After living in the City of Light for over a year at the time, I had to admit that the glittery sparkle of Paris had worn off un petit peu. My cousin and aunt’s visit was the perfect way to awaken my tourist eyes again there and beyond. They wanted to visit the Champagne province just northeast of Paris, so we did just that. The wintry sky in France was unmistakably dense and grey, but with such an invigorating reason to travel, I was perfectly fine with waking up in the freezing cold and so early. Joined by a young Australian couple and our tour guide, we watched the sunrise emerge on our right and anticipated Riems ahead.
First, we visited a family owned champagne house where we took an intimate tour and had the magic of champagne making explained to us by the owner who looked just like Michael Caine. The tour of the P.M. Roger & Fils was an eye-opening experience to the intricate and time consuming process it takes for just one bottle of bubbly. The passion and care that they use to make and improve their product is so impressive and was the highlight of the experience. Passed down generation to generation, the family still employs vintage hand techniques that larger vineyards couldn’t dream of using due to volume and time constraints. Roger & Fils still keep the family charm in the art that is champagne making and it was amazing to see the French tradition first hand. Some purchased bottles later and lunch, we headed to the larger, more famous Mercier champagne house in Epernay. Mercier is the most popular champagne brand in France so it only seemed fitting to visit and take the underground tour (15€). The underground cellars are never-ending, and with 10 miles of passages and 15 million bottles in storage, this places Mercier as the largest champagne house in the world. I recommend taking the descent down into the labyrinth with the mini train to witness the endless underground hallways and extensive history of Mercier.
With too little light and too much champagne, I’d say I’m happy with what photos I did manage to get from the two tours.
Notre-Dame de Reims (Our Lady of Reims)
P.M. ROGER & FILS: