Thursday, September 20, 2007

La Campagne de Champagne & Parc de Princes

"Merde! Merde merde merde merde MERDE!" (As you can see, I am now thinking - and swearing - in French!) I slept through my alarm. Despite a voicemail and text messages coming in early in the morning, I was an immovable object. We missed our morning train to Epernay - in the heart of the Champagne region - throwing off my one day with a planned timetable horribly.

No matter. It meant getting to the Gare de l'Est train station a couple of hours before the next train, and killing time eating pastries while overlooking the Canal St. Martin.


If that looks familiar, it's because you probably watched Amelie Poulain skipping rocks there in the eponymous movie. Sweet.

When we finally did get to Epernay, it took us a while to find the bike rental center, and we wound up getting the last two bikes they had. What luck.



It was an arduous, hilly ride along a small highway - nearly getting sideswiped by trucks and miniature eurocars - as we made our way to the village of Chouilly. And it was so worth it.

I mean, how often do you get to ride a bicycle through the actual vineyards where the grapes for the world's finest sparkling wines are grown?


Of course, a long, sweaty bike ride through Champagne region should be awarded with a refreshing beverage. What better than to have it than in the caves of Moët and Chandon?


Despite the highly un-classy pose in one of the classiest cellars in the world, we did go whole hog and do the über-classy Imperial tasting. Worth every penny to have the finest vintage Champagnes ever to grace this earth.

We rushed back to Paris to get to our hotel, have a quick change, and take in another facet of European culture: A rugby match at Parc de Princes. Not just any rugby match, but one in the Rugby World Cup.

I can't describe how awesome it was to be at such an international sporting event. The pageantry. The craziness. The sheer enormity of it all. The NFL has nothing on this. People wave flags. People wear crazy outfits. People bring their own band and play national songs. People smoke. Everyone's having a grand time.


And there's nothing better than watching nearly 40,000 people boo Italy.

While we were attending a relatively meaningless match between Italy and Portugal, the largely French crowd of onlookers was there to cheer against the dirty bastards who robbed them of the FIFA world cup last year. And while the Ities wound up pounding the hell out of Portugal, it was a spectacle nonetheless. And Portugal's one and only try of the game happened directly in front of us.

3 comments:

  1. I can't describe how awesome it was to be at such an international sporting event. The pageantry. The craziness. The sheer enormity of it all. The NFL has nothing on this. People wave flags. People wear crazy outfits.

    How about a good college football rivalry?

    I love the bourgeoisie pose in the wine celler.

    --Joey

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  2. After seeing you at the world cup in an All Blacks jersey I think I must now disown you as a mate :P

    Bonza.

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