LOCAL Houston | The City Guide JUNE 2016 - Page 72

DESTINATION FRANCE PARIS | BURGUNDY | ÉVIAN-LES-BAINS By Carla Valencia de Martinéz FRANCE IS ALWAYS, ALWAYS A GOOD IDEA. MY RECENT ESCAPADE SPANNED THE OBVIOUS ALLURE OF PARIS, TO THE WINE ROUTES AND GOURMET TRAILS OF BURGUNDY, CULMINATING IN THE RHONE-ALPES CITY OF EVIAN-LES-BAINS FAMOUS FOR ITS HEALING AND RELAXING WATERS. Getting to and moving throughout France has never been easier. Air France’s recent upgrades including improved Business and Premium economy cabins, meals created in partnership with Michelin-starred Chef Daniel Boulud and of course, a stellar wine menu, make it a pleasurable experience getting there. Moving within Europe is also a breeze thanks to Rail Europe. The first time is always an adventure, but once you get the hang of checking in, filling out the stub and situating your baggage, the nostalgia of old school glamour train travel and the ease of modernity settle in for an enjoyable trip. www.raileurope.com/index.html Château de Pommard Air France PARIS STAY: Full of history with a love story to match, Hôtel Napoléon’s love story is of a rich Russian entrepreneur, Alexander Pavlovich Kliaguine, who falls madly in love with a young Parisian girl at a literary fair in the late 1920s and as a wedding gift, gives her a hotel in Paris’ 8th arrondissement. The hotel is still owned by the Kliaguine family today, with their private art collection gracing much of the property, adding to the feeling of understated luxury. The property is within walking distance of the Champs-Élysée and Arc de Triomphe. www.hotelnapoleaonparis.com DO: See Paris in a different light in the backseat of a vintage Citroën 2CV. Insider tips included an up-close and personal drive at the base of the Eiffel Tower where the names (that were short enough) of the philanthropic families who helped raise money for the tower are etched. http://2cvparistour.com The Jacquemart-André Museum not only showcases the home of this art collecting couple, but also Nélie Jacquemart’s keen eye for talent well before their worth. Edoard André spent his fortune amassing his art collection and met Nélie when she painted his portrait. Their union was a match made in art heaven and their home embodies their passion for travel, philanthropy and art. The collection features works by Chardin, Fragonard, Rembrandt, Botticelli as well as frescoes, tapestries, sculptures and furniture. The Impressionists in Normandy currently on view features the work of Monet, Daubigny and Baudelaire. www.musee-jacquemart-andre.com SAVOR: La Maison Blanche has been offering the most majestic view of Paris at night for 25 years and is located on the rooftop of the Théâtre des Champs Elysée. www.maison-blanche.fr/en/presentation-20.html BURGUNDY A leisurely hour and a half first class rail transport to Dijon-Ville via Rail Europe sets us up on a gourmet tour of Burgundy. STAY: Château de Chailly is an upscale 16-century hotel and golf resort with large, luxurious rooms that have been graced by the likes of the Dalai Lama. It’s easy to imagine an era of royalty walking through the halls of this castle. There’s an outdoor pool, hammam, jacuzzi, game room and tennis courts. www.chailly.com 72 L O C A L | june 16 Hotel Napoléon DO: If a truffle makes you swoon, the family-owned L’Or des Valois boutique in the historic antiquarian district is a must. The owners are passionate and share a wealth of knowledge about the different types of truffles as well as offer tastings. The shop is stocked with oils, condiments, truffles and can arrange guided hunts. www.truffedebourgogne.fr/en/welcome-2 Maille in the city of Dijon is the original boutique (first opened in 1845), with hundreds of varieties of this famed potent mustard. They offer tastings as well as hand bottling and corking the perfect gifts to bring home. www.maille.com/en_GB/boutiques?sid=dijon A stop at Hospices of Beaune shares the history of one of the first hospitals of the region. Flemish in design, the roof tiles are breathtaking as is the guided tour of this ahead of its time medical marvel founded by Nichlas Rolin, chancellor of Burgundy. One of the most important wine auctions in France, organized by Christie’s, is also held here yearly. www.hospices-de-beaune.com Chateau de Pommard is a breathtaking château owned by an