I spent a magical 4 days in Paris and Reims this past week. I was invited to a Women's Summit hosted by Veuve Clicquot. Last fall I was awarded the Canadian Business Woman Award, which occurs in 26 countries around the world by Veuve Clicquot. The award is based on the 3 ideals of Madame Clicquot, the woman who led Veuve Clicquot to realize great success after she took over the company from her late husband at the age of 26. I was 26 when skoah began in 2001. Coincidence?
As a part of the award, we were taken to Paris and Reims to meet the other winners from countries around the world to participate in an inspiring session with a visionary, enjoy beautiful weather and champagne, and finally, to have a vine christened in our name with a plaque to commemorate the award.
The awarding process included completing a form to share financial success, entrepreneurship, corporate responsibility and the ability to be a positive role model. While the usual questions were asked, they asked me many personal and philosophical questions which were enjoyable to answer, and I felt like there was a desire to truly understand who I was.
We arrived in Paris early in the day and walked the city to burn off the jet lag, stopping for glasses of chilled rose as soon as the fatigue set in. We then met up with the Brand Director for Canada and enjoyed a beautiful dinner at L'Avenue. It was fashion week, so it was packed with those in the fashion world know, as well as a few familiar celebrity faces.
The next morning we were up early for breakfast at the hotel.
We caught the train to Reims for a beautiful ride out to the Champagne region. We had a walk around Reims and visited the Reims Cathedral in the centre of the city.
Historically this Cathedral was where the Kings of France were crowned. I thought it was fitting to light a candle here for my late father and late nephew Grady who passed away at the age of 3.
We then headed to lunch in the garden and to meet the rest of the Awardees for the afternoon of inspiration. We listened to a futurist share his vision of the world to come, and then had a robust and inspiring conversation. We enjoyed time in the garden before heading to the beautiful Les Crayeres to refresh before dinner.
Dinner was in the private Mansion and was beyond expectations. We dined with the winemaker who explained the essences of the wine and each vintage year. My favourite was the 1989 Grand Dame. The smell alone was beautiful and full and the bubbles refined and perfect. We had a photo shoot in the garden, before enjoying the rest of the evening outside and throughout the mansion.
We even discovered their photo-booth for some laughs later on! The mansion is actually called Hotel Du Marc but is not available for the public to use. There are some rooms there, which as reserved for private guests, celebrities, and family members and is invitation only.
The following morning we met a descendant of one of the first winemakers. he took us on a tour of their underground cellars. 26 kilometers of underground cellars where the wine is aged for 8 years before being available to drink. We learned the process from start to finish and concluded the morning with a personalized magnum of the 2004 vintage Grand Dame rose to bring home.
As we left the cellar, we were shown a bottle that was located under the Bering Sea a few years ago. Several cases had been on board a sunken ship and were perfectly aged 100 years later! As an experiment, they are aging some under the sea to compare with cellar aging. Fascinating!
From the cellars, we moved onto the vineyards where we enjoyed a garden lunch with music, endless delicious food and of course more champagne!
We were invited one by one to find our country's row of vines. We then located our own vine and the 'baptisme' began! We were delivered a beautiful personal speech about our award and our success. We were then given a bottle to open and poured ourselves and one of their Senior Winemakers (an incredibly bright young woman) a glass to enjoy. The remaining was poured onto my vine to help it grow! A plaque was hung in my name. I requested my plaque be made in my maiden name as a tribute to my late father who would have been beyond proud. It was an amazing afternoon!
We took the train back to Paris to finish with dinner at Joel Robuchon to reminisce about the past 2 days, and you guessed it, enjoy just a little more champagne!
-Veuve Clicquot is a world-class brand with world-class attention to detail and hospitality
-Veuve Clicquot has a long standing legacy of building and support women in business
-the definite highlight was meeting women from around the world running businesses
-the more we spoke to one another, the more I learned how similar the world is. We were all facing very similar experiences as women in business, juggling life and children
-no one county seemed much further ahead as it relates to our experiences in managing the gender biases we had all met over our years in business
-children were a juggling act no matter what our childcare situations were
-it seems to be a myth that European countries work less than North Americans, these women laughed when we discussed this!
-I will never tire of champagne!