Diary blog: three wonderful days in the southern Champagne region!

We have been looking forward to it for weeks: our trip with friends Philippe and Eva to the Champagne region! And not just any part of the Champagne region, but the area where we hope to say yes to each other next year! Finally, the time has come, let’s go!

Road trip to the Côte des Bar!

It is 1 pm on Thursday afternoon. I just closed my work laptop, finished six sandwiches and got Ries to hurry up (strange, in our relationship I always have to wait for the man). After a clumsy bike ride (a suitcase on the luggage carrier and two half-empty backpacks on our back) we arrive at the station where we put on our mouth masks. By the way, those half-empty backpacks have a function: on the way back they carry the bottles of champagne that we plan to buy.

Once in Utrecht in Philippe and Eva’s apartment, we drink a cup of coffee, load their car and put food and sweets in all the holes and cracks. A real road trip is of course not complete without a good sugar rush and damage to our tooth enamel.French traditional hotel France

Curious about all the nice places in the Côte des Bar and many more tips for this region? Read all about the southern Champagne region here!

From Maastricht to Nairobi to the Champagne region!

By the way, I’ve already named them twice but haven’t introduced them properly. Philippe and Eva are friends from our college days. Ries met Philippe as his manager at a student job and not much later I was introduced to Philippe too. We met Eva, who did not study in Maastricht but in Utrecht, a few years later. By the way, this is not the first time these two appear on our blog. When we travelled through Kenya, they happened to be in Nairobi for work and vacation. And so we had a nice bite to eat the night before they flew home.

Back to our road trip towards the Champagne. It is really relaxed. Ries is the DJ and makes fun of my favourite song (Wonderwall by Oasis for those who are interested), Philippe drives the whole part (and brakes every speedrecord) and Eva and I chat the whole road. About six hours later we roll out of the car. We have arrived! We are at the Côte des Bar in the southern Champagne region.Strolling down the vinyards France Visitng France

Games, cheese and fun!

Immediately upon arrival, we are warmly welcomed by Tim and Resi, the owners of the beautiful location where we will sleep the coming nights. We have already met Tim and Resi during our previous trip and have spoken many times before because we hope to get married next year at this location. It is wonderful to be back and so nice to be able to show this special place to good friends!

Not much later we are enjoying fish soup, a cheese platter and a glass of wine, while in the background we hear the crickets chirping. The ultimate holiday feeling! The rest of the evening we chat and play the board game Concept.Cheers champagne tastings Cote des Bar en Champagne France

Wondering how we found the perfect location for our wedding? Read this blog about finding wedding venues in France!

Starting the morning with champagne

At breakfast, all four of us have little eyes. We had a great night’s sleep, but those glasses of wine from yesterday did have some impact. Fortunately, after breakfast, the ultimate cure for a hangover is waiting: champagne!

We have planned a tour at the small champagne farmer Michel Falmet, including a champagne tasting! There we are welcomed by the friendly Corinne who runs this champagne house together with her husband Laurent. It is very busy today because the champagne is being harvested. Normally this does not happen until mid-September, but due to the long and warm summer, the time has already come. So while she shows us around, trays of grapes arrive. Cool, now we can immediately see how this first part of the champagne production process works.Champagne tour Michel Falmet Cotes des Bar en Champagne FranceChampagne tasting France

Grape juice and the real thing: champagne!

The large containers with red grapes are emptied into a press machine, after which sweet grape juice flows out. We know that it is sweet because we get to taste a glass. Ries likes it, but it doesn’t taste like real champagne. I am a bigger fan of the alcoholic drink myself and luckily the tour is followed by a champagne tasting. And that is delicious! We drink four different champagnes, varying from very dry (extra brut) to a bit sweeter (semi sec). Eventually, we take several bottles with us and get back into the car for the next stop: lunch.

A Michelin star lunch & even more champagne …

And we don’t just do that anywhere. Tim has made a reservation for us at a nice restaurant in the village of Colombey-les-Deux-Églises. It has a Michelin star but is very reasonably priced. And so we enjoy a delicious three-course lunch. It’s not even a problem that I don’t eat meat, something that is quite unique in France. An alternative is immediately found in the form of a delicious turbot.

After lunch, we walk around the cute Colombey-les-Deux-Églises. We have been there before since there are some hotels here where guests will sleep during our wedding weekend. Now we can show this place to Philippe and Eva. Eva notes that it seems that all houses here have the same colour shutters on the windows. Indeed, we see the lovely lavender-blue everywhere, very beautiful! While walking around we arrive at champagne house Peligri. We are looking forward to another tasting!Peligri Champange Cave Cote des Bar France

The champagne production process

Peligri is also a champagne house that has been in the family for generations. However, this house is a lot bigger than this morning’s champagne house. We are a little less fan of the champagne here, but it is nice to have seen this champagne house. Also because here we see more of the end of the manufacturing process, including labels, gold wrappers and corks.

After this tasting, we drive back to our hotel. Tired of all the impressions (ok and the alcohol), we take it a little nep and then explore the surroundings by a walk. The sunflowers have all finished blooming, but it is still an impressive image, all those thousands of green-yellow cups hanging down. In the evening we play games (including the game Pandemic, how appropriate ;-)), and we enjoy Resi’s cooking skills.Village Rennepont en Champagne France

Would you rather go to the northern Champagne region? Then read this blog about the Champagne region around Épernay!

Food, food and more… champagne!

The next morning we sleep in and then leave for the market of Bar-sur-Aube. It is not very big, but soon we find a boulangerie with fresh pain au chocolat and we drink a cup of coffee at a café. Then, of course, we still have to buy pastries at a cute pastry shop, after which we drive to a viewpoint to eat them with the perfect view. In short, a wonderfully relaxed morning!Picknick on the hill France

After the pastries, we drive towards Bar-sur-Seine, a more southern Champagne area. Along the way, we see beautiful champagne fields where grapes are picked. Nice to see this happen in real life! When we pass champagne house Philippe Fourrier, we have to stop, a champagne house bearing the same name as Philippe can only be good. Even though the lady who does the tastings is still having her lunch, we are warmly welcome and sipping champagne in no time.

Champagne & Renoir

The special thing about this champagne house is that it produces champagnes that are made 100% from the same grape variety. Normally champagne is a blend of several grape varieties, but not here. I especially like the 100% Pinot Meunier! Fully loaded with the car (including champagne glasses with Philippe’s name on them), we drive on towards Essoyes an hour and a half later.

The painter Renoir lived for a long time in this beautiful village. We think we recognize the picturesque scenes of his paintings everywhere. It is truly a beautiful place that we would not have wanted to skip.Village of Essoyes France

The rest of the afternoon we relax in our hotel. Ries and I walk into the forest, where we think we hear a wild boar (“we have to climb the tree,” I hiss at Ries), but what turns out to be an elegant red deer. After dinner in the neighbourhood, we end the evening with a game of billiards. And although not everyone will agree with me, in my opinion, I am very good at playing billiards quite well!

Click here for our favourite champagne houses in Épernay (the northern Champagne region)!

The last day in the Champagne region: Troyes

Unfortunately, the next morning our time in France is almost finished. And so, after an extensive breakfast, we load the car again. With all those bottles of champagne, it is completely full. Then we say goodbye to Tim and Resi, who we will see back in the Netherlands in a few months to further plan our wedding!Kasteelhoeve Rennepont France

On our way home, we first make a stop in the city of Troyes. Even though almost everything is closed on Sundays, we still get a good impression of this beautiful city. The ultimate end to our time in France is found at a small French fishermen market stand where we have fresh oysters, tuna and a last glass of wine.

The road trip back home is just as much fun as three days ago, and even more, fun when we are unexpectedly invited to have a bite to eat with my parents. We would come by there any way to leave some bottles of champagne, but how nice to end this way this perfect weekend!

And that’s it! A wonderful weekend in the southern Champagne region in France! But don’t worry, we will be back soon in France. Hopefully in two weeks its time for a camping trip to a more southern part of the country!

Nice hotels in Cote des Bar (Bar-Sur-Aube)

The three hotels below are all centrally located in Bar-Sur-Aube in the pleasant village of Colombey-Les-Deux-Eglises. Would you rather stay in Troyes? Then click here.

Maison & Tartine

Maison Tartine guest house champagne

Cozy chalets, lodges, apartments and rooms that are fully equipped. The different rooms and lodges are spread over a side street off the main square of the cute town of Colombey-Les-Deux-Eglises. You sleep here from €70.

More information

Domaine Rennepont

domaine rennepont

The cordial hosts Tim and Resi (from the Netherlands) make you feel completely at home in their cozy castle farm. The rooms are beautiful, the garden beautiful and the food delicious. But the best part is the fun here! You sleep here from €65 per room.

More information

Hostellerie de la Montagne

Hostellerie La Montagne Champagne

This beautiful luxury hotel has a Michelin star restaurant and beautiful rooms. Look at that roll top bath! Perfect if you are looking for comfort and luxury but authenticity! You will sleep in a royal way from €140 per room. 

More information

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  1. by Rolf Dammann on 11 May 2021  20:33 Reply

    Hi. A very enjoyable article! Troyes is a great spot to visit .....and was the first time I tried Deutz champagne (Extra Brut). Fabulous! Speaking of that, I was interested to see that they (Michel Falmet) are making an Extra Brut. I was not aware of that. How was it? Also, do they currently sell in the US.....or possibly have plans to do so in the future?


    (Washington, DC)

    • by Charlotte van de Sande on 13 May 2021  09:49 Reply

      Hi Rolf!
      Nice to hear that you liked the article! I am not sure if Michel Falmet is selling (or has plans to sell) in the US. Try contacting them via their website (http://www.champagne-michel-falmet.com/index.php/en/) . The Extra Brut was very good! Soon (when the borders open again), we hope to go back there, since it is close to our wedding venue! Let me know if you cannot reach them, I might be in the position to ask them then!
      Kind regards,

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