One week in Belgium and the Champagne region of France: August 13-20

The Carpet of Flowers, Art Nouveau and Chocolate in Brussels, Champagne and the Notre-Dame Cathedral of Reims in France and a visit to Brugge, Venice of the North.

The flower carpet

The flower carpet

In August we will travel to Belgium and the Champagne region of France. Our visit is timed to view the famous Tapis de Fleurs/Flower Carpet in the Grand Place of Brussels from August 14th through 17th. This week-end event draws people from around the world every two years.

“THE FLOWER CARPET is a transient work by its very nature, only lasting as long as the begonias do. This is why the carpet must be made keeping to a very strict timetable. Floral Carpets use a palette of colours to pick out the design, incorporating a huge number of freshly-picked flowers, all within an extremely tight time scale. The exceptional range of hues the tuberosa gradiflora begoniacomes lights up an exceptional Carpet.”
View Photos of Flower Carpets from 2012 and Earlier

Our visit to Brussels will also include a focus on Art Nouveau, and on Belgian specialities including its famous chocolate.

We’ll take an Art Nouveau Walk in Brussels

Brussels is the capital of Art Nouveau and magnificent structures throughout the capital city are recognized as “world heritage” by UNESCO. The brilliant creative works of Victor Horta, Paul Hankar, as well as those of other architects, bring pleasure to thousands of visitors who enter the private world of these opulent houses every year.

At the turn of the 19th century Brussels went through a period of unrivaled effervescence. The middle classes, merchants and artists opted to have their houses built in the style in vogue: Art Nouveau, marking the beginning of modern architecture and design.

The Austrian architect Josef Hoffman and painter Gustav Klimt, the French architect Hector Guimard all joined the Belgian architects Victor Horta and Paul Hankar, Henry van de Velde, the furniture designer Serrurier-Bovy and the jeweler Philippe Wolfers to get their inspiration or produce themselves for the first time in a more liberal city.

The Caves of Champagne, the Notre Dame Cathedral, and the gastronomie Champenoise

Notre-Dame de Reims

Notre-Dame de Reims

When we leave Brussels we will head to the Champagne region of France and will spend the night in an auberge on the Marne near Epernay. The auberge has been in the family for four generations and the present owner will probably share stories passed down by her parents about the arrival of the Americans during the war and the liberation of the region in the 40’s. We will visit the Champagne Caves of Pommery and travel a short distance to Reims to visit a gothic masterpiece, the Notre-Dame Cathedral of Reims, and its Chagall windows. This cathedral was one of the first monuments registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Every year it welcomes one million visitors.

Erected between 1211 and 1516, in accordance with an architectural program of immense artistic richness, the Cathedral of Reims survives as one of the most beautiful examples of Gothic art.

Read more about the Notre-Dame Cathedral of Reims
In the evening we will return to our auberge where we will enjoy the gastronomie Champenoise. Our six course meal will be accompanied by regional wines and Champagne of course!

Brugge, Venice of the North

Venice of the North

Venice of the North

Brugge, a remarkably preserved medieval city in Belgium is also called “The Venice of the North” because of its meandering canals.
Our day in Brugge will include a guided walking tour of the Beguinage, the Town Hall, the Market Square and the Chapel of the Holy Blood. After lunch and a special chocolate dessert, we will relax on our canal boat trip before returning to Brussels by coach.

Dates: August 13th through 20th