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Champagne Itinerary

Day 6

Thursday. Épernay to Reims.

Back into the Parc Naturel de Montagne de Reims today.
Leaving Épernay, we cross the River Marne and climb to one of the most important sites in Champagne, the Abbey of Hautvillers. In the 17th century, a Benedictine monk, Pierre Pérignon, joined the Abbey of Hautvillers to work in their wine cellars.
Dom Pierre Pérignon is credited with bringing great quality improvements to Champagne, particularly the practice of blending the wines from several vineyards. But he didn't invent the process of making Champagne sparkle. There is a lovely quote from Dom Périgon. Tasting a sparkling champagne, he is said to have shouted to colleagues 'Come quickly, I am tasting the stars'.
Nice idea, but it's at least a hundred years too early. The only sparkling wine Dom Pérignon would have made would have been by accident, and an unpleasant accident at that.
But he's revered in Champagne, and today he lends his name to the prestige cuvée of the largest producer of all, Moet & Chandon.
The Parc Naturel is quiet and scenic, and we'll make our way along tiny roads to Fleurey-la-Riviere. There's a fascinating display of quite spectacular sea shells in La Cave aux Coquillage, including long conical shells as long as your forearm. This village,  now 200 metres above sea level, was once under sea water.
After Fleurey we'll be on more quiet roads, a bit of up and down, and a fabulous secret little route into the back of Rilly la Montagne. Here we'll find Prise de Mousse, a lovely shop / winebar, like an Italian Enoteca, specialising in small, high quality Champagne producers. They sell lots of beautiful Champagnes by the glass, complete with food-matching.
From Rilly, it's mostly downhill all the way into Reims, along tiny roads and bike paths all the way to the Canal de l'Aisne a la Marne, and a bike path that takes us into the centre of Reims.
Tonight we have a chance to explore the lovely centre of Reims.  

Distance = 42 Km / 25 miles.


Click this link for Day 6 route map on mapometer.

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