Un coupe de champagne et des glaces avec ma belle amie Karen! Pure magic!
Guest: Karen Grooby
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My belle amie Karen has travelled numerous times to France (quite a lot avec moi!) and has twice stayed in the Champagne region. I’m so jealous as unfortunately a trip planned for my old school friends and I was called off in 2020 in the week we were supposed to depart. We’re all getting used to that in the time of COVID but hopefully we’ll get there eventually!
Karen is the best researcher I know when it comes to travel! When I was planning the ill-fated 2020 shenanigans and was going to the Champagne Region, Karen was my first contact to find out all her brilliant tips for a stay in that spot.
I love the Madame Bollinger quote about champagne…
She was asked when do you drink champagne?
“I drink it when I am sad. Sometimes I drink it when I am alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it when I’m not hungry. I drink it when I am. Otherwise I never touch it, unless I am thirsty…”
I also love what Madame de Pompadour is supposed to have said that “Champagne is the only drink that leaves a woman still beautiful after drinking it”. Now that’s good enough for me!
The champagne region is the place that conjures images of the bubbles that accompany many of our celebrations. Karen and I had a gorgeous weekend “sweetie darling” in Paris a couple of years ago in 2018 where we worked through a wonderful list of all the places she had researched that we could drink champagne in Paris. So we went to traditional bars, amazing little holes in the walls, pop up restaurants, cafes by the river, and all the time we never more than a glow of wonderfulness, such is the amazing quality of champagne!
Recently I have re-watched the wonderful little doco with Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley from Ab Fab called Absolutely Champers. They start in London, in the champagne bar at the TGV station at St Pancras which has 120 Varieties of champagne and is the longest champagne bar in Europe. Karen and I have never started a trip there, we’ve always started in Paris together, so I think we will definitely start there some day in the future.
Once in Paris it’s only 40minutes on the TGV from Paris to Epernay which is in the heart of the champagne region! Epernay is close to everything to do with champagne and is the home of a number of famous champagne houses including Moet et Chandon, the biggest of them all.
On one of Karen’s visits she stayed in the divine hotel/chateau, Chateau d’Etoges. The Ab Fab girls stayed there too! It is a chateau build in the 17th century where the kings of France visited. Each room is so pretty and Karen recalls her room was particularly French, yellow and with a canopy bed. There is a wonderful restaurant there where Karen enjoyed a 6 or 7 course meal with a different champagne accompanying each course! Well worth treating yourself to stay here, an historic chateau surrounded by a moat!
The Night They Invented Champagne – Leslie Caron & Louis Jordan
(From the score of the musical “Gigi“)
Ab Fab – Absolutely Champers
Ruinart – the oldest champagne house, established in 1729. (The cellars are a World Heritage site).
Watch and escape links
Kanopy (app for documentaries)
The Great Tours: France Through the Ages (episode 5 is titled Northeast to Champagne)
I highly recommend this documentary. It is a beautifully shot piece. The views at the start are just beautiful. It starts with the Blue Danube Waltz and a hot air balloon ride over the Champagne Region. Watching it, I could so easily fantasize that I was right there myself! It looked magical and just whetted my appetite further to travel! The show than takes us through the seasons immersing us in the terroir. I recommend pouring a glass of bubbly as I did and settling in to watch, and travel virtually! Of course that’s only for FrancoFilers not actually travelling to the champagne region, if you’re fortunate to be headed there soon, book a tour at a champagne house in the region to find out more just as my dear friend Karen did!