A champagne bar in a treehouse. Paying attention now, aren’t you? I’m hoping I’m not the only person who didn’t know that tucked beside the vineyards of Champagne, just minutes off the motorway, is a champagne bar…in a treehouse. I’ll admit that I hesitated to publish this post, worried that I would be doing the travel equivalent of a dad dance by not knowing about this hidden treasure. To be fair, I don’t know everything I don’t always know everything, despite what my two year old thinks and despite what I tell my wife. But something as interesting as the existence of a treehouse champagne bar seems like a fact that would have come to my attention at some point in our travels.
The name of the bar is the Perching Bar and it is in the Forêt de Brise-Charrettes (just saying that makes me feel French…Forêt de Brise-Charrettes…go ahead…grab a baguette and say it again), which is part of the national park. La Montagne de Reims. Let me summarise…a champagne bar…in a treehouse…in a forest…in France. Things just keep getting better. The bar is located in the outskirts of the village of Verzy, lesser known than the major Champagne towns of Reims and Epernay, but one of only 17 grand cru villages in Champagne (the more you know…). Verzy is just south of Reims and right off the A4 motorway, which means we have passed within kilometres of this town on our numerous European roadtrips, making it even more egregious that I was unaware of its existence.
As it happened, Catherine and I were planning the return journey of our child-free, weekend roadtrip to Burgundy and I was scouting places in Champagne to stop for lunch on the way back to London (via Calais). A few clicks later and I was directed to this blog post (thanks guys!), at which point eating became a secondary priority. That said, I was not completely convinced that the Perching Bar was real or, if it was, that it would be open, however we thought we would try our luck. After driving through the center of Verzy, we took a sharp turn onto a rough dirt road that ran along the top edge of one of the vineyards. A few turns deeper into the forest later, and we had reached a dead-end, open space that suggested a parking area, but was ominously still. There was only one car, that looked like it hadn’t been driven in months, parked nearby and a hand-painted, red sign pointing us in the direction (I hoped) of the bar. If someone needed to bury a body, this location would have worked well. I checked the sign to the bar to confirm that it was paint (and not blood) and, like a gentleman, let Catherine go first up the forest path.
As we continued deeper into the forest, promising signs of infrastructure slowly emerged: a wooden bridge, some stairs built into a hill, a bright pink wine barrel with a champagne house logo and finally a small wooden hut manned by a French hobbit (just kidding, but that would have been AMAZING…and not at all out of place). For the fairly steep price of €16 each (glass of champagne included, though), we were admitted to a series of suspension bridges leading to our ultimate destination, the treehouse bar. Shortly after our arrival, we were given a 2 minute instructional talk by the resident champagne expert about the champagnes on offer that day, and settled on a Louis de Sacy champagne from Verzy. The champagne was great…I won’t to digress into some pretentious diatribe about the size of the champagne bubbles or how the finish had hints of freshly mowed grass and under-ripe gooseberries. And honestly, sitting outside on a stool overlooking the vineyards and surrounding forest, I could have been drinking warm mayonnaise and still felt completely content.
But hold on…it gets better. I know you are thinking, Driving Dad, how could this possibly get better? I am drinking champagne in a treehouse with incredible views. Well let me tell you. In addition to a treehouse champagne bar, located in the forest (or, as I say, the Forêt de Brise-Charrettes), there is an outdoor adventure park, with rope courses, zip lines and suspension bridges. So while you are happily sipping your champagne, you can watch your children soar above the forest canopy on a zip wire; the one thing protecting them from a fall and inevitable broken bones being a safety cord, the quality of which is subject only to dubious French health and safety regulations. But at that point you aren’t worried because you are on your third glass of champagne. Santé!
Champagne to Calais: 2.5 hours (1 stop for gas)
Eurotunnel Crossing: 6:06pm (35 minutes, no delays!)
Folkestone to London: 1 hour 50 minutes thanks to weekend traffic
Number of screaming children in the car: 0
Number of children in the car: 0