This morning we left our hotel in Reims for the Champagne region. On our way there was a scenic overlook of the grapevines and the small town of Hautvillers.
Our first stop was the historic village of Hautvillers that was surrounded by vineyards. It had a population of around 700. As we walked through the town it was raining and this made it difficult to really enjoy its charm. The streets were fairly empty.
Hautvillers was also the home of the famous monk Dom Pérignon. He didn’t create champagne but he was very involved in the winemaking process. He was buried in the Abbey at Hautvillers.
The narrow streets were lined with winegrowers’ houses and champagne tasting.
During medieval times each shop in the town had its sign with a picture that depicted its business to let the townspeople know because many were illiterate. The mayor of the town relaunched this idea of the signs in the 1960s. Residents had to submit an application to the town hall if they wanted to add a wrought iron sign. Because of the rain it was difficult to look up and see all of the various signs. Below were just some of the signs that we walked past
Epernay was our next stop. It was home to some of the most famous Champagne houses and the town was nicknamed the “Capital of Champagne”!
We had a tour and tasting at Mercier Champagne House that was established in 1858.
Eugène Mercier was 20 years old when he founded his own house. He was one of the first to add electricity to his cellars and to advertise! He presented a giant vat at the 1889 World’s Fair. His giant vat held an equivalent of 200,000 bottles of wine and weighed over 20 tons! It was a hit at the fair and was only outshined by the Eiffel Tower.
An immersive descent in the elevator took us down 98 feet to the cellars that were dug out in 1871 by hand. Down in the cellars we boarded a train for a tour. We was bas-relief carvings by sculptor Gustave Navlet as we road the train.
When we finished our cellar tour we had a tasting session with Mercier’s sommelier. Their champagne was delicious!
We had a toast with the Hilliard Area Chamber of Commerce President. She does such a fantastic job promoting these trips and always added so much when she traveled with the Chamber groups!
After we finished at Mercier we had free time in town and the rain had stopped!
The Avenue de Champagne was lined with Champagne houses and some of the most famous! It also was an UNESCO World Heritage site.
We had a lunch at Le Progrès.
After lunch we wanted to try another champagne so we visited the Brasserie de la Banque. It was once a bank.
We sat at the bar and shared a bottle of Champagne that was recommended by the bartender. It was Autréau from the village of Champillon which was about 3 miles from Epernay.
The Le Parc de l’Hôtel de Ville d’Epernay was a park that was created in the mid 1800’s to enhance the town house of the Moët & Chandon family. This park opened to the public in 1920. This garden surrounded the city park hall.
After our time in Epernay we headed back to Reims and our hotel. We sat outside our hotel and enjoyed some more of the Mercier champagne with chocolate and Cider before we walked into the town of Reims to explore the city before dinner.
We walked around the town of Reims and visited some shops.
The hotel recommended Le Tablier restaurant for dinner. Nine of us met there for our last dinner in Reims.
Below was the Subé Fountain from 1906. The bronze winged victory at the top was taken by the Germans in 1941 and was replaced identically in 1989!
Tomorrow we head back to Paris!