At a crossroads between history, future and nature
Atout France: Describe your favorite landscape in Les Portes de la Champagne
Fatah Nekhili: When people talk about Champagne, they immediately think of Reims or Epernay. However, there is also the AOC Champagne, which is only one hour from Paris, beginning in Château-Thierry region. I have worked there since 2011 and I find that I still discover something new each day. We are located on the Champagne route, west of the Marne Valley, so the Marne River accents the landscape. It’s hard to choose only one spot where you can take in the panoramic views. It really depends on what you want to get out of your visit. I suggest stopping at Mont de Bonneil, Mont Saint-Père village, and Passy-sur-Marne. At the entrance to the village, you have an incredible view of both the vineyards and the Marne River. If you want to enjoy a view of Château-Thierry, I recommend visiting the American Memorial on 204 Hill. I love the vineyard in the springtime, and also in autumn as you can enjoy a nice festival of colors.
WWI remembrance is another way to discover “Les Portes de la Champagne. The strong ties from World War I, uniting the United States and Château-Thierry, never cease to move me. The French-American friendship house is perhaps the most beautiful example of this strong bond.
ATF : If you only had 24 hours in les Portes de la Champagne, where would you stop to eat and drink?
F. N.: Obviously you can’t have the Champagne Route without cuisine and Champagne tastings. There are so many places to try! For first-time visitors, I would suggest the “Auberge de Reuilly”, a restaurant with one Michelin star and an amazing view of the vineyards. I also recommend the “Château de la Marjolaine” a charming hotel-restaurant with a champagne bar close to both Château-Thierry and the Marne River. Downtown Château-Thierry, “L’Adresse – Rive Droite” is also a good place to sample delicious traditional French cuisine.
ATF: What is your favorite season in Les Portes de la Champagne and why?
F. N.: If you plan to visit in the fall, I strongly recommend attending the “Champagne & Vous” festival (last week-end of October). It is a new event which takes place in the medieval castle of Château-Thierry. Winegrowers of the West Marne Valley gather to proudly share their passion for their “terroir”, savoir-faire, and Champagne !
Fatah NEKHILI – Director of “Les Portes de la Champagne” Tourist Board
2, Place des Etats-Unis