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Coco Chanel lived there, Hemingway liberated its bar from the Nazis and Sophia Loren declared it “the most romantic hotel in the world.” Such a storied address is the Paris Ritz that when its owner, Mohamed Al-fayed, closed it’s doors in 2012 for a full renovation, many feared too much change. In fact, the US$450 million, four-year redesign has maintained all the hotel’s former tradition and glory, while modernising for the 21st century. Guests can unwind in the fabulous new Chanel spa, enjoy the chic gardens year-round due to a newly retractable roof, and even enjoy paparazzi-free access thanks to a new secret tunnel. Its days as a high-life haven of indulgence and intrigue may well, it seems, live on. ritzparis.com Steeped in rich history, Champagne is not only famous for its sparkling namesake but is home to the historic city of Reims and the Château de Vaux-le-vicomte, famous for its gardens. Cruising on Belmond Pivoine between Meaux and Châlonsen-champagne along the Marne and Canal láteral à la Marne, you’ll pass undulating hills filled with vines and pretty canal-side villages.