June 22, 2019 Epernay FR

We picked Epernay as a destination as it was about 60% of the way to Sens, had a decent place to stay, and looked like an interesting place to spend the afternoon.  When we arrived we were worried about whether there would be room in the campground as there was a youth Rugby tournament taking place at the athletic fields surrounding the campground.  Actually we have begun to notice that things are getting more crowded as we go, the aires and campgrounds have been filling up nearly everyday by 5 pm.  We got lucky and did get a spot, but by 5 pm they were also full.

There were about 30 youth rugby teams in the tournament taking place at the campground.

We spent the afternoon relaxing and when we were bored venturing out to watch the youth Rugby.  Ton and I took a walk around 1pm, but in France even youth Rugby tournaments  take a two hour break for a proper lunch.  We enjoyed watching the families lay out a large lunch spread including wine for the adults.  The French surely have their priorities aligned when it comes to food.

Lunch being prepared at the Rugby Tournament.

Epernay is one of the largest producers of champagne, and Moet which is an upscale brand is based there.  Our original plan was to walk into town and poke around, but it was quite hot.  When we checked in they told us there was a wine tour at 5:15 pm for a reasonable price, so we signed up to avoid the walk.  On the tour we were joined by a German couple with a cute Labradoodle named Murphy, and a couple of Dutch guys who were on a weekend trip to stock up with champagne for the year.  The winery was kind of a bust as the owner did not speak much English, and none of us spoke French.  But we made the best of it and ended up enjoying the company of the other people on the tour.

A demonstration of the capping process at our champagne cellar tour.

When we returned Ton made a huge dinner as we are trying hard to eat all of the food in the refrigerator.  Feeling stuffed we decided to take an after dinner stroll when we ran into the Dutch guys again.  As we were exchanging stories Ton told them about the Dutch couple we were parked next to in Bruges, he had told us that he was one of the original surfers in the Netherlands.  When she was explaining the part about the surfer dude from Holland the two guys started speaking excitedly in Dutch, and asked her to describe him in more detail.  They had a little more  conversation in Dutch and then told us we had met Jan van de Berg who apparently is more than just a surfer dude in the Netherlands, but a big deal.   He was an Olympic hero in the 80’s for winning the Netherlands first medal in surfing, also he was apparently a hotty as all of the girls in the Netherlands had posters of him in their bedrooms.  Our street cred with the Dutch guys went up enormously.   Later Ton did some research and we think we met the parents of Jan, and not Jan himself.

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