Stage Six – Champagne Anyone?
Today: 199km/123 mi; Flat to rolling
And on we roll into the Champage-Ardeen region, where the flat fields will begin to give way to rolling hills, the riders are looking to keep pace and watch for breakaways.
Sandwiched between Burgundy and Alsace-Lorraine this region is focused on the production of bubbles. Local food specialties include pease pudding, pink Reims biscuits, dandelion and bacon salad, pike, vine snails. Troyes, the starting point today, the andouillette de Troyes, a savory tripe sausage made from pork chitterlings and tripe, seasoned with fresh onion, salt, pepper and stuffed by hand into natural casings is highly sought out. Another regional speciality is potee champenoise–a pot-au-feu consisting of jambon des Ardennes (smoked ham), cabbage and sausage. Troyes, the historical capital is also the departmental capital of the Aube, which produces a quarter of all Champagne’s grapes, although it sends more than half its grapes, grape juice and unfinished wines to be transformed into champagne by the big champagne houses in and around Reims.
Champage, the region is centered around Champagne the drink. Champagne has been a popular wine region since 816 A.D. It wasn’t until the late 1600’s that Champagne winemakers discovered how to capture the naturally occurring bubbles in their wine during the second fermentation. Most well-known brands are produced in the Marne area, around the Massif de Saint Thierry, the Valley of the Ardre, the Mountain of Rheims, the Valley of the Marne, the Côte des Blancs and the Sézanne Hills.
It’s here that you’ll find locals dipping pink champagne biscuits called Biscuit Rose de Reims into glasses of the sparkler. Its unique texture, soft rose color and delicate icing powder have enchanted for over 300 years.