Saturday, June 14, 2014

Day 7 - Rest day in Reims

Yesterday's struggle through the slower offroad tracks had us well and truly ready for our first planned rest day.

Stats for the first 6days are below

Distance covered 451.60k

Time Riding 27hrs:04mins

Total time on Bike 34hrs:43mins

Total climbing 4759vm

Average Speed 12kph

The first few days took us a while to get up to speed with the navigation, but now it's pretty seemless, knowing when to stop to check the directions more accurately saves a lot of time. A lot of time is stil lost trying to stick to the offroad paths as much as possible, but the reward more often than not makes it worthwhile, even when arriving to a paved road again, often you are on the only road in and out of a remote village meaning you have no traffic for 10s of kms, that's when you are in cycling bliss.

Staying at Hotel Campanile in Reims has been great, it's a business style hotel just on the edge of town, but it's well priced and very comfortable. We slept in until almost 8am and had a leisurely euro style buffet breakfast including crepes, cereal, croissants juice and of course coffee

Relaxing was the main aim for the day, but we had also planned to visit one of the champagne houses. Rishi had researched the best ones and had decided on Taittinger. Not one of the oldest, but their main cellars are built on the site of a 12th century Abbaye that was destroyed during the French Revolution, and include some original cellars carved by the Romans digging chalk to build the city.

The tour was great, informative and enough time to explore the cellars and try to take photos in the dark light. We literally viewed the areas containing the most expensive wines, which this old cellar houses. One small cave annexe held up to 100,000 bottles, which they cellar for 10 years each. Retailing at around 200euro a bottle that's a considerable value of wine we were looking at. There is 5kms of tunnels in that area alone, and around 250km under the city of Reims.

The caves are cut out of the natural chalk, up to 20m below ground
This area houses only the best champagne, as it's hand turned
That's what close to 100,000 bottles looks like. 1 in 10,000 will explode
5km of tunnels of 2 main levels

Finally to the tasting, they give you 3 options including just the house champagne, with the 3rd option including the house plus 1 special release of your choice plus the premium champagne the Comtes de Champagne, Blanc de Blancs 2005.

Our host
The good stuff
Good value for 6 bottles, we saw it for 200euro in Dubai duty free

Knowing that it was one of our only chances we would possibly drink that wine we went for the full option, at 41euros including the tour we were the only people out of our group of 30 that got to enjoy it, with most going for just the two tastings. The attendant was great as well, and told you some good information about the wines. Looking it up now, we would have to pay around 400$aud to buy a bottle at a bottle shop in Australia. All of them were expectional champagnes, but the Blanc de Blancs was a step above, with a really refined taste in comparison.

After the strenuous morning of drinking champagne, we strolled back to the hotel stopping for some gallettes, crepes and cider for lunch in a nice place on the way back.

It's been a great stop in Reims, I think it has been the perfect time to take a short rest with the riding only getting harder. We have about 560k next week and pass through the Jura mountains into Switzerland, and will be in Vevey, Switzerland next weekend.













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