Trip Report - Burgundy in May 2008

May 23rd, 2008, 04:30 AM
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Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 29
Trip Report - Burgundy in May 2008

Thanks to all who helped me plan a recent trip to Burgundy. I have decided to post a brief trip report for information.

We spent 3 days in Paris from the 6th to 9th of May before we took a flight to Lyon. From Lyon we travelled to Burgundy and spent 9 days in Burgundy before travelling back to Lyon again and spending two nights in Lyon.

9 May (Friday)
Arrived in Lyon at around 2 pm and picked up our rental car from Avis. Drove around 4 hours to Lindry, a little village west of Auxerre.

Spent the night in A La Metairie, a B and B which is run by a couple who speak reasonable English and who are most friendly and helpful. We had two rooms, Romantica and Rustica. Both reasonable size with nice ensuite shower and toilet. There was a private sitting room for the two rooms and it was very comfortable...

A very reasonably priced charming place.

After checking in, we drove to Auxerre for dinner. We had reserved a table at a restaurant called Barnabet which is on 14 Quai Republic (tel: 03 86 51 68 88). I think it is a one starred Michelin restaurant. Dinner was enjoyable, and what amazed us was that a few customers brought their dogs in to stay at the table whilst they were eating!! Wonder what happens if the dog decides to "do its thing" at the table!! The french children that we saw in the restaurant were also very well behaved and had good table manners. No running about or yelling. Remarkable!

10th May (Saturday)
Woke up after a night of sound slumber. Breakfast was really good. Fresh breads and croissants, local cheeses, ham, 3 types of jam and preserves, good coffee and decaf as well. Tea was also offered. Homemade cake, fruits, and one day we even had pancakes!!

The owners are very friendly and helpful and provided us with lots of suggestions and pamphlets about places of interest.

We drove to Auxerre and spent the morning walking around. We picked up a pamphlet from the tourist office and followed the signs and the marked line on the streets. That made exploring the town really easy.

In the afternoon after lunch we drove to Cravant (pretty village) and then to Vezelay. Visited the Mary Magdaline Basilica and walked around the back streets of Vezelay. The main street is rather touristy but the back streets are nice, and some quite pretty.

Dinner was at the Hostellerie de la Poste in Avallon - 13 place Vauban. The food was good, service attentive, but the long narrow room was quite warm and this somehow affected our appetites. The place is very popular (we had made reservations at restaurants before we departed for our trip).

11 May (Sunday)
After a very good breakfast, we set off for Chablis. We went to the big Sunday street market and loved it. Lots of stalls selling all kinds of foodstuff, clothing, local wares, and even furniture! (There was one big stall which sold at least 30 kinds of olives!!) Bought provisions for a picnic lunch (cold cuts, cheeses, olives, fresh breads, tarte du pomme, endives, tomatoes, strawberries and WINE) and then drove to Noyers for a picnic lunch beside the river. Bliss! It was really so enjoyable..

After lunch drove to Tanlay and toured Chateau Tanlay.

Dinner was at Hostellerie des Clos. I found this restaurant disappointing… It was a Sunday and the place was packed and maybe this accounted for the lacking in service. There were, in our opinion, not enough waiters. In the area where we were seated there were about 10 tables and we saw mostly 2 servers attending to these tables (and probably to some other tables in the area behind us). The poor servers were rushing about, and one actually had perspiration dripping from the ends of his hair!

The server who served our table was probably rushed - when he poured our wine more often than not he extended his arm right across in front of the face of my husband (seated on my right hand side) or across the face of my other friends. AND this was done whilst the person was talking to another. Once the forks and knives were not laid until after the dish had arrived in front of the person. We also saw another table of 2 guests being annoyed at the wanting in service- the gentleman had to get up to get his bottle of wine to pour.

The food - generally good. My foie gras was in fact heavenly, but the pigeon (main course) not so. I (and another friend) had ordered pigeon "medium with a little bit of pink" but it came fully cooked.

By and large, it was a good restaurant, perhaps that night was especially busy so the service was not up to what we would expect of a starred establishment...

12 May (Monday)
We set off after breakfast and drove to Chatillon-sur-Seine. Visited the Chatillonais Museum. This museum houses the Treasures of Vix and the contents of the tomb of a princess together with her gold jewellery and other possessions. Most impressive of all was an enormous bronze vase, which could hold up to 1100 litres of wine. Definitely worth seeing...

In the afternoon, we visited the Abbey de Fontenay. This is an old cistercian abbey and is classified in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Saw the amazing restoration of the hydraulic hammer in the monk's forge. Since 2004, students of eight universities (France, Italy, Czech Republic, Germany, Romania, Poland) have been taught by their tutors and an expert in Medieval metallurgy from the University of Paris, and with the help of artisans they have come together and reconstructed this historic system, respecting the true historical facts. The hydraulic hammer which is a water wheel 5 meters in diameter and a drive-axle 9 meters long, have all been made from several tons of ancient oak and is truly exceptional. I think it was only completed recently so we were lucky to see the finished product!

After this, we then drove on to the small fortress town of Semur-en Auxois. This is a very beautiful town of cobbled lanes, medieval gateways and beautiful views. The castle is interesting because on its exterior it has a large "crack" and looks very vulnerable. There is a lovely pedestrian street and we stopped at the patissierie Les Semurettes to purchase Gateau Mont-Auxois, which we read somewhere was a local treat. Apparently the owner or the chocolatier participated in the making of the film Chocolat, and supplied many of the ancient tools of the trade.

We had dinner at Auberge Les Tilleuls. This is on 12 quai Yonne Vincellot. The chef Alain Renaudin was very friendly, taking time to explain the ingredients and the receipes. The food was great, and fresh. The dessert of strawberries cooked in a local wine Ratafia was very very good and refreshing. The Bresse deboned breast of chicken stuffed with foie gras and steamed for three hours was also very good, as were the other pates which were served as appetisers. We had a table by the river Seine, and were accompanied by the sunset and ducks swimming on the river whilst we had our meal. Thoroughly enjoyable!

May 13 (Tuesday)
Checked out and drove to Chateau "Les Roches", where we stayed for three nights. This lovely place is run by Tobias and Marco and is situated in a village called Mont Saint Jean. Initially (before we departed for our trip) we thought it would be rather out of the way, but decided to stay there nevertheless because it really looked and "felt right" and there was a good review about it. We were so very pleasantly surprised that it was actually very well placed to explore Dijon, Beaune, the Cote d'Or region and places like Le Rochepot. The roads were interesting and more often than not provided scenic views and driving through was very pleasant. The place is newly renovated and rooms are of a good size with good bathrooms and great views. Tobias and Marco are most helpful and friendly hosts and totally none intrusive as well. Guests have their own little kitchen with fridge and tea and coffee making facilities, and the best of it is that there is a lovely comfortable reading lounge with free internet access and computer provided, as well as another TV sitting room and library where guests can relax in. It really felt like a home away from home. We definitely recommend it as a place to stay whilst exploring Burgundy.

After checking in we drove to Vandenesse en Auxois and had lunch at a Restaurant called de l'Auxois, run by a German couple. Had a pleasant meal and after that walked along the Burgundy canal. Then drove to Chateauneuf en Auxois. This is positioned high on a hill and overlooks the Burgundy canal. It is a very pretty village that has a fairy tale feel to it. We saw a busload of tourists just sketching the place....

Dinner was at a little restaurant in the village where we were staying. Food was good, apparently people from other villages drive here for dinner, and the place was fairly busy for a Tuesday drizzly evening in a small village.

May 14 (Wednesday)
Breakfast was served on the terrace, and consisted of a good selection of fruit, ham, cheese, cereals, croissants and breads. Tea, coffee and decaf and fruit juices were also served.

After breakfast we drove to Dijon to explore the town. Had lunch at Stephane Derbord's Restaurant in 10 Place Wilson, Dijon. We thought it was the BEST meal we had in this trip. 3 of us had the 62Euro menu and I chose from the a la carte menu - starter Escargots - very nicely done with tomatoes, garlic, olives and crutons. Main course was turbot and to end I had the "dessert sampler" which was simply heavenly. Service was highly professional, friendly and helpful. The chef's wife greeted each guest at their table and the waiters were attentive without being intrusive. The wine list was very good and we accompanied our meal with a Puligny-Montrachet 2005 and a Vosne-Romane 2005. Left vowing to return again when we visit this area next time, and one of us even suggested that we should stay at the Hotel Wilson next door and have many meals at this restaurant.

Explored more of Dijon after lunch and by this time it had started raining quite heavily. We went into a wine shop (recommended by the Sommelier of Stephane Derbord's restaurant) situated in Rue Musette and had a nice discussion with the owner about Burgundy wines. Ended up buying some to sample and then decided to call it a day.

Shortly after we returned to Les Roches, it started pouring, with thunder and lightning. We therefore decided to stay indoors and the owners kindly prepared a place of cold cuts, various cheeses, pickles and bread for us. We sat in the dining room enjoying our food and wine until it was time for bed.

May 15 (Thursday)
This morning we set off to explore Beaune and the Cote d'Or. Managed to find a parking spot right next to the Hotel Dieu (Hospices de Beaune). This is a very well preserved Hospice build in 1443 by Nicolas Rolin and his wife. Nicolas Rolin was the Chancellor of Philippe-le-Bon and he not only founded this Hospice for the Poor, but also endowed it with an annual income (a saltworks) and its own resources (vines). The Grand Hall of the Poor is really remarkable and the decor and panelling is amazing! The courtyard is also extraordinary. The kitchen apparently continued to function until 1985. There is a huge dual hearth fireplace and the most spectacular item in my view is a little robot which is at the end of a steel spit.

Lunch was at Loiseau des Vignes at 31 rue Maufoux, a short walk away from Hotel Dieu. We recommend this restaurant highly as well. (We learnt later that the restaurant is somehow connected with Bernard Loiseau - who used to manage a 3 star Michelin restaurant in Salieu before he died - as his portrait was hanging on the wall near the entrance). What we found amazing is that their wine list was really extensive and many varieties were served by the glass. (This could actually add up quite considerably. We had an 8cl Puligny 05 Leflaive which was 34 Euros; a 12 cl Meursault 02 Jobard which was 21 Euros; a 12 cl Grd-Echezeaux 04 Mongeard which was 43 Euros; and an 8 cl of the last kind at 28 Euros.) The good thing was that each could pair his or her wine to what type of food he or she was having.

After lunch we explored the southern part of Cote d'or - Puligny Montrachet etc. Visited Le Rochepot (a must see in our view). Then drove back to Les Roches for dinner. The owners Tobias and Marco are very good cooks as well and every Thursday and Saturdays they serve dinner not only to guests but also to non-guests. The evening we had dinner there were others from nearby who actually spend a lot of their time living in France.

16 May (Friday)
After breakfast, we checked out of Chateau Les Roches and drove to Ozenay. Ozenay is a village southwest of Tournus and close to it. We checked into Chateau de Messey. This Chateau dates back to the 13th century and also has a B and B. The four of us decided to stay in the rooms in the Chateau. These rooms are big and roomy. They are apparently lived in. The owner also lives in the chateau and manage their wine business, the accommodation part is managed by a very attractive couple - he German (a banker who is on paternity leave for one whole year) and she French (graduated doing hotel business and is a good cook). All of them speak very good English and are very friendly and helpful.

We went to a restaurant which was a few minutes' drive away and was recommended by the owner. The restaurant is called Le Relais d'Ozenay. The menu of the day was 24 Euros (without fromage) or 29 Euros (with fromage). Good quality food at reasonable prices.

After lunch we went exploring the small charming village of Brancion and then Cormatin. Both definitely worth visiting.

Dinner was at the Chateau. The managers (the German-French couple) prepared a goat cheese salad as entree, duck and accompanying veges for the main course, and chocolate pudding for dessert. Good home cooking.

17 May (Saturday)
Beaujolais day!

Breakfast was served in a breakfast room. A buffet table was spread out with preserves, cheese, cereals and different types of tea and coffee. The decaf coffee was however instant. The nice touch was a little pan with boiling water where one could boil one's egg.

After breakfast, and before setting off to explore the Beaujolais region, we met the owner of the Chateau. He offered to show us around and spent 2 hours explaining how he made his wine and showing us his cellar. He also gave us the history of the Chateau. This “unexpected program” was really wonderful!

Shortly after noon we set off for the Beaujolais region. Stopped at Julienas for lunch. Lunch was at another recommended restaurant called Chez la Rose (phone: 04 74 04 41 20) Their Menu Terroir was 29 Euros each and we also supplemented this with terrine magret foie gras. Wine from the region as well - a Fleurie Loron which was 31 Euros. Good quality food with good service. Enjoyable.

Drove around exploring Fleurie, Emeringes, Julienas, Julie, and Soultre-Pouilly. Stopped at the Solutre rock but did not climb up. Continued driving around.

We returned to Chateau de Messey around 6pm. The owner was just opening a bottle of his 1998 white and invited us to join him and his wife by the pool for a drink. Before that, his wife led us on a tour of her orchid field and her garden. We really felt lucky to have met with such hospitable owners! The poolside drink was ever so relaxing and pleasant….

Dinner was at Le Relais d’Ozenay (the place where we had lunch the day before). Again the food was good. Instead of a main dish, I had three entrees: a green pea and escargot soup, a smoked salmon dish and an encornet farci, which was stuffed cuttlefish and was delicious. The others had the soup and the salmon starters, and fish and filet de lapin (rabbit) as their main courses.

17 May (Sunday)
Our last day in Burgundy. After breakfast we spent time walking around Chateau de Messey. The place is beautiful and there are some nice walks by the river side.

We then went to pack up and checked out. Set off to Lyon and spent two days there before returning home.

We had a lot of good food and wine in Burgundy and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. I weighed myself this morning and found I had put on 5 pounds!!! May is a beautiful month to visit Burgundy – just before the “high season” in June and in May the flowers are in bloom and the countryside is ever so beautiful…

Au Revoir Burgundy! We hope to return again someday, soon.

BooFit is offline  
May 23rd, 2008, 06:46 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Wow! Takes me back to our fantastic visit to this area! We had a wonderful time in most of the towns you mention and a memorable meal at Les Tilleuls in Vincelottes as well. Chef Renaudin brought us out live the Rock lobster he flies in from Brittany before whisking them back to the kitchen. I remember being blown away by their cheese selection-not one but TWO chariots-one specifically for goat cheese (my fave), and the soupe de fruits rouges for dessert...heavenly!

Thanks for the succinct but lively report!
klondike is offline  
May 23rd, 2008, 07:04 AM
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Yup, the extensive cheese selection is still there, as is the soupe de fruits rouges dessert that you mention. This is the dessert that we had which was fresh strawberries in the ratafia wine.

One thing to remember: we were told by the owner of the B and B where we stayed that Chef Renaudin does not like people being late. Needless to say we were on time to sample his wonderful meal!
BooFit is offline  
May 23rd, 2008, 08:51 AM
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About crowded restaurants on Sundays...the French like to go out for lunch, especially, on Sundays, but dinner also--so many restaurants are full to the brim.
Underhill is offline  
May 24th, 2008, 11:09 AM
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We are cruising down the Burgundy Canal next week and I enjoyed your report thoroughly!
LLindaC is offline  
Jul 4th, 2008, 06:40 AM
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ourjetboat is offline  
Jul 4th, 2008, 06:56 AM
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I love this area as well. Tournous if a favorite town of mine. (The kind of town one thinks about when one dreams of buying someplace in Fance...oh but to dream!)

Lovely report.

I want to return so badly I could just squeal!
SuzieC is offline  
Jul 4th, 2008, 11:44 AM
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Great report. Thanks for all the helpful information. I have wanted to visit Burgundy for a few years now--sounds beautiful (and delicious).
Leely2 is offline  
Jul 5th, 2008, 07:51 AM
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Mia is offline  
Jul 5th, 2008, 01:35 PM
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Thank you so very much for wonderful information and suggestions. I'm headed to Burgundy next summer so your information will be quite helpful. Thank you!
Dee_Dee is offline  
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