Devanshi Parikh writes about why she chose Grand-Est as her travel destination for the familiarisation tour Rendez-vous en France 2018 and shares her best memories from the trip!
When I first received the email inviting me to be a part of Rendez-vous en France 2018, I was ecstatic! What’s not to be, it was all things French – authentic experiences, local culture, wine, art and food!
My dilemma actually crept in, when I was asked to pick a place to visit, before the show in Paris began. How do you pick between Chantilly, Chamonix, Alsace, Occitanie and Dijon? Each one of them is so unique and offers a very different experience!
After hours of reading, pondering, contemplating and narrowing down my options, I decided to pick the Grand Est. My trip was to cover Reims, Metz, Strasbourg & the Alsace wine route.
- Did I know any of these places – none except Reims!
- Did I have clients asking me about them? None whatsoever!
I’m sure you’re wondering why I picked this route then? Well, for me France has never been about Paris! I find France’s beauty is hidden in its quaint villages, its sleepy rivers, its timber framed houses, its rolling fields and vineyards. This is where you can sit (preferably with a croissant or a crêpe) and watch the world go by, or have a nice tête-à-tête with a local and know tit-bits about their town or French history or art or just champagne!
My experience in the Grand Est, was like pages torn out of a modern day fairy-tale. I lived it, cherished it and etched it in my memory forever!
The Champagne region, Metz and Alsace are very different from one another. Sure, they all have UNESCO sites, they are buried deep in history and they all are a treat to the eyes, but for anyone who is looking at visiting this trio, here is my list of ‘UNMISSIBLES’.
- A visit to Reims – You know what they say – if you’re a champagne aficionado, Épernay is your spot. But I, personally have been a little bit more partial towards Reims. Not only does it house a number of well-known cellars, the city is a dream to visit. Stories of WWI and WWII, are leaking out of every neighbourhood, art deco cafes and Michelin star restaurants dot the boulevards and Gothic architecture and UNESCO world heritage sites add glamour to the city. Whether you’re a history buff, a champagne enthusiast or simply a lover of all things pretty, Reims will not disappoint you.
© ROSSandHELEN photographers / Getty Images
- The Perching Bar – is a treetop bar, located in a national park between Reims and Épernay. The Perching Bar is an unusual eco-responsible structure that is accessed via suspended walkways, housing chic and minimalistic interiors and is lit by solar panels! Apart from serving you champagne from neighbouring cellars, this one of a kind bar, offers you fantastic views!
© F. Scheplitz
- Cooking lessons in a vineyard – Tucked away in a secret vineyard in the village of Hautevillers, is an unusual experience offered by Chef Eric Geoffroy and his team. We spent an afternoon cooking in a bus – that’s been converted to a kitchen & dining space! You can pick your menu or even pre-plan one depending on your dietary requirements. This one, without a doubt, topped my list.
© Devanshi Parikh
- A visit to Domaine Jacques Cattin – Home to Francois Cattin, this vineyard was started in 1720! Fast forward to the 21st century, the legacy has been carried on by 11 generations. Today, this vineyard is managed by Jacques and Jean-Marie, who have changed the face of the estate. Cutting edge technology in the cellars and a modern bar and restaurant serving delicious gourmet food and wine, this visit is not only unique, but will also leave you in awe.
© Cattin - Grands Vins d'Alsace / Facebook
- A walk through Colmar – We didn’t stay here, but this town has my whole heart. A step into Colmar and you will be instantly transported back to the 15th century – cobblestoned pathways, hidden alleys, timber framed houses and bridge laced canals. This village screams history and culture. Whether slow travel is your thing or not, Colmar is an experience you cannot miss.
It’s time that we all explore beyond Paris and the Riviera, because there is so much about this charming country that will leave you in awe! If you think you’re only going to get tipsy on French wines, we promise you, that you will be drunk on the culture, art and food that the smaller towns and villages have to offer.
Author bio- Devanshi Parikh is a new age experience creator with an old school love for travel. Having devoted almost one and a half decades to the industry, she harbours an unquenchable passion for experiential travel and the unparalleled teachings that only travel can impart. For her, travel is an emotion and a state of being that feeds off her other interests, permitting her to indulge in her love of culture, food, art, history and the myriad ways of life of the rest of the world.