So, part 1 of Euan’s birthday celebrations was a weekend exploring cocktail bars in London (you can read more about it here). Part two is all about drinking champers in Épernay!
I’ve come to realise I don’t like doing things in half. Such is the case for birthday celebrations nonetheless! My aim was to completely, utterly, and wholly surprise Euan with a trip away for his 30th. Mission = accomplished. He genuinely thought we were going back to Tavistock over his birthday (as if!). No siree, I had other things in mind…
But instead of a step-by-step of our time in France, I thought a bit of a ‘pointers’ blog post would be more useful. Amongst some pictures and anecdotes of our trip, obvs…!
There are no words to express how wonderful our stay was here. From the moment I booked, they were so attentive via email. Answering my many questions about the area & what to do, plus organising a birthday cake for Euan on my behalf and letting me decorate the breakfast table! (And – more to the point – clearing up afterwards!). Whilst at the hotel, the staff were incredibly friendly and asked lots of questions about what we were up to etc, taking a genuine interest in our time in Épernay.
They even gave us a glass of champagne each on Euan’s birthday as a celebration – simply fabulous.
Our room was stunning – modern but comfortable and we felt very, very fancy! (Always find myself judging a hotel on whether they provide Nespresso machines in the rooms… Yes, I’m a loser. But what a brilliant touch!).
An absolute must if you are staying in Épernay – I couldn’t find a single fault!
Food & Drink in Épernay
France did not disappoint on the restaurant front. Searching online was tricky as nothing looked any good, but I asked our hotel for some recommendations and trusted what they had to say. And I was right to do so! We had a wonderful spontaneous meal on our first night in beautiful restaurant in the centre of Épernay. Not drinking with your meal is most definitely not an option in France, so champagne for two it was!
The next day was Euan’s actual 30th birthday and (amongst champagne tours) I had booked lunch at a restaurant which came highly recommended (though didn’t look like much online) called Le Théâtre. I bit the bullet and said no to any alcohol with my meal (we had just been to a champagne house after all!), but Euan enjoyed even more champers in Épernay…
In the evening we dined at the ‘hot spot’ of Épernay’s cuisine scene, La Grillade Gourmande. It. Was. Amazing. A family run restaurant where you were greeted by the head chef upon arrival, introduced to the wine bible (it probably weighed more than a baby elephant – it was enormous), and treated like royalty throughout.
Their sommelier took our wine order which is always the sign of a sophisticated establishment. And the food was absolutely divine. I didn’t feel like eating much, but I still managed to because it was just too bloody good to not! From start to finish, it was the perfect evening. And – more importantly – the perfect way to end Euan’s 30th birthday.
Champers in Épernay – the Tours
Now, the reason we went to Épernay in the first place… The champagne tours! We kick-started Euan’s birthday with a 10am private tour of Champagne De Castellane, and it was incredibly informative & interesting. Especially for Euan who loves facts about wine/champagne.
We visited the cellars, private collections, and were shown where the magic happens. At the end of the tour we had three (yes, three!) glasses of champagne each. Two Bruts and one Rosé, all of which were sublime (even at 11am….). Whether you’re a champagne enthusiast or not, I would definitely recommend this tour. After all, you’re surely only going to be in Épernay for the champagne anyway!
After lunch, we visited a slightly smaller family-owned Champagne house and learned a bit more about the variations of champagne making (not that there are many – there are so many rules!). And then drank even more champagne…
There are many champagne houses you can visit in Épernay, including Moet & Chandon. However I wouldn’t necessarily just go for the champagne houses you have heard of. We hadn’t heard of either of the ones we visited and I really enjoyed seeing more of the less commercialised places!
Travelling in France
We flew from Heathrow to Paris which was super fast & easy (plus we love an airport G&T!). The Eurostar is far more eco-friendly, and probably takes less time when you consider the airport malarky. And in normal circumstances I would’ve gone for that option, but as it was a birthday surprise I thought flying to France was more impactful!
We did, however, travel by train a lot when we got to France. Épernay is around 90 miles from Paris and much quicker to get there by train than car. Paris CDG airport is a little way away from Paris centre, so whether you’re thinking of visiting rural France or just sticking to Paris, you’ll still need to get yourself to central Paris either way.
It’s super simple, if you know what you’re doing. But you can’t pre-book tickets, so you’ll need to leave enough time to collect tickets from the airport. Signposts are everywhere, but you’re basically looking for the RER B train which will take you to Paris Gare du Norde.
From Gare du Norde you can get the Metro to where you need to be inside Paris. Or for farther locations you will probably need to get to Gare de l’Est station, which has local and rural trains going to most places. (This is where we got our train to Épernay from).
I make it sound like I’m an expert, but I’m really not! In fact, my cousin’s boyfriend, Nick, recommended an app called Citymapper and it is honestly life changing. Especially in a foreign country! It makes knowing which signs to follow soooooo much easier, and gave me the confidence that we were on the right train (even when I knew we were – always good to have confirmation haha!). If you are travelling anywhere, you absolutely must download this app!!!
The train services in France were generally speaking really smooth & efficient, even when trying to navigate central Paris! Travel is always stressful, but we did amazingly well and luckily absolutely nothing went wrong!
So there you have a slightly long-winded review of drinking champers in Épernay, some recommendations, and a few top tips!
As December is nearly here, I am going to be all over the Christmas content for the next couple of weeks… Watch this space!
A question I’m sure you’re all dying to know the answer to… Truth is, I absolutely love knowing what people have in their handbags/work bags… Is that weird? Anyway, I thought – since I love others doing this so much – I’d write a what’s in my work bag post!
I haven’t written much over the past couple of weeks, so wanted to write something fun & lighthearted today (to help get back into it more than anything else).
So, seriously, what’s in my work bag?
I hate packing my work bag before work, so I try and keep it as simple as possible (as well as not taking too much out of it). Here we go…
My diary. I am stationery obsessed, and a yearly diary is a must have Christmas present for me. In recent years I’ve got the ‘Perfect Planner’ from the Busy B online stationery shop (aka the place of dreams). Although for 2020 I’m thinking about mixing it up, and going for one of their other diaries… #rivetingstuff
Notebooks. My notebooks of choice tend to vary depending on where I’m going/what I’m doing. But this is my blogging/business notebook and I love it. I’d also be totally lost without it as I write all my ideas/plans/goals/etc etc in there.
Lipsticks, naturally. I mean, you’ve always got to have one handy, right!?
Pencil case. Really, I’m still 11 at heart… I bloody love a pencil case! Highlighters, pencils, and an assortment of different colours pens are all must-haves for my work bag.
Perfume – always. Work days are long and I always like being able to freshen up if I need to (especially when I have client meetings!).
I also have various keys, plasters, pain relief, wet wipes, tea bags (herbal, obvs), plus snacks/lunch/water (which always weighs my bag down…). Somehow I never use everything in one given day, but always keep it all with me because you just never know!
Whilst I get caught up on blogging, have a read of some of my previous autumnal posts. May as well make the most of autumn whilst it’s here! And I shall see you soon with some more fascinating blog content…..!
Okay, enough of autumn (for now). Let’s get back to some wedding stuff! Corks & candles – what on earth do I mean? Basically, Euan, my dad, and I have all been saving wine & champagne corks for literally years. We have so many now, it’s beyond a joke… And naturally we’ve just got to incorporate them into our wedding, right?! I have many fabulous ideas of how we’re going to use them (and I’m sure I will not get around to doing them all…) but here is quite a simple corks & candles idea I came up with and thought I’d share…
Corks & Candles – The How To
You may have watched my insta stories from earlier on today (if you didn’t have a watch now. I’ve also saved them to my highlights if you’re reading this after the 24hrs is up!). That’ll show you a little video clip of me putting them together, but here is the written version…
A loooaaaddd of corks (I used red wine corks for the smaller vase and champagne/prosecco corks for the larger vase)
Cylinder shaped vases (I got mine from Ikea – links below)
Pillar candles (again, mine are from Ikea but you can get them from lots of different places)
Something for the candles to sit on (this isn’t necessary, but I think it’s a good idea)
The How To:
Place your candle into the middle of the cylinder
Strategically place the corks around the candle so they are unmovable, but still look nice (much easier with red wine corks than champagne corks!)
Take a pic, and tag me in it!
Haha – it really is suuuuper simple. And I think they look great! Especially if you’re into wine. We’re using ours for general decor around the barn, but if you’re having round tables they would make a fantastic centrepiece. And why not add a bit of foliage around the outside to bring it even more to life?
*Disclaimer* I am slightly worried about them catching on fire, but Euan assures me they won’t… Anyway, I think I’ll soak them all in water beforehand just to be sure. And if they do catch light, hopefully it’ll be contained in the vase…….!!
If you fancy creating these corks & candles decor pieces, here are the links to items I bought. But, we saved the corks ourselves so you’d better get drinking!!
Well we couldn’t start October off without some autumn faves now could we?! Today I thought I’d write about a few items I’ve been using a lot over the past couple of weeks. Not necessarily ‘autumnal’ items, but we’ll go with it…
Autumn Faves – Beauty/Bath
First off, the shampoo that dreams are made of…! I change up my shampoo & conditioner quite frequently, and always have a couple on the go. But when the weather starts to get a bit colder I find my hair needs something to give it a bit more moisture. Enter… Coconut milk!
And in autumn, who doesn’t love a bath? (I bloody love a bath). These bath tea bags are from a gift shop in my town, but I think you can find them (or certainly ones similar) pretty much anywhere. I love a bath bomb too, but find these are more subtle but really leave your skin smelling glorious afterwards.
And, something I haven’t actually used yet because it’s too darn pretty… This amazing soap cupcake that I bought at the Yorkshire Soap Company in Harrogate (check out my Harrogate recap post to learn more). Surely I’m not the only one who thinks it looks too good to use?!
Home & Office
Also from the Yorkshire Soap Co is this amazing candle that I genuinely can’t get enough of. I wanted an autumnal smell and the lady in the shop suggested this one. What a dream it is! Can’t have autumn without a few new candles now, can you?
Finally, the thing that I don’t think I could live without… My giant planner! I bought this at the end of August so I could get a bit more organised with my blog posts & content. It has been a miracle, and keeps me totally on track. Plus, I am an actual stationery geek so any excuse to buy something new!
So there you have a few of my autumn faves. And for more autumnal vibes, check out my last twoposts! Next up on the blog, it’s back to weddings with some wedding decor inspiration that I’m having at my own wedding.
Evening lovelies! I am super excited to have finally finished my wedding cocktail brochure, and it’s now available to download from my website!
Download by clicking the image below!
I’m a sucker for a cocktails at weddings, but they can be tricky to do. Especially if you’re trying to be a bit more DIY with your drinks reception! Traditionally, cocktails are made to order (drink by drink) by a bartender who knows their stuff. And that’s just not practical or possible for weddings, certainly not during a drinks reception…
The Cocktail Brochure
This cocktail brochure is designed specifically for weddings, or any large event where you might need to make cocktails in bulk. All the recipes are traditional cocktails that I’ve added my own twist to and adapted them so they can be made in bulk and served easily & quickly.
Here is a sneak preview…
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this new cocktail brochure. And let me know if it proves to be a useful tool for you!
Don’t forget to Download!
To keep up to date with all things Lila Bailey, follow me on Instagram. I’m all about the autumnal vibes at the moment! And why not check out my last post too.