Épernay, the self-proclaimed capitale du Champagne was pretty magical. No, scratch that, really rather magical. We visited as Epernay, Champagne as guests of the Agence Regionale du Tourisme Grand Est but all enjoyment was very much our own.
A good friend of ours had visited Èpernay on a ladies weekend, and had told us of the beautiful champagne houses, the rolling countryside laden with grapevines and the blush stone Avenue de Champagne, which only served to fuel our excitement.
Over a dozen years ago, my Mum and I visited Reims as a day trip from Paris – our first sip of the fabled Champagne region. I can’t tell you how excited I was to visit Reims again as a guest of the Régionale du Tourisme Grand-Est but all thoughts are very much my own.
With train trips as quick as 45 minutes from Paris, Reims (or Rheims as the city is also known) is the perfect gateway to the rest of the Champagne region – and you don’t really need a car to explore the best of the city. As both my lovely friend and I are foodies, our plans consisted mostly of exploring the gastronomic offerings, with the occasional foray into the beautiful cultural history.
On this trip to Rheims, instead of simply visiting as a day trip from Paris, we stayed overnight in the Continental Hotel, a very short walk through beautiful gardens from the train station. I was a guest of the Régionale du Tourisme Grand-Est and I would 100% stay in this beautiful hotel again on my own. Where to stay in Rheims
We wheeled our suitcases straight from the train station – so fresh from Paris you could practically smell our breakfast baguettes – and through the gardens to our home for the evening – the Continental Hotel.
I have a confession to make. I’m slightly obsessed with castles, and I knew that we had to visit Wawel Castle in Krakow. (Long term readers won’t be very surprised – I have form in this area – exploring them, staying in them, insisiting my family stop at them on car trips etc.)
Wawel Castle is a sprawling patchwork of history – personal and political stories that you can explore on foot. I learned that the Wawel Royal Castle and the Wawel Hill constitute the most historically and culturally significant site in the country.
My only disappointment with our city break to Krakow is that we hadn’t visited sooner. The medieval city had been calling our names for a fair amount of time, so one grey January day I seized the wanderlust zeitgeist and booked in a load of city breaks – including Krakow. Finally! As a result, this is my (entirely subjective) Krakow what to do list.
We visited in May as the weather should be fairly settled, and it’s the beginning shoulder season (compared to July/August when a lot of schools have their summer holidays) which means that tourist season hasn’t begun yet.