by Franca Berti
I look back at my trips to Paris and truly feel an affinity and deep connection to the spectacle, the phantasmagoria, the City of light and love. I don’t really understand why the connection, as being from an Italian background such an affinity would be expected to exist between myself and the South of Italy where my family are from. I have therefore spent endless hours devouring photos of Paris and following all things Parisian on social media in a quest to find the source of this passion. This has led to several trips to Paris, five to be exact and hopefully a lot more to follow.
I am quite fortunate that my husband is involved in the Liquor industry and one of the perks is the travel to various wine and Champagne regions. On one particular trip my husband and I took to Paris and then on to Epernay, we were invited to the Grand Vintage Gala Dinner at the Chateau de Saran. This was a fabulously extravagant event. I am still in awe of the magnificent Chateau, the decadent food prepared for us, and of course the star of the event the Champagne.
The evening commenced when we were collected from our accommodation at La Villa Eugene. A definite Princess moment for me. A wonderful 19th Century mansion converted to a hotel.
The suite was styled in the traditional opulence and splendor of 19th Century France. The ornate décor and furnishings took my breath away, the decadent candelabra, chandeliers and fireplace, the opening up to an en-suite to die for. Yes, that’s me in the corner, I knew I was in for a treat this weekend!
Dressing for dinner, a short trip later and we arrived at the Chateau for our event. The Chateau de Saran was built in 1801 as a hunting lodge for Jean-Remy Moet. Transforming the small family wine business to the leading Champagne house it is today, Jean-Remy received many distinguished guests at the lodge including Napoleon Bonaparte himself. Passed down through generations and eventually outliving the members of the Moet Family the Chateau was a hospice in the 1950’s however, today the ownership of the Chateau is with the current owners of the Moet Brand, LVMH.
Just when you would think we were dazzled enough by the extravagance of it all, we enter the gardens for pre -dinner drinks where we are to be acquainted with many others from all around the world. We see the setup of mini badminton adorned with the brandings of Moet & Chandon. I wasn’t sure at this point if I was more dazzled by the unexpected badminton in the Chateau gardens or the prospect of playing badminton in heels? What is one to do in this situation, do you take your shoes off, keep them on, surely such a glitterati of guests would know what to do!
Of-course the men were first in, they didn’t have the shoe drama to consider, and then yes shoes on, champagne in hand, the girls joined in as well. A hit here, a sip there, it was truly a memory I will have and treasure the rest of my life!
NOTE: Girls’ Guide to Paris & Beyond offers unique women-only small group trips with castle-stays and other unique itineraries throughout France and many other countries as well. Come be a princess with us for a week!