I have to be honest I had never fancied doing a driving holiday but when I was given the opportunity with BMW I thought yes let's give it a go.
We drove a BMW 2 series F23 220 D - very stylish white with red leather interior stunning what was there not to love.
Any convertible - especially one with a BMW badge on the bonnet should have pizzaze and buckets of glamour, and that's something which the F23 220D really delivers. The shapely headlamps either side of those big air intakes give the car a look of aggression, but tempers this with smooth curves and flowing lines. One really smart touch is the crease on the shoulder line of the car, which starts just behind the front wheel-arches running all the way around the back of the car. The alloy wheels, a chromed-up exhaust and LED rear lights all go to give the car a racy look.
The three-layer fabric hood does a great job of cutting out wind noise on the motorway, and with the roof down and the wind-blocker in place, you're very well protected from buffeting.
Inside of the 2 Series looks just as good as on the outside, the interior surfaces feel opulent and plush making this a very classy-feeling car. Practically it's good ergonomically, thanks to the standard iDrive system that makes it a doddle to use all the car's various functions. The only niggle I had was the pedals are offset to the right, which could effect long-distance comfort something we would find out during the road trip..
Think of the 2-series as practical sports car not a compromised coupe, it will make a lot more sense. This a great engine/gearbox combination with the added bonus of the open air as your roof.
We made our way down to the Euro Star Terminal at Folkestone, which was to be ourmeeting point, being the norm on British roads , road works and delays, the normal Friday headache of everyone wanting to get home for the weekend seemed to take forever
With an early start Saturday meeting at euro star for 8.00 am so we stayed at the Holiday Inn express which was nice, clean, and most of all just 5 minutes from the terminal. We drove a BMW 2 series F23 220 D - very stylish white with red leather interior stunning and so fast I loved it.
We were to meet at the Eurotunnel, in the Flexiclub lounge and after a quick coffee drove straight onto the train, skipping past all the queues - a very easy way to travel across to France. The Flexiplus ticket means you can get on the first train available when you arrive at the terminal. I had never done this before but found it really enjoyable 35 minutes and you are in Calais.
Now this is were the real road trip began. , We took the more direct route to Epernay 2 1/2 hours to fit in a visit to Champagne de Castellane. Arriving early we decided to have a little look around the town before our tour. Taking a stroll along the Avenue de Champagne,a must for any champagne lover it's unbelievable all the top champagne houses in one village.
Did you know that only 10% of all champagne actually leaves France. The French love it and so do I. We had a lovely tour of one of the largest champagne houses in Epernay the beautiful Champagne de Castellane, we toured the many caves running for 6 km under the town. This took approximately 2 hours ending with the best bit the tasting champagne. We tried three champagne's - a dry white, a rose, and then a Demi sec, which was a little unfair as I was driving so a sip of each was all I could have. Then it was off to a local bistro for lunch to sample the local cuisine.
Back to our cars and departed Epernay for the remainder of the journey to the incredible Chateau de Vault de Lunge.
The drive on the motorways of France were a dream I was driving and all I can say is thank goodness for sat nav' .
After a further two and a half hours of motorway we took to the normal roads passing through quaint typical French villages until we arrived in the rain at Chateau de Lungy. A beautiful family run Chateau, surrounded by a moat situated about 20 mins from Chablis and 15mins from Vezelay, one of the most beautiful french villages in France The weather couldn't dampen our spirits as the place was magical, greeted by a bridge over the moat and vast iron gates it was so impressive very old but very modern at the same time, the hotel was stunning from the grand bedrooms to the magnificent views of the grounds .
The Chateau de Vault de Lunge was built in 1120 and in 1859 it was bequeathed to the Cartiers (a local farmers family), then in 1967 the present owners purchased the property that was at the time empty and virtually uninhabitable , The owner, Elisabeth who inherited the property from her father, has lovingly restored each room in the old building, completing 70%, one room at a time . The Chateau was opened as a hotel in 1986,.
On arrival we were taken to our rooms and left to freshen up ready for a champagne reception which was meant to be on the Terrace but due to bad weather it was held in the pool area. The pool happened to be in a vaulted cellar and featured a changing lighting system of colours that lit the room up from inside the pool. Our evening meal was also meant to be out in the gardens on the terrace but due to the bad weather we had to eat in the dinning room.
After our pre dinner drinks we were off to dining room for a gourmet set menu by a chef who specialised in vegetarian cuisine, which I believe is very rare in France, each course was accompanied by a different glass of wine ending in a desert wine which was extremely sweet, but quite enjoyable .
The next day we had free time after breakfast so we decided to have a little dip in the pool followed by a Jacuzzi which was just lovely just the two of us very romantic.
We went back to the room and got changed to go and do a bit of exploring, we did a tour of the chateau before climbing the chateau's somewhat precarious watch tower, definitely not for the faint hearted and health and safety went right out of the window. Although it was well worth it to see the incredible views that overlooked the moat and the surrounding area. You could see real history via the little peep holes, look out the arrow firing slits and see holes in the ground were they would guards would have poured boiling oil on the enemy - really interesting but as I said not for the faint hearted. There is lots to see and do whilst staying at the Chateau from visiting local markets, horse back riding wine tasting, you can even go hot air ballooning which would be spectacular on a sunny day.
Later that afternoon we had a local wine grower and owner of a local vineyard, Matthew from La Croix Montjoie Vezerly to host a wine tasting by candlelight in the old cellar talking us through 7 different local wines 3 white including a sparkling 2 reds then desert one ,which was really interesting, we ended with a desert liquor which to be honest smelt a mostly like a whisky of sorts.Though he did say the smell is nothing like the taste and in fairness it wasn't it was rather nice.
This set us up for the evening when we took a taxi to Auxerre, where we where heading for a meal at Le Jardin Gourmand restaurant to be introduced to flambouant owner Oliver who talked passionately about his food derived from 'nature and about his knowledge of wine. Oliver guided us thought the menu explaining how most of the produce was sourced from his very own garden, including beautiful edible flowers which were really interesting when added to your dish - not only do the look amazing they taste it to. Again with each individual course came a different wine to accompany the dish. After the meal it was back to the Chateau, most people after all the wine tasting and a fabulous meal just wanted to retire to their rooms ready for an early start the following morning heading home.
Our final day we were up nice and early for breakfast we said our good byes and off we went, but not for long, the car flagged a warning sign saying one of the tyres had low pressure and you couldn't exceed 80 mph which wasn't going to be any good to me as we had a long journey back 5 1/2 to euro tunnel then a further 4 hours depending on traffic the other side. So we turned back and upon further investigation from Dan one of the guys from BMW revealed that there was a slow puncture in my back tyre caused by a bolt in the tyre. If the car hadn't warned me it would have been a disaster trying to find a local dealership to sort it for me once we were off and on the motorway, anyway that was all sorted out.
Whilst we were waiting for the car to come back we did have a final glass of champagne in the glorious grounds of this incredible chateau with the lovely Rachel from Iris who help sort and plan this amazing trip.
I would just like to say thank you to Gavin from BMW for letting us drive this brilliant car, and we did manage to drive for a while with the sun roof down I loved the car, it's brilliant to drive.
A massive thank you to Rachel for looking after us so well and arranging everything for us it was incredible
Thank you a to everyone at Chateau de Lungey for making our stay so magical- the chateau is stunning and so was the food and wine
And last but not least Oliver and the Le Jardin Gourmand restaurant for stunning food that. It only looks great tasted fantastic and the wine was perfect.
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