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Burgundy beyond wine-france

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We will be spending a few days in burgundy and of course spend some time wine tasting. However, beyond wine, what would you recommend to see or do. We love history, prehistory, beautiful scenery, and loved canoeing the dordogne last year. Nothing too strenuous but short hikes or river trips may be of interest. Castles are interesting also. Looking for small small beautiful town to stay in. Someplace nice to walk and get a great meal. Prefer hotels that reflect the region as opposed to modern. Thanks ahead for all you ideas.

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    I wrote this for a friend:

    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

    Stu Dudley

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    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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    I have driven and biked around Burgundy away from its wine districts, which occupy a tiny tiny part of Burgundy - several times - my highlights:

    Vezelay - a lost-in-time old village whose grandiose basilica once was one of the most popular pilgrimage sites in Europe - in medieval days but when the local relic to whichmany made arduous journeys to worship and ask favors of was exposed as a fake the pilgrim torrent dried to a trickle - and Vezelay slumbered along until being rediscovered in the 1880s and rehabbed into a tourist town - thus you have a pristine medeival village built on a hill overlooking the bucolic Burgundian countryside that is a sheer joy to see and the church sans relic still dazzles.

    https://www.google.com/search?q=vezelay+images&es_sm=93&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=ge1HVbGaCMzdsAWvpIHIBw&ved=0CB4QsAQ&biw=1600&bih=1075

    I also like Alesia, venue of an old battle between the Gauls and the Romans I believe - again in a rustic setting.

    https://www.google.com/search?q=alesia+battlefield+france+images&es_sm=93&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=pO1HVdG5MIbFsAWQxYCYDQ&ved=0CB4QsAQ&biw=1600&bih=1075

    the backroads everywhere are a joy and there are many Gites you can base in - many people love Auxerre, a larger city near Vezelay.

    http://en.gites-de-france.com/holiday-rentals-Bourgogne.html

    Dijon is nice as large cities go but to savor the most romantic aspect of Burgundy with its verdant rolling hills everywhere stay in a smaller town abutting the countryside.

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    Walk or cycle along the Burgundy Canal (Canal de Bourgogne). There are local buses to get you home if you decide to walk, one of my favorite places for it, in particular the 30 mile stretch between Dijon and Pouilly-en-Auxois, including the beautiful village of Chateauneuf-en-Auxois.

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    Do not miss Vezelay - a charming town with a gorgeous Abby.

    We stayed in the Moulin des Ruats near Avallon - and also adjacent to a very large french national forest that is great for short hikes and exploring. Charming hotel in a converted mill - with many Parisians coming out for weekends to get one of their special dinners.

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