France is pretty much synonymous with Châteaux, to the point where it seems blasphemous to visit the lush green regions surrounding Paris without staying in some sort of old castle or villa. Although we had an embarrassment of riches in Paris thanks to our Avenue Story luxury apartments, E. and I decided to be greedy with our French experience, spending one night at Château les Crayères in Reims, France.
From the moment we arrived, I knew we were in for something special.
Château les Crayères is a 20-room Relais & Châteaux property located in a 17 acre park outside Reims, walking distance from Veuve Clicquot, Pommery and Taittinger. (Three of the world’s best champagne houses a stone’s throw away? Ow! Ow! Twist my arm!). Les Crayères was built in 1901 and includes Le Parc restaurant, which has two Michelin stars under Grand Chef Philippe Mille and is out-of-this-world superb.[Oh, by the by, Reims–which is in the Champagne region just northeast of Paris, an easy 45 minute direct train ride on the TGV from Gare de l’Est–is a city of tremendous historical importance. It’s where most of the Kings of France were crowned, and it’s also where the Germans signed the Instrument of Surrender, unconditionally surrendering to the Allies and ending World War II. I’m a history geek and have a soft spot for both royals (as you know) and WWII in France (as you might not; my senior thesis in college was on women in France during the Interwar period), however I somehow wasn’t aware of Reims’ significance. When I found out after we left that Reims was so much more than Champagne, I was SO annoyed at myself. Oh, well. I guess that’s what return trips are for. But I digress.]
E. and I ate at Le Parc for both lunch and dinner, and the meals are every bit as opulent as you’d expect, with champagne starters, mouthwatering amuse bouches, and multiple courses. Le Parc is the kind of restaurant where they bring you un-ordered miniature plates of this and that between courses (fois gras! caviar! gazpacho!), just because. Prices are NOT cheap: E. and I had an “this is our engagement trip, so let’s make it special!” attitude while there, and the food was absolutely worth it, but let’s just say that our wedding guest list will now have to be a few people smaller as a result.
Though barely over 100 years old, Les Crayères is dripping in opulence–it’s the sort of place where you can imagine Marie Antoinette sweeping through the gardens in her powdered wig, a bottle of local champagne in hand as she sneaks off for a liaison with Count Fersen. (Wrong century, wrong location, right mood.)
The rooms, featuring free wi-fi, blackout curtains, Hermès products, and both a modern rainshower and an old-fashioned bathtub, are beyond fantastic. I had one of the best nights of sleep in my life while at Chateau Les Crayères…although I’ll be the first to admit that the delicious meal at Le Parc and the prodigious amounts of champagne consumed earlier that day may have had something to do with it.
Rooms run about 600 Euros a night. Oof.
Let them eat cake, indeed!
Chateau Les Crayères, 64 Boulevard Henry Vasnier, Reims, France: 866-599-6674; lescrayeres.com.