And we’re off.
So this is when the real journey starts.
Luckily we are going across the channel from Dover to Dunkirk as the Calais lorry drivers at the port are doing a blockade, (Again!) Luckily our ferry was still on time, which was a bonus as the bed and breakfast in Champagne was already paid for in advance to get the best price and had a no refund cancellation policy.
The journey is so easy as it’s just a series of toll roads. Worth a check though to see if you lose much time by not using them as the cost to get to the South of France is currently about €88.00. Some sections mean it only adds about an extra 10mins to your journey, whilst others are 2.5 hour detours!
We arrive in Epernay just after 16:00 and drive around and around the one way system with our Nissan satellite navigation. So pleased we had a friend who told us about downloading Google maps offline for the area you will be travelling in, which proved so much more accurate as it’s always updated and will talk you through the journey. Why didn’t Deb know about this already? 🤔
Here’s how to do it. 🌏
- Load Google Maps App on your phone, if you don’t already have it.
- Click the Google Maps App
- Click on the Menu on the top, left hand side
- Click on the Offline areas
- Click Custom Area
- This takes you to a screen that will let you choose an area of the map to download. It will need to take some of your phone memory but your map will expire in a month unless you choose to extend it. The screen will tell you if you have enough memory and how much memory you will use.
- Click Download
We are staying at Domaine Sacret in Ay which is a lovely champagne house with a courtyard to park the car.
We have a great room and a lovely bathroom, what you imagine French style to be and our travel treat, complete with complimentary Clarins toiletries. (Mini Spa evening for Debs)
- Travel Treat – When you know you are on a budget but sometimes you need to treat yourselves for a day
So in the evening we head to our 1st tasting of the week, set in a lovely bar area. It was a VERY generous tasting and we met a group of lovely people, including a Belgium couple on their honeymoon, Lynne & Rob and Catherine & Neil who had just come back from watching their daughter Maddie Hinch win a gold medal at the Olympics in Rio. We all got on so well that we were invited to join for dinner at this lovely traditional restaurant in town called Rôtisserie Henri IV and had some great food, wine and company.
Next morning after a lovely breakfast we were off to our next stop over, this time in Chablis.
We were not going to do a crazy long drive down to work on the vineyard, instead we thought we would take it easy and enjoy the journey whilst learning a bit about wine on route. The harvest had been delayed at our final destination so our kind hosts gave us a few extra days to go and explore a bit more of France than we had planned.
We are in Chablis early and have a wander around the town. This town is lovely and has a few restaurants and bars plus loads of wine shops and Domaines. We felt one evening was not going to be enough here and we were right!
We stayed on a vineyard, Domaine Gueguen, in a beautiful room, much better than we expected and our hosts Celine and Frederic greeted us in what they say was poor English? If it was poor then Steve and Debs English is pretty poor too! Must learn more French whilst away, we need to be able to say more than “Je voudrais un verre de vin” and “Je voudrais un jambon et fromage baguette” Chablis has had a pretty tough year, 80% of vines have no grapes due to a huge storm that destroyed the flowers on the vines.
So if you’re a Chablis fan you need to stock up now as next year supplies are going to be limited and very pricey. So off we go again, driving down to Beaujolais and staying in another vineyard with a museum attached.
Steve and Debs