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!

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!

December 7, 2012

Christmas Markets

Filed under: Burgundy,Christmas Markets,Events and markets,Food — Tags: , , — Lesley @ 14:25

One of the joys of living in France during the festive season is having the chance to visit so many Christmas Markets selling beautiful crafts, fine food, hot wine and lots of pressies.

There is a forthcoming Marche de Noël in Meursault on Saturday15th December from 10 am to 9 pm and on Sunday 16th December from 10 am to 6 pm.

If you are looking for a day out and a market on a much bigger scale try Dijon market which runs from 1st December to 6th January with over 60 stalls and the chance to go ice skating on the rink at Place de la Republique. Copy and paste this link for full details:

http://www.frenchconnections.co.uk/en/guide/miniguidepage/148040-dijon-christmas-market-cote-d-or,-burgundy-1-december-2012—6-january-2013

For an extensive list of markets in southern Burgundy follow this link:  http://www.americansinfrance.net/Attractions/Southern-Burgundy-Christmas-Markets.cfm

Many small towns and villages have decorating the Christmas tree competition for local children. A bank of trees are placed outside a town hall, in a car park or somewhere similar and each child is allocated a tree to decorate and of course the winner receives a gift from Père Noël. The decorations are then taken off and the trees reallocated to the next age group up for their competition.

Wherever you are celebrating Christmas this year we send you Seasons Greetings and best wishes for the New Year. Also, thanks for reading our blog!

November 26, 2012

Out and About

Filed under: Events and markets,Food,Wines and vines — Lesley @ 15:14

After a busy summer and a trip back to the UK for a family wedding in quaint old Whitstable we have had a little more time to be out and about enjoying autumn in Burgundy.

Watching the grape pickers near Volnay

Covering the grapes

 


We saw this fungi during a walk with the dogs

We visited le Château Couches de la Marguerite de Bourgogne too. (www.chateaudecouches.com) The present owners are reconstructing the history and rediscovering  the architecture of this fortified medieval monument which is perched on a rocky outcrop in a prime position to withstand attack. It has an 11th century main tower, many underground tunnels, 12th century justice tower and a 15th century chapel.  A guided tour enhanced our knowledge of these fine buildings. Wine tasting is available and many activities for children are held during the holidays.

Last weekend we visited Beaune for the 152nd Hospices de Beaune wine sale celebrations. It was a fantastic time to be in this beautiful town. The auction, managed by Christie’s each year is held in the Halles de Beaune and for 2012 was presided over by Carla Bruni-Sarkozy with the proceeds going to various charities. A new cuvèe was offered for the first time by Jean-Luc Bissey – Echèzeaux Grand Cru. The vineyards were planted by his father in 1945 after his return from the war and are located in Les Echèzeaux du Dessus. This is the third Grand Cru de la Côte de Nuits to be offered for sale in the auction.

Despite a poor spring the harvest begun on the 19th September after a month of warm and dry weather and the 2012 vintage is expected to be very good as small bunches of grapes, rich in sugar and flavour were produced. In fact Anthony Hanson, senior consultant at Christie’s, has described 2012 as a splendid vintage for both reds and whites.

44 different wines were for sale – 31 red and 13 whites – a total of 512 barrels.  Prior to the auction tastings and dinners featuring Hospices de Beaune wines were organised in many cities including Singapore, London, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, Tokyo, Palm Beach, New York, Boston, Vienna, Paris and Beaune.

The weekend is called “Les Trois Glorieuses” and is a three day festival devoted to the food and wine of Burgundy.

 

These people were enjoying frog legs for lunch but there was ample choice including meats from the Morvan, snails, truffles and pancakes. We opted for pancakes at Chapelle Saint-Flocel which opens its doors once a year to help raise funds.

Throughout the day there was French country dancing by a group from Dijon and a number of street bands ranging from formal marching bands to the less formal-

If you get the chance to visit Beaune for the 153rd Week-End de la Vente next year (the auction is on the 3rd Sunday in November) make sure you go!

June 26, 2012

Honey and Wine

Filed under: Bees,Food,Honey,Uncategorized,Wines and vines — Lesley @ 16:14

Nearly the end of June and as ever we are amazed by the rate of growth on the vines. How they can go from gnarled stumps (ceps) or twigs to full blown vines with baby grapes on in just a few weeks never ceases to amaze us.

April Vines

 

After some more rain and some more sunshine……

 

 

Three weeks later after even more rain and some more sunshine……

 

 

What does the weather hold in store for us this Summer and will 2012 go down as one of the best years for wine in Burgundy? There is many a viticulteur who would love to know and probably even more who think they know!

As we all know the weather plays its part but the terroir is so significant. A few weeks ago we were tasting in the Cote de Nuits area and there were wines from three different plots all within 100 metres of each other, the same method of production was used but the taste and pricing of the wines was extremely varied, more so than we could possibly have imagined!

We also love honey and buy it from local markets but preferably from Max Westby at nearby Sully:  www.mieldesully.fr

Recently we received a phone call from some friends to say they had a swarm of bees and did we want to come over and watch Roy, who is keen to to get a second hive up and running, try and contain the swarm.

Waiting for the bee keeper

The swarm in the picture above and below Roy getting the bees into a box ready for transporting to their new home.

 

Also in Pommard, at one of the apartments we manage, there was another swarm of bees but this time it was not very big and they did not wait around for anyone to come and relocate them!

 

 

Roy’s bees were successfully relocated after a quiet night in the cave and last week we had a bee party to celebrate the new hive with honey cake, mead and honey bee “butterfly” cakes.

 

Sometime we would like to venture into the world of bee keeping ourselves but looking at the huge number of dandelions we had in the orchard this Spring I can only wonder what our honey would taste like in comparison with other local honey producers!?