Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A trip into the little known champagne country of Côte des Bars

This weekend my aunt and uncle visited.  They arrived Thursday and left today on a little stop over in Paris before heading to Israel.  While they were here we made a little day trip into a little known part of champagne country called the Côte des Bars near the city of Troyes (the historic seat of Champagne).

Since I had already been to Reims twice and visited some of the bigger champagne houses there, I wanted to take my aunt and uncle somewhere different and near a city that was a little prettier than Reims.  So Lionel suggested going to the adorable city of Troyes and going into a little champagne village or two to visit a smaller, less well known champagne house and to taste and buy some of their champagnes.  In the end we ended up going to Champagne Chassenay d'Arce in the small village of Ville-sur-Arce, near a slightly larger champagne town called Bar-sur-Seine which also had some champagne houses that we didn't make it to.

In the end I was very happy with the decision.  While the bigger houses in Reims and Epernay offer standard tours, they are not really personalized and they cost a lot of money with the opportunity to usually only taste one champagne, rather than getting to compare.  Instead, at Chassenay d'Arce we had a private tour (though a few more people showed up later, there definitely weren't a lot of tourists) and we were given the opportunity to try 4 different champagnes, all for free (though they certainly hope you will buy something afterwards, and buy we did...6 bottles!).  Plus, rather than being situated in the middle of a relatively ugly city, Chassenay d'Arce was located in the small champagne village of Ville-sur-Arce, surrounded by champagne vineyards cliimbing up rolling hills, and small stone houses.  Before the visit we had a little picnic in the middle of the vines, then we headed back down the hill to explore the champagne caves and to taste some delicious bubbly (including one that was made of 100% pinot noir and was very special!)  After our visit we hopped back into the car and drove back through the other adorable champagne town of Bar-sur-Seine before making our way over to Troyes.

champagne vines

champagne vines and countryside

Chassenay d'Arce caves

Champagne Chassenay d'Arce

Lionel and I at Champagne Chassenay d'Arce


Troyes is an adorable little city in the Champagne-Ardennes region.  Once the historic seat of Champagne, it is now a beautiful and charming little city full of 16th century half-timbered houses, beautiful churches, and best known for its outlet malls.  I immediately fell in love with this city and could definitely imagine living here.  The surrounding area is beautiful and the city is just enchanting with its adorable historic center.  Unfortunately, as we arrived later in the day, after the champagne tasting, we didn't have a lot of time there, only a couple of hours, and we were chased out even faster by incoming storms.  However I was very happy to get even a little taste of this amazing city, and I hope to go back some day to explore it further.  The old town center is full of small, winding streets lined with half-timbered buildings and around every corner you discover some other amazing church or building.  We spent a few hours wandering around the city, checking out the main square and surrounding streets, enjoying a coffee in a smaller square and visiting St. Urbain basilica, the cathedral, St. Nizier church and marvelling at all the amazingly well preserved old houses.

main square of Troyes

rue Champeaux

Lionel and I in front of St. Remy

back of St. Urbain

street corner in the old town

Unfortunately, we eventually had to head back to Paris, and with an impending storm, we reluctantly got back in the car for the 2 hour drive back to gray concrete misery.  But all in all, it was a great day and I think my aunt and uncle really enjoyed it and I was happy to be able to show them some of the other wonderful things France has to offer, while discovering some new places myself.

1 comment:

  1. This could also be the perfect wedding present. A bottle of champagne with their names and the date of the wedding on the label will be something they might want to keep on the mantel as a reminder of their special day. For an even more spectacular gift, give a personalised bottle of champagne with flute glasses or beautifully fancy cork screw.