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BUOYED BY GOLDEN BUBBLES
Its soil is not rich, but from it grows a precious treasure. A wine born of the alchemy of a temperate climate, chalkyfields warmed by the sun, and ancestral know-how. The techniques perpetuated here were invented in the latter years of the 17th century, when a Benedictine monk at the Abbey of Saint Pierre d’Hautvillers had the idea of blending grape musts from various vineyards and letting the wine ferment in corked bottles thick enough to resist the pressure created by the genesis of the delicate nectar. The result was champagne - more than just a wine, an effervescent elixir whose fame soon spread beyond its birthplace to grace the tables of the world’s elite. "If I were not King of France, I would want to be Lord of Ay,” said Henry IV, referring to one of the region’s winemaking towns.
Centuries have passed, but the legend lives on. Thanks to its eloquent liquid ambassador, the name of the Champagne region is known around the world. The visitor who roams the rocky slopes of the Côte des Blancs or the Montagne de Reims in the summer, when the sun infuses the grapes with sweetness on meticulously pruned vine stocks, enjoys the experience of contemplating a genuinely exceptional terroir. Alternating smoothly between flat plains and low rolling hills, the land was in fact well known even before the invention of its emblematic tipple. Starting in the 10th century, the Counts of Champagne made their domain the most important commercial hub in Europe. Traders came from all over the continent to the fairs in towns like Troyes to barter for treasures from the North, the Orient, Byzantium and Africa: fabrics, spices, silver and gold crafts, furs…
Modern-day visitors soon understand that Champagne’s soul is rooted in its past. Time takes on a different meaning here, an immutable quality that gives it depth and resonance, in the region milieu but also in the architecture. Reims Cathedral is proud to have hosted, for eight centuries, the coronations of France’s kings, and Clairvaux Abbey was famous in its day across Europe. A prestige now embodied in champagne, the wine that truly deserves Robert Louis Stevenson’s paean of "bottled poetry.”
Restaurant and hotel in the country. Back in 1954 the Dépée family turned this former post house into one of the first Relais & Châteaux properties. Charming and tranquil, this top culinary destination is surrounded by Loire châteaux and the vineyards of Sancerre and Pouilly. Experience the rare pleasure of sleeping under a thatched roof, and allow yourself to be seduced by the cuisine of Chef Yoshi Miura in the restaurant, looking out on century-old oak trees. On the menu is a magical ravioli of wild mushrooms and velouté with a truffle jus, and John Dory in a La Ratte potato crust and sweet red onion sauce. This delicious food is complemented by wine from the highly acclaimed cellar. ... Learn moreless
Hotel and restaurant in a park. The Auberge, nestled in the Domaine de Chantilly, between the château gardens and the Grandes Écuries, takes its name from what was the Jeu de Paume, which now displays the monumental paintings from the Condé Museum. Its sober lines and elegant appointments, designed by Le Nôtre and Mansart, echo a very particular French-style art de vivre. Its restaurant, La Table du Connétable, serves inventive traditional cuisine, and the libraries and the open fire in the Winter Garden Bar create a truly warm and welcoming atmosphere. The spa’s subtle lighting and coloured mosaics add the finishing touches to this perfect hideaway, just a few kilometres from Paris. ... Learn moreless
Hotel and restaurant in the woods. Cazaudehore, the name of a family and a place, has epitomised the art of living and hospitality in Saint-Germain-en-Laye for three generations. Twenty minutes from Paris, in the heart of a forest of hundred-year-old oak trees, the hotel offers a retreat which is close insofar as it is easy to reach but one which gives the feeling of escape to somewhere else. This feeling casts its magical spell in a stunning garden, with modern comfort and gourmet treats and the strains of jazz in the winter. Cazaudehore "La Forestière" is a family home, a place to enjoy a meal or sit by the fire and escape for a few days. A perfect getaway on the outskirts of the capital. ... Learn moreless
Hotel and restaurant in the country. Legend has it that Jean Cocteau designed the staircase of the Château de Courcelles... Regardless of whether it is true, this rumour speaks volumes about the attention to detail in this palace where Jean-Jacques Rousseau once liked to stroll in the French garden and French literary figures Racine, La Fontaine and Dumas stayed between Paris, the Aisne and the Champagne. Which now famous pages did they write here? This can be contemplated while strolling through the magnificent grounds, swimming in the pool, playing a round of golf, or a game of tennis, and dining like royalty, discovering the best local products and excellent wines. ... Learn moreless
Restaurant and hotel in a park. Les Crayères is a mythical property in the heart of Reims, nestled discreetly in a seven hectare park full of lush vegetation. This former home of the de Polignac family permanently recreates and modernises the “chateau style” in an atmosphere which is one of elegant sophistication. Perfectly appointed rooms and suites await with a love of detail which is characteristic for pure classical French style. The warm welcome, impeccable service and MOF (Best Craftsman of France) Chef Philippe Mille’s gourmet restaurant with its wine list featuring more than 600 champagne labels, make this the ideal place to start discovering all the treasures of this region. ... Learn moreless
Hotel and restaurant in a vineyard. In the Champagne region, on the slopes of the river Marne, the Hostellerie La Briqueterie is a paradise of well-being and good living. Épernay, the capital of Champagne wine, with its 110 km of cellars, including the most prestigious ones, to visit, is just a few minutes away. Here, every possible step has been taken to ensure complete relaxation between serene walks in the landscaped garden and its roses, tranquil baths, essential oil massages at the spa and gourmet meals that delight the palate whilst keeping the figure trim. Sample tartare of langoustines with citrus fruit aromas and don’t resist a glass of champagne. ... Learn moreless
Hotel and restaurant in town. Appearances are sometimes deceptive! The walls of this beautiful mansion hide a contemporary interior based on straight lines, trendy furnishings and design furniture. Founded nearly 40 years ago by their parents, the Assiette Champenoise is run today by Arnaud Lallement in the kitchen, his wife Magali in the dining room and his sister Mélanie, who are very keen to continue the family tradition of hospitality. Deeply rooted in the region, the property invites you to discover the best champagnes in the cosy bar or the highly acclaimed cuisine of the young Chef, who celebrates the quality of the products. Park, terrace and pool are a harmonious complement to this fine property. ... Learn moreless
Hotel and restaurant in a vineyard. Hotel closed for refurbishment until the end of 2017. Set amid lush vineyards that extend as far as the eye can see, Royal Champagne is a former coach house, which was used by the kings of France on their way to Reims for their coronation. Once one of favourite stopovers of Napoleon and his generals, it is now the ideal base from which to explore the glorious Champagne Maisons. But there is no need to travel, just visit the house’s wine cellar that boasts no fewer than 280 exceptional brut and rosé vintages and crus. Savour these outstanding wines while dining at the restaurant, soaking in the panoramic views of the vineyards of Épernay. Toast to a memorable stay! ... Learn moreless