i went to epernay instead of charleville last saturday and had a really fabulous time. champagne drunk is such a different kind of drunk for me-- it's giggly and bubbly and elegant at the same time. epernay is a lovely little town full of windy streets and little shops. it helped that saturday was sunny and about 72 degrees, without a cloud in sight. i wandered around, had some lunch (which i usually hate doing alone-- it's depressing-- so i bought a tiny notebook for writing and actually had a really cool waiter who looked out for me, which always helps) then headed to moet & chandon for a taste and tour. b told me i should go whole hog and get as many tastes as possible, so i did, because, really, when will i ever drink moet again? it's so expensive in the us, and not much better here. there was no discount for buying from the source-- a basic bottle of moet is 38 euros wherever you go in france.
so the tour. first of all, the grounds were lovely-- it's a beautiful, classy old building with a velvet sitting room, newspapers to read while you wait, tours in umpteen languages (some belgians in front of me could choose between dutch or flemish), a stunning garden in the back. moet is loaded, no big surprises there. the tour was short but sweet. once you've toured one cave, you've essentially toured them all, so i was glad not to linger too long. i was ready to taste.
i chose the "decouverte tour" which was three tastes for 21 euros. i was hoping for a little nip of dom perignon they didn't offer it-- i can't blame them since it retailed in their gift shop for about 100 euros for a non-vintage cuvee. i saw a dom in my birth year for 450 euros, and a 1962 dom for 790 euros. whoo-hoo! my three options were the standard brut (tasted lovely and lemony but surprisingly... standard), the premier cru brut (nutty and layered, got better after about 10 minutes) and the rose brut, which was by far the best-- so refined and smooth. i met a girl and her mom-- she's doing the same teaching program as me but in paris. it was nice to share a drink with someone. they poured a full glass, too, so i had three glasses of champagne in front of me and a free afternoon. i didn't think i was that drunk until i realized that i was laughing out loud to myself walking down the street and almost ran into a pole and a bus stop shelter. yeah! nothing like being half shnookered in the middle of the afternoon on the avenue de champagne. really, there's nothing like it. it was divine.
i booked a train back home-- it was the milk run train and i had a car all to myself plus windows that rolled down. i spent a half hour with my head out of the window taking pictures of the countryside. it was amazing-- one of my favorite experiences in europe this year. it's dizzying and freeing to be in a train ambling through vineyards, the wind in my hair, hoping my glasses don't fly off my face.
i'm so glad i went. i have to do it more often-- get out of this town for a change of fucking scene. pop calls it the kinetic energy problem-- it takes energy to get up and move and keep moving! but the benefits are worth it.
after getting back home i met some friends at a cafe in the center of town and nursed a coke for three hours before dinner. this is why i came to europe, to sit as long as you want in a cafe, not be hassled by waiters, watch the world go by. that 3 euro coke is totally worth it.