A 3 hour car journey from Paris and we pulled into the strikingly beautiful Château la Chenevière, situated in between the picture perfect town of Bayeux and only 5 minutes away from the coast. This fabulous old country estate, another one of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World properties would be our home for the next couple of days.  The hotel grounds comprise of 12 hectares of land and include a walled garden, tennis courts and outdoor heated pool. (open from May – September) It also has its own vegetable garden which provides the restaurant with fresh herbs, fruits and vegetables and my favourite part – bee hives which have been producing the hotels own honey since 2012 and is served in the restaurant and also available for sale to the guests. Anyone who knows me knows that it’s my life goal to keep my own bees,  Château La Chenèviere are living out my dream!

After a swift check in and welcome drink we were shown to our rooms. Each of the 29 rooms are decorated individually, keeping to the luxurious grand country home feel. My suite faced out onto the grounds and was decorated tastefully in a classic French country style, with grand mirrors, marble fireplaces and interesting antiques, no doubt from the families travels over the years.  The bathroom was bright and airy and came complete with a Jacuzzi bath that I made sure to make the most of during my stay.
Miraculously we had worked up an appetite despite the copious amounts of pastry we’d eaten throughout the day, so we had a quick refresh and then it was downstairs for dinner at the hotel restaurant, Le Botanist.  The meal at Le Botanist certainly didn’t disappoint, in fact it was the best meal I’d had throughout the whole trip. Head chef Didier Robin sources all the ingredients locally, some of which are produced in the hotel grounds.

I started with the Poached Snails and Foie Gras Ravioli, this was my first time trying snails and they were surprisingly good, it helps when the dishes come out looking as beautifully presented as they did. Next up was Beef Fillet with Vegetables and a Chocolat Banyuls Sauce. The fillet was cooked to perfection and was literally melt in the mouth.  Upon finishing the main course we were surprised with the Chariot de Fromages; the literal translation is The Chariot of Cheese. This was the most incredible display of cheese wheeled out on a marble topped cart, with pretty much every type of cheese you could think of.  Feeling rather full by this point, but never one to decline dessert I finished the meal off with a Caramelized Apple Tart Tatin with Pommeau, Crumble and Ice Cream.  We ended the evening with a nightcap at the hotels basement speakeasy bar, Zanzibar, where we enjoyed a Calvados tasting.

The next day we were able to wake up a bit later than the day before, so I made the most of a lie in and had a coffee in bed before getting ready to meet everyone else downstairs for breakfast. The Breakfast buffet at Château La Chenèviere, is something to be revered. The dining room was laid out with puffy buttery croissants, pan au chocolate, fresh fruit and delicious French bread. We all ordered fresh eggs to go alongside and probably ate way more than we needed to. 

Feeling sated and happy after a leisurely breakfast we rounded up the troops and headed into Normandy, oohing and ahhing at the beautiful Chateau’s we passed along the way to the local cheese factory we were visiting. We learnt all about how cheese is made, which I found slightly off putting, and as I still want to continue eating cheese I decided to mentally switch off and focus on taking some photos instead! Lunch time soon rolled around so we headed to a local Calvados producer for some tasting. Calvados is best described as an apple brandy and whilst fairly potent, is absolutely delicious. It’s made purely from apples and is aged in various caskets and barrels in order to get its distinctive taste. After trying several I picked my favourite and bought a bottle to take home with me.

 

After an eventful afternoon which resulted in feeling a tad tipsy we headed back to Château La Chenèviere to freshen up and make the most of the sunshine. That evening we decided to borrow the hotel bikes and ride 10 minutes into the marina to try out a local fish restaurant that had come highly recommended by the hotel. We indulged in fresh fish, steak and a good bottle of red, before riding back just in time before the sun set. Not feeling quite ready for bed a few of us took sanction in the comfortable bar area downstairs and ordered our favourite cocktail from the menu and a dessert to share. The perfect ending to a wonderful day.

Travelling back to Paris the next day meant an early start. I had a very early breakfast in my room whilst watching the sun come up over the grounds of the hotel. Feeling sad to leave, I could have easily spent another couple of nights at this beautiful home from home. We packed up and headed to the local train station. Due to a few of us suffering from car sickness we decided it would be best to bid farewell to Albion Voyages in favour of a less bumpy ride.

2 hours later and we were back in bustling Paris, ready for lunch and a tour of Hôtel San Régis, another Small Luxury Hotels of the World hotel. Ideally located in the Champs Elysées district, this 19 Century townhouse is the epitome of Parisian luxury. Many of the rooms feature unparalleled views of the sprawling city, steeped in history. We enjoyed lunch in the hotel’s winter garden restaurant with a beautiful glass-roof; a wonderfully light airy room with plenty of character. The food was yet another 3 course delight, I had come to expect nothing less from the SLH group of hotels at this point.

After a fantastic few days it was time to head home, but not before a visit to the new Eurostar Premier Classe Lounge. We were traveling Business Premier on the way home which meant we had access to the chic lounge and all the amenities. Decorated like a luxe Parisian apartment with parquet flooring, marble fireplaces and plush velvet sofas. I stocked up on some of the complimentary magazines to occupy me on the train journey home and settled down with a Gin and Tonic, making use of the USB chargers to catch up on some work.  Our time in the lounge flew by, and before we knew it we were traveling home in style, enjoying a 3 course culinary delight designed by Raymond Blanc and toasting our trip with a glass of champagne or two.

A special thank you to Small Luxury Hotels of the World for having me– the perfect hosts!