Sunday, 3 June 2007

Mumm's the Word

JK: With Mélanie's departure date for Eqatorial Guinea (EG) finally set (it had been postponed for an extra week due to visa delays), we decided to take one last adventure. By Canadian standards, the distances in Europe are so short and offer hugely rewarding end-points. Wanting to do something new and interesting, we decided to take a less than three hour drive over to the Champagne region of France. How we never thought of doing this before, I do not know.

Once in the regional capital of Reims, we checked into our discount hotel beside the train station (OK, we travel, but we economise too!) and quickly made a beeline for the Mumm champagne house. Touring the absolutely vast underground cellars containing somewhere around 20 million bottles was a revelation (see pic below). Of course by the end our throats were parched, craving a sampling of the bubbly elixir. Thankfully we were rewarded by very generous tastings. From there we went straight to Pommery. Its cellars were even wackier and deeper, chalk full (pun intended -- the soil is extremely chalky) of modern art installations (see pics) along with another 25 million bottles. The sampling at the end was just as tasty and generous.

After a nice meal and a laser light show (look above) to celebrate the opening of the TGV speed-rail line to Reims, we inspected the glorious cathedral lit up in the night (look left). The cathedral was the site of many, many royal coronations and retains all of its grandeur to this day. The next day we contuined our elixir pursuit by driving through the "route de champagne", admiring the countryside and eventually stopping in to Moet & Chandon, home of none other than Dom Perignon (in the town of Epernay).

Shortly after that our one night and one and a half day adventure was over. We would certainly go back in a second -- at the very least to find the winery that makes "Cristal", every gangsta's favourite bubbly! ;) Booya!

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