Looking for great places to stay while visiting the Champagne wine region? Here are my recommendations.
Last April I spent four days discovering Champagne’s majestic vineyards. Not only did I feast my eyes on some of the most beautiful landscapes, but I also learned so much about champagne and the all the work that goes into making the noble sparkling wine. We visited winemakers, toured through the Avenue de Champagne’s cellars, went on vineyard walks and tasted champagnes made with passion and flair.
Champagne’s vineyards are located 150 kilometers to the east of Paris and can easily be reached by car or train. Reims, the ‘Coronation City’, is only 45 minutes from Gare de l’Est, and Épernay, the capital of champagne can be reached in 1 hour and 15 minutes. The vineyards stretch out over approximately 34,000 hectares and are found in four main growing regions: Montagne de Reims, Vallée de la Marne, Côte des Blancs and Côte des Bar. There are 320 Champagne villages (‘crus’), of which 17 are classified as Grand Cru and 42 as Premier Cru.
If you’re planning a trip to this sparkling part of France, the following three posts will feature places that are guaranteed to make your trip even more enjoyable. Our first stop is Château de la Marjolaine.
Château de la Marjolaine
Conveniently situated on the Route Touristique du Champagne in Essômes-sur-Marne, Château de la Marjolaine dates to 1850 and offers two suites and three double rooms, each one with views of the peaceful gardens. Previously a private home, the sumptuous Napoleon III mansion was purchased by Jean-Pierre Coulon and Bruno Declercq in 2008 and transformed into a beautiful hotel/restaurant that breathes elegance with its period rooms and refined historic decor.
We stayed at the Champagne Suite, which wowed us from the moment Jean-Pierre opened the door to a space straight out of a fairytale. The spacious bedroom with attractive large windows, herringbone floors, regal colors and authentic furniture transported me to another era. The smaller room had a handsome desk, a shelf full of interesting books and attractive artwork decorating the walls. For a writer, the ultimate quiet space to create or be inspired.
A large bathroom, the most comfortable of beds and amenities such as a fluffy robe, slippers and organic toiletries, made the experience complete.
The restaurant is equally appealing with its exceptional array of tastefully prepared dishes and classic French cuisine. We enjoyed a memorable four-course dinner which included exquisite creations such as foie gras ice cream (blew me away!), tender lamb shanks and, a first for me, brie noir (a locally made, aged brie with intense earthy aromas and a crumbly, delicate texture). Each course was accompanied by carefully chosen champagnes and the service was perfection.
After a wonderful meal and a good night’s sleep in a room fit for kings, we woke up to an abundant breakfast with flaky viennoiserie, fruit, charcuterie, cheeses, cereal, eggs and more than enough to keep us going for a day of exploring the vineyards and tasting the terroir.
Château de la Marjolaine
Rooms from € 105
27 Hameau d’Aulnois, 02400 Essômes-sur-Marne
Tel: (Fr) 3 23 69 77 80