A Letter From Burgundy

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.


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.


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


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


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



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.




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




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)

images (3)

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

April 27, 2013


Filed under: Animals,Pets — Tags: — Lesley @ 16:25




This has been a difficult blog to write as sadly our second Cavalier is gone. To lose both dogs in the space of just over two months was very difficult.

At first he seemed to be coping without his “girl” but his long standing heart condition became worse and he started to eat less and less. After eight weeks he had gone from 15 kilos to only 10 kilos and was so weak he was falling over and we made the difficult decision not to go on.

Thank you Scamp for giving us so much pleasure and love throughout your life.


February 27, 2013

The Saint Vincent Tournante 2014 comes to Saint – Aubin




There are about 70 villages in France with the name St Aubin so if you are coming to enjoy the celebrations next year make sure you get the right one! 2014 will be the first time that St Aubin in the Côte de Beaune has hosted this traditional festival.


As can be seen from the above link the vineyards are mainly located to the west of Chassagne-Montrachet. The AOC Saint-Aubin may be used for white and red wine – production consists of about 75% white wine and 25% red.  The total amount produced corresponds to about 800,000 bottle of white and about 300,000 of red. There are 25 climats (named plots) which are classified as Premier Cru vineyards. It has been announced the vintages of 2009,2010,2011 and 2012 white wines will be tasted and the vintage reds  2009 and 2011.

This year, Châtillon sur Seine hosted The Saint Vincent Tournante and there were 30,000 visitors over two days! The relatively small village of Saint – Aubin  (about 270 inhabitants) may be stretched during the weekend of 25th and 26th January next year! With little extra accommodation in the area you would be well advised to plan your trip early and stay in one of the nearby villages.

Saint Vincent is the patron saint of  wine growers. Not much is known about him and there are many legends about Saint Vincent. It is thought that he could be the saint of wine growers due to his name “vin” and “cent” (wine and one hundred). One of the most famous legends is that Vincent stopped at the edge of a vineyard to talk with the workers and while he was there, his donkey nibbled at the young vine shoots.

When the next harvest came, it was discovered that the vine stock that had been nibbled by the donkey had produced more fruit than all the others. So St Vincent’s donkey had invented the art of vine pruning!

Upon St Vincent’s Day winter begins anew or goes away” –  this used to be the traditional time for winter pruning to begin.

Since 1938 the different wine villages in Burgundy have taken turns to host the famous festival of St Vincent Tournante (revolving Saint Vincent). The selected village welcome all the winegrowers’ brotherhoods. There is a religious service and sermon and then the colourful parade of the brotherhood through the decorated streets.

The cellars are opened up and this gives the visitor an opportunity to discover the village and their vineyards. An entrance fee is charged which “buys” an engraved tasting glass, a carrying pouch for the glass and tokens to exchange at each tasting stand – ” la joie de vivre”.

For a full list of host villages follow this link : www.tastevin-bourgogne.com

 This picture, from bourgogne.france3.fr, shows visitors having a good time at Saint Vincent Tournante 2013.


January 27, 2013

Thanks to Millie

Filed under: Animals,Pets — Tags: , , — Lesley @ 17:26

We ended last year on a sad note – we went to England for Christmas with our two dogs and came back with only one.
On the morning of Christmas Eve we discovered our Cavalier King Charles spaniel, Millie, could no longer use her back legs. We went straight down to our former vets in the UK where it was discovered she had had a stroke in the night. Blood tests followed which revealed she had other problems too and we knew that she had developed a heart murmur on a recent visit to our French vets.


Last picture of Millie

(MVD – mitral valve disease affects nearly all cavaliers by the age of 10 so we did pretty well to get to 12 years 4 months before we were aware of a murmur. In fact it is now recommended that all cavaliers should be screened for heart murmurs annually from the age of one).

We consequently followed the advice of the vet and that was to “faire piquer” / put to sleep. Most of us have made this decision at some time and we know it isn’t easy. We said good bye to her and thanked her for giving us so much pleasure and love throughout her life. She was an amazing dog and she had “a good innings” as our daughter living in Australia said.

On returning to France we were concerned how our other dog Scamp would be as he had only known life with Millie. After a few days where he seemed a little unsettled, a bit lost and concerned that everything else might change (like biscuits as a treat at bed time) he now seems quite content with his new life. He obviously misses her as we all do but enjoys the company of other dogs more and at times seems to enjoy having our exclusive attention.

Life goes on and we look forward to all that 2013 brings our way.

Morlet, December 2012


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:


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!

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