Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Last Day in Champagne-Robots & Bars in the Trees

Our final day in the Champagne-Ardenne region was quite an unusual one, as we learned about and drank bubbly in the strangest places.

Our first stop was in Trėpail.  I always thought I was a multitasker, but here I met a woman who certainly outdid me.  Madam Maizieres owns a champagne house. That in itself is not unusual for a woman in 21st century France.  She decided, however, that she wanted everyone to learn about French in the most unusual way, so she created Pré en Bulles, an automated robotic show which takes you through 12 lessons (in your choice of four languages) in a fun and informative way.  At the end , there’s a puppet show with special effects George Lucas would appreciate, explaining champagne from the cultural aspect of how it relates to food and France.

After the show, Madam Maizieres took us through the beautiful apartments and bed and breakfast she rents with incredible views of the quaint town of Trėpail.  Then we tasted some of the champagnes she makes under Georges Maizières before taking off for lunch at Au Chant Des Galipes.  It was yet another leisurely champagne-filled French lunch, this one ending with the most delicious dessert of banana ice cream with pineapple and passion fruit.

As unusual as the experience in Trėpail at Pré en Bulles had been, nothing beat the uniqueness of Pershing Bar.  In the middle of Parc Arboxygene, an adventure park in the deep woods, where you can zip line and climb, its originator had decided to build something even more exciting.  Olivier Couteau worked for years to get permission from the town before meeting with an architect to design and then building Perching Bar up in the largest oak tree he could find in the forest!

Sarah from Champagne-Ardenne had told us all about this place, but it was hard to really imagine until you were there.   In order to get to Pershing Bar, you need to take three foot bridges until you have “climbed the tree.”  From there you enter this Champagne Bar, with its modern décor, that includes sitting swings.  You can sip your champagne (there’s currently a choice of four brands, all of which are partners in the bar) inside or out on the deck.  It’s a beautiful place and the only treehouse bar in the world at the moment.  Sometimes you even forget where you are – until you see the tree next to the bar (or have to go back through the bridges to go to the bathroom).

After the bar in the trees, we were off for our last night in Champagne, which meant it was our last night of endless champagne.  We enjoyed it at yet another place that was quite different from anything I had seen, Le Maison de Rhodes in Troyes.  This hotel actually belonged to the Knights Templar of the Malta in the 12th century.  It still has many Medieval touches and the rooms are each different.  We stayed the night after a wonderful dinner that included mouth-watering pumpkin soup and Beef Bourguignon.

 It was time to get some sleep before our trusted companion Anna from French Tourism would lead us into the Burgundy region.


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