09 October 2011

Living the Bouzy life

We drove from Saint-Aignan to Champagne last Monday, getting on the autoroute at Blois and driving past Orléans, Pithiviers, Montargis, Sens, Troyes, and Châlons-en-Champagne as we made our way east and north, avoiding the Paris area. The trip took about five hours, including a stop to get some lunch along the way in one of those autoroute service areas. Champagne is about 90 miles east of Paris, and Saint-Aignan is 140 miles (basically) south.

Bouzy seen from up in the vineyards above the village

Our destination was the village called Bouzy, which is approximately 10 miles from Epernay (a small city) and 15 miles from Reims (much larger). Bouzy in on the south flank of what is called the Montagne de Reims, where the prime champagne-grape growing areas are located. The "mountain" is not very high — it tops out at 200 meters (650 feet), rising above but not towering over the surrounding plains.

A slightly closer view of the village of Bouzy in Champagne

The top of the Montagne de Reims is covered by forest, and the flanks of the mountain are covered by extensive vineyards. The main grapes grown there are Pinot Noir (the same grape grown in Burgundy) and Pinot Meunier (a grape used only in champagne production, as far as I know). Both grapes are called « raisins noirs à jus blanc » — red grapes that produce white juice.

And even closer — the house we rented was very close to the church.

The soil in Champagne (the region gave its name to the wine) is chalky. That's what gives the grapes, their juice, and the wine its distinctive flavor, apparently. Most champagnes are made from a blend of grape juices — Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay — from different years. The main Chardonnay vineyards are located south of the Montagne de Reims, east of Epernay, in an area called La Côte des Blancs.

Monsieur and Madame Guillemette own and operate a couple of
gîtes ruraux as well as their own champagne business.

Around Bouzy, the predominant grape is Pinot Noir. The champagnes made there are called Blancs de Noirs and contain mostly, though not exclusively, Pinot Noir juice. They are fruitier than the champagnes made from other blends or from Chardonnay juice exclusively, to my taste buds. The village also makes a red wine called Bouzy Rouge, which seems to served chilled. It's a very light red from Pinot Noir — almost a rosé, really.

Just across the street from our gîte was this champagne house
run by a man named Georges Vesselle.

The reason we went to Bouzy, pop. 900, specifically, was because I found an attractive-looking gîte rural there. It was a big old house with three bedrooms, a bath-and-a half, and an enclosed courtyard where the dog would be safe. And the owner accepted renters with pets — many gîte owners don't allow animals. According to the Gîtes de France web site, the house was equipped with wifi for Internet access, but when we got there the owner told us it didn't work. So we were cut off for the duration of our five-day stay.

The local potion

The house was plenty big for the three of us (humans) and Callie. It was decorated in an old-fashioned style that might best be described as shabby-tacky, but what the heck. The kitchen was equipped well enough, there was TV and radio, and there were two or three champagne producers within a hundred meters or so. Also, there was a boulangerie within easy walking distance.


  1. Well do I remember a longish stay in Epernay many years ago. And extended picnics further downstream on the river bank. With a wine purchased from the maker, that did not last more than another hour or two in the bottle.

  2. Loving "Bouzy" so far! Sounds like heaven except we know that heaven will most certainly have wifi;)

  3. Lol, Evelyn ! I love that one ;-) ! Bises

  4. Too bad about the wi-fi!

    Red grapes that give white juice. Interesting. Makes me wonder why pinot noir wine (not champagne) is red. I certainly have a lot to learn about wine production.

    Thanks for the great post and pics. Hope you're all having a nice time.

  5. I love the idea of gites, or self-catering as we call it in England, but the reality is so often disappointing - the 'shabby-tacky' description that you use Ken, hits the mark with so many of these places! Likewise chambres d'hotes/b&b. And this isn't a particular criticism of France, it is an international failing.

  6. I guess that having a well-equipped kitchen was a good positive, eh? And near a boulangerie and two or three champagne producers was good... well, it all sounds very good, except for the disappointing furnishings. I would have been deçue about that :) You've had good luck in the past, though, haven't you?


  7. Anonymous and everybody, I guess you get what you pay for. And being a skinflint at heart, I shouldn't complain. But I don't like false advertising. I do appreciate a bargain, however.

    Evelyn, thanks for the chuckle of the day!


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