I may not adore Paris, but I definitely love France. I haven't explored much of it, but from what a can gather it is a beautiful and tasty country. On our recent visit the husband and I hired a car and spent two lovely Autumn days in Champagne. After green tea and coffee, champagne would be next on my list of 'drinks that make life better' so I was pretty excited to be visiting the home of bubbles.
First up, we went to the Medieval town of Provins. Being only an hour or so outside of Paris, Champagne is unsurprisingly popular with weekenders. And unfortunately I managed to completely stuff up our original hotel booking (don't ask...). At one point it looked like we were going to be sleeping in the car, but the Ibis came to our rescue. It was basic, a bit out of town but is was also clean, super cheap and, importantly, not booked out. Provins proved to be quite a charming little town, complete with a lovely town square and views from the ramparts across the rolling countryside (the food, on the other hand, was surprisingly dire).
Next we spent a night in Epernay, which is where all the big champagne houses are based. Most of them do tours of their caves where they store thousands and thousands of bottles of bubbly, complete with a tasting. It was like a sort of homecoming for me...
Oh, and a few things I left off my last post:
- Your ability to easily understand a menu written in Italian does not translate to an ability to understand a French menu. Take the time to read each dish carefully before you order. Otherwise you may ask for what you think is mushroom risotto and be presented instead with a plate of baby cow glands ('ris de veau'). Which is fine, I guess, if you like baby cow glands.
- Almost everyone who is not French will tell you the French are rude and arrogant, but I don't think this is true at all. From my experience, they are confident and they are direct, but they are also friendly, helpful and welcoming. Some cliches are just that, I think.