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Reims vs Epernay

After the long days of tasting and driving, I went to Reims to find my hotel and see what the big city of Champagne had to offer.  Unfortunately it was Monday so all of the cool shops, restaurants, and everything  I wanted to see were closed leaving me in a bit of a lurch. I eventually found a place to eat that wasn't too touristy but still rather expensive. After dinner I walked around, saw the cathedral, which is quite impressive and then went to the hotel.  

A lot of people were surprised that I was staying Epernay for most of the trip rather than Reims. Reims is the bigger city and the capital of the region.  That being said, it wasn't big enough to really be cool, but it was big enough to be hectic and more expensive. Bad combination.  Epernay on the other hand  is closer to most of the vineyards , villages, and wineries, saving about 30-40 minutes of drive time to most areas.  Epernay is also was a lot cheaper, and I didn't get stuck with big parking costs, etc.  The restaurants in Epernay were  fine, if not very good in the case of Cook In a delight french/Thai joint. Epernay was also much easier to get around.  If you're heading to Champagne to visit small producers I recommend staying in Epernay over Reims.  That being said if you just want to visit the region, see a couple grande Marques and skip renting s car, Reims is probably the better choice.

General Observations

I've had a whirlwind couple days in champagne.  It feels like so much longer though.  The trip has been super intense in a very positive way, I'm improving my French, meeting and tasting with producers, and forming more educated opinions about champagne, and essentially really getting a feel for what it's all about here.  I'm also starting to see how I fit in to the dialogue, there's lots of space and not many people truly taking the reins.  I'm up at 3 in the morning typing because I can't seem to sleep so I'm hoping a brain dump will help.  

General thoughts - it's really interesting to be here where you see champagne written on everything, it desensitizes you to some of the magic, like insurance companies and funeral homes, not sexy. Moet really is important here, obviously the current big company, but I'm talking more historically.  It's clear how much the city of epernay has benefited from the Moet's patronage over the years, too many nice things for a city this small.  The cops really do random DUI checks here, I saw it happen, but it was at 10pm in epernay right by my hotel, makes me really glad I can walk at night. It's still surprising how small the distance is between everything.  I can literally walk to Dizy in 10 min from my hotel.  All the villages are clumped together. google street view has been a life saver, I know exactly what to look for with difficult to find wineries.   After 2 days here, I'm becoming more convinced that the French and tourists subsidize the "low prices" we get on champagne in America. With the exchange rate, I pay the same or only slightly less for the same wines back in the states! These wine travel all of 3km in some cases vs halfway around the world yet the cost the same amount.  A bit ridiculous, no? Even without the exchange rate many wines are the same price, and sometimes higher!