What an incredible weekend! Our road trip took us from Brittany in the West of France to Champagne which is in the East of France. We stayed in a cute village called Rommilly (pronounced Rome – eeeey) which is a 2 hour drive from Paris.
We weren’t sure how the baby was going to do on a big long road trip but we took a lot of breaks and broke it up into manageable chunks. He can last in the car for about 2 hours before getting fussy.
The drive was gorgeous. The French countryside is lush and green. It is June so flowers are blooming, a bit of light rain mixed with sunshine and fields of well kept wheat, horses and cows. Rommilly is surrounded by rural countryside and has a rustic charm to it.
Our hotel was a nice boutique called Auberge de Nicey. Our room was large and they had a baby crib waiting in the room for us which was thoughtful. There was a great pool, spa and sauna next to our room which we loved.
Our first excursion was to the RenÃ© Collet Champagne Winery. Monsieur Collet gave us the grand tour and walked us through Champagne making process. They are a unique winery because they press all of their own grapes at the winery and also press grapes for the surrounding wineries. They also distribute cuvÃ©e (high grade pressed wine) to larger wine producers like Nicolas Feuillatte. They of course keep the best for themselves. The most important thing I learned about Champagne is to always order the Brut. If the Champagne is a sweet or semi-sweet it means that there is sugar added. Brut is the pure grapes with nothing added, the best of the best Champagne is Brut.
Seeing the Collet wine cellar was fascinating. Their techniques have been passed down through the Collet family for generations but they also are experimenting with new methods such as a cement barrel aging process. They are not sure what the outcome will be but I would imagine it would be a lighter and very pure taste.
Monsieur Collet gave us a bottle of his Champagne to take with us and we headed back to the Auberge De Nicey for a delicious lunch.Â They get all of their meat, vegetables and wines from local sources. The French are all about what they call “terroir.” It is term used to describe a food that is of the region and the distinct qualities that food has because of it’s unique location. Champagne can only be called Champagne if the grapes grew in this particular region in France. Champagne has world famous terroir. A place and the food it grows are apart of each other and to experience the food grown in a place is a way to better experience the place itself.
Afterwards we visited a Chateau which boasted exquisite French style and art. Sebastien loved it and told everyone on the tour very loudly exactly how much he loved it.
The next day the hotel organized a bike ride through the countryside to have a picnic amongst the grape vines. The electric bikes were rad! Even when pedaling up a steep hill it felt as if I was gliding. I think these bikes are a great idea because if one person wants to pedal hard for a workout they can while another can use the electric and have a nice easy ride.
If you are planning on heading to Champagne then I definitely recommend these places. You might be tempted to go take a tour of a big brand of Champagne that you already know but I think you will find a richer experience visiting a smaller winery and talking with the growers and winemakers. Plus, they have the best grapes and the more interesting Champagnes.
Cheers and remember; keep it bubbly and make sure it’s Brut!