It is an establishment with a soul. The soul of the family that has been caring for it for 30 years.
Our visit begins several yards underground, in one of the estate’s two cellars, home to more than 700 different wines. They have one cellar devoted entirely to wines, another to champagnes. In the latter, there are more than 150 labels in stock, with special attention given champagnes from small producers. Our taste buds fell in love with Roger Coulon’s Premier Cru L’Hommée, sampled in one of the château’s salons. The property’s chef and sommelier are collaborating to develop a food-champagne pairing, soon to be available at the restaurant. “My father is a great wine lover,” says Morgane Anthonioz, the woman at the helm of this family business, purchased by her father Bernard Anthonioz in the late 1980s. She has been running the estate for almost three years with the help of a 35-person staff. “After studying in Switzerland and gaining some experience in the hotel industry in England, the United States, and Spain, I thought I would just do a short stint at the château – but I came to love it!” she shares. And there’s so much to do here!
The Château de Courcelles is a 17th-century building set on a 57-acre estate in Courcelles-sur-Vesle in France’s Picardy département, just 45 minutes from the Paris Roissy-CDG airport and an hour and a quarter from Paris. Popular in the 18th century among writers and philosophers, from Jean-Jacques Rousseau to Alexandre Dumas, and by socialites in the 20th century - Christian Dior, Jean Cocteau, the castle has kept its beautiful furniture and old fabrics and preserved, through its various renovations, the elegance conferred by this emblematic place.
A passion for cooking
The restaurant deserves a chapter all its own, led by 30-year-old Chef Lucas Vannier, formerly of L’Auberge des Templiers and La Côte Saint-Jacques. “I love to introduce guests to game, even if people usually say it tastes too strong. But the flavor all depends on how you prepare it,” says this culinary master who has a predilection for seasonal ingredients and “our Axonais and Champenois terroirs.” The chef is especially fond of meat, it appears, “because he’s a hunter,” says Morgane. “In fall and winter, for instance, we serve a five-course hunting menu*, from the amuse-bouche to the meat main course!”
When Lucas Vannier works with vegetables, he is obsessed with finding and revealing their true taste and shares his discoveries in his culinary immersion sessions, Immersions en cuisine, an entire morning behind the scenes at the restaurant, alongside the kitchen staff.
2020-2021 : years of achievements
Major projects are underway at the Château de Courcelles, as the property is always renovating its facilities and improving its services. A bistro will be opening in the small village of Braine nearby, providing an alternative to the gourmet restaurant. Other changes for next years: The hotel will go from 18 to 20 rooms with the construction of two new suites, along with a “new, enormous, modern meeting room next to a tasting cellar,” she informs us. The Château de Courcelles, a member of the Relais & Châteaux Association for more than 25 years, can be reserved for exclusive use, as well, for events like weddings or conferences.
And before sitting down to dine, we suggest taking a refreshing bike ride through the grounds and forest. When you return, a glass of our favorite Roger Coulon might be waiting for you. Just like home? Not at all – much, much better!