Europe's Classic Romantic Inns Champagne France
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CHATEAU DE FERE
The present chateau was once a wing of an original 13th century pleasure palace owned by the Governor-General of France. Manager Jo-Andrea Finck now hosts its modern equivalent, beautifully situated in its own 90-acre park, complete with ruins of the original main castle. The cuisine is a major attraction, as is the wine cellar with its impressive collection of 20,000 bottles of fine wines.
LE CHEVAL BLANC
Le Cheval Blanc, or White Horse, has been owned by the Robert family for five generations. It''s been a haven of hospitality and fine dining since Napoleon''s officers made it their unofficial headquarters. Bernard and Michele like taking visitor''s to explore the countryside, especially in Bernard''s antique car. Their son is a superb chef, and we watch him prepare a dish of crayfish boiled in- of course- champagne.
This 17th century moated castle was noted for the hospitality it offered French kings traveling east. Your gracious hostess, Anne Filliette-Neuville, extends this "noblesse oblige" tradition: all guests are treated like royalty. As Anne''s ancestral home, she enjoys taking visitors on tours through the magnificent rooms and gardens with their natural spring fountains.
This pinnacle of Gothic architecture dates from 1211 and is called the "Coronation Cathedral" because almost every French King since then was crowned here. It''s adorned with 2000 statues, including the “Smiling Angel,” whose enigmatic smile draws comparisons to the Mona Lisa.
Champagne, the Queen of Wine
Claude Taittinger, the head of one of the last remaining family owned champagne houses, introduces us to the romance and elegance of this sparkling wine. In the family caves that were once roman chalk mines, he shows us the traditional techniques still used to make the festive drink, and how to properly open a bottle.
A favorite way to tour the champagne region is by balloon, and we take you up to get a bird''s eye view. We see why it''s entirely fitting to open a bottle of the bubbly when we land- every flight is a real celebration.
Cruising the Marne River
We take a cruise down the peaceful Marne, enjoying the picturesque medieval villages and famous vineyards. Sip a glass of champagne and contemplate how life along the river flows as quietly as the sleepy stream itself.