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French

    What To Do In Reims | Champagne, France

    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.

    What to do in Rheims France

    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. 

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    Where to Stay In Rheims | Champagne, France

    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

    What-to-do-in-Rheims-France

    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.

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    Hotel Review: La Villa K, Saint Louis, France

    There aren’t many hotels that have pulled me away from exploring a town, but the four-star La Villa K Hotel and Spa managed that with aplomb. The night before I flew home from my city break in Basel, I spent an evening in the Alsace town of Saint Louis, 2 meals into my 3 country/3 meal sojourn.

    Hotel Review La Villa K Saint Louis Alsace France Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Disclaimer: My trip was supported by the Alsace tourism board (thank you!) but all relaxation enjoyment is very much all my own!

    Slipping straight off the tram that darts between Basel, Switzerland and Saint-Louis, France (the number 3) I strolled through the Saint-Louis street fair, one my way to La Villa K Hotel & Spa.

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    Travel Bucketlist Goals: 3 meals, 3 countries, 1 day

    For the longest of stretch of time, I’ve wanted to have 3 meals in 3 countries in a single day. There’s an air of romance about being able to slip between nations in search of delicious food, and the ability to pop between Switzerland, France and Germany was simply too hard to resist whilst exploring Basel.

    Basel Airport Hotel La Villa K Restaurant La Cave Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Disclaimer: My whole trip was supported by the Basel and Alsace tourism boards (thank you!) but this particular scheme was dreamed up all on my own…

    If I’m being super honest, it was also ridiculously easy. The joy of EU nations having visa waiver agreements meant that all I had to do was look up which modes of transport I’d need to use to hop across the border. Forget the Bonnie and Clyde shenanigans for once…

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    Eating & drinking in Bordeaux

    Bordeaux seems to be going through a renaissance. 10 years ago it seemed to be a grimy port town that people knew of mostly for the ruby red elixir that makes the town infamous. With a mayor who realised the tourist cash they were missing out on, he set about rejuvenating the city and promoting Bordeaux as a destination within its own right.

    Where to eat and drink in Bordeaux France Adventures of a London Kiwi

    In my limited experience of the world, I feel it’s safe to say that the French live, breathe, eat and drink. And possibly not in that order of importance. Following that train of thought, it would be a little remiss to blog about the lovely Bordeaux and omit sharing our favourite places that we imbibed. As a tourist armed with the internet, I can’t pretend to be any kind of authority, but after 4+ years of blogging and calling myself a foodie, I do know what I like.

    We enjoyed a variety of places, from funky burger restaurants where the birthday sparklers almost took out a waiters eyebrows, to breakfast in a luxurious chateau.

    Breakfast

    Where to eat and drink in Bordeaux France Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Where to eat and drink in Bordeaux France Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Breakfast in our first hotel (above) was ok, but I wouldn’t recommend staying there or making a special effort to eat there – we walked into a Faulty Towers-esque situation where electrical wires hung from the ceiling, the hotel bar wasn’t open on a Friday night “just because” and irony of a gastronomy school located across the terrace wasn’t lost on us as the service was lackadasical to say the least. The view over terracotta rooftops and the sparkling Garonne River was rather lovely though.

    Our experience as guests of Chateau Pape Clement the next day was a whole new level of luxury.

    Chateau Pape Clement Bordeaux France Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Chateau Pape Clement Bordeaux France Adventures of a London Kiwi 

    We were seated in the opulent private dining room, just the two of us.

    Chateau Pape Clement Bordeaux France Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Chateau Pape Clement Bordeaux France Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Surrounded by silver peacocks (echoing their feathered breatheren in the garden), crystal glassware and priceless artwork (not to mention the harp in the corner) we simple breathed in the scent of our scrumptious breakfast feast.

    Chateau Pape Clement Bordeaux France Adventures of a London Kiwi

    With great leisure we enjoyed our meal as Lord and Lady of the glorious French Chateau.

    Chateau Pape Clement Bordeaux France Adventures of a London Kiwi 

    Lunch

    We literally stumbled upon a branch of Funky Burger as we ooooohed and aaaahed our way around the city (at one point I literally said to Mr Kiwi “is this city seriously real?”) and when the Hanger set in, made our way back along the twisting lanes.

    Funky Burger Restaurant Bordeaux France Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Having read no reviews beforehand, just going the on basic smell of their delicious morsels and happy looking crowds inside, we wandered in. Not out of place in Shoreditch, the vibe was hipster funk but the burgers were ridiculously good – even if I picked the Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious not having a clue what it was for sheer novelty value, which the waiter made me pronounce twice (flawlessly) – it was a delicious vege burger with great fries. Perfect for walking fuel (or so we told ourselves – calories on holiday don’t count, right?)

    Funky Burger Restaurant Bordeaux France Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Funky Burger Restaurant Bordeaux France Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Drinks

    We aren’t red wine drinkers as a rule, so effectively a trip to the red wine capital of the world seems a little pointless, let alone a luxury wine chateau, but we fell in love. Experiencing a tasting class with one of Clement Pape Clement’s wine experts was irresistible – once we pulled ourselves away from the beautiful grounds.

    Château Pape Clément is one of the oldest Grands Crus of Bordeaux. His vineyard – the first harvests took place in 1252 – was implemented in the XIIth century by Bertrand de Goth, younger of a noble family from Bordeaux region. Archbishop of Bordeaux, Bertrand de Got became Pope in 1305 under the name of Clement V.

    Taking us on a cellar tour of the Chateau once owned by a Pope, hence the name and ecclesiastical iconography, we learned about the processes, some of the brilliant tricks they have learned over the years and sipped a few glasses of their finest vintages.


    Dinner

    Our favourite dinner was at L’Atelier 115 in Pessac, a small village on the borders of Bordeaux. No question.

    Recommended to us by the Chateau staff, it was a 10 minute walk down the road (in fact they insisted on dropping us down and that we called a taxi back but we strolled through the dusky night air) and utterly scrumptious. In fact I would go so far as to say it is one of the best meals I have ever enjoyed.

    A'telier Restaurant Review Bordeaux France Adventures of a London Kiwi

    A'telier Restaurant Review Bordeaux France Adventures of a London Kiwi

    I also have a confession to make. I didn’t make any notes and only hastily snapped a few photos whilst no-one was looking. We simply wanted to enjoy our meal in the pretty little bistro, and luxuriate in the feeling of freedom.

    A'telier Restaurant Review Bordeaux France Adventures of a London Kiwi

    A'telier Restaurant Review Bordeaux France Adventures of a London Kiwi

    I do remember vividly the foie gras that I would fly back to Bordeaux for alone – the perfect marriage of flavours, the steak Mr Kiwi couldn’t resist and ate with his eyes closed, the lamb paired with a countryside pesto was served with flakes of a beautiful cheese, and the sweet chef who wandered over to our table to show us some of the glorious mushrooms they had foraged that morning (incidentally hitting all of the cuisine phrases that delight foodies.)

    A'telier Restaurant Review Bordeaux France Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Dessert was a heavenly arrangement of textures – crisp airy biscuit, teasing mouthfuls of Canele, musky sweet grapes, a scattering of soft rum and quenelles of mousse.

    A'telier Restaurant Review Bordeaux France Adventures of a London Kiwi

    A'telier Restaurant Review Bordeaux France Adventures of a London Kiwi

    It was with heavy hearts (and suitcases bulging with bottles of Grand Crus) that we boarded the flight back to London, but we knew a return trip to Bordeaux (for longer than a long weekend) was going to be absolutely necessary.


    Have you visited Bordeaux yet?

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    Where to eat and drink in Bordeaux France Adventures of a London Kiwi

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