In past years we have rated Chateau de Courcelles, the expensive Relais & Château hotel at Courcelles-sur-Vesle, as a back-up address rather than a main entry, and that's what it would remain except for consistently good reports from readers. They talk of an especially warm welcome, beautiful rooms and impressive food (Michelin star),and we too think that the management do something quite special here, probably helped by there being only 11 bedrooms, plus four suites and three apartments.
  It's a graceful, not intimidatingly large, 17thC château set in a small park in a peaceful backwater of the Vesle between Reims and Soissons; and, of course, it has a history: Napoleon and Rousseau were guests. Some might consider the drawing room a tad too heavy for their taste, with many betasseled lampshades, and predictably deep-red, traditionally patterned wallpaper. But the roomy bedrooms have, at their best, a certain freshness, with good use of paint on the panelling; one has an unusual terracotta floor. You could be calm-but-busy here for two or three days, with a long list of facilities and things to do nearby. 'Rooms and grounds a pleasure to be in,' state recent guests.