Ker & Downey’s Europe Product Manager Elizabeth Frels traveled to France with her husband Jason in celebration of their fifth wedding anniversary. Together, they experienced vintage French luxury in the heart of one of the most romantic destinations in the world.
Where were you… The Loire Valley, Paris, and Burgundy
Highlight of the trip? Staying in Chateau de la Barre, a historical chateau at the gateway to the Loire Valley. The property, hosted by a Count and Countess whose family has lived in the chateau since the 15th century, felt like a countryside escape as well as a step back in time. The Count regaled us with stories of his family and the long history of the chateau, and the Countess traveled with us to the many fairytale castles of the region, introducing us to her distant family at each site and securing us tickets to fascinating presentations. The estate sits on a bucolic 100-acre park. Even in the chill of November, the morning mists over the gardens and the resident canines made the experience that much more authentic, while the ornate antiques and tapestries, elegant dinners in the grand dining room, and late-night fireside conversations made us feel as though we too were a part of aristocracy.
Favorite activity? Wine tasting along the Route de Grands Crus with a private oenologist guide in Burgundy (Bourgogne). We have experienced many wine tastings all around the world, but this was by far the most educational and inspirational. Our guide, Youri, not only introduced us to the unique land and layout of the famous Bourgogne “Cote d’Or” region, but he also opened doors to many exclusive cellars and tasting rooms, many of which are typically off-limits to the general public. We learned what makes Bourgogne wine so special and even had the chance to taste some of the rarest labels on the planet. It’s an experience we will likely talk about to our friends and family for years to come.
Don’t miss… a tour of Paris in a vintage Citroen DS convertible. The DS is pronounced “Déesse” in French, which means Goddess… and the vehicle is just that. It is considered an icon of 20th-century French automobiles and is widely regarded as France’s favorite vehicle. To explore Paris from the back seat of this beautiful vehicle, under a cozy blanket with champagne in hand, is the definition of vintage French luxury. We had toured Paris many times, but we had never seen it like this! While we were taking photos of all of the city’s landmarks, passersby were taking pictures of us. What’s more, our lovely driver was able to take us to secret vantage points away from the crowds to get the best views of the Eiffel Tower.
Itinerary suggestions: Use Paris as your base. It is easy to travel almost anywhere in France by train via Paris. Be sure to work with expert partners on the ground, as strikes are frequent in France and can often affect transportation and itinerary routing. Definitely consider visiting in September or October when the leaves are at their most beautiful and the vines of Bourgogne are glimmering gold. This is also prime harvest time for wine lovers, and the crowds are at their lowest.
Contact your Ker & Downey designer to start planning your own custom trip to France to experience a little French luxury for yourself.