Planning to take the family to Paris? Consider adding a few nights at a perfect countryside getaway, the newly-constructed, 49-room Royal Champagne, opened in July 2018.
From Paris, France’s high-speed TGV train travels the 100 miles to Reims, the capital of the Champagne Region, in 45 minutes (Epernay takes 75 minutes). For an even more exciting transfer, Karim Loqrifi, the Clef d’Or chief concierge, can arrange a helicopter transfer.
The Relais & Chateaux affiliate is located outside Epernay, the capital of the Champagne industry, in teeny, tiny Champillon. The newly built, spacious, semi-circular, contemporary wood and stone structure added on to the original, now refurbished, 19th-century inn on the property, formerly used by royalty traveling to Reims. Its stunning rooms (with balconies), multi-level terraces, restaurants and indoor and outdoor heated swimming pools all overlook Moet & Chandon vineyards.
The culinary program here is led by Michelin-starred Chef Jean Denis Rieubland, also a Meilleur Ouvrier de France (MOF = best chef in France). And, the 16,000-square-foot Biologique Recherche spa houses yoga space and a wet area with sauna, hammam and Jacuzzi.
While you may know the Champagne region best for its famous bubblies — Veuve Clicquot, Taittinger, Krug and Pommery — one winery, Champagne Mercier, has a kid-friendly underground train that travels along the stone cellars, where kids can learn about growing grapes and winemaking.
Feeling adventurous? Karim can arrange a flight 450 feet in the sky in a Ballon Captif, to enjoy a 360-degree panorama of the UNESCO-listed region. Or, he’ll book an exploration of the regional vineyards in a chauffeured E-Mehari electric cabriolet, on a historic boat on the Marne river, on a bike or in a buggy. One destination for a picnic is on the landscaped terrace of the wine estate behind Abbaye d’Hautvilliers, where the monk known as Dom Perignon is said to have discovered what we call Champagne.
The bevy of kid-friendly options includes rollercoasters at Nigloland; trees to climb at Couleurs Adventure Park; water sports at Lac du Der Fun Centre; a zip-line at Terraltitude Adventure; or an indoor adventure park at Royal Kids.
Be sure to spend a few hours visiting historic Reims, with its Gothic cathedral and old town. During World War I (1914–1918), the city was bombed daily and youngsters had to survive (and study in pop-up schools) within underground caves, called crayères. While visiting Reims, take a cooking class at Au Piano du Chef (across from the cathedral) and eat what you make; or, view vintage cars at Musée Automobile Reims.
Sometimes, even when you suspect a spiffy-swank hotel might be a bit over-the-top for the family, you find one like this, both luxe and low-key!