Showing posts from October, 2010

Salon Millesime Completes the Carlton Experience in New York

When I was in New York City recently I had the pleasure of staying at The Carlton Hotel and visiting the new Salon Millesime .  It was a too short visit, but enough to make me want to come back. I pulled up to The Carlton and gave my name to the valet only to get the instant reply, “We’ve been waiting for you Ms. Frost.”  There’s no doubt that The Carlton is that kind of luxury, but it’s transitioned nicely into the 21 st century.  The lobby is has been transformed with a modern flare and the rooms are also contemporary, with the convenience of free high speed internet and the luxury of flat screen televisions and Molton Brown toiletries.  There’s a 24 hour fitness center on the premises so you don’t have to venture out to Madison Avenue unless you want to. Salon Millesime is downstairs at The Carlton Hotel and it’s one of the most unusual spots to hit Manhattan in awhile.  The earth tones are warm and welcoming and the atmosphere seems to take you back to a neighborhood of lo

Farewell to France

I didn’t want to put a damper on my wonderful trip through Burgundy and Champagne, but there were a couple of glitches because of the strikes in France.  This was mostly apparent as we prepared to head home.  For the first time since I began to drive, there were long lines at gas stations and many were closed all together.  The trains were running sporadically and we never got to use Rail Europe at all.    In order to get back to Paris on the final day, we had to leave the hotel in Bourgogne at 3:30 am.  Veronique of Burgundy Tourism generously got up and drove us the three and a half hours to Charles De Gaulle Airport.  The lines were long and we were, understandably tired, but my Air France flight took off on time and I had a pleasant trip home. I want to thank those who made this trip possible and are available to anyone who would like to do a similar trip, French Tourism and the tourist boards of Champagne-Ardenne (Sarah was especially helpful) and Burgundy , as well as my

Filling the Final Day in Burgundy

The final day in Burgundy wasn’t exactly how it was supposed to be.  The cold weather and rain did not ease up and our plan to bicycle around the canal needed to be scrapped.  But the day was still filled with new adventures, thanks to our friends, Anna from the French Tourist Board and Veronique from Burgundy Tourism. Our first stop of the day was at the castle of Ancy le Franc .  Honestly, my initial response was, “another castle?”  but I have to admit that every one we have seen has had a personality of its own.  This one in Ancy le Franc was beautiful and was set up more like a museum than a castle, with endless artwork and detail to the architecture.  It had its own private chapel and royal apartments.  Despite the fact that this castle is very much in France, its influence is very Italian.  It was first built in the 16 th century and received some additional renovations – like a new library and a dining room with Italian marble walls – in the 19 th century.  The grounds,

Medieval Castles & Luxury Hotels in Burgundy

I thought I had seen it all when – on my last day in the Champagne region --  we visited talking robots and a Champagne Bar in the trees, but there was something even more unusual to see and it is called Guedelon . Burgundy is filled with castles, but none like Guedelon .  The weather continued to be cold and there seemed to be a bit of rain following us .   This mud-producing climate wasn’t exactly what you wanted when you were visiting a construction site and that’s exactly what Guedelon was, only this site was missing your usual tractors, electrical equipment and safety nets.  This was a construction site for a castle, more specifically, a castle built in the 13 th century. The Guedelon project began in 1995 when Michel Guyot, who already owned a castle in Yonn, had the idea to build this one in Treigny the same way the Medieval workers did it.  He banished anything that wasn’t used in the 13 th century and spent two years gathering the support and permits from France.  He e

Introduction to the Burgundy Region

Day four in France was jam-packed with excitement as we had our final Champagne visit and headed into a totally new region – Burgundy. We came to Troyes (pronounced “Twa”)  the previous night for our dinner and stay at Le Maison de Rhodes , but didn’t have any time to explore.  We made up for it with a tour through one of my favorite places yet. This charming city appears to have all the food, shopping and architectural aspects of every major city in Europe all rolled into one.  Within a short two hour drive (or 1-1/2 hour train ride) from Paris, you can reach Troyes for a day at the famous outlet malls or a visit to the village.  The combination of strolling past James Joyce’s Pub, Medieval cathedrals and an H&M Department store was fascinating.  It was a place I wished I could stay in for days instead of a few short hours, but we had so much more to do. After the tour of Troyes, it was time to officially leave the Champagne region and drive to Chablis.  During the hour

Plenty More France to Come!

My internet has been very limited as I travel through Burgundy, but I will catch up in the next few days on my tour of Troyes; Lunch and Vineyard Tasting in Chablis; Dinner & Stay at Auberge de la Beursaudiere; Guided Tour of Guedeion; a Castle Under Construction; Medieval Lunch; Tour of Vezelay; Stay at La Cote Saint Jacques and Dinner at Jean-Michel Lorain; Visit to the Castle of Ancy le Franc; and my final night -- Dinner and Stay at Bernard Loiseau!

Last Day in Champagne-Robots & Bars in the Trees

Our final day in the Champagne-Ardenne region was quite an unusual one, as we learned about and drank bubbly in the strangest places. Our first stop was in Trėpail.  I always thought I was a multitasker, but here I met a woman who certainly outdid me.  Madam Maizieres owns a champagne house. That in itself is not unusual for a woman in 21 st century France.  She decided, however, that she wanted everyone to learn about French in the most unusual way, so she created Pré en Bulles , an automated robotic show which takes you through 12 lessons (in your choice of four languages) in a fun and informative way.  At the end , there’s a puppet show with special effects George Lucas would appreciate, explaining champagne from the cultural aspect of how it relates to food and France. After the show, Madam Maizieres took us through the beautiful apartments and bed and breakfast she rents with incredible views of the quaint town of Trėpail.  Then we tasted some of the champagnes she makes und

Discovering More Champagne in Hautvillers and Epernay

Every day in the Champagne region of France brings more discoveries and more breathtaking scenery (and more delicious champagne).  Day three was split between two of Champagne’s most important towns – Hautvillers and Epernay . We left Reims first thing in the morning under the direction of our two extremely knowledgeable guides, Sarah from Reims Tourism and Anna from Atout France .  Both managed to foresee problems before they happened and translate flawlessly for the rest of us.  The only thing they couldn’t help us out with was the weather, which continued to be unseasonably cold.  The drive to Hautvillers (pronounced “O-va-lee”) was a scenic one and it would only get better.  The town where Dom Perignon , the monk who created champagne, once lived is about a quaint and picturesque as anything you can imagine.  Michel from the Office De Tourisme took us through this village that dates back to the year 658 and is now the home to 900 inhabitants – and nearly 70 growers of wine. 

From Cathedral to Krug in Reims, France

Day two in the Champagne region was a bit different from day one as I joined a group of fellow journalists and our leaders from the Champagne-Ardenne and French Tourism boards.  We have quite a schedule planned for the week as we make our way through not only this region, but Burgundy as well.  First there was a lot to see in Reims and I don’t think we missed anything. More than 80% of Reims was destroyed in World War I, and the city suffered more destruction after some was rebuilt, but the treaty to end World War II was signed in Reims and it appeared to signal good fortune to build a final restoration of a city that dates back than 2,000 years.  As Reims gets ready to celebrate the 800 th birthday of the Cathedral Notre-Dame, the building of a tram in front of it leads the way to the monument's own renovations.  In addition to the beautiful and rather large cathedral, Reims is marked by the museum next door, Palais du Tau , which houses robes, crowns and other testaments

From Champaign to Champagne-The Full Day One

It’s been awhile since I had trouble finding an internet connection, but then again I haven’t spent a lot of time in Champagne houses and private chateaus lately.  That’s what I did for my first day in France this trip. It was a long flight on Air France from Chicago to Paris, made even longer by the fact that I had a two and a half hour drive to get to the airport.   Once I did arrive, a strike in France that affected transportation turned my journey by Rail Europe into a private limo supplied by Veuve Clicquot .  After a sleepless night (it’s never easy to sleep on a plane) I was definitely not complaining about being able to spread out in the back seat and enjoy the countryside.  I have never been to this part of France and marveled in the unique beauty of every little village we drove through.  Less than two hours later we were in the Champagne-Ardenne region and arriving in Reims .  I had arrived a day earlier than the rest of the group on this trip so I could visit Veuve

From Champaign to Champagne

I've been waiting a long time to use that title and I expected to be immediately writing all the details of my journey and first day in Champagne. Unfortunately, my internet is very limited until tomorrow so I'll just leave you with a few thoughts.... The Caves of Veuve Clicquot are a must see in this quaint town. I had a wonderful tour and then a perfectly delicious French lunch at Les Crayeres (accompanied by the light and fresh Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Yellow Champagne). I'm off to the internet-free Manoir de Verzy, the Clicquot private villa. Much more to come tomorrow. Until then, Au revoir!

Cuervo Games Rock Champaign

I’ve never had the pleasure of covering a nationally televised event that’s almost in my backyard, so when I heard that Diageo was going to bring the Cuervo Games to Champaign, there was no way I was going to miss it.  It was their first time having this event outside of a major city, and Chambana welcomed them with open arms – and bars. This was my first experience with the Cuervo Games, but I was escorted through it with Jenna Rathke, from Taylor PR, the representatives for Jose Cuervo .  She made my trek a bit easier with a Tanqueray and tonic (Tanqueray is a sister company of Cuervo so it was one of the offerings along with the Margaritas) and we navigated our way through the apparatus. The Cuervo Games consist of a series of athletic challenges with a tequila twist.  First, players compete against each other on the Barrel Roll, climbing the Mayan Pyramid to capture the flags.  Next is the Waterfall Climb, a 20-foot rock climbing wall that has a rushing water twist.  Then it’