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  • Self-drive Touring Holiday of the Northern Vineyards

    La Briqueterie

    La Briqueterie

    La Briqueterie

    Château d'Isenbourg

    Château d’Isenbourg

    Château d'Isenbourg

    Château d'Isenbourg

    Château de Gilly

    Château de Gilly

    Château de Gilly

    Château de Gilly

    Self-drive touring holiday exploring the vineyards of Northern France

    6 nights and 7 days
    This interesting wine tour allows you to discover Alsace, famous for its wooded hills and gently sloping vineyards, picturesque half-timbered villages and fairytale-like towns, as well as the popular but contrasting wine regions of Burgundy and Champagne, each with their own distinct character.

    Click here to download a pdf with information about some of our suggested French touring holidays.

    Your touring holiday starts with the Eurotunnel from Folkestone to Calais, from where you will drive through Picardy and begin your journey. Perhaps stop en route at the attractive town of Arras, with its cobbled streets and Flemish architecture. You will also drive past Laon, famous for its Gothic cathedral, and the champagne capital of Reims, en route to your first hotel La Briqueterie, set just a short distance from Épernay. Here you’ll discover many of the renowned Champagne houses including Lafitte, Mercier and Moët et Chandon. The route to your next hotel takes you directly east, passing the city of Verdun, where one of the major battles of World War I took place, and Metz, home to the Centre Pompidou Metz, the sister museum of its prestigious Parisian counterpart. This route also proposes a drive through picturesque Strasbourg, with its canals and half-timbered buildings of Petite-France, before picking up the Route des Vins as it snakes its way south through the glorious scenery of Alsace. After a couple of nights at Château d’Isenbourg in Rouffach, make your way southwest through the Doubs Valley, running parallel for a time with the Franco-Swiss border. Arriving at the Château de Gilly, situated amidst the revered vineyards of the Nuits-Saint-Georges and the Côte d’Or, be sure to take in Beaune’s 15th-century Hôtel-Dieu and the mediaeval mustard city of Dijon, as well as the many wineries of the region. Finally, head back north for one last overnight in Champagne and your return ferry from Calais.

    PRICES
    Prices for this self-drive holiday from £940 per person

    What's included:
    • Two nights’ bed and breakfast at La Briqueterie in the Champagne region (one night each way)
    • Two nights’ bed and breakfast at the Château d’Isenbourg in Rouffach
    • Two nights’ bed and breakfast at the Château de Gilly in Gilly-lés-Cîteaux
    • Eurotunnel crossing from Folkestone to Calais

    Northern Vineyards of France Touring Holiday

    Day-by-Day Itinerary

    DAY ONE
    Journey from Calais down to Épernay

    Drive from Calais through Normandy, and enter the Champagne region, famous for its eponymous wine. Épernay is nestled between the Aisne and Marne valleys, which see the vineyards thrive, and just a short drive from its rival as Champagne Capital, Reims. La Briqueterie is the perfect spot from which to venture out and explore the produce of the local landscape, perhaps in one of the hundreds of underground chalky wine cellars in either Épernay or Reims. Some of these Gallo-Roman cellars belong to the internationally renowned champagne firms mentioned above, such as Moët et Chandon and Mercier. Champagne Tribaut, a family-run business that supplies prestigious companies such as Krug and Taittinger, opens their cellars and vineyards to the public for tours and tasting sessions. This intimate, homely experience lets the visitor see an alternative side to wine-growing other than large scale production. Just across the Marne Valley, you will find an abundance of fruitful vineyards that produce Pinot Noir grapes, or head southwards through the Côte des Blancs to taste the local mineral-rich Chardonnay. After you have tasted your fill of Champagne wine, head into Reims to appreciate the wealth of impressive architecture and culture, from the gothic Cathédral Notre-Dame with its famous wine-grower carvings, and the Palais de Tau, to the floral delights of Nantueil-la-Forêt.

    DAYS TWO TO THREE
    Épernay to Rouffach, and stay for two nights

    Journey south into Alsace country, renowned for the diversity of grapes that grow in its vineyards. From Gewürztraminer, Muscat, and Pinot Blanc, to Sylvaner white wines and Pinot Noir red and rosé, this region produces something to appeal to every taste. The vineyards at the foot of the Vosges Mountains, just a stone’s throw from Château d’Isenbourg, have been cultivated since Roman times, originally protected by the monasteries in the area. The Rouffach area specifically is best suited to growing Gerwürztraminer, Pinto Gris, and Reisling wines, the best of which can be tasted on the Eric Rominger Estate. The René Muré Estate is right on the doorstep of the château, just eight minutes away, producing Clos Saint-Landelin wines. Alternatively, travel into Wintzenheim to the Josmeyer Estate, where owner Jean Meyer commissions artists to design each individual label for his wines. In Riquewihr discover renowned firms such as Dopff et Irion and Hugel et Fils, while in Beblenheim, visit the Bott-Geyl biodynamic wine estate. In Soults-Haut-Rhin sits the Cave Vinicole de Vieil-Armaud, in the middle of a stunning 150 hectares of vineyards which serve over 130 wine-growers. Its basement houses a very informative wine museum. For a break from wine-tasting, perhaps journey into the beautifully atmospheric medieval Kientzheim, take a brisk hike over the Vosges Mountains, explore the impressive and imposing 12th Century Château de Haut, or walk the Route de Cinq Châteaux from Husseren-lés-Château to the Keep to Pflixbourg and its marvellous views of the Fecht Valley and plain of Alsace. Travel slightly north from Rouffach into Colmar, sometimes referred to as Little Venice, for a canal boat ride. Or if you are looking to buy some of the wine from the region, pop into the well-equipped Robert Karcher’s Cellar.

    DAYS FOUR TO FIVE
    Rouffach to Gilly-lés-Cîteaux, and stay for two nights

    Gilly-lés-Cîteaux, notable primarily for the surrounding aromatic vineyards of Nuits-Saint-Georges and the Côte d’Or, is the home of the Château de Gilly. The village is comprised of the picturesque golden limestone buildings so typical of the Burgundy region that frame a beautiful backdrop for tasting the region’s excellent wines. As you approach the château, you’ll be struck by the elegant and formal French gardens, ideal for an evening stroll or a relaxing morning. Though Burgundy is famous for a number of different wines, it is best known for its Pinot Noir red wines, and Chardonnay white wines. The closest vineyard to the Château de Gilly is the relatively small vineyard of Vougeot, though the neighbouring, more recently cultivated, vineyard of Clos de Vougeot is home to the produce of 70 wine growers. From here, go on to taste the wine produced on the Christian Clerget estate and in the vineyards of the Château de Clos, with its four huge 12th Century winepresses. In nearby Chenôve, the Cuverie des ducs de Bourgogne houses two 13th Century winepresses for visitors to view. Marsannay-la-Côte produces a selection of rosé wines that are obtained after a short maceration of Pinot Noir grapes, available to be tasted at the Domaine Regis Bouvier and the Château de Marsannay. However, the most famous of the Côte de Nuits wines is Chambertin, produced in Gevrey-Chambertin, a village very close to Gilly-lés-Cîteaux. Before beginning your evening meal, partake in the tradition of drinking a Kir, as this blend of crème de cassis and white wine, produced locally, is the perfect start to a delicious evening. Venture further out to visit the famous Chablis, or take a tour of the white wine vineyards and cellars on the hillside village of Montagny-lés-Buxy. After tasting the various specialities of the region, head into Dijon to visit the Musée des Beaux-Arts, or for a short tour of its many tombs and ancient structures, including the statue of the guiding spirit of Dijon, Bareuzai the wine grower, on the Rue des Forges.

    DAY SIX
    One final night in Champagne

    Return to Épernay to tour those estates and vineyards you missed on your first night, and catch any final attractions in Reims and Épernay themselves. Before retiring to your suite at La Briqueterie, finish your final day with dinner and one last glass of champagne in the elegant Michelin-starred restaurant.

    DAY SEVEN
    Return to Calais

    Say a final goodbye to Champagne, and begin the short drive back to Calais.

    Driving times for this touring holiday:
    Calais to Épernay: 3 hours
    Épernay to Rouffach: 4 hours 15 minutes
    Rouffach to Gilly-lés-Cîteaux: 2 hours 20 minutes
    Gilly-lés-Cîteaux to Épernay: 2 hours 50 minutes
    Épernay to Calais: 3 hours

    Vineyards of Northern France v2

    Hotel Information

    Below is some information regarding each of the hotels featured in this touring itinerary. Alternative hotels are available in some destinations - please contact us for full details.

    La Briqueterie
    Épernay
    Nestled in the heart of the Champagne region, Hostellerie La Briqueterie is a gastronomic hotel with the ambience of understated luxury and charm typical to all Relais & Châteaux properties. Once the former brickworks of Chevirer, architect of Chaumières de France, La Briqueterie’s name and design appears as a homage to the area’s history, bringing the essence of the ‘country cottage’ to the 21st Century. The 36 rooms and 4 suites are designed individually with modern bursts of colour set against furniture in timeless French style. The wooden beams in the communal areas add unmistakable charm. The bar serves as a lounge where guests enjoy champagne by the fireside and relax in the Winter-Garden, a conservatory with an indoor fountain and exotic plants. There are spectacular views of the Champagne countryside all around and large windows bathing rooms in light. The restaurant is a sensory joy where guests enjoy Michelin-starred cuisine paired with the perfect wine. The spa at La Briqueterie leaves guests with a heightened sense of wellness, with treatments, a hammam steam room, sauna, Jacuzzi and indoor swimming pool. The 3 hectares of manicured grounds and fountains are a harbour of peace with stone benches to read on and fragrant flower lined trails to explore. Days of entertainment and culture are promised with nearby visits to the Champagne houses’ cellars, trips to Épernay and the city of Reims.
    Find out more here.

    Château d’Isenbourg
    Rouffach
    The magnificent Château d’Isenbourg is a luxurious 4 star hotel. In spite of its 41 rooms and imposing vaulted cellars where large banquets and lunches are given, the Château d’Isenbourg is run with care and charm to create a friendly atmosphere in top quality surroundings. There are comfortable lounges with open fire places, a cosy bar with an excellent range of vintage cognacs and armagnacs and both a panoramic and a cellar restaurant. The bedrooms vary in size from standard rooms to large suites, however, all rooms are furnished to the same, very high standards, decorated individually to enhance the original decorations (such as a painted ceiling) and located in the château. In a new wing, built entirely in-keeping with the original château, there is a large indoor swimming pool and jacuzzi with panoramic windows affording views of the vineyards, fitness room, sauna and Turkish bath. In the grounds of the Château d’Isenbourg is also an outdoor swimming pool and tennis court. In the summer months, lunch and aperitifs are served on the lawn at the front of the château. At various times in the winter months, the Château d`Isenbourg hotel holds its own musical and themed soirees, perhaps a jazz evening or a Diner Russe aux Chandelles.
    Find out more here.

    Château de Gilly
    Gilly-lés-Cîteaux
    The Château de Gilly is a former residence of the Priors of Cîteaux; still moated and very much palatial in ambience, it offers high standards of accommodation and cuisine and is beautifully situated at the heart of the Burgundy vineyards. The elegant, vaulted restaurant ‘Le Clos Prieur’ was once the palace cellar and is just the place to enjoy a gourmet dinner accompanied by fine local wines. ‘Coté Terroirs’ a new restaurant, offers local specialities. Breakfast is served in the restored historic Pierre de Nivelle room and musical soirées are held regularly in the Tapestry room. The 48 bedrooms have been refurbished to offer modern comforts whilst retaining their individuality and fine architectural features. To the front of the hotel are remarkable formal French-style gardens. The hotel features an outdoor heated swimming pool.
    Find out more here.

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  • France

    Find out more about France

    France FAST FACTS

    Capital

    Paris
    Airport
    Main airports are in Paris, Bordeaux and Lyon, with scheduled and low cost airlines flying into the country from all over the UK.
    Currency
    Euro (£1 = Euro 1.24)
    Size
    Roughly 600 miles wide and 700 miles long
    Population
    66 million
    Average temperature
    Varies dramatically, from about 8 degrees in winter in Brittany to 26 degrees in summer in Corsica, with snow on the Alps and Pyrenees year-round

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