We drank a lot of bubbles / by Lara

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3 weeks to the day since we left for France.  820 miles (or there abouts) later, Claude is still going, even got up a mountain.  And despite not hearing from us in a while Paul and I haven’t killed each other.  Yet.  

After having absolutely no idea of where we were going and what we were doing we realised that, unfortunately, we did have restrictions on time, which meant having to plan a little more than we’d hope to.  We gave ourselves four and a half weeks to travel from England down to Benicàssim so our original want of heading East towards Czech Republic was scundered.  Not all bad as we’ve decided instead to try and catch some of the Tour de France.  Paul’s a very happy man (fingers crossed we see something)

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After lolling in the lake for a few days, a little research into towns with the ‘Tour’ I realised we’d driven right passed Reims and Épernay, home to the makers of Champagne.  There was only one thing to do - turn around and head back.  And what a brilliant idea that was!   We found a great spot to park up for a few days, jumped on our bikes and headed to the centre of beautiful Épernay.   Walking up the grand Avenue de Champagne, we had a brief peek around the park and then spotted Moët & Chandon.  With so many other Champagne houses to peruse we were probably wrong in walking in the first we came to, but I was thirsty!

Champagne stacked in the vast cellars of Moët & Chandon

Champagne stacked in the vast cellars of Moët & Chandon

A tour for two and a tasting later we were loaded with all the history you could want on Champagne production, the Moët & Chandon brand and a few titbits on Napoleon, I really liked hearing what he thought about Champagne: “Champagne is the only wine that leaves a woman beautiful after drinking it.”  I love this, but honestly I’m not sure I can agree … what do you think Paul?  After a night quaffing all the Champagne in various establishments we hit the sack and were faced with a pretty lethal hangover the following day.

Thank goodness we only had a short hike to contend with.  Rule No 1.  DO NOT listen to me when going on hikes, they will be far longer than you planned, you will not be prepared, and you will certainly feel like you’re not going to make it!  What was supposed to be a 12km hike with maximum temperatures reaching 26 degrees (this is important information when travelling with a ginger), actually turned into a 12 mile hike with temperatures reaching 34 degrees with no shade anywhere - Just lots of hills and vineyards and not much else.

Having both picked up some very interesting tan lines, perhaps a touch of heat exhaustion and a need for full water immersion on our van doorstep we decided that we would pack up and move on to the nearest lake.  After a much needed rest of course.