an hour ago
What follows is both lengthy and jumbled. It may serve as a sort of trip-report-plus-tips-list based upon our recent ramblings around Burgundy and Paris. It has been re-read many times by the Department of Redundancy Dept. to ensure that there was no undue repetition, incorect spelling or grammar badly. It has been re-read many times by the Department of Redundancy Dept. to ensure that there was no undue repetition, incorect spelling or grammar badly.
Thinking in a pan-European way, it is dedicated to the people of Norcia, Castelluccio and other locations devastated by the series of recent earthquakes in Umbria. It has been cross-posted, even though I wasn't cross. See also our advice for shutterbugs and if you don't like that, I don't give a click.
Best new Parisian discovery: attached to the southern riverside facade of Paris' Hotel de Ville City Hall is a peaceful rose garden called 'Jardin des Combattants de la Nueve'. It is dedicated to the Spanish soldiers who aided in the liberation of Paris and offers a sheltered respite from the busy crowds just outside. Who knew? Bliss.
Best Traboule in Old Lyon: 16. r.d. Boeuf aka La Tour Rose; this historic pink tower is part of a 'miraboule' kind of traboule, opening onto a lovely courtyard. Skip the traboule tours, most others are dingy and underwhelming. We rented one of the three apartments at the aforementioned La Tour Rose and so should you.
Most Useful public bus in Burgundy: Transco #44 aka The Burgundy Express--much like vaporetto #1 in Venice, the value here (less then 2 euros) is unbeatable as you connect between Beaune and Dijon and most points between.
Most sympa apartment rental in Dijon: 'My Home In Dijon'--outstanding value. Coco will take care of you.
Most underrated daytrip out of Dijon: Semur-en Auxois (bus #49 dep. 7am)-not only is this a quintessential small French town where traditions still run deep, but it has world-class photo ops from its bridges Pont Pinard and Pont Joly. Skip the heavily-promoted belvedere vista up by the Citroen dealer---a hedge has been allowed to overgrow into the perspective and the view has been compromised. The St. Vernier restaurant in Semur is not yet in any guidebook (zero tourists). It specializes in local Epoisse cheese dishes.
Most underrated daytrip out of Beaune: Orches. This cliffside village in the Haut Cotes west of Meursault has excellent valley views and is quite pretty in and of itself. Added value: La Rochepot chateau-castle is just down the road, if you're into that sort of thing.
Most overrated vista: the ex-St. Christophe church archaeological site looming far above Meursault. Meh...
Most interesting Burgundian wine-producer whose reds and whites won't cost you a second-mortgage:
Pascal Prunier Bonheur. His farm-cave is right at the top of Meursault on the border with Auxey-Duresses.
*Full disclosure: he helped us out of a jam, literally (see below). Seriously, his white Monthelie and his red St. Romain were just 2 of his seven very, very good wines.
Worst trouble faced during this trip: on the second morning, we tried to re-enter our rented house on the edge of Meursault, but the massive old garage door (the sole entry) jammed and would not budge despite all our efforts and many bad words (see 'what to do when all yer stuff inc. passports, money, sex toys and everything, is locked inside. And the owners live in another country. And you are the last couple on Planet Earth who has not yet purchased that new thing called a 'cellphone'. See also 'soft city folk on the verge of tears').
After a fruitless and stressful half-hour of us tryna' get in, who just happened to drive by on his tractor? (sound of trumpets)Why, our neighbour Pascal, a 5th-generation winemaker with purple palms rough as sandpaper. He and his assistant, Eric, used their manly Burgundian know-how and tools to eventually unjam the jam. Emotionally spent, I looked on like a lost little boy. Mrs Zebec, who legendary beauty was probably the only reason that Pascal stopped in the first place (see 'French men and traditional sources of attraction'), smiled from off to the side.
Best picnic table spot: the official 'aire de pique-nique' just outside of Beaune behind Pk. Bouzaizes (btw, 'bouze' means dung). Added value: for even more views ascend the trail up to the so-called 'Montagne de Beaune'. This trail leads up to a war memorial with spectacular views across the vineyards. Or if you have masochistic best intentions as you slavishly pursue 'alternative attractions', you could always make an ill-advised left turn and end up being chased by some of the world's largest and most vocal, private vineyard guard dogs. Seriously, there is an additional, far less-visited lookout to the western edge of the hill, overlooking Les Avaux climat et al.
Dumb-All-Over-Award: this trip's award goes to the young lady who sat in our row and hack-coughed every 5 minutes for seven solid hours, apparently not having the foresight to bring either medications or sleeping pills (see 'narcissistic'). Why should the rest of us go on to enjoy an overseas vacation uninfected, when its all about her?!
Runner-up--the 50-something twelve year-old man who sat on the aisle seat in bulkhead right beside us and wait for it....put his feet, avec les sneakers, high up on the bulkhead wall then fell asleep for hours, thus becoming a kind of weird gatekeeper for us whenever we wanted to get out of our seats. This wannabe hipster also 'accidentally' spilled coffee on me and wasn't shy about using his sharp elbows. Tres etrange, yeah? Question--Pourquoi did the Air Canada flight attendants not confront this fellow about putting his shoes onto the wall that way?
Best possible definitely-maybe Hotel Deal in Paris: Sawdays lists in both their books plus their site, a supposed 'free extra day' special for any of their readers at the Hotel St. Paul on the left bank. We looked into the deal as part of our exhaustive search for a Paris lodging, but it fell through early on when their first email reply from a hotel employee basically ignored any mention of the deal. Then, 5 days later, the hotel manager suddenly emailed us back, including a pitch involving that deal. It was too late, as we'd booked elsewhere, BUT I AM TELLING YOU THIS IN THE EVENT THAT YOU MAY WANT TO PURSUE IT TOO.
Most Welcome New Addition to the cluster of eateries @ Pl. du Marche St. Catherine in Le Marais in Paris: Rainettes, who serve frogs legs. Hop to it.
Best Smell in Burgundy: the aromatic herbal scents that fill the Homeopathic Pharmacy in old Dijon. Go meet the brothers who run it. They are friendly, identical twins!
Best Boulangerie in Old Lyon with extra items needed by most every normal, hungry traveler: Chez Jules. Sandwiches, salads, baguettes (see 'the flute') pastries and extra tiny fruit cheesecakes. Unpretentious and very popular with locals of every age.
Most Perplexing Ongoing Mystery: which Burgundian village does rockstar-serious Pinot collector, Geddy Lee, retreat to every summer with his wife? No need to know exact address and have zero intent to ever visit. Just curious after having become so familiar with the map.
The local whom we encountered who was most seriously in need of professional help ** : the guy in old Dijon with his 2 leashed cats atop his shoulders while he strolls about chanting in Latin. He uses the cats as props to curry sympathy from potential handout donors. Nuff said.
**A fine Vineyard Walk with very few other tourists: Volnay down to Meursault.
Most Under-appreciated luxe Gift to take home that has nothing to do with France: Prija-brand Italian shampoo-body soap. Made in Lugano from ginseng, cinammon and Laotian lotus. Avail. @ Hotel du Charmes in Meursault. Trust me, your female relatives and friends (boss?) will be indebted to you.
Et finalement mes amis, the award for Best Marche goes to....
Actually its a 4-way tie this trip, including a couple sprawling markets that will be old hat to many of you. We really (burp) enjoyed the following: 1) the Sunday farmers market @ quai St. Antoine in Lyon-- many prepared hot foods to go in addition to the usual suspects 2) the Saturday farmers market in Beaune--look for Moniques's wooden-stove pizzas van on r. Republique 3) Dijon's Les Halles market, which is literally surrounded by cafes and bistros and finally: Paris' good old Bastille farmers market, look out for Mme Moufid's 'DELICE DU MAROC' booth in the middle aisle for some tasty tajine and more.
'When we are young,
wandering the face of the Earth,
wondering what our dreams might be worth,
learning that we're only immortal
for a limited time.'
('Dreamline' by RUSH)
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