros a bottles, then your revenue would be around 120,000euros before tax.  So that means it would take almost 10 years to get your money back on your investment in the 1 hectare of average quality vineyard.  Sounds good so far?  But wait there’s more….

adult vinesYou’ll need to spend time and money working the vineyard – the vines don’t just grow on their own – well they do but left to Mother Nature, they won’t produce the result you want in terms of quality.

Then you’ll need to pay the pickers as the harvest is all done by hand. No machines allowed here.

And you’d need to buy a press which you only use a couple for weeks per year ( or pay for someone else to press the grapes, perhaps by joining a co-op)

You’d need to buy vats to ferment and store the wine, acquire cellars to age the wine ( or again  pay someone else to do it for you e.g. join a co-op)

All in all you are probably looking at 20 years or even longer to get your money back!

It’s a risky business, for sure, and I know that if I had 1m euros to invest, I’m not sure I would choose this investment, would you?

And people ask us, why is champagne so expensive??????

To which we reply…. Why is champagne so cheap?



Yvonne 150



If you love Champagne this wonderful house is a great base to explore the area… Trust you love it as much as we did.. Tony, UK

Want to learn more about champagne and the people who make it?  Check out our private champagne tours and tastings by CLICKING HERE




Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Hello and thank you for coming over.  Before wishing you a fabulous Christmas, I’ve got some exciting things to tell you first:

Thing 1

We’re closing until the 18th March 2013 to do some renovations and decorating, so if you’re interested in watching us transform the little building on the other side of the courtyard into two fabulous bedrooms, then I suggest you subscribe to the Blog by clicking on the little orange/white button at the top right of this page.  I’ll be posting regularly on our progress, and by subscribing you’ll get an email every time I do that.

Thing 2

We’re going to be managing our neighbour’s house next year.  It is for sale and they have moved out, but in the meantime, until they find a buyer, we are going to be offering it to you as a Gite, which means that if you want to come to Champagne for an extended length of time and prefer to do your own thing, then you’ll be able to book the gite when I put the details on the site after Christmas.  The house has 4 lovely bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, lounge, dining area and kitchen plus a lovely sunny courtyard and pool!  It’s perfect for (adult) families or groups.  Again, if you subscribe to this blog, you’ll know first when it’s ready to go.

Thing 3

As you know we offer meals here at Les Molyneux, which I cook myself.  Next year, we’re going to be using the services of our local French chef, Christophe Ponsart, who has worked in a Michelin star restaurant in Epernay, and now runs his own business.  He will be preparing delicious gourmet meals for you., so you’re in for a treat there!

Thing 4

We’re going to have to raise our prices next year, due to increases in energy, but for you as part of our community, we’re holding the price increase until the 5th January, so if a trip to Champagne is on the cards for you in 2013, then please do book before the prices goes up on the 5th January.  You’ll probably be planning your trips for next year over Christmas with your friends and family, so now is a good time to take advantage of 2012 prices.

Thing 5

Finally,  we have had a spectacularly successful year this year, thanks to you.  Yes, you.  Choosing to stay with us, giving us feedback, writing reviews on Trip Advisor has made our year, and we couldn’t have done it without you.  I want to thank you sincerely, from the bottom of my heart.  We raise a glass to you and wish you a fabulously

Merry  Christmas

and peace, happiness and prosperity to you and your loved ones in 2013 and beyond.

Looking forward to welcoming you again to Champagne in 2013.


Yvonne and Jiles xx


Champagne Festival in Epernay

The « Habits de Lumiere » Festival in Epernay is only a couple of weeks away now, and the theme this year is “Imagination”.

Your weekend starts at 6.30pm on Friday 14th December, on the Avenue de Champagne, where the usually closed doors of the large champagne houses, fling open their gates and invite you in to taste their champagnes at the bars,   indulge in the gourmet food, listen to the live music, and maybe even dance.

Chestnuts are roasting on the street, fairy lights adorn the buildings, and the sound of music, Jazz, Spanish, Mexican is everywhere along this famous street.

At 7.15pm the street procession begins at Place de la Republique and finishes at the top of the Avenue de Champagne at Mercier, where at 8.30pm you’ll witness an amazing firework display set to music.

Time to head on back to the champagne bars and indulge a little more perhaps?

On Saturday 15th December, there’s more, with many local celebrated chefs giving live demonstrations of their culinary skills and of course there’s wonderful delicacies to delight your tastebuds.  Art exhibtions, photographic exhibitions and of course cellar visits, followed by the street procession again at 6.45pm, and then back to Chateau Perrier for a fabulous light display and perhaps another glass of champagne?  Why not…

And on Sunday morning, if you’re feeling up to yet more champagne  (and why wouldn’t you be? ), there’s a vintage car procession starting at 11am through the town of Epernay.

A fabulous weekend not to be missed…. Are you coming?

“All arrangements were prepared in great detail, and we appreciated the effort and dedication to help us find exciting things to do”







For more ideas on what to do, where to go and hidden gems of the Champagne region, CLICK HERE to download our free guide