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Champagne Itinerary

Day 4

Tuesday. Reims to Épernay.

We'll leave Reims alongside the canal, on a dedicated cycle path, but on our way we'll stop at the fabulous Villa Demoiselle, and visit the Champagne house of Vranken-Pommery to see how one of the big Champagne Houses do it.  The big Champagne houses have fantastic underground caves used for maturing, elevating, bottling and storing literally millions of bottles of Champagne. They organise these visits very well, and a highlight is to see the vast underground caves close-up.
After a coffee stop in Verzenay we'll climb to one of my favourite spots of our week - the Faux de Verzy. It's a forest that boasts peculiar dwarf varieties of beech, oak and sweet chestnut trees.  These extraordinary trees do exist elsewhere, but this is the largest concentration in the world, and the only place where the dwarf trees exist in sufficient numbers to be confident of their future.
Nobody is certain how the deformities arose. It's not the poor soil, because the dwarf trees are heavily outnumbered by ordinary-sized trees of the same species. Most likely, it's a genetic mutation, which is only passed on to 40% of seeds germinated from these trees.
Some of the trees develop branches that don't have the mutation, so you have a full-sized beech branch on a dwarf beech only 5 metres high.  Enough explanation, they're beautiful. And we'll explore them, and if weather permits we'll enjoy a picnic.
After lunch, a spectacular descent through miles of vineyards into Épernay.
We'll stay at the Clos Raymi hotel in Épernay, less than 10 minutes walking from the world's most famous wine street, the Avenue de Champagne. My favourite hotel of this week.

Distance = 45 Km / 28 miles.


Click this link for Day 4 route map on mapometer.

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