Noyers to Vezerlay

Woke to the sound of birds and had breakfast in the downstairs salon of the castle. Our new friend Zeph joined us before he set off to look at the small castle he is thinking of buying.

We did a little tour exploring  the village of Noyers. It’s  beautiful but not quite Cotignac, where our friends the Brannocks have a house. Saying that,  it is very nice.  A number of businesses – pottery, bags, brocante, arts and paintings along with restaurants and cafes. All rather lovely.

At around 11.30 we set off for Vezerlay about 30 mins away. It reminded me of an italian hill town. We parked just outside the gates and wandered up through the Main Street. I found a lovely clothes shop and ended up buying 2 tops. Couldn’t decide which one so bought both. One is black with little dots and a patterned sleeve. The other a soft mushroom  linen top with gathers. They are a little different. Hope I get to wear them!

Also bought macaroons,  a bell and a bracelet. Steve liked the pottery and we got a few pressies for the kids and a vase for the guest room. 
We enjoyed a  galette ( large crepe) for lunch with smoked salmon dressed with a dill cream. Delicious. No wine! 
Feeling full we headed off for a 30 min drive to Montbard and the Abbey. It was so peaceful and beautiful though would be so cold in winter. It’s summer? here but still overcast with patches of rain. 
Got back to Noyers and bought a bottle of Chablis at the wine shop and went back to our lovely little castle and I’m sitting in the salon ( lounge ) with a glass whilst writing this! 
We are having dinner with Zeph again tonight and are  keen to hear of his adventures in buying a French property. Brannocks – I think he would like to talk to you! Dinner tonight at a different restaurant though I would have been happy with the same one blast night. 


In the sitting room at Pol Roger
Hubert showing Steve the production records

We spent our first night in the Champagne area in Epernay. It’s a small town with an Ave of famous Champagne Houses – Caves. Accommodation was hard to get and I had tried to get two nights at a charming B&B in nearby Hautvillers. But sadly they could only give us 1 night so we stayed at the the,  not so,  Best Western. Luckily we only arrived there at 8.30 off the flight from Sardinia. We went straight out for dinner to Le Banc. It was very good. Lovely old building , an old bank with wonderful wood work. 
After dinner we walked the Ave de Champagne and marveled at the size and grandeur of the Champagne Houses and thought how lucky we were to have access to Pol Roger. We decided not to go to other houses as we would have such a good private tour. We decided just to sample bubbles  in the restaurants at every opportunity. 
Fell into bed and slept badly in the dipping into the middle bed. I also had to remove the doona from its cover. The Europeans don’t use a top sheet and I find it SO hot under the doona. It’s supposed to be summer! It’s not though…….. with the weather a little overcast. 
We set off the next day on the flower route to see small villages of note. Went to Chalons-en-Chapagne,  a delightful small village. On from there we ended up at Verdan as Steve wanted to see the memorials and sites related to the war. We enjoyed lunch by the river- a rather nice baguette and for me the non driver a glass of rosé
We arrived in our village,  Hautvillers,  to stay in a lovely B&B hosted by Cecile. It was very welcoming with a lovely large room overlooking the vines towards Epernay. Sadly the very good restaurant in the village was not open Sunday for dinner so Cecile booked us a taxi to take us to bistrot  7 in Epernay, a bistrot  with a big reputation. It was really good and we shared a champagne and a lovely red with veal with capers, preserved tomatoes and lemons for Steve and Duck with cherries for me. Delicious. Steve followed with cheese and I had local strawberries. 
The next morning we had a light breakfast before heading into Epernay for our visit to the house of Pol Roger. Hubert de Billy a direct descendant of Pol Roger met us and took us in a very personalized way on a tour of the cave. He was so interesting and funny – not a stuffy rich French man! We finished with a bottle of 2004 Vintage. I learned a lot about the production of Champagne and a few little stories as well!  As the French say….. Magnifique. 

Epernay to Noyers

Following our visit to Pol we headed along the Champagne trail towards Chateau Thierry, enjoying a really lovely salad for lunch at a very small village along the way. It rained, on and off as we wound our way along country roads towards Noyers.

Noyers is a very old village with ramparts and arched gates opening into a really lovely small village. W found the office to book outer room and made our way through the rain to the old castle where we are staying.  Our room is big with windows looking out to the courtyard below and the bathroom has glorious views across the surrounding river and pastures. 
We rested up then made our way to the local bar for a drink before dinner. No champagne here. It’s Chablis territory as Chablis is about 20 km away. We booked at a lovely little restaurant run by a charming young couple who had their little baby in a high chair by the kitchen door, Laurent the host and his wife in the kitchen keeping an eye on her until it was bedtime. The food was delicious. They do 2 plates of the day both entree and main plate. I had smoked salmon and Steve had terrine then I had veal and he had beef. We met the man at the next table and he turned out to be from Bondi and was staying in the same little castle as us. In fact almost next door! A most interesting man. An ex lawyer,  who has written a book on wellness and started a business based on the idea. It must be lucrative as he is in Noyers looking at a property to buy. Very talkative nice guy. 
Walked aback to our  room by 10.30 and slept well in the bed with double sheets – no doona!    

Ciao and Bonjour

Well we finished the swim trek and had a wonderful time. Steve was amazing the way he swam 14 km so soon after his knee replacement. I did a few swims but not as much as last year,  as the big swim was the focus. Our group was great, headed up by Francesco the guide, Yves ( from Vanuatu) and Vittoria from Milan. The group was Chris Masek  from London, his brother Ben from LA with a friend Dan also from LA, another Chris from London ( the ” not so straight Chris” )  and Phoebe, who went to kindy with Pete and we have always kept in touch with. She was there for girl company for me , but ended up swimming with the boys! We had many laughs. 
Jill,  I’ll  look forward to swimming with you, as I was a little group all on my own! Phoebe our young friend  from London got straight back into her school days swimming and went with the big boys! She didn’t do all the crossing but did around 8 km in total getting out then back in the water. Amazing effort for her with not too much training.  
So I was lonely! Steve swam with me one day when we did an small channel crossing from one island to another! That day I did 3 km. but it will be so good to have company. 
Yves the guide was such a nice guy – he has swum the English Channel and works for Swim Trek. He said we’ll love Greece in Sept. 
Chris, the birthday boy who organized the whole trip was so generous to us all. He paid the total hotel bill! Then when he heard we were going off to the Champagne area immediately got on the phone and organized a private tour of Pol Roger, which is impossible to do unless you know someone! Turns out Chris grew up in the area and knows the owner very well. So 10am Monday the owner is taking us on a private tour and tasting! Lucky us! 
As I’m writing this we are driving from Orly airport having flown in from Sardinia this afternoon. As usual you can’t depend on the weather and though its fine, it’s quite cool. So I wish I had my jeans. We will arrive in Epernay around 8 pm in time to change and have a glass of champagne and dinner. 
We had a memorable last night in La Maddalena with Francesco and Yves – everyone else had left the afternoon before. Had drinks and watched the soccer , then had dinner and then back to watch soccer at the bar. Very italian crowd and atmosphere.