Saturday, April 5, 2014

Champagne Region and Paris

We visited the Champagne region and Paris in June 2013. Here are some impressions from that trip.

La Boule d'Or Hotel Restaurant. 11 rue Hildevert Lefevre | Fismes, Reims, France. This is a small family restaurant, secluded in the small town of Fismes in the Champagne region. We tried it "out of the blue" because everything else was closed, and were amazed by the purity of the local french cuisine, prepared and served with care. The wine list is small but extraordinary, and the menus (both fixed and a la carte) reflected well the local delicacies. One of the best Andouillette ever! Very highly recommended for an inexpensive (and certainly unpretentious) restaurant.

Restaurant Maxime. 98 rue Emile Zola, 10000 Troyes, France. This is a nice option especially if the weather is good, where you can eat outside in the beautiful city of Troyes. The food is basic but adequate. Service is good. Recommended for a quick bite.

Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin. 1 Place des Droits-de-l'Homme, Reims, France. It is unfortunate that the visit to this flagship Champagne house has been turned into a tourist trap. The ticket to visit is expensive, and the massive groups are moved through very quickly, to end with the tasting of a single glass of their Grand Dame (not as spectacular as advertised). It is unfortunate, we have visited many wineries elsewhere in France and the experience is quite different.

Brasserie FLO. 6 Place Drouet d'Erlon, Reims, France (Centre Erlon-Est). This is a nice Brasserie, serving excellent meat and fish, nicely decorated in a late 19th Century mansion. The service is attentive and professional. Not expensive for what you get. Highly recommended.

La Ferrandaise. 8 rue de Vaugirard, 75006 Paris, France. We followed the Michelin "Gourmand" and were happily surprised. This is a wonderful small restaurant in the Luxembourg area, nicely decorated with regional themes from Auvergne and specializing in the "Farrandaise" cow. Service, wine list, and food all excellent. Highly recommended for a memorable dinner in a small, unique bistro atmosphere.

Hotel Costes. 239 Rue Saint Honore, 75001 Paris, France (Louvre / Place Vendôme). This is of course a unique place if you want to show off your latest italian shoes and suits. The decoration is a wonderful combination of antiques and modern details; the service is adequate, and the food is excellent (high-level bistro fare). If you have never been there, you must go at least once. Dress chic.

Chateau De Fere. Route de Fismes, Fere-en-Tardenois, France. We stayed at the Chateau, a great place. This is a nice restaurant to go to once, but if you stay at the Chateau, it is your only option each day! Food is sophisticated, the wine list is good but expensive, and the service is attentive but the waiters should work on their personal hygiene. This is a beautiful Chateau, nicely settled in the Champagne region, with wonderful ground and well-appointed rooms. And yet a bit less of what we expected. First the good: beautiful setting and location, surrounded by the ruins of the earlier Castle, with excellent service, a nice spa, and a formal Restaurant that serves excellent food. We reserved after seeing that it was a part of the SLH seal; but in our view, it is one of the lesser experiences with a SLH that we have had. What is lacking is the attention to detail: the shower did not work properly; new shampoo or soap was not provided each day; the waiters are nice but can really work on their personal hygiene (dirty uniforms that don't fit properly, long fingernails which are unfortunately obvious when serving the dishes, bad breath.....). It is still recommended, and hopefully the management can focus on these small details that will turn into a top destination.

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