25th August, 2016 – Reims to Zürich

A full day of driving as we made our way back home to Zürich. We left Reims around 10am and had a quick stop in Strasbourg for lunch.

Our second part of the trip from Strasbourg to Zürich was going smoothly until we hit Zürich peak hour traffic and sat for almost 2 hours. During our delay, we were chatting about how much we enjoy taking public transport in Switzerland!!

We are back home now for a few days, unpacking, washing and repacking for our trip to Scotland.

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24th August, 2016 – Reims and Épernay

Whilst Reims is the ‘capital’ of Champagne, apparently the smaller town of Épernay 30 or so km away is the heart, so we headed there this morning to have a look around, starting with a tour at the Moët & Chandon (for the record, definitely pronounced with the ’t’).

One of the biggest differences you notice between Burgundy and Champagne is, despite both growing predominantly Pinot and Chardonnay, whereas Burgundy is about learning endless different wines each expressing a specific site of land, champagne is bigger business, focused around the production process and blending to achieve a consistent house taste, with Moët making 7,000,000 bottles a year, slowly maturing in their 28 km of caves.

We wended our way back to Reims via the scenic route (well at least half of it before aborting and going back to the motorway) before a very hot afternoon wander (35 degrees!), and a lovely last French dinner.


Epernay

Underground cellars of Moet and Chandon

Underground cellars of Moet and Chandon

Architecture in Reims

Sunset on our last evening in France

23 August, 2016 – Reims champagne tour 

Today we drank champagne all day….we had an organized tour of 3 champagne houses, 2 small family owned wineries and then Taittinger, which included a tour of their underground cellars. Apparently Taittinger is really the only large house which is still family owned business, whereas all the other big names are all owned by luxury goods companies or pension funds.

This evening we spent strolling and exploring the city a little more. 





Taittinger’s underground cellars- the stairs are from the old Abbey which was once here but destroyed during WW1. 



72,000 bottles getting ready…..


Inside Reims Cathedral 


Stained glass windows showing the wine making process. 

22nd August 2016 – Beaune to Reims

So, today was meant to be the end of our little adventure and the drive back to Zurich..
But on our tour the other day, we learned from the guide that the top of the Burgundy is actually very close to Champagne, and as both will be very far away in a few weeks time, we decided to extend the car hire, and head to Champagne for a few days!
Spent the morning packing and cleaning the apartment, grabbing a couple of last minute souvenirs, and drove through the Côte de Nuits villages north of Beaune, before a late lunch in Dijon for lunch, and arrived in Reims around 5.
Often, the things without all the research and anticipation are good surprises, and on first impression, Reims seems a lovely city. Dinner in an Italian restaurant recommended by the Novotel where we’ve checked in.

The Romanee Conte Grand Cru vineyard – source of the world’s most expensive wine with bottles at the fancy restaurant the other night ranging from €8-12k. Note also the world’s most discrete sign, lack of surveillance, barbed wire etc!


Lunch stop in Dijon


A first glimpse of Reims Cathedral walking home from dinner

21 August, 2016 – Beaune 

Sadly our last full day in Beaune today, and after a lazy morning at home we headed out to explore the Hospice, which was a hospital for the poor which ran from the 15th century until 1985, and is now a museum but also major charity and vineyard owner.
Early evening we took out the bikes which come with the apartment to ride around the local park, which then turned in to a ride through the vineyards! Really glad we decided not to go home after the park.

Our last dinner was a BBQ again in the courtyard with an impressive Côte de Boeuf steak we bought at the market yesterday and a bottle of Burgundy Pinot. A perfect end to our time in Beaune.

Park near our apartment 


Hospice Beaune 


Hospital beds


Streets of Beaune 



20th August, 2016 – Beaune market and Joseph Drouhin

We woke up a bit later than planned today to rainy morning, but the Saturday farmers’ market is the major event of the week here and a key part of the whole stereotypical ‘week renting a house in the French countryside’ thing, so we donned our raincoats and headed out to get the ingredients for Saturday and Sunday.
In the afternoon we had a tour and tasting booked at the cellars of Joseph Drouhin, which was really good, the cellars run for blocks under ground all the way under the old town, and finished with a tasting including a bottle of Pinot 20 years old. Amazingly, on the way there, we were walking down a street to the cellars and heard some one call ‘Nadine’, and looked around and saw Nadine’s cousin Julia and husband Mark. A very nice surprise! It’s a crazily small world…

Unfortunately our cookery was not at its finest tonight 😖, back to the barbecue tomorrow!








19 August, 2016 – Beaune hike 

After our amazingly long dinner last night and a 1am bedtime, a sleep in and lazy morning around the apartment was due.
[As you may have noticed 😉 …] We have done a lot of eating and drinking since we arrived, so we felt the need to burn some calories, and in the afternoon we headed off for a hike from the town of Le Rochepot, through 15km of orchards, vineyards and woodland.

This evening we had a BBQ in our little garden, which reminded us that we haven’t had one since we lived in Singapore! Really looking forward to moving home and making it a regular thing…..have to admit that for amateur BBQ’s our dinner was pretty great!