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Jeffersons in the news

Just time for one more glass

When Max Davidson flies by private jet to Reims for a blow-out lunch, naturally the Champagne is flowing the whole day.

Pop! went the first cork as we took off from Farnborough. Pop! went the second as we soared over the English Channel. Pop! went the third as we staggered into one of the finest restaurants in Europe.

It was like a particularly surreal episode of Absolutely Fabulous. The pleasure principle ran through the day like a thread of good-quality tweed.

Downing Champagne by the bucketful, of course, has long been the prerogative of the super-rich. But it is only recently that the travel industry has geared itself up to satisfying the ultimate imbiber's fantasy - swilling Champagne in the Champagne region of France with little more physical effort than nipping down to the local for a pint of bitter.

Jeffersons, the provider of this lip-smacking celebration package, is a newcomer to the market, and has one innovative feature: its luxury mini-breaks deploy private jets. There is no nonsense about check-in queues, passport control, security, customs and the like. You just hop aboard a Learjet or a Citation Excel and it deposits you at the destination of your choice like a magic carpet.

Its holidays do not come cheap, naturally. But the Jeffersons brochure has that hint of pure, unadulterated class that appeals to the snob in all of us.

From Farnborough to Reims, the heart of Champagne, took less than an hour; and with no immigration formalities to complete, we had time for a tour of one of the Champagne-producers before sitting down to lunch.

And so - after stocking up on a few cases of Champagne to take home with us - to lunch. Restaurants with three Michelin stars are thin on the ground, even in Champagne, and the Boyer les Crayères is one of the best of them. It is one of those classically built French hotels, in preposterously beautiful grounds; and from the moment you walk through the door, you are in foodie paradise.

Just reading the menu set the taste-buds tingling. Ile flottante à la truffe noire, fumet de rouget, homard bleu, émincé de veau de lait... As in most great French restaurants, formality and informality went hand in hand. Not many of the male lunchers were wearing ties. Jackets were draped over the backs of chairs. Every course, all six of them, was brought to our table by a small army of black-jacketed waiters, who, in perfect unison, lifted the silver domes from our plates to reveal the culinary masterpieces underneath.

My memories of the rest of the day are rather hazy. I think we must have had a conducted tour of Reims cathedral. I can certainly remember stained-glass windows at some point. The flight back passed in a kind of blur. More Champagne? More caviar? I imagine so.

But I am in no danger of forgetting the finale to the visit, which had a touch of pure jet-set theatre.

As our plane taxied to its stand at Farnborough airport, a convoy of limousines, one for each of us, glided across the tarmac to greet us.

We had to walk less than 20 yards from private jet to leather-upholstered car. Now that is what I call luxury.

Sunday Telegraph