Archive for March, 2015

“Bucket List” Lodging – Champagne Region

March 27, 2015 @ 11:38 am
posted by Sandra Sheridan
Les Crayeres

The stunning former Pommery mansion

Instead of “R&D”, I engage in considerable “Research & Planning“, when developing our travel plans – feeds my curiosity and whets my appetite for discovering the area under study.  Previously, I noted transportation options in mapping out a weekend getaway from Paris with our friends.  Destination:  Champagne country.  This magnificent land of gentle hills and soft Champagne bubbles delivers a delightful balance of history, stunning architecture, lively tasting rooms and sprawling landscapes.

Where to stay uncovers myriad choices accompanied by tough decisions.  I tend toward moderate pricing – neither too basic nor too grand – that allows for lots of pleasant dining and de rigeur shopping.  The lodging selections in the Champagne region range from lifetime-memory-bucket-list estates and Relais & Chateaux luxury properties to mid-range hotels and vacation rental or B&B options.  One of my mantras – you can’t , make good decisions without all the information needed, so let’s take a quick look at the high-end possibilities and follow in a later posting with the moderate selections.

Epernay champagne region

La Briqueterie’s tranquil setting outside Epernay

With several villages and cities from which to choose, I think the most appealing and appropriate accommodations may be the deciding factor in determining our ‘home base’ for the weekend.  Two stellar properties, naturally with Michelin-starred fine dining, lead the bucket-list options: Les Crayères,  the former Pommery family mansion turned boutique hotel in Reims, and La Briqueterie, also a 5-star luxury property in the countryside on the outskirts of Epernay.

Champagne Ardennes region of France

Fine dining at Les Crayeres

The former sits directly across the street from the Pommery champagne house and offers a stunning selection of 20 rooms in a tranquil garden setting.  One package for two people offered by Les Crayères includes accommodation for 1 night, continental breakfast and dinner for 2 in their gourmet Le Parc or Brasserie Le Jarden restaurants for 400 to 500 Euros.

La Briqueterie, located just outside the smaller Epernay town, presents 40, individually-decorated rooms ranging from 25 to 60 m², with rates from 210 to 480 Euros.  Both properties exude elegance and would live up to any discerning guest’s expectations.

If this is indeed your dream weekend, simply imagine strolling in the vast Pommery gardens or in the peaceful La Briqueterie setting in the heart of the Champagne vineyards.  Could life be better, one must wonder!

We’d love to hear from you!


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Versatile ANNE TOURAINE Paris™ Scarves

March 22, 2015 @ 8:58 am
posted by Sandra Sheridan

“Paris Je T’aime” by ANNE TOURAINE Paris™

Bon Dimanche!  Thinking this morning about my precious ANNE TOURAINE Paris™  scarf, because my special foulard accompanies me often and to a wide range of events.   In soft blue and purple hues,  my “Paris je T’aime” scarf has travelled, embellished, rested with quiet dignity and always has evoked compliments.

I would be the first to admit many style mavens far surpass my abilities to pull together the perfect outfit.  In fact, I likely would nominate my own daughter as Maven Extraordinaire, since she has the talent to turn a tangerine into an enormous pumpkin in the style department.  But…an elegant scarf transforms and completes, adding that certain something that spells satisfaction or perfection or whatever attribute you seek.

My “Paris je T’aime” has escorted me, quite elegantly I might add, to birthday luncheons and anniversary dinners.  She has casually rested along my neck with a knot at each end to take in the Arnold Palmer Invitational golf tournament – très chic!  Threaded through a sparkly, rhinestone pin, my beloved scarf has taken in the sermon at our Episcopal church; and entwined with pearls, “Paris je T’aime” has been the proud witness to our daughter’s wedding.

Anne Touraine Paris scarves

Paris Je T’aime entwined with pearls

And as I leave you to your “Bon Dimanche”, I invite you to visit the inviting ‘web salon’ of ANNE TOURAINE Paris™.  This delightful, creative, warm Parisian continues to delight all of her clients with fresh designs, superior quality and an unyielding devotion to exceptional style!  Kisses and accolades to this talented entrepreneur!

We’d love to hear from you!

Copyright © 2005-2015, LuxeEuro, LLC.   All rights reserved.


Planning Your Champagne Tour

March 19, 2015 @ 2:37 pm
posted by Sandra Sheridan
Champagne region of France

Verzenay mill in the Champagne vineyards – Atout France/CRT Champagne-Ardenne/Oxley

One side trip scheme for our next adventure in France involves a long weekend jaunt from Paris to Champagne country with our good friends.  Working on that one escapade entails a rather sizeable amount of research and, possibly, makes me realize why some still choose travel agents in planning their trips.  Certainly an experienced agent offers a real value for those who haven’t the time or inclination to dot every ‘i’ and cross every ‘t’.

I fall into a different category, though, because the anticipation, research and even some of the angst become part of my overall experience.   So many choices, so much delight!

Taking the train eastward is a given, and Rail Europe – the perfect partner.  Assuming the plan remains simple; I find the 1 hour-fifteen-minute trip runs $56 – $84 round trip.  For such a short journey, I would choose the less expensive economy rate.  I can live without first-class comfort for a little over an hour!

Right away this process leads me to think about other possible train trips during our 3-week stay.  A week in Provence, perhaps?  That could mean a TGV ticket to Avignon.  A day trip to Chartres?   A weekend in Bruges?  Oh the many choices one has, when planning a trip!  The real point here is comprehensive research and planning, because multi-day and even multi-country passes purchased in advance of your trip offer considerable savings.

Troyes, Epernay, Reims France

The St Jean district in Troyes – shaped like a champagne cork, when seen from the air – Atout France/CRT Champagne-Ardenne/Oxley

Back to our original plan, we might well want to rent a car to explore the Champagne region with our friends, taking in not only Epernay but Reims and Troyes, as well.  The area offers spectacular scenery, interesting Champagne tours and lots of riverside views for a picnic stop.  Euro Railways offers a combo program – France Rail’n Drive – but it really pays to compare.   For example, they offer a 2-day car rental and 2-day first class train tickets at $333 per person for a compact car.  Included are:   2 days of limitless train trips, unlimited mileage and basic liability, four categories of car and pick-up, drop-off in different cities inside the country where you rent the car.  You also have 30 days to complete your trip.

Let’s look at our original train ticket – $56 per person round trip between Paris and Epernay.  Add two days of car rental – a 4-door Peugeot, for example – would run $99 with liability coverage…  and that’s not per person.   Overall, then, the same 2-day rail and 2-day car trip would cost $56/person for rail and $25/person (sharing the cost) for the car rental.  No, please don’t hold me either to the rates nor the math (!), but clearly the trip for four to travel to Epernay, explore the region for two days via rental car and return by train to Paris would cost no more than $110/person for first class.

Two main points to take away from this mini-planning ‘epistle’:  look at your whole trip to see if multiple train treks might be part of your itinerary and research train and car options to get the best price with the greatest latitude.  While you’re at it, enjoy the whole trip preparation process!

We’d love to hear from you!

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Magnificent Château de Chenonceau

March 14, 2015 @ 11:23 am
posted by Sandra Sheridan

Chenonceau in the Loire Valley

So many images come to mind, when I recall our visits to the astonishingly beautiful Château de Chenonceau.  Sheep graze in a quiet field along the  lengthy approach to the castle, a lane under a canopy of ancient trees.  A tiny railroad depot delivers daily visitors, while nearby a crepe maker carefully spreads batter over his hot griddles.  Finally we step into the open with the castle glistening in the sun beside the Cher River.

Exploring the popular castle itself can be a bit busy in the summer, but don’t hesitate.  The treasures are many – the elegant private chapel, the ornate bedrooms of the royalty, the huge old copper collection in the vast kitchens, the impressive art and tapestry collections and then to spill out onto the broad black-and-white tiled gallery that spans the river.  The gallery served as a hospital during the first Great War; during the Second, it literally was an escape path between the Nazi- occupied and Free Vichy zones.

Loire Valley France

Chapel of Chenonceau

Wherever you choose to pause a moment, either in the castle or in one of the sprawling gardens; beauty surrounds you.  Even the kitchen absolutely glowed with the sheen of old copper.

We wandered through the pastoral gardens and along the river to the gazebo.   We lunched on the patio by the orangerie, while barely absorbing the unimaginable centuries of history this masterpiece represents.


We’d love to hear from you.
Copyright © 2005-2015, LuxeEuro, LLC.   All rights reserved.