A guide to visiting Chablis
With a modest-but-pleasant riverside and a few historic buildings in a relatively flat part of northern France, the small market town of Chablis is interesting enough, but hardly a must-see destination.
It is, however, a Mecca for oenophiles with a fondness for the sharp, strong, important wine that bears its name.
For holiday purposes, it is convenient to divide France into the northern part (mostly dull) and the southern part (mostly interesting). This means a minimum six-hour drive from Calais to get to somewhere nice and therefore a stop-over is required.
Depending on the eventual destination, the most obvious stopover points include Chablis - as well as Champagne, northern Burgundy or Jura.
Hostellerie Des Clos (18 Rue Jules Rathier, 89800 Chablis, France) is a smart, sophisticated hotel in the centre of this little market town, next door to William Fevre.
Set in a former church and hotel de dieu, it is both luxurious and characterful; there is a courtyard with seating for drinks and breakfast is served in a former church.
Duplex rooms sleeping up to four cost around €180.
The restaurant at the Hostellerie Des Clos has a Michelin star, an extensive wine list, focusing on Chablis, and an oenomatic machine.
Set menus start at €45 for four courses, but the amuse bouche, pre-dessert and petits fours make it virtually a tasting menu in its own right.
Also recommended is the more contemporary Au Fil du Zinc.
Chablis is surrounded by vineyards with the seven Grands Crus sites just to the north of the town centre.
But to visit properly and understand what makes Chablis unique, take the 3-hour vineyard tour and tasting with oenologist-turned-guide Eric Szablowski of Au Coeur du Vin in his 2CV.
The centre of Chablis is small but pretty and makes more for a pleasant stroll than somewhere to be explored in depth.
Taste, Drink, Buy
There is no shortage of bars and cavistes proffering their wares on tasting in the town centre, but the best value wines we found were in the village of Chichee 3km away.
Domaine Ellevin, 3 Rue du Pont, Chichee.
Chablis is about a four-hour drive from Calais - a handy stop-over point if heading south and just about manageable as a long weekend.
Chablis is not especially child-friendly, but the CWB children found enough to explore and keep them occupied for a 24-hour stopover.
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