With the August bank holiday behind us you may feel as though the summer has finally come to an end. But rest assured that there are still some fine reasons to visit the continent – not least the chance to enjoy a harvest tour of the Champagne region.
September marks the ingathering month. Swathes of land across Europe are currently filled with vast bunches of sweet ripe fruit waiting to be plucked from the vine and transformed into crisp whites and dark heady reds; sweet, spicy, dry and, in the best cases, filled with joyful effervescence and natural fizz.
Anyone who truly appreciates champagne cannot but be profoundly tempted at the thought of a long weekend in north-east France this September. It’s the time of year when organised harvest weekends allow the public to experience the great joy of taking part in a tradition that stretches back to the Middle Ages.
Indeed, the Champagne region of France happens to be home to more household names than Hollywood. Dom Perignon, Cristal, Piper Heidsieck, Veuve Clicqot, Bollinger, wherever you look you’ll see a name that’s provided the entertainment at some of your favourite parties over the years. It’s this chance to become part of such a great process and tradition that draws so many people here each September.
You can book a tour before you head off, or simply jump in the car and take your chances. There are a number of specialist tour operators to be found online, or alternatively just take the P&O Ferries crossing to Calais and drive the short distance to the Champagne region.
There are many fine hotels and B&BS in the region and all the Champagne houses do tours, from the small upstarts to the global superstars. You’ll find that in each one you’ll be able to increase your knowledge of champagne and wine, gain a greater understanding of the region and, perhaps most importantly, get suitably sozzled in the process.
P&O Ferries travels between Dover and Calais 25 times a day, with prices starting at just £30 each way for a car and up to nine people. From there it is just a short drive along the E15 and E17 to Champagne.
Image by: geishaboy500