If you’re in less of a hurry to get to the snow, stop a couple of times en route and enjoy France’s fine wine and stunning scenery
You can race to your ski holiday in the French Alps and get there the same day, but why not take your time, stopping for a couple of nights and savour some highlights along the way?
Day One: Fine Wine and Food
Reims is only 2 ½ hours from Calais and the gateway to Champagne. Make it your first overnight stop and you will have time for a leisurely lunch and some exploring. In the old city there are three UNESCO World Heritage Sites and a spectacular gothic cathedral. It is one of the best in northern Europe and more than 20 kings of France were crowned there.
Eat at The Opera restaurant (Tel: +33 3 26 02 68 43) in the centre of Reims. The food is traditional cuisine but there is an organic menu from around £25.
Stay at La Parenthese (Tel: +33 3 26 40 39 57) which has five suites starting at around £70 a night.
To add some serious sparkle to your winter holiday in France, visit nearby Epernay, or drive a section of the Champagne Route and have lunch at a vineyard. There are several to choose from. Four of the five Champagne Routes (covering 360 miles) start with Reims and Epernay and the champagne houses of Moet et Chandon and Veuve Cliquot. The journey encompasses amazing viewpoints, tiny villages, ancient churches and chateaux and acres of vineyards and ‘vignerons’ vineyards run by families where you can buy liters of wine at great prices for your holiday. Champagne Escapes (08456 430 860) offers several Grape Escapes. You could try tasting Champagne in the vineyards, or a three-course lunch with three different Champagnes. Another option for staying in the Champagne region is at Hostellerie du Mont Aimé (Tel: +33 3 26 52 21 31) in the village of Bergères-lès-Vertus, 30km off the A26. The gastronomic menus start from around £35.
Dijon is not just renowned for mustard but has its share of historic monuments and palaces from the era of the Valois dukes. Don’t miss the seat of the Order of the Golden Fleece, museums and architecture and lovely town centre. Heading further south the Côte de Nuits vineyard has been producing Burgundy wines for 2,000 years and it’s one of the region’s most famous. The vineyard is 20 kilometers between Dijon and Corgoloin and produces the whole range of regional appellations: Bourgogne, Bourgogne Aligoté, Bourgogne Passe-tout-grain, Crémant de Bourgogne.
Find out more about Burgundy wines on www.burgundy-wines.fr
Day Two: Beautiful Beaune
Stay your second night in the lovely old vineyard town of Beaune. Here you’ll find romantic eateries house in ancient timber-framed buildings and a host of attractive hotels.
Eat at L’Ecusson (Tel: +33 3 80 24 03 82). Try the gourmet menu which features all sorts of delicious local specialities from around £25. For something a little cheaper try the Bistrot Bourguignon (Tel: +33 3 80 22 23 24;). An atmospheric bar stocked with Burgundy wines from the region and a choice of menus starting from around £9 Euros. There’s live jazz on Saturday nights
Stay just outside Beaune lovely at Le Clos des Saunieres (Tel: +33 6 22 75 79 72). House in an old farmhouse, it has just four rooms and one suite from around £90 a night. It has a lovely outdoor pool and vineyards are just outside.
Lunch on day two could take you to Lyon, home of some of the world’s most renowned restaurants such as Two Michelin star Nicolas le Bec (Tel: +33 4 78 42 15 00) or Leon de Lyon (Tel: +33 4 72 10 11 12). Booking essential.
A more convenient lunch spot is the small Hotel du Commerce (Tel: +33 3 85 30 30 56) at Pont de Vaux, 10 minutes from the A6 at Macon-Nord. In the heart of La Bresse its specialities include Bresse poultry, frogs and crayfish. There are four menus, but don’t choose the “Menu du Terroir” or you might never make it to the Alps.
For more tips and highlights driving to the Alps and where to do your supermarket shop before you arrive. See our one stop ski holiday in the Alps driving guide.
P&O Ferries Ski Expert
The Guardian's wintersports correspondent from 1999-2005, Nicky is now the regular ski writer for The Sunday Telegraph, The Guardian and ski magazines Daily Mail Ski and Snowboard, and Ski and Board, the magazine of the Ski Club of Great Britain. Her first memories of skiing holidays are sitting on the shoulders of her parents’ ski guide as he zoomed down the slopes - she was just five years old. Her favourite resorts are Chamonix, where she once fell into a crevasse, St Anton where she learned to dance in skiboots and Aspen for its awesome powder snow.