Paris is one of your favorite long-weekend getaways. After an overnight flight, you’re ready to explore different arrondissements, check out new exhibits in the great museums, shop in the Saint-Honoré fashion district, eat at Michelin-starred restaurants, walk along the Seine, and drink lots of wine. You’ve done this so many times that the city is starting to feel like a second home. Yet despite all of these trips, you haven’t ventured far beyond the City of Lights.
So this time, you’re surprising even yourself by bypassing Paris. Upon landing at Paris Charles de Gaulle, the country’s largest airport, you usually ride the RER B train into the center of the city. This time, you rent a car to drive east. Your destination is Marne, a department that straddles a tributary of the Seine. The area in northeast France is known for its French Revolution sites, the city of Reims with its grand cathedral where monarchs were traditionally crowned, and scenic routes. But it’s famous for its vineyards.
Marne is the home of Champagne, the only region of the world that can legally produce the beloved sparkling wine. Vineyards of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier grapes sit in between the region’s wooded hills. Their chalky soil provides the delicate basis for which the wine is revered. There are more than 250 Champagne houses; some of them have been open for more than 400 years. Wine tourism—from tours and tastings to cruises and hot air balloons—was created around them. Wine-focused hotels have flourished, as well.
You’re heading to one of the newest wine-country retreats. The Royal Champagne Hotel & Spa just opened last year in Champillon, a rural village south of Reims. A 17th-century coaching inn originally sat on the property. Only two of its walls remained after the building was demolished to build a new modernist structure. A horseshoe-shaped hotel now sits on a hilltop. Floor-to-ceiling windows, vast terraces, and an infinity pool provide panoramic views of the vineyards that tumble down the hill. The location is breathtaking.
The interior of the hotel is equally stunning. Classic French style has been updated to modern elegance. Blonde wood, muted colors, and rich textures fill the hotel. Rooms are bathed in natural light. Each one has one graphic-print wall and custom-made furniture. A freestanding tub and Hermès products are in the bathrooms. While Google Home assistants and Illy espresso machines are among the amenities. Elsewhere, the gold-tiled spa offers Champagne treatments. Le Royal, the fine-dining restaurant, recently received its first Michelin star. Plus creative cocktails are served at the Bar and on the Bellevue Terrace—once the temperature increases.
When you arrive at the hotel, your first priority is a Champagne tasting with the sommelier. You’ll sit on a high table with a view of the glass Champagne cellar, learn about the historic region, and sample the sparkling wines. You’ll move to Le Royal for a four-course tasting menu paired with more Champagnes. Then, when the bubbles and the jetlag finally join forces, you’ll return to your room to turn in early. You’d better get sleep now. There’s a lot of Champagne drinking ahead of you this weekend.