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5 nights in Burgundy, with the kids

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Calling all experts on Burgundy... I'm looking for your recommendations on what *not* to miss, considering we'll have our young children (12 and 9) with us.

We'll only be there for 5 nights, staying in Meursault. I typically plan ahead (sometimes with military precision) but am feeling unusually laid back about Burgundy simply because our prime objective there will be to relax. We plan to ride bikes and walk through the vineyards with the kids, drink wine in the evenings, and eat delicious food. Other than that, I need some help editing the many options.

My husband is a *huge* Burgundy fan... so just being at the epicenter of this wonderful region will be a dream come true.

Are there any smaller winery or vineyard tours that would allow us to bring the children?

Is the Clos de Veugeot worth the visit?

Should we take a day and visit the Morvan forest?

Thanks!
-skatterfly

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    Here is something I wrote for a friend who was staying in the same gite we stayed in a few years earlier. The Gite is about 10 mins south of Beaunne.

    Burgundy

    Visiting Chateaux
    Look for a brochure titled “Route des Ducs de Bretogne”. http://www.route-des-ducs.com/
    Save your ticket for the first chateau, and you will get a discount on the second chateau. Save the ticket on the second chateau & you will get a discount on the third, etc, etc, etc.

    Monday (remember, shops close in Dijon & Beaune in the AM).
    Leave the Gite & take the D17 south to La Rochepot – this is a pretty drive. The town of Orches is quite cute. Continue on the D17 to La Rochepot or Nolay.

    Market in Nolay. This is a very small market, but the town has several antique shops. If this interests you, go there. I think the shops are open on Monday because there is a market there on Monday

    Vist Chateau Rochepot*. Pg 279 in my Green Guide.. Note that it closes for lunch

    Visit Chateau Sully* (pg 305 in GG) or Chateau Couches .

    Tuesday
    Visit Beaune*** in the AM. This is one of our “top 5” medium sized cities in France. Spend the better part of the morning there. The “popular” Hotel Dieu*** gets a lot of attention and it is quite elegant from the outside – but only OK on the inside. But it deserves a visit on the inside.

    Afternoon – one of the chateaux you didn’t visit yesterday.

    Wednesday.
    Head out northwest on the A6. Get off the A6 at Exit # 21 and head towards Tanlay

    Get the “Route des Ducs de Bourgogne” brochure. Remember about saving the entrance tickets.

    Visit the Chateau de Tanlay**. This was our favorite chateau in the region. Tours start at 10 – so get there then . It is about a 1 ¾ drive from the gite (1 hr of freeway).

    Next, drive to Noyers & explore this cute village. Note on villages in Burgundy - compared to Provence, Dordogne, and many other places you have visited in France – there are not as many “cute little villages” in Burgundy. This is one of them, but not in the “top 50%” in France.

    Visit Chateau Ancy le Franc** Note that it closes for lunch – that’s why I have you visiting Noyers during lunch. If you can get to Ancy le Franc by 11:30 when their last tour of the morning departs – do that if you don’t mind back-to-back chateaux.

    Visit Abbaye de Fontenay*** if you like abbeys.

    Take the D980 south from the Abbey to Semur en Auxois*. See pg 296 in the GG. This village is more interesting from the outside than from the inside. As you take the R de Paris from the D980 toward Semur – there is a very nice view of the perched village. If you want to see the “scene” pictured on pg 298 of the GG. Circle clockwise around the exterior of the village to where I have marked “fantastic view” on the GG map of Semur. Next, drive toward the informatioin center (marked on map) & park your car outside the “gate” of town & explore the old section of Semur if you like.

    Thursday
    Visit Dijon*** This is our favorite city in France – after Paris. Find the “Dijon the Owl’s trail” brochure I sent you & follow this walk. The walk is fantastic. The “centerfold” has the route for the walk.. This may be market day in Dijon at Les Halles – but only in the AM. Lots of interesting sites to visit.

    Friday
    Head out north on the A6. Take the exit #22 and find your way west to Vezelay** pg 314. We did not approach Vezelay from this direction – we visited Vezelay after Auxerre. But I figured that on your last day in the gite, you might only want to do a half-day – so I “cut out” Auxerre – which is too bad because we really enjoyed Auxerre.

    After Vezelay, head south on the D958 on a pretty drive to Chateau Bazoches. I mentioned Vauban earlier – this is his chateau. There is a “self guided” tour, but note that it closes for lunch.

    If you don't mind a small drive, visit the Chateau Cormatin** – this is one of our favorites. The interior & especially the gardens are fantastic. http://www.castlesinsouthernburgundy.com/UK/cormatin_uk.html


    From our 2006 visit

    Top 3 restaurants

    Stephane Derbord in Dijon – one of the top 5 meals of all time in France (we dine out about 40 times per year in France)
    Michelin 1 star

    First round of Amuse Bouches
    Bite sized squares of Croque Monsieurs
    Carp mousse with black & white sesame seeds
    Parmesan chip and a bite sized tomato “truffle” with a semi-liquid center
    Second round of Amuse Bouches
    Sushi (California roll) with cockle, with Asian spices & bean sprouts
    Potato puree
    Leek Mousse with green beans
    55E menu
    -Smoked sander – thin rolls stuffed with finely julienned vegetables served with tart greens (incl dandelion greens) topped with paper thin lengthwise sliced carrots. The plate was edged with a piping of honey mustard and crumbled hazelnuts
    -Perch with a wild mushrooms and green beans served in a deep plate with a “soup de poisons” reduction sauce
    -cheese chariot
    -Poached , pealed pear with a red wine sauce in pain epice with sage ice cream – all very refreshing

    65E menu
    -Sauteed scallops, each served on a cucumber “coin” with a topping of lemon cream & caviar, with julienned apples & dandelion greens
    -Sandre on a bed of spinach with a butter sauce accompanied by a small tomato stuffed with diced cepes on a squash “coin”
    -Filet of Cerf, served with berries & a dark berry reduced sauce with green beans & wild mushrooms with a ‘grain” of some sort
    -Cheese chariot
    -pre-dessert refresher
    -Chocolate fondant – top & bottom layers of dark chocolate “sandwiching” lighter chocolate mousse with dark chocolate wafers & vanilla ice cream
    -Post-dessert refresher

    Hostellerie du Vieux Moulin in Bouilland, just north of Beaune
    Also a hotel
    www.le-moulin-de-bouilland.com
    Michelin 1 star

    Amuse Bouches
    Skewered rolled duck breast slice, with mustard dollop
    Homard tartare “confit”
    Arugula sorbet with whipped cream top layer & balsamic drizzle (in a glass cylinder)
    39E menu
    -Seared tuna with fennel sorbet and a side of pickled vegetables
    -Supreme de Pintade thinly sliced in a “spiral” presentation on a bed of herbed crushed potatoes, with vegetables in a side casserole
    -Excellent cheese chariot
    -Seasonal fresh fruit with pepper-flecked yoghurt ice cream

    65E menu
    -Daurade with vegetables a la Pistou
    -Rougets with a confit of fennel and a bouillabaisse reduction with macadamia nuts
    -Pigeon with polenta and zucchini “packet” stuffed with caviar d’aubergine and a rich reduction sauce
    -Cheese chariot
    -Poached plum with amaretto cream and puff pastry triangles

    -Post dessert of Marc de Bourgogne ice and assorted sweets


    Charlemagne in Pernand-Vergelesses just north of Beaune
    Slight Asian twist
    Michelin 1 star

    37E menu
    Six amuse bouches which arrived on a Plexiglas “cube” with holes & shelves to present the various items
    California rolls with a “crisp”, held in place by a teeny wooden clothes pin
    Fish mousse on a cracker
    Parmesan pastry palmier
    Pickled fish filling wrapped in a won ton wrapper on a skewer
    Marble sized savory (no idea what it was)
    Small piece of spiced pork on a bone
    Second Amuse Bouche course
    Glass of creamy smoked fish puree (to drink)
    A herb-crusted langoustine
    -Bread presentation – 3 different breads stacked on a skewer, with a wooden base into which a recess had been routed to hold a corked vial with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, which were to be shaken before pouring onto your bread plate as a dipping sauce
    -Tuna ceveche served at the bottom of a glass with a smoked tomato cream, slivered green onions, and a dot of washabi cream
    -Cabillaud a la vapeur with a vanilla/olive oil drizzle, layered with wild mushrooms, served with a pork bun with a crustacean filling, on a bed of cucumber-wrapped ratatouille. This was not your grandmother’s cabillaud recipe
    -Strawberry/red berry gazpacho – heavenly creamy/frothy served in a slanted glass with a brochette of halved strawberries and strawberry marshmallow cubes

    45E menu
    Same Amuse Bouche courses
    -California rolls with snails and langoustines speckled with black and white sesame seeds
    -Lisettes (small mackerel) served atop a bone marrow tube filled with spinach & julienned carrots tossed in Asian spices
    -Porc cotolet (cutlet/loin) served with artichoke mousse, drizzled with peanut butter with a cluster of small wild mushrooms in tempura
    -Pyramid of chocolate with other sweets

    Other restaurants – all were excellent
    Le Jardin des Remparts in Beaune. We dined here several years ago, and it was one of our top 5 of all time then. It didn’t “wow” us as much this visit. Michelin 1 star.

    La Rotisserie du Chambertin in Gevrey Chambertin. It has an upstairs Bistro, and a downstairs restaurant in a wine cave, with animated winemaking scenes as you descend into the cave. We dined downstairs.

    Le Montrachet in Puligny Montrachet. It was “complet” the first few times we tried to reserve. Obviously very popular. My St Pierre was overcooked. Lovely setting.

    Relais de la Diligence in Meursault. Excellent value. It was the “sleeper” of the group

    Les Gourmets in Marsannay la Cote. Michelin 1 star. Very nice

    One day we took an overnight trip to Troyes, and dined there. On another occasion, we met some friends at a Michelin 1 star restaurant in Macon – which is not in Burgundy. We also spent 2 weeks in Beaujolais

    We “checked out’ about 10 other restaurants in Burgundy (including 1 stars) and the menus did not seem interesting enough to make us choose them over the ones we selected. There’s a lot of Charollais beef on menus in this region. I have not experienced any beef in France that’s as good as the beef we have in the US, or beef I’ve tasted in Italy (one exception may be Aubrec beef). Bresse chicken is also a very popular item on menus. I’ve tried this several times in other areas of France & thought it wasn’t really that much better than a good farm-raised chicken.

    Stu Dudley

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    There is no place that will refuse your kids on a wine tour. I bet the most fascinating place in Burgundy for a kid to visit (and even adults) is this place:

    http://www.guedelon.fr/en/

    However, it's an awful long drive from where you are staying (2-1/2 hours non-stop). I've never been to the Morvan forest but as with anything else, I think it's something only you can decide if it's worth visiting:

    http://www.burgundytoday.com/flora-fauna/morvan-forest/morvan-forest.htm

    If you want links to all the major tourist office websites in Burgundy as well as châteaux, abbeys, wine, biking etc. you can have a look at this thread:

    http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g187105-i1297-k6282652-Looking_for_a_Base_for_Touring_Burgundy-Burgundy.html

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    When we were there for 2 weeks a few years back, we started to drive into the Morvan forest, spent about 20 mins driving, turned around, and went elsewhere. Lots of tree trunks. Not much else. The Michelin Guide & green-shaded roads on their maps love forests.

    Stu Dudley

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    Great information, guys! Thanks so much.

    I have to remember that even when I say "Burgundy" what I really mean is the Cote D'Or. There will only be so much we can get to in the course of 4-5 days.

    I'm intrigued by the Burgundian Chateaux. I'll check out the links Stu provided and see which are closest to Meursault.

    FMT... It's good to hear that the wineries won't turn us away with the kids. Here in California (i.e. Napa Valley) children absolutely cannot attend wine tastings. They are strictly for 21 and older. Even special events within wine stores will rope off sections and children with their parents cannot even stand in the areas within the ropes.

    On our arrival day, we drive into the Cote D'Or from the Loire Valley (through Orleans). We were also thinking we could make a pitstop around Auxerre, Chablis, or Noyers. We'll have a car full of luggage. But perhaps we can find a cute place to stop, have a picnic or a quick lunch, and stretch our legs. Noyers sounds delightful.

    Thanks again!

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    Stu has given you some great ideas which I did with a family group tour earlier this summer. Two things to add are the Hospices de Beaune and also AcroGivry which kids of that age typically love.

    Best to visit Dijon by train as you can take it direct from Meursault and it's a mainly pedestrianised city these days. Markets are Tuesday, Thursday and Friday with the biggest one on Saturdays, remember French markets close around midday.

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    We toured the historic and cultural sites west of Dijon and Beaune with Burgundy Guide in September 2013. It was an outstanding tour and something we never could have done by ourselves.

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    If you'll be coming from the Loire and heading to Burgundy then Guédelon is not too far off your route and is just under a 2 hour drive from Orléans. Of course, that still leaves you with a 2-1/2 hour drive to Meursault but you can decide whether or not that works for you.

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    If you want to see photos of Noyers, Semur-en-Auxois, Flavigny-sur-Ozerain and a bunch of other anonymous villages and landscapes in that area you can have a look at my photo report about exploring that area: http://tinyurl.com/6dkeozh

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    Thank you again for the ideas everyone! It has been more helpful than the Michelin Green Guide, IMO.

    Here's what we are tentatively planning...
    We will spend a day exploring around Chablis/Chateau d'Ancy le Franc.
    At least a half day in Beaune.
    And the other 3-4 days relaxing in and around Meursault, walking, renting bikes, and exploring nearby villages.

    We'll probably skip Dijon this trip... There's just not enough time.

    And surprisingly, the hubs and the kids both kinda sneered at me when I mentioned Guedelon. Apparently, it didn't sound as interesting to them as it does to me... But then again I also enjoy hanging around costume events like the Renaissance Faire and my husband would rather have a tooth extracted.

    We thought of all the Chateau that Ancy le Franc appeals the most and we can pair it with a drive through Chablis and Noyers). Other than Ancy le Franc, we weren't thinking of going to other chateaux. Maybe Rochepot since it's so close to our Gite.

    FMT... I've been meaning to let you know I loved your photos! So many beautiful drives through delightful little villages, I fear we'll only be able to scratch the surface of the Cote D'Or over the course of 5 days. We are jokingly already planning our next, *next* trip.

    Now I'm scouring yelp and tripadvisor reviews for great places to eat and hopefully taste great wines by the glass. (We can only buy and drink so many bottles over 5 days.) I know I'm not going to find DRC being sampled, but I also don't want to just stand in a crowded warehouse drinking tastes of cheap swill being offered to the tour bus crowds. We are pretty serious Burgundy fans and my DH spends an inordinate amount of his free time reading about soils and terroir, and in a perfect world I'd love to find a wine tour or wine experience that gets us out walking amongst the vineyards with someone who knows the area. Our gite has a couple guides that they recommend and emails are out to them to see if they can customize something for us.

    Thanks!

    Any additional recommendations are always, most appreciated!

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    Glad you enjoyed the photos skatterfly. It sounds like the planning is going well and I'm sure you'll love biking near Meursault. If you weren't already aware there's a website dedicated to cycling in Burgundy that will show you maps of bike trails and have all kinds of other info:

    http://www.burgundy-by-bike.com/

    I have yet to find someone, young or old, who didn't enjoy Guédelon. It's not a medieval renaissance fair, it's the real thing. I was amazed to see them making the tools (hammers, chisels, axes, etc.) for the workers and noticing that the stuff they were making looked a lot like stuff you'd find in any modern day hardware store. The people there aren't actors but are actual volunteers/workers who are practicing trades as they would have in the 13th century. I've got a friend who's trying to talk me into volunteering there this summer so who knows, maybe someday I'll be able to give a first hand account.

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    Thanks FMT... it really does look quite amazing. The photos remind me a little of the setting of Ken Follett's "Pillars of the Earth." I love that kind of stuff.

    It is sort of out of the way from our gite, but I'll consider your suggestion of stopping there when we drive from the Loire. We still need a place to stop along the way to break up the long day of driving. This might actually work. Is it usually pretty crowded?

    StuDudley Thanks again for the ideas. It's helpful that you've put together such thorough recaps of your trips. Of the restaurants you included in your writeups, would any be acceptable for taking the kids? (Perhaps those listed after your "top 3.")

    -skatterfly

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    >>Of the restaurants you included in your writeups, would any be acceptable for taking the kids?<<

    Relais de la Diligence in Meursault. Excellent value. It was the “sleeper” of the group

    Stu Dudley

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    Guédelon is never crowded, though there are often quite a few people. I loved Pillars of the Earth and it does evoke those kinds of images. Other places to visit not far off your direct route from Orléans to Meursault would be Auxerre, Noyers-sur-Serein, Vézelay and Semur-en-Auxois. You won't be lacking for interesting places to visit. :)

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    Thanks guys!

    Stu, duly noted and it's now on my list to check out when we're there.

    FMT... Guedelon really does seem interesting, and probably best as a stopover on our drive from the Loire---especially since I don't think I'll be able to convince the hubs to make the long drive back there once we're settled into Meursault. The challenge, of course, is we'll have a car full of luggage.

    For the other areas you suggested, I'm thinking we'll spend one of our days driving up to Chablis/Ancy le Franc. What do you think of this driving loop:

    ***from Beaune, up towards Auxerre/Chablis (with a side trip through Noyers), then over to Ancy Le Franc, and return to Beaune by way of Semur en Auxois. (We were originally thinking of Flavigny Sur Ozerain, but that bumped down the list after seeing your pics of Semur en Auxois.)

    I suppose we could always reverse the order, too... going first thing to Ancy le Franc (maybe by way of Semur en Auxois), then go west to Chablis/Auxerre, and return to Beaune with a quick detour through Noyers.

    After seeing your pics and others, and reading a number of trip reports here... I think my "must sees" are Ancy le Franc, Noyers, and Chablis. My "really should visit" is Semur en Auxois. Then there's Flavigny sur Ozerain: originally it was very high on my list but after seeing pics and reading rather blah descriptions, I think we'll skip it this trip, since we only have the one day in that area.

    What are your thoughts about Auxerre? Worth stopping and exploring, given our timeline?
    Any great lunch options on that loop?

    Thanks!

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    Hi guys, a handful of restaurants keep coming up in my searches. Any thoughts on these, keeping in mind we have our two girls (12 and 9) with us. If possibly, we'll try to visit some of these places for lunch instead of dinner.

    
-Le Jardin des Remparts in Beaune.
    -Les Caveaux des Arches in Beaune
    -Ma Cuisine in Beaune (called amazing on WineSpectator forums)
    -Le Chambolle in Chambolle Musigny, reviews say it's great for lunch
    -Bistro de L’Hotel in Beaune (reviews say the poulet de bresse is fabulous)
    -Relais de le Diligence in Meursault (recommended by Stu)

    Also, FMT... what do you think of my driving loop from Meursault (a couple posts above). Driving up towards Chablis then cutting over to Ancy le Franc OR heading first to Ancy le Franc, then heading west towards Chablis/Auxerre and returning to Meursault. Will I have enough time to see Ancy le Franc, have a lunch, AND stroll through Noyers and Semur en Auxois, and at least drive through (if not get out and walk around) Chablis? Should I really try to go into Auxerre too? It'll be the only day we will leave the Cote d'Or and these are the other places on my "must see" list. It'll be a long day, but the only one where we try to travel that far.

    Any restaurant, bistro, or cafe recommendations in that area?

    Thanks!

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    Hi skatterfly. I meant to get back to you sooner but I forgot. I don't know how much time you'll have to visit all the places you mentioned but I think you should leave early in the morning. The "can I see x number of places in one day" question is always hard to answer because it really depends on how much time you'll spend in each place. My advice is to use www.viamichelin.com to estimate the non-stop driving time between each of your destinations just so you can see how much of your day will be devoted to driving. Then work out how much time you'll need to visit each place and for lunch, breaks or just relaxing.

    I've never been to Chablis but other than wine related things I think there are better places to spend your time as it's a pretty tiny village and places like Semur, Noyers, Avallon or Vézelay would make better visits. In regards to Semur, the best way to enjoy it is to actually walk along the river outside it and enjoy the impressive views of the ramparts and towers. Inside the old town itself is nice but it is not that big. It truly is one of those places best seen from the outside. I ate in a restaurant there called Les Minimes and it was quite good (covered in my trip report):

    http://www.restaurantlesminimes.com/

    I've never been to Auxerre but I know it has a lovely medieval downtown and a lot of charm. Being that it is a large town there is more to see and do there than in places like Semur and Noyers so you would need to devote a little more time to it should you decide to visit.

    I am definitely the wrong person to ask for restaurant recommendations so I'll have to leave that question to others. I bet Stu Dudley will have some great recommendations if he returns to the thread. However, I would look on the tourist office websites for any town you'll visit and you'll find the local dining options there and you can cross reference what you find on the TO websites with any number of restaurant reviews websites like yelp, linternaute, lefooding etc.

    For a wine route near you the country roads between Beaune and Dijon have some well known wine towns such as Nuits-Saint-Georges (where a merchant sold me a 70€ bottle for 35€ because he liked Americans) Gevrey-Chambertin, Fixin and Clos de Vougeot are worth a visit. I remember doing a walking route between these villages and some of the producers had their cellar doors to their personal homes open and you could just walk right into their houses and do tastings.

    South of Meursault and west of the autoroute between Tournus and Mâcon is an area that I consider to have the prettiest landscapes in Burgundy. Though I've never explored the area myself I've driven through it and the next time I go to Burgundy I plan on basing here. Look at your Michelin map and you'll see a number of designated scenic roads in the vicinity of Brancion (which is worth a visit). Look for the towns that have the historic church icon and pick a driving route that incorporates some of the scenic roads while passing through the villages with the historic church icon. You'll also be in the vicinity of the Château de Cormatin and the Abbey of Cluny should you want to visit these places. The Tournus tourist office website has good info about the towns/villages and other sites that are worth a visit in this area:

    http://www.tournugeois.fr/fr/index.htm

    Click on the "To See" link and in the drop down menu select "The Villages of Tournugeois" and "In the Surrounding Area".

    If you want more info you can have a look at the thread below where I have provided links to all the major tourist office websites in Burgundy plus links to info about wine, food, biking, hiking, castles, abbeys etc.:

    http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g187105-i1297-k6282652-Looking_for_a_Base_for_Touring_Burgundy-Burgundy.html

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    >>I bet Stu Dudley will have some great recommendations <<

    I've already posted them - above. We "checked out" the restaurants in Beaune that you inquired about, and except for Jardin des Remparts - their menus did not seem clever/new/original enough for us - so we didn't dine at them.

    Stu Dudley

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