A Letter From Burgundy

May 19, 2017

Philippe Pot

Birth place of Philippe

Who was he? Chief Adviser to the Dukes of Burgundy, a Burgundian Nobleman, Military Leader, Knight of the Golden Fleece, Crusader, Diplomat……….
He was born in 1428 at Chateau de la Rochepot, educated at the Ducal Court in Dijon and knighted on 11th June 1452 before an important battle against the insurgents of Ghent. Prior to this he had already proved his negotiation skills in London where he successfully negotiated the release of Charles of Orleans who had been taken prisoner at Agincourt and had been a prisoner in England for 25 years.
In December 1456 he was given Chateauneuf -en-Auxois by the Duke of Burgundy, Charles the Bold, as a gift after arranging his marriage with the French princess Isabelle of Bourbon. Philippe restored and fortified the Chateau and today it is one of the last remaining examples of 14th century Burgundian military architecture.
In 1468, after the death of Isabelle, Philippe negotiated another marriage for Charles the Bold with Margaret of York, the sister of Edward IV – sealing an alliance between England and Burgundy. About this time he was given the Lordship of Lilloise in Flanders.
When Charles the Bold died, Burgundy was divided between his daughter Mary and Louis XI of France. Mary did not like Philippe’s close connections with the French Court and confiscated Lille but Philippe was able to limit the control of Mary to the Burgundian Low Countries which at that time included the Netherlands. In return Louis XI named him First Counsellor, Knight of Saint Michael, Governor of the Dauphin Charles and Grand Seneschal of Burgundy.
He was involved in all major political matters and proved himself to be a skilled negotiator and diplomat on many occasions.

Philippe, Governor of Burgundy, died in 1493 and his tomb can be seen in the Louvre in Paris.

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!

November 11, 2016

Armistice Day 2016

Filed under: Armistice Day,Events and markets,History — Lesley @ 14:36

We joined with locals at nearby Epinac this morning to remember and commemorate the ending of the 1st World War………….. Afterwards, there were drinks in the Town Hall. In France, the cornflower is worn like the poppy is in the UK. The poppy wreath in the picture below was put in place by the British Legion, Lyon Branch, France.

September 19, 2016

Chateau de Germolles – Journees Europeennes du Patrimoine

Each weekend in September France has a Heritage weekend. Many monuments and sites that are normally closed are open for the weekend and other places which are normally open to the public have reduced fees of entry or are free.

This year we went to Chateau de Germolles near Mellecey. It is the best preserved residence of the Dukes of Burgundy. It was built during the second part of the 14th century although there had been a fortress there since the 13th century. Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, bought the chateau from local feudal Lords and gave it to his wife, Margaret of Flanders. The only remains today of the original fortress are the lower chapel and the wine cellar.

Plaque at the Entrance Gate

Ten years of transformations took place – the Duchess wanted a country estate rather than a fortress and the best architects, sculptors and painters of the time were employed. Large rose gardens were planted and sheep and other animals were farmed.

Goats where sheep once roamed

Former stables?

Former stables?

After Philip and Margaret the Chateau belonged to a further three Dukes of Burgundy – John the Fearless, Philip the Good and Charles the Bold. After the death of Charles the ownership passed to the King of France. After the French Revolution it became the property of the Nation.

Parts of the chateau have been lost over time, mainly due to lack of maintenance but at the end of the 19th century it was purchased by a family who still own it today and repair works have been carried out.

The chateau today still has a large collection of medieval floor tiles which are decorated with motifs that were the symbols of the Dukes – roses, thistles, sheep and fleur – de – lis.

Rare wall paintings can still be seen today which date from the Middle Ages – motifs of “P” and “M”, initials of the Duke and Duchess over the walls along with thistles, the personal emblem of Margaret Flanders.

If you are interested in the history of Burgundy this Chateau is well worth visiting. We were not allowed to take interior photos showing the famous wall paintings as great care is taken with light exposure etc to preserve the paintings for future generations.