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 weeked not to be missed…. Are you coming?

 

Walking with Pepper along the CBR

It’s a beautiful crisp, cold and slightly foggy day today here in Champagne, so I decided to step away from the computer and take Pepper for a longer than usual walk.

I love walking, especially with my dog.  It’s so refreshing to be in nature, to hear the rustle of the trees, the birds singing and the quiet solitude of the forest.

My favourite walking trail is definitely the CBR which stands for Chemin de Fer de la Banlieue de Reims – a former railway line spanning over 400 kms and connecting 180 villages in the Champagne region.  It was built in 1894 and played a very important role during the first World War carrying ammunitions, materials and indeed the wounded.

This is an old picture of the station in Verzy which is now a private house.  The stations are easy to recognise because they all look the same, built to the same specification. However, as time went on, the railway network was used less and less, and like many European suburban railways, was sadly dismantled in 1966.

But what’s left is over 400kms of trails for us to enjoy on foot or on bicyle around the region.

The bit which passes through our village, Verzy, is now part of the old pilgrim trail to both St. Jacques de Compostelle in northern Spain and the Via Francigena which leads to Rome.

When I walk just a little bit of this trail, those destinations sometimes call to me.  How about you?

Champagne Harvest 2012 is coming soon


How would you like to join us here in Champagne and experience the highlight of the year – The Harvest?  We’ve put together a programme so you can do just that!

Between the 20th and 30th September, you have the opportunity of becoming part of the harvesting team for one day,  picking the grapes, following them to the “pressoir”, tasting the juice as it comes directly from the crushed grapes, and experiencing the atmosphere and excitement of this special time.

Your day will begin at one of our favourite champagne maker’s “vendangeoir” where you’ll pick up your secateurs and be taken into the vineyards with the team, where you’ll begin picking.  You’ll then follow the process back at the “pressoir” and witness first hand how it’s all done champagne-style.

A traditional harvester’s lunch and some serious champagne tasting is included, and all you need to do now is to book yourself a place by clicking here.

The package includes:

  • Two nights’ B&B accommodation at Les Molyneux
  • Dinner on your arrival night with champagne and wine
  • A full day out with one of our favourite champagne makers

Prices are 355 euros for one person and 520 euros for two people sharing a room.

Here’s what you need to do now:

  1. Simply Click Here to book your accommodation at Les Molyneux
  2. Choose two nights’ between the 20th and 30th September
  3. Put a note for us in the Comments Box of the reservation form that you want to come on the Harvest Special

That’s it!  We’ll then organise your day’s harvesting, and be in touch with you again very soon.

Places are limited, so hurry and book now and we’ll see you soon in Champagne!

Yvonne

x

Rent a Renault Twizy 45 in Champagne

Have you ever wanted to try out an electric car ?  How about drinking champagne in the region where it’s made?  Well now the Tourist Office in Epernay is combining these two dreams into one.  Discover the vineyards and the champagne houses of the champagne region by hiring Twizy, an electric car directly from the Tourist Office and… grab a free bottle of bubbly to drink for yourself!

You can hire Twizy for an hour, a half day or a whole day.

Where can you go with an electric car in Epernay?

Start off by driving up the Avenue de Champagne, calling in at Moet et Chandon for a swanky, stylish guided tour of their cellars and a glass or two of bubbly afterwards.  Did you know that there are approx. 21 kilometres of cellars just under Moet’s building and 110 kms of cellars under the whole town of Epernay!  Incredible, but true.

After your visit to Moet why not drop into Champagne Andre Bergére, just a short drive in your little car further on up the Avenue.  Maxime or Stephanie will be happy to welcome you and introduce you to their smaller but good quality champagnes, made at their production facility in the Cotes des Blancs but on sale here on the Avenue.

And then further on up the Avenue, drop into Champagne Mercier where an elevator experience will descend you down into their cellars and then onto their cellar train for a guided tour.

Aftwards, Champagne de Castellane will introduce you to the mechanics of champagne making where you’ll get to see the bottling and labelling room – fascinating.  And for the best view in Epernay, climb the steps up to the top of the de Castellane tower.

You’ll probably be hungry after all that, so try La Banque on the Place de la Republique for a well-earned bite to eat.  Or La Table Kobus, behind the church, where you can take your own free bottle of bubbly to drink there.

Whatever you do, you’ll have a lot of fun.

Champagne Stories from the Vineyards

What a priviledge it is to be able to live and work in Champagne!  I am in awe of the beauty of the landscape and the work and toil of the people every single day.  My drive to the supermarket is through vineyards owned by such luminaries as Moet et Chandon, Taittinger, Veuve Clicquot and I marvel at their visions which began almost 3 centuries ago.

I am indeed lucky.

But life wasn’t always bubbly in Champagne. After the devastation of the phylloxera epidemic during the late 1800s and the wine growers’ revolts in the early 1900s, the emergence of champagne as we know it today began.  But life was still tough, and many farmers were very poor.  So much so that over the years, many of their offspring left the bubbly trade in search of adventure elsewhere.

One of those sons is our friend Christian Briard, who after having explored life without bubbles, has returned to his roots and taken up the baton in his grandfather’s champagne business, Champagne Christian Briard, in the Marne Valley.

Christian explains what lead him to where he is now in this interesting article and I encourage you to read it here

 

On the Pilgrim Trail

Running a B&B is a great way to meet new people, and the thing is, we never know who is going to show up next, and that’s exciting.

Verzy is situated on not just one, but two of the great Pilgrim Trails which start in various locations in northern Europe and either lead to Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain, or the Via Francigena to Rome in Italy.

People take this pilgrimage for a variety of reasons and not always religious.  Some are walking for a charity or in the memory of someone they’ve lost, or some are doing just because they can. But they all come with a story, and we love to hear their stories.

Some embark on this adventure alone and some with a partner or friend.  Some do the whole thing in one go which takes around 3 months, and some do it a couple of weeks a year, spread out over several years.

Some plan their overnight stays and some don’t.  Some simply knock on the door hoping to find room at the inn, and some have their ipads or other mobile devices, keeping in touch with the real world while on their travels, and have all their lodgings pre-booked in advance. Some are blogging about their adventure and staying connected during the whole journey and some completely cut themselves off to focus on the journey itself and the inevitable silence of being alone.

Some are travelling on a budget, and some are doing it “in style”.  Whoever they are, we welcome them and offer them great accommodation, a good meal and a fond farewell the next morning.