In July 2019 it was my boyfriend’s 35th birthday and we have started to choose from different destinations to celebrate a few weeks in advance. We couldn’t come up with a better place than Champagne in France. The whole idea of walking around French vineyards under the July sun, exploring cute cobblestone streets of Reims, visiting world-famous champagne houses and waking up in the morning and sipping already one of our favourite drinks and where it is appropriate sounded just right. At the end of a day saying that you sipped Champagne while in Champagne was too tempting to resist.
Since it was our first time in the region we wanted to explore everything it has to offer but in a relaxed manner so we have decided to dedicate four full days to this sparkling trip. As usual, we preferred to split our stay between different areas and hotels to see and experience the most.
In general, when I think of provincial France the first thing that comes to my mind is a fabulous chateau or luxury villa. We definitely didn’t want to miss the experience and booked two lovely chateaux for our two last nights in Champagne. However, we started the journey with something very different. While browsing through different booking websites I stumbled across Cottages Antoinettes which looked very unique to the Champagne region. First of all, it is sort of a luxury Airbnb or a guest house which consist only of 3 contemporary houses 100% wooden built. This is an innovative ecological project which opened its doors to the public in June 2019, just a month before our arrival. The whole concept of responsible and sustainable tourism I find a great way to help our planet and the communities so every time I find a place like this I am always hooked. I have instantly booked two nights which is the minim amount if you want to stay there. The average price is 200 euro per night depending on the season and you can book it on various websites, Airbnb or directly with Antoinette herself to avoid paying the commission.
On July 15th I flew to Brussels from Moscow after visiting my family and Owen drove all the way from Rotterdam to pick me up from Brussels airport. It took us almost three hours drive from Brussels to get to Reims and our four-day road trip around Champagne has started! Just driving around the area is already a thing – the views are spectacular changing from the golden colours of the wheat fields to the lush green colour of the vineyards.
Cottages Antoinette is set above the cute village of Chigny-Les-Roses, a wine-growing village classified 1er Cru. Just 15 minutes drive and you are in Reims – the capital of the region with lots of history to see.
We stayed in a spacious two-storey villa with a panoramic view of vineyards from both the terrace and the bedroom which is located on second floor.
Upon arrival we were greeted by the owners – a very sweet French couple Antoinette and Marco – and their super friendly labrador Iggy and mysterious Siamese cat Auguste.
Antoinette and Marco welcomed us with a grand picnic set in vineyards just in front of the property. French dream come true – big woven basket, fresh baguette, French smelly cheese and fruit from local farmers. Antoinette made it clear that nobody in Champagne picnics without champagne so she instantly handled us a bottle of the sparkling drink. For the moment I had thought of relocation…
After the picnic, Antoinette has prepared a light and healthy dinner made of local ingredients. What an enjoyable experience it is to dine with a glass of champagne and to see the sun go down over the vineyards.
The next morning Owen woke just before the sunrise to capture some pictures with the perfect light and I have stayed in bed for while watching the view from our window. Afterwards I have prepared a simple breakfast from the products Antoinette left in the fridge for us.
Woke up to this view and the picturesque scene made me think I was still dreaming.
Even thought is was quite a chilly morning I could not resist to go outside on the terrace and enjoy the silent moment of my very first morning in Champagne.
After breakfast we spent some time playing with Iggy and talking to Antoinette and her husband Marco. Antoinette is a full-time psychologist but architecture and design have been her life long passion. It was actually herself who planned and designed the whole project.
I wish I had pictures of Iggy’s best friend cat Auguste but he was busy already since early morning catching some mice in the fields.
Overall, we loved our stay at Cottages Antoinette. Its close proximity to Reims with its history and famous champagne houses like Veuve Clicquot and Taittinger made a difference. And of course, nothing beats our every day breakfast and sunsets with the view of the vineyards which I think was one of my favourite moments during summer 2019.
You can book your stay directly with Madame Antoinette on the website.
All images are taken by Thitiphol Owen Charoensri.