In the beginning of May I headed to southern skies, more specifically Northern France, to visit a 5 star hotel located in the heart of Champagne. You’ll find Chateau de Fére exactly 45 minutes from Reims, and even though the road may seem winding and a bit uneven, the journey itself is an adventure! The endless vineyards and green fields with grazing cattle will leave you breathless with its unbelievable beauty. Join us for a trip to this medieval castle located in the most idyllic settings.
Back to the Middle Ages
Chateau de Fere is the focal point in a unique piece of French history, as the actual castle, which was built in 1863, stands side by side the ancient ruins of the medieval castle Fère-en-Tardenois. Last-mentioned was erected between 1206 and 1260 by the grandchild of Louis IV, Robert de Dreux, thus it’s more than 800 years old today. Unfortunately there’s only a handful of remaining buildings and walls left of the once splendid castle, but it still adds a certain mystique and charm to the place. Especially the deep moat encircling the ruins makes a certain statement of past times.
Today the castle next door functions as a hotel and it has for almost a lifetime - since 1956.
The castle only has 32 rooms, of which 10 are suites and offers both a jacuzzi, a flatscreen TV and a private living room. We stayed in the ‘Superior Room’, which is a tad smaller, but nevertheless just as inviting. The biggest asset was the newly renovated bathroom with a giant bathtub, a shower with modern technology and - the best part - a champagne cooler with a nice, chilled bottle of champagne. Attention to details is of great importance!
A 3 course on a budget
The nearest town of Fere-en-Tardenois is not exactly in walking distance, nor does it provide highly interesting culinary experiences, so we decided to dine in the castle’s gourmet restaurant, which actually had a Michelinstar up until 2011. Earlier on the same day we had lunch on the terrace, but that experience didn’t turn out too well. The sparse selection of food from the kitchen during the afternoon could actually be limited to a cheese platter, which moreover was way too expensive. Nevertheless, we were looking forward to a nice dinner in the restaurant - and luckily that’s exactly what we got! We choose the ‘Market Menu’ to the reasonable price of 38 euros containing 3 courses; a starter, a main course and a dessert. Everything was prepared with the finest ingredients of the season and especially the starter captured my heart; foie gras with fresh raspberries and rhubarb. Furthermore, the castle possesses a large selection of regional champagne and wine; more than 1.000 bottles fills up the old cellars.
In the morning we were tempted by the delicate breakfast buffet, and despite us being a bit prejudiced about French breakfast (black coffee and croissants!) we had a pleasant surprise when we saw the selection. Personally I often determine the quality of a hotel through the breakfast buffet and I think many tend to forget the importance of it. But Chateau de Fere delivered a sublime experience consisting of everything from salmon, fresh fruit and pancakes to home baked goods and different charcuterie (bacon, sausages etc.). Even the juice was freshly squeezed and the friendly waiter served us a nice cup of coffee.
Our stay at Chateu de Fere was an experience out of the ordinary, and despite some of the interior might needing a minor makeover due to abrasion, I can definitely recommend this place to gourmets, Francophiles looking for a new gem in the French landscape or even newly weds. There’s plenty of space, fresh air and idyllic surroundings to gambol on around the castle. The five star castle has rooms starting from 160 euros pr. night and there’s also a spa offering classic spa-facilities and treatments.
For more information go to: www.ila-chateau.com/fere.