Centenary year of the death of Pierre-Auguste Renoir

2019 marks one hundred years since the death of French impressionist painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Read my full post here: omotgtravel.com

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The artisanal food culture of Aube Champagne

Champagne. The epitome of all that is refined in the world. A word that triggers feelings of joy, jubilance and victory. A drink that has become so synonymous with better living that it’s almost impossible for others to vie for a brush of its limelight.

If wine is the pilgrimage then the region of Champagne-Ardenne is its high altar. This department located in northeastern France is the modest home of the most renowned sparkling wine. The town of Les Riceys, in Aube Champagne, is the only town with three AOC-certified wines. There are certainly fine Champagne Houses in the region which may more than fairly be described as artisanal producers. Champagne Gremillet, Rémy Massin & Fils are family-owned vineyards unquestionably worth visiting. Rémy Massin & Fils, a fifth generation producer since 1865, with 20 hectares of vineyard harvests grapes without the use of herbicides to benefit from the region’s characteristics. Champagne Gremillet produces just 500,000 bottles in its cellars per year from 42 hectares. The House adheres to the purest traditions and blends exclusively from first pressings.

So what of other produce in the region? If the terroir is capable of delivering the most prestigious wine of the world then surely it should follow that it is just as contributory towards other foods. Well, I found out that it happens to be just so. The region produces ham, cheese and truffles.

The town of Troyes also produces a gourmet drink that barely leaves its boundaries. This is mainly as much of the small batches produced are bought by the town’s residents and whatever is left might be sold to visitors.

Alexandre Krumenacher

Prunelle de Troyes is the name of the drink and it has been distilled in Troyes since 1840. The liqueur is developed from the stones of blackthorn fruit which grows in the region. Records show that in 1900 the recipe was awarded the gold medal at the Paris Universal Exhibition. At the time the drink was named Champagne Prunelle but renamed Prunelle de Troyes, in 1995, at the request of the Champagne Winemakers’ Committee. Cellier Saint-Pierre which produces the drink is located at 1 place Saint-Pierre – 10000 Troyes and it would be foolish to visit Troyes and not visit the cellar.

Philippe Formont runs the house which was purchased by his father in 1933. Alexandre Krumenacher is in charge of the distillery where he’s been employed for 15 years where the entire process happens by hand. “Our process is from the 19th century and it is the story of the birth of La Prunelle de Troyes. If we change the process, it won’t be the same story. Today the distillery is at its maximum production with only 13,000 bottles per year,” Alexandre tells me.

The small distillery occupies a historic building in Troyes which sits opposite the regal Troyes Cathedral. “Our cellar is the oldest building in the city. It was used to store a tenth of the harvest which was always given to the church. Then the Canons lived in the house which occupied the space where our shop now is.  Afterwards, wine merchants occupied the cellar to store their wines and also built the distillery,” explains Alexandre.


The next stop on this artisanal journey was the charming village of Chaource renowned for its floral crust cheese. Fromagerie de Mussy at 30 Route De Maisons-Les-Chaource – 10210 Chaource is the unassuming dairy belonging to Stéphanie and Christophe who together produce the only cheese in the region permitted to carry the artisan label. “I bought the fromargerie in 1995 when I was 23 years old and single. It has always been owned by women. Then I met my husband and he is now the main cheesemaker,” Stéphanie adds as she walks me outside the cold room where milk becomes Chaource cheese in just five days. Once that happens it’s wrapped, labelled and delivered to Paris and other major cities.

All of the milk required for the cheese-making comes from within 15 kilometres and in 2018 Fromagerie de Mussy produced 62 tonnes of cheese between just six people. As well as the signature Chaource Stéphanie also produces cottage cheese, cream and 13 other regional specialities. Locals and passers-by bring empty pots and leave with exactly the amount they might need. It would not do to waste artisanal produce.

As I concluded my journey it had me thinking. With the festive season approaching it may bode well to skip the conventional Christmas markets and delve a little deeper in favour of an artisanal food road trip through Aube Champagne. Champagne, liqueur and cheese all hand-made by people you’d meet face to face. If nothing else think of the stories you could tell around the dinner table.


Getting around: The best way to get around Aube Champagne is by car. Information on car hire can be sought at the Tourist Information Centre in Troyes located at 16, rue Aristide Briand – 10000 TROYES. You may also telephone them on:

Girl Travels World – Top Five Places to Visit in 2018


It’s that inevitable time of the year when we are collectively encouraged to reminisce on the last 12 months of our lives. Personally, I’ve always preferred to look ahead. I must however, take a moment to be grateful for an incredible year of growth for Girl Travels World. Visitor numbers to the blog increased 345% (year to date) and number of views increased by almost 300% for the same period. I was fortunate to travel to fascinating destinations and bring forth captivating stories and images which hopefully played a small part in inspiring you all to travel more. Girl Travels World social media channels (namely Instagram and Facebook) also reflected the immense growth of the blog and now have a collective following of almost 25,000. For all of this I am grateful.

Furthermore, I’ve had the opportunity to form inspiring partnerships with worldwide destinations, luxury brands and work alongside exceptional PR companies, travel writers, bloggers and journalists. 2017 also brought me the good fortune of becoming a contributing writer for award-winning TikiChris.com and Seen in the City magazines. (Thank you to my editors Chris Osburn and Natasha Colyer for taking a chance on an inexperienced writer with a gigantic dream). All of this drove me to work as hard as I could to create the best content for my audience and brands I work with. As a result my rewards were plentiful and I am grateful.

2018 promises to be even bigger and better for Girl Travels World. With several key collaborations, travel documentaries and food related ventures all in the pipeline it is exciting to look ahead. To show my gratitude for the support I’ve received in the past year I’ve rounded up my top five (short-haul) destinations which I think you will all love. I’ve been to all of these places. They made the list because they are currently vastly underrated and I believe they will trend in 2018.

Happy travelling wanderlusters! Thank you for everything.

1. Lake District, UK

Image – Conde Naste Traveller

2017 was the year that England’s largest national park was at long last declared a World Heritage Site. Located in the county of Cumbria it is home to Scafell Pike – the highest peak in England (YES, I’ve climbed it) and you guessed it…lakes. It’s the epitome of the picturesque green and pleasant land. Long hikes  through the park are highly recommended as is summiting Scafell Pike. You will need the help of a local guide to appreciate its wilderness and enjoy the astounding beauty of its caves, caverns and waterfalls.

Image – Evening Standard

There are luxury cottages, local inns, log cabins, hostels and  bunk houses to stay in which are dotted around the surrounding area of the park. It’s a five-hour drive to The Lakes from London which means you can make it a road trip to remember.

2. Madrid, Spain


This year I realised that Spain as a country needs a revisit. It’s a destination that Brits in particular take for granted. The number one city which needs an urgent revisit is Madrid. It is the home of Spain’s bloodiest battle during the civil war and is bursting at the seams with history. Landmarks and monuments for victorious heroes as well as fallen ones are dotted throughout the city and makes for remarkable walking tours.


It must also be said that Madrid’s food resurgence is nothing short of incredible. It’s no easy feat to cling to your roots while moving forward in the name of change and modernity. But this city appears to have done it. From traditional tapas restaurants which have seen little change since the 19th century to Michelin starred gourmet restaurants the city now boasts it all. In under just 3 hours’ flight time from London you could be sipping a traditional chicken broth at the world’s oldest restaurant while picking on black label ham. Stay in five-star hotels or cool private rentals but remember to look at Madrid with new eyes.

3. Tallinn, Estonia

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This Baltic capital which is home to a Unesco World Heritage Site (The Old City) is beginning to make a name for its cuisine. Tallinn is seeing a generation of young chefs reviving its restaurants by adding new twists to traditional food. With a focus on local, seasonal produce delivered directly from farms there is a quiet food revolution in Tallinn. The city hosts Restaurants Week, twice a year, to promote the variety of food available. It’s a great time to visit if you want to sample the best of what’s on offer.


The plot twist here is that this harbour town held the sailing event of  the Summer Olympic Games hosted in Moscow in 1980. V. I. Lenin Palace of Culture and Sport was purpose-built with facilities in preparation for the Olympics. The brutal grey structure, now eerie, abandoned and covered in graffiti stands as a cold reminder of a not so distant past. The building was renamed Linnahall and is currently under the city council’s authority awaiting renovation and construction. Go see this part of human history before it’s changed forever.

4. Tel Aviv, Israel


Travel broadens our horizons and bring our focus back to the things which unite humanity rather than divide us. This is the lesson I learnt in Tel Aviv. I was grounded here for two days due to bad weather in London which gave me the perfect opportunity to do what I do best – explore. Tel Aviv’s promenade runs along the Mediterranean seashore and is a place for walking, jogging and generally showing off your physical prowess/perfection. All through the day joggers, yogis and sporty types practice their craft in full view of passers-by. At night, parts of the beach are floodlit for beach volleyball games.


In the heart of the city approximately 15 minutes’ walk from the promenade is Carmel Market which caters to all your street food needs and funny slogan tees. Running parallel is Nahalat Binyamin Craft Market where you can browse for ceramics, jewellery and fascinating pieces of art along a long leafy street. Under six hours’ flying time from London and all of this awaits you.

5. Nimes, France


Nimes is possibly the most underrated of all the cities on this list. It sits along the Cote d’Azure and enjoys hot summers and mild winters. It was an important city in the Roman Empire and the evidence is everywhere. A magnificent amphitheatre, Arena of Nimes, which dates back to AD 70 dominates the centre of  town. Maison-Carrée, a 2000 year old temple, is one of the best preserved Roman buildings in the world and sits alongside modern museums, coffee shops and galleries.


Pradier Fountain (pictured above) greets visitors arriving by train and has been the centre-piece of the  urban garden Esplanade since 1845. What is baffling about this little town is that with such perfectly preserved Roman buildings it’s yet to be declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. An application is due to be presented in the summer of 2018 and in my humble opinion I see no reason why it would be unsuccessful. Also, did I mention…Musée du Vieux Nîmes (free entrance) has a room devoted to Nime’s most famous export – it’s where denim was born. Go see this marvel of a town before the crowds get there.