A Letter From Burgundy

March 16, 2017

Why Burgundy?

The answer to the above question is probably that it has something for everyone, from history, lakeside beaches, beautiful countryside to the world famous wines and cheeses! On top of all of that the way of life is much slower and people have time to stop and talk – quite a contrast to some of the coastal resort areas of France.

This peaceful rural region is now combined with Franche-Comte but if we look at the four departments of Burgundy alone they are all quite different.

The Yonne, the most northerly department of Burgundy, is  famous for its Chablis wine and the charming towns of Auxerre and Avallon.

Cote d’Or, includes the beautiful historic city of Dijon and the capital of wine – Beaune. It seems that nearly every village round here has a name that has found its way on to a wine bottle!

Nievre, to the west, is the most sparsely populated and the most rural of the four departments.

Saone et Loire, or “cow country”  as I have heard it called,  seems to have charolais cows everywhere but also boasts good Maconnais white wines and the famous historic towns of Cluny and Tournus.

The prosperity of this region is based upon wine, gastronomy and tourism. Wine is produced with a passion and deep respect for traditional ways. Try a tour along the “Route des Grands Cru” or the “Route Touristique des Grands Vins”. There are many opportunities for wine tasting along the way or enjoy a wine tour at one of the famous Chateaux such as Pommard or Meursault.

As well as sampling some amazing cheeses, breads and  a wide range of Dijon mustards there are also the dishes that Burgundy is famous for: snails, frogs legs, Boeuf Bourguignon and Coq au Vin. Local fish is also quite plentiful, especially trout. Despite being land locked the region is also extremely well served with seafood. There are many local markets where shopping for fresh seasonal produce is a delight!

There are many historic routes to follow round the region, one taking in many of the chateaux open to the public, or why not try a tour of the many abbeys and cathedrals that this region is so proud of too?

Follow a nature trial, or explore some of the numerous foot paths/cycle paths and of course the Morvan National Parc, considered by many to be a perfect destination for walking, cycling, fishing and sailing.

Burgundy is considered a cultural centre and has a number of museums and Roman settlements that are well worth visiting and many concerts and  festivals throughout the year, particularly in the summer months.

There are also 1,200 kms of canals and rivers with excellent canal paths for walking or cycling.

One of the many joys of touring around is that the roads are much quieter than many of us are used to and the pace of life is leisurely too.

One last thought, there are about seventeen different golf courses across the region as well as a few rock climbing centres!

January 2, 2017

Happy New Year from Les Volets Verts

035Happy New Year Everyone! We enjoyed some snow before Christmas and some very heavy frosts over the Christmas and New Year holidays which made Morlet and the rest of Burgundy look like Winter wonderland.

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We have now enjoyed two seasons with guests at our own gite here in Morlet as well as managing a couple of other properties in Burgundy. We have welcomed many different people of many different nationalities and we have enjoyed some return visits to Les Volets Verts from guests who loved the peace and quiet and found there was also more to do here and in the surrounding area than they realised so returned to carry on exploring. We have just said good bye to some Paris guests who stayed here for a week over New Year with their young children to let them enjoy the countryside and fresh air after some recent pollution problems in Paris. The children loved the animals, particularly the donkey next door!

Our bees are settled down now in their top bar hive for the winter months and we are really looking forward to seeing them out and about in the garden in early Spring. We will have a second hive this Summer and hope to share some honey with our guests!

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November 22, 2016

Bees at Les Volets Verts

Filed under: Bees,Honey,Les Volets Verts,Uncategorized — Lesley @ 12:07

Grandson kitted up and ready to help!Grandson kitted up ready to helpThe update on the bees as promised. In June of this year we purchased a small colony, complete with queen, from a beekeeper in the Morvan National Park. They arrived in a dadant box which we placed on top of our top bar hive and transferred five bars of comb and bees to the top bar. This way the bees were still able to access the dadant but only through the entrance of the top bar. We left the bees for a week to settle down and then checked on them. There was new comb and brood so we knew the Queen was alive and well. We brushed the bees gently into our top bar and put a Queen excluder under the dadant so we would be able to see next time whether she was in the top bar or left behind with the stragglers in the dadant. We saw her on our next inspection in the top bar and removed the dadant. We were very happy and more importantly we had happy bees who seemed to like their new home!
We fed them sugar water from late summer onwards to help them build enough comb and make enough honey to see them through the winter. We put in a total of 15 kilos of sugar (which is a very large amount of sugar water put in on a daily basis)!
We have thoroughly enjoyed watching our busy bees coming and going this summer and hope they survive the winter well. Next year we will set up the dadant box as a fully functioning hive and we are looking forward to comparing the two very different ways of bee keeping.

Job well done !

Job well done !

September 23, 2016

Lily at Les Volets Verts

Filed under: Animals,Les Volets Verts,Pets,Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Lesley @ 12:53

Last Summer, a young male cat arrived in our garden and stayed there for a few days playing with the children who were staying in the gite at that time. To cut a long story short we now have a lovely cat called Mickey.
This Summer, our neighbours got a new kitten who arrived in our garden (and bedroom by climbing through the window) on her first day in Morlet.
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First response when meeting Mickey

First response when meeting Mickey

She was only about 8 weeks at this time and seemed desperate to get into our house. Despite the heat we kept the windows and doors shut and took her “home” on numerous occasions. She kept coming back all the time and was sleeping rough in the garden at night because we wouldn’t let her in. This was a great concern to us but she wasn’t ours and needed to go back to her own home.

She visited the guests at the gite whenever she was made welcome and we asked them not to feed her or let her in. Some guests, whose children loved playing in the garden with her called her “Miss Trouble.” She then had a marvellous time with our grandchildren who called her “Missy.” She seemed very flat when Harrison and Lilah went home because she had got used to lots of cuddles and had enjoyed spending time with two people who adored her.

Lots of fuss from the Grandchildren

We continued taking her home to our neighbours and not letting her in our house but she had made up her mind where she wanted to be on day one in Morlet and was not going to give up easily.

She slipped into the outside office whenever she could and slept on an old quilt in a cardboard box that had belonged to one of the dogs.

I can't be the house cat so I'll be the office cat.

I can’t be the house cat so I’ll be the office cat.

Meanwhile, Mickey and Lily were spending more and more time together playing and mock fighting in the garden.

In the Garden

Friends

Early September, we decided that we would have to speak to our neighbours – they had hardly seen their kitten and she had made it quite clear that she wanted to adopt us, even if we didn’t seem to want her.

We told the farmer that she had adopted us and could we adopt her? He kindly agreed that we could  and her delight when she was allowed into the house and fed and treated just like Mickey was a delight to see. We decided to give her the name Lily and after two and half weeks she is now responding to it. If I wasn’t sure before I am now a firm believer that when an animal decides where they want to be, or who they want to be with, they can be very persistent indeed.

In the house at last

Peace for how long?

Peace for how long?

November 30, 2014

An Attempt at a New Hobby – Bees !

Filed under: Bees,Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Lesley @ 16:42

We have had a very busy summer and time has just disappeared hence not spending much time on the computer! We had three lots of grandchildren visiting which was hectic but great fun and we have also been starting to build a new “maison des amis” in our former stable. As well as this we decided to take up a new hobby of bee keeping. We decided on a top bar bee hive  because it  is a simpler more natural method of bee keeping and the honey can be removed without disturbing the colony as much as some other forms of bee keeping. Now for the more honest reason – the combs are suspended on bars which are much lighter as well as easier to remove. Lifting boxes with conventional frames filled with honey can be hard going on the back!

Our first practical bee keeping lesson

Our first practical bee keeping lesson

The hive is simply a long box with slats of wood across which the bees attach their comb to. Ideal perhaps for the hobby keeper but would not be used generally by commercial keepers because the quantities of honey produced are lower. The environment in the box is meant to be very similar to the inside of an old tree trunk as far as the bees are concerned – hence being considered a more natural method. This old style of bee keeping is thousands of years old and is very popular in some developing countries as the hives can be built relatively cheaply and simply. We were lucky enough to have a friend who supplied us with some bees to get started. We did not know whether there was a Queen within the colony or not but if she was not there we had every expectation that the colony would rear their own Queen. We waited patiently but after a few weeks it became apparent that we had no Queen.  In this picture below the bees are being put into the top bar beehive. Prior to this they were left in their original home sitting in a box on top of our new hive so that they could get used to their new location. Putting the bees in their new ho   As our numbers of  bees started to rapidly decline, which is inevitable without a Queen, we bravely set off to collect a swarm from some friends who regularly seem to have swarms in their grounds each year. We brought a swarm back, left the bees to settle down quietly in the box that we had collected them in and then transferred them to the hive. We were confident that we had a Queen and hoped that we were now well on the way to having a thriving community of bees and perhaps just a few jars of honey…….???

The swarm

The swarm

We put them in the opposite end of the hive to our existing bees so that the two small colonies could “get to know” each other gradually but unfortunately they had a mini battle and we found some dead bees. The remaining bees in the swarm obviously decided they didn’t like their new home and flew off. We have since learnt that when introducing new bees it is a good idea to put a sheet of newspaper between the two lots of bees so that they can chew their way through gradually and get to know each other more slowly. As bees have  a short lifespan  anyway and without a Queen to lay new eggs  the colony was going to die out naturally. We decided to let nature take its course as by this time it was too late in the summer to start afresh again. A hive needs to have a sizeable, strong and healthy colony to withstand the rigours of winter. We felt we had already “let our bees down” a bit this year and the best idea was to restart next year, hopefully with more success for us and the bees.

February 3, 2014

The Village of Pommard

Filed under: Burgundy,Holidays,Uncategorized,Wines and vines — Tags: , , — Lesley @ 13:37

Pommard view spring 1

 

Pommard, which took its name for an ancient temple dedicated to Pomona, the goddess of fruits and gardens, is  famous for its Côte de Beaune wine production. Pommard wines have been appreciated by many people for many years including Ronsard, Henri IV, Louis XV and Victor Hugo.  It is situated only a few kilometres to the south of Beaune along the Route des Grands Cru. It is certainly worth visiting and getting to know as it has so much to offer both to locals and tourists alike.

Pommard produces only red wine and is the second biggest area by production after Beaune with 135 hectares of Premier Cru including Les Rugiens and Les Epenots which are perhaps the most notable. The wines, produced from the patchwork of vines surrounding the village with its characteristic square bell tower of the eighteenth century church, have the reputation of being solid, well constructed wines with deep colour that age and travel well. The wines are more robust than wines from nearby Volnay and Beaune.

There are many opportunities to enjoy the produce of the village with over 60 winemakers in the village, with many more in the surrounding villages.  Delphine, at  Les Domaines de Pommard situated in Place de l’Europe, will help you select a Pommard wine to enjoy with your evening meal. There are also ample opportunities to taste wines and buy direct from the producers themselves.

If you feel like a change from Pommard red you could always try a white wine from nearby Meursault which has been producing some of the finest whites in France since 1050.

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Whilst dining out in one of the good restaurants in Pommard or nearby Beaune why not ask for a recommendation for a Pommard wine to complement  your meal? Local wine can also be enjoyed at the wine bar in Place de l’Europe.

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Tours are available at the Château de Pommard where the beautiful gardens can be enjoyed along with fine art, fine wine and centuries of history.     http://www.chateaudepommard.com/en/guided-tour

Besides wine Pommard can offer its visitors wonderful walks or cycle rides through beautiful countryside in the surrounding vines, good restaurants, village grocery store, an excellent boulangerie, a butcher who makes an award winning local speciality, jambon persille (ham terrine), cafe and a new chocolate shop which opened last year : http://www.appellation-chocolat.fr/

Pommard Village

 

Why not come and enjoy Pommard and also explore this beautiful region of France?

 

December 19, 2013

2013

Filed under: Burgundy,Holidays,Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Lesley @ 12:58

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As 2013 comes to a chillier than expected end we look back on the year that has just been.

The holiday rental business never ceases to amaze us and each year we take on board the trends and patterns that at last we think we understand – but like previous years 2013 has been quite different!  Bookings have come in much later and much more last minute. We have friends with a  bed and breakfast business who jokingly said ” If guests book any later they will be booking as they leave.”

We have also noticed that there have been more Australians than we are used to seeing and their tastes are quite different to the the usual Americans and Brits. This has meant that last year’s ‘most booked apartment’ has been replaced at the top of the bookings list by the second most popular. Yet again we have been taught that for a variety of reasons each year is different and we suspect that next year will be no exception.

We make our plans and look forward to finding out what really happens. We already have double the number of bookings for next year compared to this time last year and the general level of enquiries, which for us normally starts late December and January, has already started for the popular wine villages……..

 

As we look towards 2014 we would like to thank you for reading our blog this year and wish you a very enjoyable Christmas and a Happy New Year.

 

August 18, 2013

There’s more to Burgundy than Wine

Filed under: Burgundy,Food,Uncategorized,Wines and vines — Tags: , , , — Lesley @ 15:44

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Think of Burgundy and most people will automatically think of wine – but there is plenty of food to be enjoyed too. The Charolais beef, the Burgundy snail and of course the Bresse chicken being three of the most famous products, but wander the local markets to find a wealth of  other  local produce to be enjoyed.

 

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Besides the markets there are many producers who open their doors to visitors including:

The Gaugry family, who have been cheese-makers since 1946, have a gallery where visitors can watch the production of cheeses including Epoisses and l’Ami du Chambertin and enjoy a tasting too.

Details on their website at www.fromageriegaugry.fr     (We love a good steak and chips served with an epoisses sauce and a good Burgundy wine – not to be eaten too often as a little high in calories!)

What about a tour at the home of the world famous Fallot mustard in Beaune? Discover how the mustard is produced and enjoy the tasting area. Departures at fixed times and booking is recommended in holiday times. Prices and further details –                                           www.fallot.com/en/index.php

 

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Then there’s liqueurs and cordials – enter the fascinating world of blackcurrants and cassis with a visit to an interactive museum and a guided tour of the factory at Nuits – Saint – Georges. One of the most enjoyed Burgundy drinks is  “kir”  made from a local white wine – Aligoté and cassis.  www.cassissium.fr

While at Nuits – Saint – Georges there is the opportunity to discover truffles too!  Observe a dog at work searching for truffles and learn about the cultivation of truffles with the opportunity to taste and buy. www.truffedebourgogne.fr

Another local speciality is the pain d’ épices – a type of gingerbread which has been made in a traditional manner for over 200 years. Available in many bakers and food shops it is also possible to find out more and have a tasting in Dijon at Mulot et PetitJean, 13 place Bossuet in Dijon.  (www.mulotpetitjean.fr)

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Think of aniseed and think of Flavigny. Free tour of the Anis de Flavigny factory is possible and learn all about the history of this famous little sweet – www.anisdeflavigny.com

These are just a few of the goodies available on the vistes gourmandes en Bourgogne. Wherever you go in this region there is always so much to discover…… Enjoy!

June 25, 2013

Art Exhibition in Collonge-la-Madeleine

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Lesley @ 17:56

Jan Roedoe works during the summer months in his studio in Collonge-la-Madeleine (71360). He has a passion for nature and this is totally reflected in his paintings. In 2010 his paintings were based on a trip to New Zealand and since 2011 he has been working on a series of paintings with the subject of “vine” – quite appropriate for this part of the world!010 The space, peace and tranquillity are some of the reasons he works in this small village and his barn lends itself beautifully for displaying his works which can be bought or rented.

He also runs workshops and helps artists with various disabilities to promote expression through art. This summer he is displaying some of their works alongside his own paintings in Collonge. He is there most days and welcomes visitors.

001However, don’t visit between 8th and 14th July as can be seen on this notice  he  will  be in St Maurice-les-Chateauneuf for an Exposition par des artistes Francais et Hollandais en situation de handicap.

Jan splits his time between Holland and France and will be back in Holland in September to exhibit at the Annual Dutch Art Fair in Amsterdam.    008005003009

The pictures above show the diversity of the items for sale which will also be included in the Exposition in St Maurice les Chateauneuf.

Jan can be contacted on 0033 (0) 385 82 34 91 and info@janroedoe.nl

September 16, 2012

Lest We Forget

Filed under: Events and markets,Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Lesley @ 19:44

Each year, on a wooded hillside just outside the hamlet of Lavault, near Epinac, there is a remembrance ceremony for the four young RAF airmen who died when their Halifax bomber crashed. They were dropping supplies to the local French Resistance and unfortunately failed to clear the hill in the dark.

The four who died were Owen Smith-Pilot, William Christie-Co-Pilot, Sonny Solomon-Navigator and Alan Laverick-Bombardier. The other two crew members, Royle and Bathey survived despite the plane breaking into three parts on impact.

The dead were given a military funeral with full honours in Epinac despite the presence of German occupation forces.

Every year on the first Saturday after the 11th of September French dignitaries, local residents, members of the ex-pat community and relatives of the airmen meet on the site of the crash to commemorate their sacrifice.

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