The Ferrari FF (Ferrari Four) is a very sexy car, especially in the rich Rosso Maranello. This stylish super car is a design dream, from the Prancing Horse on the wheels to the leather interior with FF logo and even extends to under the bonnet with the eye-catching 6.3 litre V12. The FF has a top speed of 335km/h and sprints from 0-100km/h in 3.7 seconds.
We powered down to Dover with ease, enjoying the acceleration and that wonderful F1esque sound! We took a P&O ferry over to Calais; and nestled in the club class lounge we experienced a very smooth, comfortable, and convenient crossing.
Our first stop was the Saint James Paris, once through the gates and into a courtyard complete with fountain you step into an oasis of luxury and decadence. The hotel is a plethora of arresting decor complete with faux zebra heads over the fireplace, rich colours and textures and eye catching carpet and mirrors everywhere.
Our room 504 (junior suite) was a wonderful surprise - step into an elegant conservatory style sitting area cleverly created with skylights and the ubiquitous mirrors, complete with an abundance of plants. A step down into the bedroom reveals a fantastic use of prints and fixtures and some lovely pieces including the angelic headboard.
Dinner was an experience: beautiful room with lots to look at, not least the balloon style tents in the garden. We followed advice and went for the multi course surprise tasting menu, from chef Virginie Basselot, complete with wines. We were not disappointed, the plates kept coming and we kept eating and oohing and aahing. From fois gras with stewed apple and pomegranate seed jelly, to smoked turbot with béarnaise sauce, to spiced confit of lamb and then the puddings (yes plural!) iced meringue cake with grapefruit and lemon bergamot cheesecake. Sublime!
We spent a wonderful day in Paris cruising the Champs Elysees and visiting some favourite haunts, before heading out to Le Mans on a wonderful drive, Fleetwood Mac blaring (I'm sure you can guess which one … think F1).
We arrived at the Chateau de la Barre and were greeted by our delightful and gracious hosts, Comte et Comtesse Vanssay, whose ancestral home it is. Wonderful dinner with local food and wine, and some fascinating dinner companions, followed by digestifs in the drawing room; the sense of history is palpable. Guy gave us a wonderful tour of the chateau, and Marnie shared their plans for renovating the chapel and creating a spa. Wonderful opportunity - not to be missed, we would urge you to visit.
The return drive to Calais gave us the chance to have some fun with the car - launch control! This James Bond style button in the centre console sends maximum torque to the ground for a spin-free, high performance start in all conditions.
We boarded the ferry with ease, whisked ourselves up to the quiet calm of the club class lounge, and a glass of champagne later our flagging spirits were lifted.
On to Great Fosters in Egham, Surrey, built as a royal hunting lodge in 1550 and now sympathetically converted into a luxury hotel. It consists of the beautiful Grade 1 listed main house and the Coach House along with the Cloisters, stunning ornamental gardens and outside pool and has played host to many international icons and celebrities as well as royalty.
We stayed in the historic Panel bedroom, which features original wooden panelling and a majestic four poster bed, and the most wonderful, if slightly surreal loo!
Sadly the Tudor Room was closed for dining (it was Sunday evening) and so we had to miss out on their Tasting Menu, but were comfortably looked after in The Estate Grill, the hotel's very new contemporary restaurant. Throughout the hotel, from reception to the restaurant, all the staff are attentive, friendly and professional.
We indulged in a final glass of champagne in the cocktail bar, to the dying strains of Dancing Queen, from the wedding taking place in the Tithe Barn, then we wound our way up the historic staircase, caught a glimpse of the blushing bride, and closed the door on a wonderful weekend.
Ferrari - www.ferrari.com
P&O Ferries - www.poferries.com
Saint James Paris
43, avenue Bugeaud,
Tel: +33 (0)1 44 05 81 81
Chateau de la Barre
F-72120 Conflans Sur Anille
Pays de la Loire
Tel: +33 2 43 35 00 17
Surrey, TW20 9UR.
Tel: 01784 433822