Hotel Champs des Oiseaux

Published by Emma Lee-Potter in on Monday 22nd December 2014

IMG_1424Driving to the House With No Name isn’t for the faint-hearted. It involves 14 hours in the car, countless coffee and loo stops and loads of bickering about which audiobook to listen to.

The one thing the trip hasn’t involved in the past is a hotel stay. Until last week, that is, when en route for a pre-Christmas visit, we threw caution to the wind and decided to break the journey halfway.

On the drive south we checked into an anonymous grey hotel with a view over a Calais shopping centre.

When we arrived my Francophile husband and the manager conducted a surreal conversation – my husband spoke French and the manager spoke English, the pair of them refusing to budge an inch and switch to their first language.

But things looked up on the drive north when we checked into the heavenly Hotel Champs des Oiseaux in the medieval city of Troyes.

Up until then Troyes had been an unpronounceable name on a road sign. For years we’d whizzed past it in our haste to get to the south of France. What a waste. Troyes is a stunning city, with a vast cathedral, 11 churches (or so the waiter who served dinner that night told us), cobbled streets and half-timbered houses dating back to the 16th century. The capital of the Champagne region, it’s known today for its clothing industry (Lacoste is based there) and for its factory shops. If I’d had more time I’d have been into Petit Bateau and Zadig & Voltaire like a shot.

But back to the hotel. Just a stone’s throw from the Cathédrale Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul de Troyes, it has a pretty courtyard and 14 ultra-stylish rooms. The staff immediately clocked that my husband wanted to speak French and didn’t utter a word of English – even though they plainly speak it perfectly. The hotel is a regular stop-off at this time of year for British skiers heading for the Alps.

The next day, after a delicious breakfast of croissants and coffee we jumped in the car and headed home. On previous trips we’ve arrived back with the car-equivalent of jet lag – jaded and grumpy. This time round we felt so invigorated we could easily have turned round and driven straight back to the Hotel Champs des Oiseaux.

Leave a Reply