Épernay re-visited


Arriving at Épernay we were greeted with a gush of words by the quirky harbourmaster from last year. Somehow he is still not catching on that our understanding of French is minimal. Moored in front of us was a hotel barge and an Aussie boat. To our surprise the Aussies were Peter and Pam we had met in St. Jean de Losne 4 years ago. 

After some more “Frenglish” talk we managed to get the name of a restaurant out of the harbour master and went for a nice alfresco lunch on the roofed terrace of the restaurant”Le Fleur de Sel”.

Like last year with our friend Eva, we followed on with a tour through the Mercier Champagne Cellar, a vast network of 30 m deep tunnels full of fermenting Champagne. A tasting at the end of the tour is obligatory. We took this occasion to toast to Austin’s youngest sister Penny’s birthday with a glass of “real” Champagne. Penny is currently touring China with her husband Paul, so all our kids are holding the fort in Australia.


From Mercier we strolled down the Rue de Champagne. We passed one Champagne House after the other, said hi to Dom Pérignon at the Moët Chandon House, and briefly considered a purchase of a $300 bottle of the monk’s favourite bubbly.

While Marcia and Peter took a taxi back to the boat, Austin and I were on a mission to buy a fishing rod, reel and lure to further Peter’s ambition to show the French pêcheurs how it is done. 


Coming back to the mooring we found ourselves caught up in the queue of cruise guests entering the hotel boat and were cordially greeted with handshake by the captain. He reacted with good humour after we pointed to our own boat at the rear of the pontoon. Rats! We could have had a welcome champagne at the hotel barge’s bar!

Well, Peter had a busy night of fishing. There were many big fish who got away, and a log which didn’t! But, luckily we didn’t have to starve as there was warm goats cheese wrapped in bacon, salad and baguette to sustain us.

© Austin Robinson 2019