I had the good fortune of spending last week in Paris, Reims and Angers, France, with a group of Canadian travel, cocktail and fashion journalists, courtesy of Cointreau liqueur, Piper-Heidseick champagne and their Canadian distributor, Select Wines & Spirits. It was a first-class — and amazing! — experience that I’ll be writing about in some upcoming stories for the Calgary Herald, but I wanted to share some of the highlights here.
1. The sights
Wow, Paris! It had been years since I’d visited the City of Lights and I’d forgotten that not only is every boulevard wide and tree-lined, there’s usually a famous monument in any direction you turn your head. We spent a morning touring the city in a vintage convertible Citroen with 4 Roues Sous 1 Parapluie and drove past the Louvre, L’Arc de Triomphe, Notre-Dame and countless Second Empire-style buildings that line the streets. We even had dinner one night at Monsieur Bleu, right across the Seine from the Eiffel Tower. Awesome!
2. The sleeps
I don’t usually get excited about spending time in my accommodations when travelling — I’d rather be out exploring a new city. But, hello. A chateau? I can totally picture myself as a chatelaine.
We stayed at Chateau des Briottieres, an 18th-century chateau in Anjou, nears Angers. I also luxuriated in Paris at Le Royal Monceau, a Raffles hotel, and Hotel Costes, my first hotel with a complimentary condom as part of the in-room amenities. Really.
3. The booze
Well, it was a cocktail-themed press trip, after all so when in Paris… drink Cointreau. At 11 a.m.? With a gooseberry garnish? Mais oui!
4. The bubbly
Before France I pooh-poohed champagne as too dry, hangover-inducing and pricey. Clearly, I had never tried really good champagne (or maybe it just tastes good because — pinch me! — you’re in Paris?). I loved the tiny bubbles, creme-brulee taste and length of both Piper-Heidseick and Charles Heidseick champagnes. And I never had a hangover! But, sadly, it’s still pricey.
And to sum in all up, here’s a photo that captures the trip: