Author’s note: For this post, I’m turning it over to guest blogger Marijn Spillebeen, WG’12, who is based in Belgium and recently organized a Wharton trip to the Champagne region of France. He writes about the experience of catching up with his classmates below:
Recently, I helped to organize a reunion for my WG’12 classmates across Europe, such as Francesco Revel-Sillamoni and his wife Elise, Stephanie Awad and her fiancé Philippe, Eva Ducruezet and Joe Frem. Such a get-together is always an event to look forward to. We decided to meet in Reims, in the heart of the Champagne region in France.
The weekend started off with a blast (for soccer fans—or in other words, for almost everyone in Europe) as we quickly realized that we were in the same hotel as Paris-Saint-Germain, the Paris-based soccer team studded with celebrities such as David Beckham and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Below is a quick pic from when I “tried” to check in. Beckham is on the right.
Immediately after checking in, we went off to the village of Epernay to visit the caves of Champagne Mercier, part of the LVMH-group. It felt like Disneyland for grown-ups, with a tour of the caves in a small train and a short tasting session afterwards.
Later that night, we went to a spectacular restaurant (and we’re in France, so that’s really spectacular) in Reims, with a seven-course tasting menu accompanied by champagne. It was kindly sponsored by the Wharton Club of Paris, who decided to support once again our young alumni reunion initiative. Life can be good!
Below is a picture of the cathedral of Reims, on Sunday morning. The weather was beautiful, even with below-zero temperatures, and the cathedral is stunning (as you can see). It used to be the place where French kings were crowned before the revolution.
Our trip to the Champagne region ended, just as it started, with a visit to a champagne house. This time it was Mumm, the third largest champagne house in the world. It’s widely known for its jeroboams (containers the size of 4 normal bottles) being sprayed onto the public at Formula One podium ceremonies. Mumm possesses some nice bottles left from 1895, but, sadly, those were behind bars.
It was an amazing weekend. We can’t wait to do this again in the near future!
Editor’s note: Marijn Spillebeen is an associate at Waterland Private Equity, a 2.5 billion euro growth equity fund based in Antwerp, Belgium. While at Wharton, he interned at Waterland Private Equity and Acumen Fund, a $75 million global impact investing fund in Accra, Ghana. Prior to Wharton, Marijn was a junior associate at McKinsey & Company in their Brussels office. After two years at McKinsey, he spent a year working on market-based solutions to poverty, at TechnoServe in Honduras in the agricultural sector and at Ashoka in New Delhi, India, in the affordable housing space.