La Route du Champagne

After a busy weekend in the city, what could be nicer than a few relaxing days in the country?

So, I headed toward Epernay. Only a couple of hours east of Paris, the Champagne region is wonderful for tourists and wine lovers alike. The grape harvest usually takes place in early to mid September and this would be a great opportunity to see the French do one of the things they do best...make Champagne!

This was my third tour of Champagne, but there is so much to see and do that I will never grow tired of it. The tourist office publishes a great guide called "La Route du Champagne" outlining five half-day driving itineraries, with vineyards and welcoming producers noted on the map. The guide also includes interesting sites such as chateaus, churches, museums, remarkable architectural structures, and look-out points. The most charming and floral villages are rated with one, two, or three flower symbols, much like we rate films with stars. Road signs along the way mark the itinerary and make it nearly impossible for tourists to get lost.

It was unusually warm, so a little Renault Mégane Cabriolet proved to be perfect for taking in the sites and enjoying the good weather.

The French credit le terroir for their ability to produce exceptionally fine wine. By terroir, they mean the slope of the land, the disposition of the sun, the mineral content of the soil, the quality of the vine, and all of the other factors that contribute to a good growth. I think this photo says it all about the terroir of Champagne.

A windmill perched on the top of a hillside in Verzenay. The surrounding vines belonged to well-known producers such as Taittinger, Mumm, and Lanson.

The production of wine in the Champagne dates back to the Middle Ages. Born in Champagne, Pope Urban II declared the wine of this region the best in the world. It is no wonder that the statue honoring him presides over the town of Chatillion-sur-Marne.

From a speeding car, I tried to get this shot of Chateau de Montmort. It is one of the most beautiful chateaus in the region, dating back to the 11th century.

French cows.


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