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Thursday, June 9, 2016

Did someone say 'Champagne?'

It has been raining since we arrived in Paris. But, we didn't want it to rain today.

Why not?

We booked a bike tour of the Champagne Region and we did NOT want it to rain. We simply were unprepared for rain. True, we could have bought a poncho. But, have you ever worn one? Its basically  like wearing a plastic bag (because you ARE wearing a plastic bag). Add the fact that we would be cycling - it would be humid and cold at the same time. Even better - no rain would mean NO PROBLEM.

We caught an uber to our meeting point. We waited for about five minutes and it took us three minutes to get there. We could have walked there but it looked heaps further on the map. Our meeting point was Gare de L'est. Who would know that it is a train station! HAHAHAHA

A photo posted by ब्रूनो (@mynameisbrunob) on

Our meeting time was supposed to be 8:45am. But, the night before, we got an email advising us that due to strike action, the meeting time was 7:45am. It was still quite chilly and all I could think of was that I was going to be cold. So, I was looking for a mens clothing store that was opened that could have something that would be useful for me. Nothing was open at the time. Shops don't usually open till about 10am (except cafes which always seem to be open).

I don't know why, but all of a sudden, I felt like buying an Apple Watch
Im not sure if you have ever booked a tour and worried that the reservation would be lost or there would be some problem. Its always a relief when you arrive where you are supposed to be and your name is on the list.

The city we were visiting was Epernay (it immediately reminded me of Kim's daughter from Kath and Kim). It was about a 1.5 hour train ride. It was early, but that didn't stop the tour guide from talking for 1.5 hours when all we wanted to do was sleep.

Im sure I have seen contestants from the Amazing Race on this station platform

This is a pic of Epernay station when we arrived. The clouds look very ominous.

Our small group of 4 were meeting up with eight more in Epernay. Epernay is a beautiful small town with narrow roads and cool shops. I would like to come back here and stay (hint hint Kylie). The company has a storage garage filled with bikes behind this building;

Unfortunately, I wasnt listening when the guide told us what this building is. Its probably the local council building or some chateau or something like that. It looked really nice.

This is the bike that we were going to be using for the day. The seat was comfy, which is good. But, even better was the little motor (can you see it?) just behind the seat. It was a 'power assist' bike. In real terms, this means that you start pedalling and then the power kicks in. We rode it around the grounds on this building for about ten minutes just to get used to it and hilariously, one of the ladies turned the power assist on and started pedalling and went right into the hedge. I wish I had it on video!!!

So, the plan on this trip was to buy something from town to eat, store it in the small pack on the bike, ride to a few places for tasting, ride somewhere for a picnic lunch and then ride back. But first, lets take a selfie....

A photo posted by ब्रूनो (@mynameisbrunob) on

While we were in Epernay, we stopped at what we thought was a quaint little bakery.

I say 'thought' because as it turns out, it is a chain of bakeries. But, we aren't talking 'Bakers Delight' chain - we are talking real patisserie type bakeries. They were each amazing and each time we visited one, there was another delectable pastry we ordered.

The first hill arrived quickly. Hagged with anticipation, I was keen to see if the power-assist bikes worked on hills. And, amazingly, they did. Don't get me wrong - you still had to pedal hard. But, nowhere near as hard as without it. I want one of these bikes at home. I might even ride to work.

At the top of the first hill, we stopped for the first time. Can you see the dog looking out the window? He was very excited to see us.

A bit further up the road and we stopped again - this time we walked through the vineyard and actually looked at the vines. It was really cool.

A little further (actually, ALOT further) and we stopped at our first winery.

We did an extensive tour of all of their facilities. It was really cool. We even went in their underground store.

This was really interesting. I never really thought how bubbles get into champagne so the explanation of Méthode Champenoise (the traditional method by which Champagne is produced) was really interesting. Here is the wiki article about it.

No visit to a winery would be complete without a tasting;

These glasses are not made for noses like mine.

This was our group! True story - two others from this photo are also from Werribee. Shortly after this photo was taken, I was talking to them because Tracey was very familiar to me. This is how the conversation went (my comments in RED);

Where do you work?
Synnot Street.
No way! I work in Watton Street.
Watton Street? Which building?
You know where Bafetti's is?
In that building.
I know that. I have done some work with the accountants. In fact, Im working on an apartment project with them.
Apartments? Watergum Apartments?
I have been working on that for more than a year. Did you go to a meeting where there was about 20 people crammed into a meeting room?
Thats the office I work in.

It was hilarious!

Time for lunch, so back on the bike to the lunch spot.

The clouds are still looking VERY ominous. But, the clouds held out. This is the AMAZING place we stopped for lunch.

This photo was taken with NO FILTER! It really was as beautiful in real life. Sooooo amazing!

This was the view from our picnic table.

There is always one in the group (though, its usually me).

This was our whole group. Back on the bikes and off to the last winery. The previous one was in comparison quite small. This one was a much larger scale.

When we got out of this winery, it was raining. Most of the day without rain was good. So, all we had to do was ride down the road about 15 minutes in the rain and drop the bikes off. As we were riding, I started giggling to myself. Kylie said 'What are you laughing about?' I said 'I just thought that it was good that no-one had fallen off their bike.' And, about 10 seconds later, Kylie fell off her bike. It was really funny timing. And, she didn't hurt herself. Of course I was laughing (after checking if she was ok) - BUT SHE WAS LAUGHING too! You would have laughed if you were there.

It was a LONG and EXHAUSTING day. We started one hour earlier and due to the strikes, we missed the train we were supposed to catch so we had to catch the train one hour later. Then, the train was delayed by 45 minutes so we didn't get home until about 8:30. But, did we enjoy the day? Absolutely! If you are even in Paris - you MUST do the tour! We took pics. But, we were both consciously trying to enjoy it in real life not on a 7-inch screen. It was the most amazing feeling riding up and down those green hills.

Kylie and I are not bike riders. We have bikes and we know how to ride them. But we don't do it much (read - at all). We enjoyed this experience so much that we vowed we would get them out and use them. Were not talking wearing Lycra because nobody wants to see me in Lyrca (in fact nobody wants to see ANYONE in Lycra) but I've publicly vowed that its something we would like to do.

Thanks for reading!


  1. I read it to Dad it was well written and entertaining. It made me want to do a bike tour of the wineries in Victoria. See you soon, xx

  2. Thank you for sharing your "tour de champagne". We are very envious.

  3. I've been enjoying your holiday really really happy for you both.We have old wineries in Great Weatern that you can explor under ground. And I'm pretty sure Steve would love to join you on your rides. He goes on a hr walk alone😯it would be great for him to have company.😉

  4. Hehehe there's a little Paul cafe near the Tower of London, and I went in there to escape the rain one sodden down!

  5. Love the idea of those power assist bikes - I'd ride for those too!


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