Learned my 19th word of French last month: Merde.
We’ve recently returned from a two-week European Family Vacation to Germany and France. We completed (and mostly successfully, I might add) a rather ambitious itinerary that included Bavaria (to visit Opa), Metz, Verdun, Paris, Normandy, Metz again, and finally, back to Bavaria.
We spent a lot of time in the car (learning the ins and outs of the French highway system, aka, the French National Toll Road), and I spent a lot of time counting.
Mom, what are you doing?
Counting passports. As long as we have our passports, we’re good. Anything else, we can replace.
I must have counted our passports 432 times on this trip. My kids (and my husband) rolled their eyeballs and dismissed me as paranoid, but my trip motto was, “paranoid gets us home”.
This was a family and history vacation, not a wine vacation. And if you are at all familiar with the geography of France, you know our itinerary took us right through Champagne. I know what you’re thinking (because it was exactly what I was thinking). How could we drive through Champagne and not stop?!?
We couldn’t. Well, I couldn’t.
We stopped. In Epernay. For a nano-second (or four hours).
It was a spontaneous stop (mostly), so I hadn’t made arrangements with any of the Champagne houses for a tasting or a tour. We stopped in at Mercier, but good gawd, that place is a tourist trap. Pass. We asked the hostess at Mercier for a recommendation for a tasting bar (I was determined to have a glass of Champagne in Champagne), and she really came through for us.
She sent us over to C. Comme, where we had the most delightful Champagne tasting given by the most delightful hostess. I could have sat there all afternoon, but we were tired, the teenagers were out of patience (aka food), and we needed to press on to Metz.
C. Comme offers tastings divided by grape variety. So if you’re interested in tasting a Champagne that’s exclusively Pinot Meunier, you can do that. They also offer a lot of grower Champagnes, which, I can already tell, are going to be my new wine obsession.
We estimated we had the luggage space (and weight allowance) for two bottles of Champagne. So I asked the hostess for a recommendation. My only criteria was that I shouldn’t be able to buy them in the USA. She came back with two bottles of Champagne (I wasn’t even sure what they were) and we left.
We wedged the Champagne into our
clown rental car and headed down the road to Metz.
Our hotel in Metz was a 17th century building. 17th century buildings have tons of charm, but they do not have elevators. They have four flights of creaky, 17th century stairs. And naturally, our rooms were on the top floor. Call me lazy, but I don’t enjoy lugging 4 suitcases across the cobblestone streets of Metz (17th century hotels don’t have parking, either), and up 4 flights of 17th century stairs, just for one night.
Having stayed at this same hotel on our way to Paris, we knew the drill. Park in the garage down the street. Unload the suitcases and take out just what we need for over-night, and throw it into our backpacks. Reload the suitcases into the car. Ignore the side-eye from the Metz-ians. Head to the hotel like genius light-fighters.
Brilliant, right? Well, it was until exactly 5:07am, when I woke up in a panic. OMG. I took the Champagne bag out of the car when we repacked, but did I put it back in the car? I don’t remember putting it back in the car. Maybe my husband put it in the car. Maybe one of the kids put it in the car. Oh, no. No, no, no.
Houston, we have a crisis. A crisis in Metz.
As soon I didn’t think he’d kill me for waking him up and sending him outside to a parking garage looking for a bag of Champagne, I woke my husband up and sent him outside to a parking garage looking for a bag of Champagne. Was the Champagne still there?
Of course not.
Merde. Merde. Merde. Merde. Merde.
For the record, I was very grown-up (mostly) about the loss. I didn’t throw a tantrum or anything. There may or may not have been some sulking. Hey, I was bummed. And not because it was expensive Champagne (it really wasn’t), but because it was I-can-only-get-this-Champagne-in-Champagne Champagne. How could I be so scatter-brained?!? There was a time in my life when I would never have forgotten to put the Champagne bag back in the car. Sigh. Middle-age brain sucks.
And then this from my smart-assed peanut gallery . . .
Hey mom, you still have our passports, don’t you?
P.S. Rubbing salt into my slowly-healing wound, I found my receipt when we got home. I’m thinking about having it framed.