A dream of mine has always been to visit the Champagne region in France. Not only growing up in South Africa and being spoilt with all of the beautiful vineyards we have but also last year seeing Micky Flannigan’s Detour De France, it kicked me into gear to finally tick this one off the bucket list. Obviously having a little one makes any trip slightly different these days, so instead of turning it into a completely boozy weekend away in France, we decided to turn it into a wonderful week away with a few trips to the champagne houses but also a time to rest and have fun.
There was 14 of us in total so a big group of 10 adults and four children (all under four years old) which turned out to be quite an experience with some fun kiddy bathtimes and a few disturbed nights sleep but on the whole an amazing trip. It also made me realise that all those childhood holidays I went on and how much fun we had with all the other children, how that is now Clara and yet it feels like only yesterday that was me as a child. Talk about feeling old!
I found this beautiful place on Airbnb called Domaine de Senercy which was in a small town near Picardie, about an hour away from Reims. I highly recommend where we stayed as it was perfect for such a big group of us as it had more than enough space, plus a pool, tennis court and a pool table. Also an added bonus about France is that it is so close, in fact took us less time to get there than Cornwall when you get stuck on the dreaded A303 during school holiday traffic!! Also the kids loved going on the Eurotunnel and meant we could pack up our car to the brim and have become those people with a back box on the car (eeekkkk).
The first Champagne House we visited was Moet et Chandon and wow, it was really amazing. What a building and the caves! We went for the Grand Vintage Tour which was €38 each and we got to try the Grand Vintage and the Grand Vintage Rosé after the tour. I was a bit worries before about taking such young children but they loved it, there was so much to look at and yes they did want to run around but the staff at Moet were so accommodating. Following a fun trip to the Moet shop and although we didn’t buy anything, there was some lovely champagne bought by the rest of the group. We also decided as were a group of 10, we would treat ourselves to a magnum of champagne each night, which is a great way to enjoy the champagne region.
We then spent the next few days just relaxing by the pool, playing tennis and once the baby’s were in bed the fun really started as we each took it in turn to make a meal and wow everyone pulled out all the stops with gourmet three course meals on the menu each night. Also I do love a good foreign supermarket and we certainly filled up our trollies with amazing wine, cheese, artichokes and lots of yummy breads and croissants.
We then booked to go into Reims to visit Veuve Clicquot which was a must for me as it my favourite champagne. It was really great and on one of our hottest days, a cool relief going down into the caves which are much cooler. The history of Madame Veuve Clicquot is fascinating and for all the working mums out there, is truly an empowering story as she was the first powerful working woman of France and broke down so many taboo’s and barriers due to her husbands very sad and early death, leaving her a young widow with a daughter called Clementine and instead of the business being sold off she took it on to run. It’s real success came during the Napoleonic Wars when Veuve Clicquot was the first Champagne house to ship champagne through the blockades to Russia. During this time she also gave champagne to the Prussian Guards who enforced the bloackades and used to open the champagne with their swords, which started the technique of sabring Champagne. There is so much more to the history that it really should be turned into a movie! So if you are visiting the area, Veuve Clicquot is worth a visit.
Now that I am a mum, I want to make sure we are finding the balance of having fun and different holidays which Ryan and I have always done but with a child friendly twist. This is certainly one of them and as a mum and as all parents will know, you always have the fear that you are going to take your kids to something that you would have always thought would be a disaster and then they pleasantly surprise you. I am learning every day that you can still do everything you did before, maybe sometimes with a bit less sleep which makes the champagne induced hangovers slightly worse, but nothing a good cheese baguette couldn’t solve.
Apart from the shock of getting on the scales but nothing a few gym sessions can’t solve, I would highly recommend the Champagne region and France to any families, who are looking for holiday ideas for next summer. I would also recommend going in a big group as it really was great fun and then the more of you, the more you can warrant that magnum bottle of champagne each night!
Lauren – workingmummablog