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Dijon, Lyon & Avignon - need tips & ideas

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My (gourmet cook) husband and I (wine enthusiast) will visit France in March 2014 with our (by then) nearly 5 year old son. We are well versed on Paris and the French Riviera, but need advice on places to stay and eat, and places to avoid. We'll spend 2-3 days at Disneyland, then drive down to the Cote d'Azur to visit family. On the way, we're considering visiting Dijon, Lyon and Avignon. Our son is quite the traveler and well behaved in restaurants, so please, Fodorites, give us your best recommendations! We are looking for basic, clean, 2-3 stars hotels/inns, and the BEST restaurants! Thanks in advance.

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    DH and I spent 2 lovely weeks in Dijon in 2009. It is a wonderful place as is the surrounding area. You really can't go wrong checking out Fodor's books or this website for things to do and places to eat. We've been noting Fodor's restaurant recommendations and "things to do" for years and have never been steered wrong.

    Two memorable meals from that holiday were at Le Cellier Volnaysien in Volnay south of Dijon and L'Auberge de la Charme in Prenois (east I think?) The first was a midday meal in the middle of vineyards on a warm May day. The menu was "rustic" I would say and all ingredients incredibly fresh and so beautifully prepared. The second was also a midday meal (which lasted for 3.5 hours!) where the chef prepared a 5 course "regional specialities of the season." Both were absolutely divine.

    We ranged far and wide over our 2 weeks and it was absolutely wonderful. We love quirky local museums; check out MUSÉE DES ARTS DE LA TABLE at Arnay le Duc. The Hôtel-Dieu de Beaune (a 15century hospice/hospital) is amazing also.

    Enjoy yourself!

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    We spent 2 weeks at a gite in the Burgundy region of France a few years ago. Here are some restaurant comments

    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

    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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