May 16, 2017
Indian tour operators discover Northern France
Fall in love with Champagne and Chantilly
After a welcome at CDG airport, the 4 days/3 nights trip in Northern France started with a short drive to the cellar of Champagne Pannier, in the quaint city of Château-Thierry. Immersed into an authentic place in France, the tour operators learned how the famous Champagne is produced, visited a cellar rich of history and enjoyed a Champagne testing session. Champagne Pannier is a unique Champagne house, with bottles served at the French President’s house and on some Air France business class flights.
After Château-Thierry, we drove to Chantilly and had a typical French lunch at the restaurant La Capitainerie, located in the ancient kitchen of Chantilly castle. But this delicious lunch was just the starter of our visit of the Domaine de Chantilly. We explored the royal apartments and the painting galleries of the Condé Museum; we completed our exploration of the castle in the beautiful French garden created by the famous gardener Le Nôtre; and the Great Stables, impressive by their size and the live horse museum that they host.
In the evening, we visited the 5-star Château-Hotel Tiara Mont Royal. A fabulous property nestled in the forest, just 30 minutes away from Paris and CDG airport. We received a royal treat, with a refined cocktail by the fireplace.
Our day ended with a very warm welcome at the outstanding Auberge du Jeu de Paume, a 5-star Relais & Châteaux located in the Domaine de Chantilly. We enjoyed a refined dinner at the bistro chic, Le Jardin d’Hiver, before a well-deserved night in our comfortable rooms.
Lille, the happening city in Northern France
We left the Auberge du Jeu de Paume the next day with great memories of Chantilly castle, for our awaited next stop: Lille, the largest city in Northern France and the friendliest city in France. From CDG airport train station, we reached Lille in just 50 minutes. This city is a very interesting place, with a mix of well-maintained Flemish and French architecture.
On arrival, we checked-in at our hotel, right next to the train station and the city centre. The hotel Casino Barrière Lille is one of the top most rated hotel in the city. Adding to the bar and the two restaurants, is also has a Casino and an auditorium for shows, a promise of epic nights.
We enjoyed welcome drinks and visited the property before heading toward the Estaminet. Estaminet is the restaurant of the 5-star hotel Hermitage Gantois (Mariott Autograph Collection Hotel). We enjoyed a rich lunch discovering local dishes such as Welsh, Potjevleesch, mussels & French fries…
After visiting the Hermitage Gantois, we went for a unique way of beer tour with l’Echappée Bière. Not only did we learn about this worldwide drink through beer tastings, but also about the history of the city and its main monuments such as the Opera or the Vielle-Bourse. Our guide took us to the beautiful cobblestoned streets of the Old-Lille, where one can enjoy small boutiques, traditional bread shops, bars and restaurants etc.
Before heading for a shopping session, we visit the third 5-star hotel of the city, the hotel Clarance, a Relais & Château property located in the heart of Old-Lille.
The giants of Arras and the romantic city of Amiens
The next day we drove towards our next destination, Arras. A pleasant stopping point for traveller crossing Northern France. Arras is well known for its architecture, history and culture. Its Flemish style main square and magnificent belfry is UNESCO world heritage sites. The city town hall also hosts some atypical guests, called the giants of Arras.
In the afternoon, we took the picturesque countryside roads to reach Amiens. After a lunch by the riverside at the restaurant Le Quai, we headed to a complete visit of the city: the old quarter of Saint-Leu, two UNESCO world heritage sites Notre Dame cathedral and the belfry, as well as the parks and the floating gardens.
We ended our day in the intimate ambiance of Jules Verne’s house, the famous writer who lived in Amiens for many years, and spent the night at the Mercure Amiens Cathédrale.
Heaven day in Bay of Somme
Our last day in Northern France began with a drive from Amiens to Saint-Valéry-sur-Somme. In this picturesque seaside village, it felt as though we ventured into a wonderland. After visiting the authentic fishermen area, we headed for a speedboat ride to cross one of the most beautiful bays in the world and observe the seals.
Our next stop was Mers-les-Bains, an authentic seaside station surrounded by beautiful cliffs. We enjoy a tasty seafood lunch, with an outstanding view on the sea and the cliffs, before heading to Rouen our final stop for this familiarization trip.
Tour operators’ feedbacks
Check the interviews of Vishal Somaiya – Director Mile Holidays and Nishank Syal – Director Penta Travels, to know the impressions of the tour operators, post this trip.