Indochine in Epernay

We interrupt Tuesday’s normally scheduled programming (Paris TIPs) with a general tip: the best champagne can be found in Champagne.

Ok, not such a secret.

In classic (random) fashion, my first visit to the Champagne region this past weekend actually had nothing to do with champagne.

Instead we were stalking a French new wave/rock band from the ‘80s. (But of course!)

1985, baby:

If you don’t know Indochine, apparently you’ve missed something, because all concerts on their current Meteor Tour are sold out country-wide. (Don’t worry, I had never heard of them until I moved to France, either).

My husband is a big fan, so for his birthday (which is coming up quick), I was lucky enough to snag some tickets to the Indochine concert in Epernay. (Getting into the Paris show wasn’t even a possibility).

I know that giving gifts should be about the other person, but in this case I thought we’d both benefit: Jerome sees his childhood dream band, and I get a weekend visiting vineyards.

We compromised on a hurried day and a half.

Less than 2 hours from Paris by car if the traffic gods are with you, Epernay is the capital of the Champagne region. As is our luck recently, we rolled in Sunday afternoon to gray skies, a bit of drizzle, and freezing temperatures.

Thankfully I found the sweetest B&B on earth called Au Coeur des Vignes and would have been happy just curled up in its cuteness the entire time. In fact, I almost feel I should write a separate post just on the B&B – such lovely people should not be mixed up in my bumbling adventures.

We stayed in the Pinot Noir room, with a view over the vineyards. Unfortunately at this time of year there’s not much to look at. You’d think champagne derives from small, knobby bits of wood if this were the only time you saw a field.

No matter, the place was spotless, the bed large and comfy, and the bathroom equipped with a hydromassage shower (which sounded more exciting than it actually was, but still). Even more awesome was the proprietor(ess), Chantal.

The lovely Chantal

When she first met us, I thought she was a pixie with her pointed elf shoes and little flared dress. The next morning, she looked all classy, with a warp-around vest/dress/scarf article that I couldn’t quite understand but completely coveted. Chameleon as she was in style, she was consistently cheerful and helpful. If I’m ever back in the area, I’m definitely staying there again.

But the main event? After waiting in the longest line I’ve ever been part of, we entered the Millesium with a whole cross-generational subsection of France. (The band itself formed in 1981 so you can do the math). I had just as much fun looking at the crowd as I did listening to the music. Little kids to senior citizens and every one in between represented.

Next to me was a rather robust man in his late 40s/early 50s sporting a sweater tied around his shoulders, as only French men seem to do. He whistled, pumped his fist in the air, rocked the “rock on” hand gesture and generally did everything to make the preppy sweater around the shoulders seem incongruous.

On my other side was an even older man – balding, glasses – who stood motionless the entire time but mouthed all of the words to every song.

It made me think about how we never outgrow certain music no matter how much we’ve changed, or how much we’ve grown. The importance of music from a certain period of our lives is, simply, immeasurable.

Though I am not an emo goth girl, for example, I am forever wedded to The Cure. Though U2 have long since left the Joshua Tree, I stay in that desert. I am always open to discovering new music, but in some ways I stay stuck to the sounds from my childhood. (What does it mean that I remain an awkward teen in my musical tastes?)

Indochine was never a soundtrack to any part of my life so I was more spectator than active participant like the thousands of enthusiastic fans surrounding me.

But I recognized the feeling: You speak for me. (When I can’t always speak for myself).

Whenever I bemoan the difficulty of French or the difference in culture, I can think back on this as a good reminder: some things are universal.

I was able to join in the chorus of this song as the refrain is “woo-oo-oo-ooo”


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11 Responses to “Indochine in Epernay”


  1. 1 Alison March 16, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    Ok I’ve never heard of the band either (although I’m sure it’s a hit here in Brussels too) but I an sooo jealous of your trip to Champagne. It’s been on my must see list since we moved over here and I’ve still not yet been. I’ve bookmarked your B&B and will look at it as a sign to go now :)

  2. 3 PigletinFrance March 16, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    Glad you enjoyed the trip! I just love Indochine’s music, not really what I like normally but very great!

    Thank you for sharing the details of the B&B, I will certainly be adding it to my address book :)

    • 4 parisimperfect March 16, 2010 at 5:01 pm

      You are so in the know! I think it’s pretty incredible that the band has managed to keep fans of all ages interested for almost 30 years! :)

      Glad you’ll bookmark the B&B site. I loved it!

      • 5 PigletinFrance March 17, 2010 at 8:21 am

        Ah… French boyfriend (now husband) of over 10 years helps! So does attending the Balles Populaires in the Beaujolais with my husbands cousins. They are an education in French music from the 80′s – believe me!

  3. 6 Alexandra March 16, 2010 at 6:22 pm

    Have just recently come across you blog, love to read you! I am also a fan of Indochine having discovered them in my mid-teens… and my family is from Champagne. I quite enjoy your take on Paris and the way you write. Bonne continuation!

    • 7 parisimperfect March 16, 2010 at 6:35 pm

      Hi Alexandra. So glad you’ve stopped by! Yes, I really like Indochine, too – I didn’t grow up with them, but happy to have been introduced to them. And wow! Your family is from Champagne! You must have some fun family reunions there :) Thanks so much for your encouragement and thanks for reading! (P.S. I’ve seen on your blog that we’re the same age with birthdays close together – Scorpios rule! :) )

  4. 8 tanyaintransition March 16, 2010 at 11:10 pm

    Ah, champagne! One of my favourite things in life. I, too, will bookmark the B&B. Dominique spent some time in Reims during school and he took me to Reims and Epernay in 2008. How glorious to see where all that lovely champagne grapes were grown! A total experience. Similarly, I was introduced to Indochine by Dominique. So cool that you saw them live!

    • 9 parisimperfect March 16, 2010 at 11:45 pm

      Hi there! Yes, we went to Reims the next day, and had a fabulous time at Pommerey. Really, the best champagne I’ve ever had in my life! As for Indochine, count on the French boyfriend to introduce us! If you get a chance to see them live, do it! (Hope your move to France is going well) :)

  5. 10 lupinssupins March 16, 2010 at 11:47 pm

    Thanks for that B & B referral. Just had a look and c’est formidable! To quote Tina Fey’s Liz Lemon character (30 Rock, perhaps wrong pop reference for an expat in Paris), “I want to go there!” Don’t have any idea when or how I will be able to afford another trip to France, but as for their rates (unless your post gives them too big a boost), they seem excellent, at least compared to Paris! Merci encore; on peut toujours y rever!

    • 11 parisimperfect March 16, 2010 at 11:56 pm

      Well, everyone has their own personal taste for accommodation, but the B&B was just perfect for us. We felt completely at home and Chantal was the most gracious host. I found the place through TripAdvisor – everyone gave them an excellent review, too, so it’s not just me :) And you are right: We can always dream!


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paris (im)perfect?

Sion Dayson is paris (im)perfect. Writer, dreamer, I moved to France on – no exaggerating – a romantic whim. As you can imagine, a lot can go wrong (and very right!) with such a (non)plan. These are the (im)perfect stories that result.

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