Paris is always a good idea, and so, it would transpire, is Champagne. Ladies, gentlemen, non-binaries: let me take you on a fuzzy trip down memory lane; one hampered only by the fact that this trip was all the way back in April – mon Dieu! Where does the time go? – and certainly nothing to do with the constant imbibing of damn fine bubbles for three days straight. Nothing whatsoever.
A word to the wise: Always, always book yourself into a luxury hotel the first day it’s open after a winter of redecorating (shoo, visions of The Shining). The staff are not yet fatigued by demanding tourists and are understandably proud of their refurbishments to the point where they might just upgrade you to the honeymoon suite.
I’m starting to get suspicious of my own luck when it comes to upgrades. I was courteously asked to move to First Class on two flights in three months, and now this. Chateau de Fere’s standard rooms are ample for a luxurious stay; but their honeymoon suite was truly something else. Behold its cosy, welcoming glory. Mon dieu!
Our very own in-room Jacuzzi; in which we consumed endless champagne to the dulcet tones of Fat Joe and Ja Rule. BALLIN
Ok, that’s quite enough of that.
Let me start by reminding you that in France, it’s never too early to tuck into the Champagne but our relatively late arrival (well, 4pm) saved us from any raised eyebrows because honestly? We’d have corked at 10am.
Chateau de Fere sits elegantly betwixt a farmhouse, as above, and crumbling castle, as below. Could it get any more Francais? I think not. It’s just a stone’s throw from the pleasingly deserted down of Fere-en-Tardenois but the real pull factor would be a morning’s amble to the lake; or perhaps a lazy exploration of said crumbling castle before returning for madamoiselle’s 7th flute of the day.
On one of the days, we did actually venture outside of our own boozy enclave into those of other’s. We spent a sparkling morning in a nearby village that was positively coming down with petit champagne houses. The most memorable was also the one that came most highly recommended by the staff: Champagne Meteyer Pere et Fils. Did you know a Magnum of reputable bubbly – and the gauche, exhibitionist voice in my head insisted I buy one – will set you back just £25? It’d be rude not to (and if there’s one thing I have, it’s manners).
I thoroughly recommend bringing a strong friend with you so she can carry the inevitable Jeroboams.
A few houses in, a lady unexpectedly dropped us at the station (whoever said the French are rude were so very wrong) and we hopped on the train to Epernay, the self-proclaimed capitale du champagne with giant houses like Moet & Chandon. Our luck continued as the friendly train chap let us ride for free (which only made the 80 Euro taxi back home all the more surprising).
If I’m totally honest, I’d give Epernay a miss. The charm of local champagne houses is noticeably absent and there’s something of a ‘Disneyland’ vibe to the whole place. Prices hike up roughly threefold as you enter what felt a touch like ‘Essex territory’.
Shit, I hope my Essex-born boyfriend doesn’t read this.
I shan’t keep you – partially because indulging in the memories of my fleeting visit to champagne has whetted my appetite for a flute – but will leave you on this note.