Driving Dad’s Guide to the Champagne Region

Champagne-hero

Have you ever enjoyed the taste of Champagne in a treehouse? Driving Dad tells us the best places for a tipple in this French region.

Matt Hyotte, otherwise known as Driving Dad, moved to the UK over a decade ago and has been enjoying European road trips since. Together with his wife and 3 boys, their on the road adventures have attracted over 11,000 followers on Instagram. Are you looking to conquer Europe by car? Here’s Driving Dad’s tips for enjoying one of the most popular areas in France; the Champagne region…

Less than a three hour drive from Calais lies the Champagne region of France, an area whose world-famous beverage of the same name is produced. But for many travellers driving further into the Continent, the most they will see of Champagne are the signs along the A26 motorway for the junctions to Reims and Epernay, cities synonymous with champagne production, and quick glimpses of Champagne’s sprawling vineyards.

Much has been written about champagne…and Champagne, and the region offers endless activities for champagne lovers and connoisseurs. If your interests lie in top end champagne then there are 17 villages with the “grand cru” designation (the highest designation in Champagne) and 43 “premier cru” villages (the second highest designation). This translates to hundreds of top tier champagne producers without even taking into account the thousands of smaller producers populating the region. In short, if you can’t make Champagne a destination, it is certainly worth a quick detour.

The Perching Bar

Champagne tastings have acquired the reputation of very formal events, and fairly so. Champagne producers and drinkers alike take their champagne seriously. But for those looking to combine a nice glass of bubbly with an element of adventure, there exists the perfect champagne bar.

A treehouse toast
A treehouse toast | Credit: Driving Dad

The Perching Bar is located in the Foret de Brise Charrettes, fittingly just outside the grand cru-designated town of Verzy and conveniently located only 15 minutes off the A26/A4 motorway. What makes this champagne bar particularly distinctive is not the type or quality of champagne it serves, but that it is in a tree house, 20 feet above the forest floor.

True, it is a treehouse fit for some of the region’s top (as well as most interesting) champagnes, but it is a treehouse nonetheless and one of the most engaging, if not most enjoyable, places to drink a glass of champagne (or two).

Getting to the Perching Bar is an adventure in itself. After exiting the motorway and driving through the winding streets of Verzy, you veer off onto a gravel road that runs along the top of a local vineyard. This gravel road soon turns into a one-lane dirt road that winds through the forest and dead ends in a clearing, where, if not for the wooden barrel with an arrow pointing up a pine needle covered hiking trail, you might think you were lost.

An inside view of the Perching Bar
An inside view of the Perching Bar | Credit: Driving Dad

A five minute hike later (while not strenuous, leave your high heels and loafers at home) and welcome signs of civilization, in the form of a small wooden ticket booth and the distance sound of clinking glasses, emerge.

Champagne Road Trip

Access to the Perching Bar costs €16 per person, which includes a glass of champagne and an introduction by one of the resident champagne experts to the champagne on offer that day. After purchasing tickets, a series of suspension bridges and wooden platforms built into the forest lead to the treehouse bar itself. It takes some navigating as only one person is allowed on the suspension bridges at a time, but upon arrival, you are immediately rewarded with sweeping views of the local vineyards and the village of Verzy.

In nice weather, the wrap-around deck provides an excellent vantage point to take in these views. Or opt for the indoor seating consisting of chairs swings complemented by a hanging ice bucket for quick access to your bottle of champagne. Either way, it is guaranteed to be one of the most unique champagne drinking experiences you’ve had, in Champagne or elsewhere.

Enjoy the vineyards from above
Enjoy the vineyards from above | Credit: Driving Dad

The Perching Bar is open from April to late November and select dates outside these months. Opening times vary depending on the season and reservations in the peak summer months are highly recommended. Group tastings and food can be pre-arranged. Children under 12 are not allowed in the bar. For designated drivers, remember France allows 0.5 milligrams of alcohol per millilitre of blood, instead of 0.8 as in the UK.

For the kids

An added benefit to the Perching Bar is that it is adjacent to the Parc Arboxygène, an outdoor adventure park also located in the Foret de Brise Charette, with ropes courses, zip lines and suspension bridges. Trained instructors will take your kids through the park while you happily sip your champagne at the Perching Bar. (Or reward yourself with a bottle of champagne after you complete one of the rope courses).

Are you ready to enjoy a glass of champagne in the trees? Start your next Driving Dad inspired road trip and book your tickets with us in advance to take advantage of the best prices.