Sunday, July 17, 2011

Thelma & Louise Take France

Margaret comes to Paris!! 

There is nothing better than a visitor in Paris.  I love an excuse for long lunches at Laduree and adventurous bike rides though the city.  In addition to our Paris excursions, Marge and I decided to spend a few days exploring the Champagne.  (Can you even imagine the two of us hitting the Paris freeway?)  Our first stop was Reims (pronounced Rahns, rhyming with Hahns) the capital of Champagne country.  What a pair we made cruising the French motorways.  With our trusty iphone map in hand, we made our way to Reims without a hitch (sans the close dog attack incident).

We were enthralled with the never ending collection of limestone houses laced with geraniums and blue shutters and the countless fields overflowing with sunflowers.  The French countryside never disappoints. 



After only a few minor wrong turns, we made it to Reims and checked into Hotel Les Templiers, a beautiful boutique hotel just on the edge of town.  (I've already given it rave reviews on Trip Advisor).

Thanks to Ina and Margaret's friend, Nancy, we found the fabulous Relais & Chateau hotel, Les Crayeres.  Definitely the gem of Reims.

Although we loved our spot, we had major hotel envy while enjoying a glass of rose on the veranda at Les Crayeres.

 How great are these lanterns?!

And this sunset.... 

The hotel has two restaurants, one "gastronomy" restaurant and a more casual brasserie in the jardin.  After Margo worked her charm on the hotel maitre d, we scored a reservation for dinner at the brasserie.

Off to the Champagne houses the next morning.

First stop, Pommery.  I love their new "Pop" champagne. They come in the cute little colorful bottles and are on display at all the department stores.  But, we did not love Pommery's champagne house.  The tour was nothing special and the tasting left much to be desired.  (I would recommend Mumm as the better Champagne house to tour in Reims). 

Nonetheless, great company over a glass of Champagne.  I can't complain.

Our next stop was Épernay.  It is a little city in Champagne similar to Reims but a little smaller.  The allure is their Avenue de Champagne.  Our drive to Épernay was one of the highlights of the trip.  Lots of rolling hills covered in grape vines.  Quite picturesque. 

We toured the Moët & Chandon cellars in Épernay (and learned that the "t" is in fact pronounced in the word Moet).

The last stop on our little adventure was by far the favorite.  We drove an half an hour South of  Épernay to the teeny tiny little village of Etoges for a night at the Chateau d'Etoges.  It was a beautiful chateau in the countryside, complete with moat and all. (I found it through the Chateaux et Hotels collection of hotels. It's similar Relais & Chateaux, which I've mentioned before, but these chateaux are generally three and four stars versus five and come with a much better price tag).


We loved these pendants. 

The grounds of this property were stunning.  We wondered around all day completely amazed. 

We were in love with all of the old stone and planters full of geraniums around the property. 

Needless to say, it didn't take long for Margaret to make a beeline for the paddle boat awaiting us in the moat...which of course made for some priceless photos.

To be fair....

How cute are the swans?!

After a long afternoon of exercise in the paddle boat, we had a spectacular dinner in the little l'Orangerie on the property.  We couldn't get over how beautiful and delicious the food was. (Not to mention, what a great deal we were getting). I would highly recommend this as a honeymoon spot.

We loved the scalloped planters and the grey striped umbrellas.  

Saying goodbye was a little easier since Bastille Day awaited us in Paris, but nonetheless we were sad to leave such a beautiful part of France.

I can't wait to share all of the fun Paris adventures Margaret and I had, but the Mr. and I are on the road in Spain without much internet activity.  So au revoir for now, but check in for more Thelma and Louise adventures soon!!

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