Château Les Crayères, Reims, France



For many years, we’ve enjoyed Les Crayères, an elegant hotel in a Belle Epoque-vintage limestone mansion surrounded by a magnificent park on the edge of Reims, the Champagne capital of France. We still fondly remember several outstanding meals there when the dining room had three Michelin stars under the auspices of chef Gérard Boyer, now retired.

Most recently, the hotel's chef has been Didier Elena, who previously worked for Alain Ducasse in New York City and whom we frankly never found to be quite in his element here. Why? Elena’s a talented cook, but his nervy modern French cooking never seemed to provide the appropriate culinary backdrop against which to sample the local wines.

Now Les Crayères has an ambitious new general manager, Hervé Fort, and a new chef, Philippe Mille, 35, who has a very impressive resume and who was most recently second to Yannick Alléno at the three-star dining room of Le Meurice in Paris. On the basis of a recent lunch, Les Crayères has made an excellent choice, too.

We opted for the “Menu Gourmet,” which will change according to the seasons, and started with a wonderful hors d’oeuvre of boiled beef salad with horseradish cream and a beignet filled with cornichons (tiny pickles) and capers. Next came an elegant king crab salad with avocado purée, salad leaves and citrus emulsion, then John Dory with a light seaweed sauce and a garnish of conch and razor-shell clams, both of which were delicious and beautifully presented. The best course of the meal followed: Bresse chicken breast that had been slow-cooked for hours and was served with a black truffle sauce and a garnish of pasta with black truffle shavings, a dish that showed off Mille’s well-drilled gastronomic classicism and preference for luxurious simplicity.

We next sampled a 2-year-old Comté cheese from maître fromager Bernard Antony in Alsace, and finished with an elegant dessert of velvety vanilla biscuit with cappuccino cream, the grand finale to a truly excellent meal. The amiable sommelier served us a different Champagne with each course, and on the basis of this luxurious lunch, we happily predict that Les Crayères is destined for major gastronomic honors in the very near future.

By Hideaway Report Editor Hideaway Report editors travel the world anonymously to give you the unvarnished truth about luxury hotels. Hotels have no idea who the editors are, so they are treated exactly as you might be.

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