Spring has Sprung in Champagne

Spring has sprung in Champagne, and the vines are in bud, the blossom is out on the cherry trees and the pear tree, and we’re ready to welcome our guests for the 2012 season which officially starts this weekend at Easter.

What’s new?

The Blue Room is still the Blue Room but it’s now a different shade of blue.  We’ve re-decorated it in duck-egg blue and cream, which we hope you will like.

Champagne Tours and Tastings is our new offering this year, with three options to choose from

(link to webpage)

Jiles will be your Guide and will let you into all the secrets of the champagne region and production, sharing stories and anecdotes along the way.

The “Champagne Day” app is your essential resource for your trip, containing our personal network of contacts built up over 17 years of living and working here in the region.  Videos of the people and places will help you to plan your trip and “virtually” meet them before you even arrive here.  Past guests have said how much they have appreciated having it with them on their ipads and iphones.  The free upgrade to Version 2 with even more special people and places will be available in June.

As it’s an even year (2012), the Fete Henri IV takes place in Ay on the 7/8/9 July.  This is a great festival to visit if you’re in the area at that time.  Tasting champagnes in style at some of the bigger houses such as Bollinger, allows us to dream of another world, and of course, the smaller independent producers open their doors to welcome you too.

Plus many more exciting and interesting things to do and see in Champagne in 2012.  Come on down!

 

Categories: B&B

Give more to get more

I posted a blog recently on a friend’s website which focusses on the good news about being an entrepreneur.  It’s about giving more to get more and my philosophy on business and you can read it here.

I love working for myself, because I love making my own decisions, but there is a responsibility too, and sometimes things don’t always go right.  But if we focus on the value we can add to our customers, suppliers and community, then I believe that it will all come right in the end.  What goes around comes around as they say, and I believe in that very much.

As entrepreneurs, we are in a unique position of being able to add value in so many ways.  It’s a priviledged position which we cannot afford to take lightly.

I’d love to know what you think, so go ahead and click here to read the full post and please do leave us a comment with your thoughts.

 

The French are rude!

Living and working in France has and still is one of the most enriching experiences of my life.  I love it here!  I even left it once, only to return “home” as soon as I could.  Why?  I find the French philosophy on life refreshing and it just makes sense to me.

Here in Champagne, the people are warm and friendly, and there is a sense of community, that long-forgotten feeling that used to prevail in the homeland, the UK before it all went wrong.  The French are attached to the earth, the “terroir”, the planet in a way that makes me feel safe and secure, and even loved.

You can imagine my surprise then, when friend and business partner Marion Ryan sent me this article this morning.  Apparently the French have been voted the most rude country to visit for tourists!

Yes, yes, I know that sometimes they are rude, but isn’t everybody?   But what I’ve learned about the French during my many years among them, is that it’s NOT intentional.  My daughter describes them as “direct” and that’s a good description.  They don’t put up with nonsense, poor service, poor food, rules that don’t make sense to them, working harder, working longer (remember they only work 35 hours a week!)  and their lives are much more important than any commercial transaction.

There is a respect here for each other, with the essential “Bonjour Madame or Monsieur” whenever you meet someone in the street.  Eye contact is normal and people smile.  Old people are respected and children are cherished.  People help each other in a distinctly and guarded French way, but nevertheless the support is there.

Of course, I may have to eat my hat if Marine Le Pen wins the next election! God help us!

Reiki and Champagne

I’ve just received the monthly newsletter from the Tourist Office in Epernay (pity it’s only in French) and I’ve noticed that there is a “Reiki Conference” happening on the 31st March.  (The Tourist Office’s website is undergoing some maintenance at the moment, otherwise I’d put a link in here for you).

I know that alternative health treatments are pretty popular around the world, but so far, in France I’ve yet to discover much at all. In fact one of my English students whispered that that sort of thing isn’t welcome in France. And I’m not surprised. The French are pretty wedded to their mainstream medical system, and anything natural or slightly “out there” would probably be shrugged off.

In fact, many of the “spa” treatments the rest of the world has to pay for privately, are offered on the French national health system.  A good friend of mine recently had a heart operation and he was sharing with me recently, that the option to take a “spa” treament was part of his recovery package!

But now, we have a Reiki conference taking place at the stunning Hotel Royal Champagne on the hills outside Epernay on the 31st March, starting at 4pm. I’m certainly going to be there. Anyone else?

Fete Henri IV in Aÿ

If you’re planning to come to Champagne this summer, then you won’t want to miss the Bi-annual Fete Henri IV in Aÿ (pronounced aye)

Aÿ used to be the capital of Champagne, over 400 years ago, and at that time was most famous for its still wines.  It’s still home to some of the big well-known champagne houses,  such as Bollinger, and some of the best grapes of the region are to be found in its vineyards.

The best time to visit Aÿ is every other year (even years)  when they hold the Fete Henri IV.  In 2012 it’s on the 6th/7th/8th July.   Many of the champagne houses large and small, open their courtyards, gardens and doors to visitors, where you can sip a glass or two and relax.  It’s a lot of fun.

If you come to the Fete, you’ll be able to walk in and taste some of the little known gems of Ay plus enjoy the atmosphere of a typical champenois event, where the music plays, the food is plentiful and the champagne flows.

Champagne, Institutions And Why Don’t We Listen?

Just got back home from a local networking event in Epernay, near to where I live in Champagne.  The networking event was the first “Speed Networking” event held in Epernay, and I must say I was surprised and impressed to get an invitation.  At least they’re trying, I thought.

The focus of the event was twofold.

First, to bring all us operators in the tourist industry together to share ideas, meet new people and find the odd JV.  I thought this was a very good idea and quietly congratulated the new Director of the Tourist Office.

Secondly to unveil their new iniatiative on getting us all grouped together under yet another banner “Vignobles et Decouvertes”.  We’re already with “Gites de France”, “Tourisme Marne”, “CDT” to name but a few, all of which are supposed to give us credibility and assure the tourists.  And maybe it does, I really don’t know.  All I know is that I have paid handsomely to belong to these institutions in the past and I really can’t recall how much extra business they have brought me, but it’s not a lot.

We were told that the worthies had been down to Burgundy to see what they were doing down there and saw said V&D in action and thought it might be a good idea to do that in Champagne.

And it might be, but my point is “how will this help our visitors, those precious souls who come from far and wide to Champagne, with their expectations, their dreams and their money”  and I’m not sure I can see the answer to that question right now.

So often in business, and I’m as guilty as the next person, we focus on what we want or what we think our customers want, not really listening to their deepest desires and goals.  I wonder how much real research has been done into what visitors really want when they come to Champagne.  When I say real research, I mean asking good questions and then listening to the response without judgement.

I don’t think anyone would have revealed a deep desire to have a label “Vignobles et Decouvertes”  do you?

 

Launching an App feels like giving birth….

Finally, the day has arrived when you can now have your own personal network of contacts in Champagne downloaded onto your iphone or ipad!

Champagne Day App is being launched at 12 noon GMT tomorrow and I feel as though I’m going to give birth!

It’s been an exciting few months, contacting old friends, making new ones, gathering information, shooting videos, getting the files ready and then sending everything over to our wonderful appman Simon Williams.  If I’m the mother, Jiles is the father, and Simon is definitely the midwife!

And so the “baby” is about to be born, packed full of exactly what you need to plan and enjoy your Champagne experience.  It will introduce you to and take you to meet and see the people and places you probably wouldn’t find on your own, but where we know for sure you’ll have a great time.

To take a look inside the App, before it’s launched tomorrow, by clicking on the video below.  If you’re not already on the VIP Priority List where you can get your App tomorrow at the special one-day-only price then you’ve only got a few hours left to do that, by clicking here. 

I’m looking forward to meeting you soon in Champagne.  Cheers!