We, well I, packed up what felt like everything including the kitchen sink last Friday, chucked it all in the car, and drove three short hours via Luxembourg and Belgium to a tiny village called Le Thour, just outside of Reims in the Champagne wine region of France.
If you haven’t been, then you must go. Ideally without children. They kind of cramp the champagne swilling style.
The Champagne wine region, in the north east of France, is best known for the production of, wait for it, Champagne. EU law reserves the term Champagne exclusively for wines that come from this region and it’s located about 100 miles east of Paris.
The two major towns in the area are Reims and Épernay. Alike in their historical significance and modern fizz production, but vastly different in terms of the experience they offer and the kind of people we saw. Reims was a lot more French school trip-centric. Épernay was full of British Range Rovers and Crew sweatshirts. But don’t let that put you off (I have friends with Range Rovers and I possess a Crew top or two)! I preferred it and really enjoyed hearing a familiar accent as well as being able to eavesdrop to my heart’s content on the conversations at the next table.
Reims has more of a vibrant city thing going on. Tree lined pedestrianized avenues give it a wholly French feel and the shops aren’t half bad. Eight of the biggest champagne cellars are just outside of the centre and the Cathedral, or Church-Castle, as they’ve been renamed by Emmie, is quite spectacular.
Épernay, in comparison, is far smaller, full of luxurious French independent shops and the most exquisite Champagne Houses situated on, naturally, the Avenue de Champagne. Just as an fyi, there is a branch of Sephora in both! Oh the important things…
We spent the weekend eating pâtisseries and drinking champagne. The only thing that would have topped it, is if I’d have done both at the same time.
Our accommodation was an absolute gem of a place, just 30 minutes north of Reims and I highly recommend it. The host, Santina, was so kind, sweet and helpful. For the children there was a playground with a swing set and huge trampoline, a beautiful indoor pool just 10 steps from our front door. As well as a sauna, steam room, fitness room and a beautician ready to massage you away to heaven. Believe me; I escaped for an hour and tried her out.
It would have been a far superior stay if the weather had been on our side. On the deck there was the full complement of outdoor furniture but unfortunately we had rain and then some more rain. True Bank Holiday weather. There are two gîtes on site. We stayed in the way too small one with one bedroom. For a couple or family of one, it would be absolutely perfect. Four of us squashed in the one room was just too much. The two bedroom one sleeps six and would have been much more civilised!
James and I will most definitely be going back. Just on our own next time so that we can fully enjoy ourselves.
Are you tempted?