Vin de Bourgogne
|There are few areas of France that
give me the same pleasure as Burgundy. It is very close to the top
of my list. For urban splendor, beauty, wonderful food, some of the
best wines in France and important religious relics or memories, you
can’t find a more satisfying part of France.
The cities of Dijon, Beaune, Auxerre, Vezelay or the
hamlets of Nuits St-Georges and Vougeot are part of the place that
is covered with history, vinyards, beauty and great food and drink.
I arrived from Paris by car through Joigny on the
Yonne River to Auxerre near the town of Chablis. I walked around the
town center and there among the timbered buildings I walked through
a narrow street under the famous clock tower which conjured up
visions of a lost age. The cathedral is a Gothic masterpiece that
houses stained glass windows and a Romanesque crypt with the famous
fresco, “Christ on horseback”,
|I knew I would come back and I did.
But I moved on to Vezeley the starting point of the great armies
that amassed for the beginning of the crusades. Here the giant Abbey
dominates the village. In mediaeval times it was believed to house
the remains of Mary Magdalene and visitors came from all over
Europe. It is village that still attracts visitors to the impressive
abbey now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is interesting to note
that many pilgrims heading to Spain and St-Jacques de Campostele
start their long trek from here.
it’s a short drive top Semur-en-Auxois where the view of the town at
the point of entry is worthy of anyone interested in painting. It’s
a perfect site. I, of course, coming from Montreal, Canada, had to
divert my trip to the small namesake of Montreal, between Vezelay
and Semur. It was very tiny and a bit disappointing.
Now it was time to head to the largest city and
capital of the region Dijon. It would live up to my expectations
with good hotels, restaurants, chateau visits and, of course the
great mustard shops dating back centuries.
The great canal de Bourgogne flows through here with a
collection of barges and private boats filled with vacationers.
Our dinner that night included Chablis, Boeuf Bourguignon,
Coq au Vin and a regional Kir. This drink was invented by Canon Kir who had
been deputy mayor of Dijon. It is a combination of Crème de Cassis and
Aligote grape wine.
|Escargots were offered at dinner as a Dijon
favorite. I passed but for breakfast, I did try their ‘Oeufs en
Meurette’, (poached eggs in red wine sauce). You must try it for
But it was time to move on. We
headed south with stopsfor wine tasting at Vougeot and Nuits
St-Georges. Here the wines are renowned for their aroma and their
This has long been a wine country. The Cistercian
monastic order had a profound influence on the wine industry of
today. The monks had followed the Roman introduction to wine in the
region and became the first producers on a commercial scale. Wine
became the region’s first known export. They were both worthwhile
stops. But Beaune was our destination as we drove through a sea of
vines along the ‘Route des Vins’. Here, the sun and the temperatures
are perfect for vineyards.
Hospice at Beaune
Beaune, the capital of Burgundy wine, takes you by
surprise. It is comprised of 6,000 hectars of vineyards As you enter the
lovely old town center you are visually drawn to the Hospice or ancient
hospital, built in the 15th century, with its hundred year old glazed-tile
roof, yellow, red, brown and green that lit up in the Beaune sunshine. The
origin was probably from Flanders. We paid to enter the Hospice which is
highly recommended. Here, the main room is 50 meters by 14 with a 16 meter
ceiling that looks like an inverted ship. It goes back to the middle sages
with 2 rows of curtained bed units made especially for the destitute,
disabled and sick or orphan births. Radiating from this beautiful building
are cobbled streets, all interesting to explore. At the end of town is the
quaint old Henry II Best Western hotel which you’ll enjoy if you love
The famous wine museum is housed in the former mansion of
the Dukes of Burgundy.
Farther south along the Soane River is the river port town
known of Chalon-Sur-Saone. It is famous as the birthplace of photography.
Named after Niepce, the inventor of photography is the Musee Nicephone with
displays of the first lenses and early instruments.
In the center of the town is another Gothic cathedral. If
you have time, visit the chapel and the pharmacy of the former hospital.
Cluny too has a Benedictine abbey. This masterpiece of
Western Christianity was once the largest. The museum of rich Romanesque Art
is really worth visiting.
I took pictures of the half-timbered buildings in the
region then headed for Macon, a name I grew up with as Macon Superieur was a
mainstay on our dining room table. It’s a pleasant but busy town on the
Soane River where brick-red ‘Roman’ tiles announce the beginning of the Midi
region to the south.
The most famous Macon resident was Lamartine and his
museum can be visited at the aristocratic Hotel Senece.
If you are coming from the south this is your entry point
to the awesome and immense wine growing area wine region and the many
The best time to visit the region is from the time the
grapes start growing to the fall a time of the best Burgundian weather when
the harvest turns the grapes into the sweetest nectar of millions of people.
For Information about the region go to:
Comite Regional du Tourisme de
Holiday Inn Garden Court *** Dijon
Res: 33 03 80 60 46 91
Hotel Henry II ***
12/14 Faubourg Saint-Nicholas
Phone: 33 03 80 22 83 84
Dijon Office of Tourisme
33 03 80 44 11 44 Reservations
Fax: 33 03 69 38 90 02
You can Contact Professor Arnie Greenberg at:
Over the past few years, Professor
Greenberg has traveled with groups to France, Italy, Spain, Greece,
Budapest, Vienna, Salzburg, Prague and both Sorrento and the Bay of
Naples plus most of Sicily. His tours traveled to the far reaches of the
globe including Italy and most of
China (Beijing -Hong Kong) and to Russia where his group cruised the waters
from St.Petersburg to Moscow.
"He took a group to Greece and another to northern
Russia. In Nov 07 he took a tour group to much of India and ended his tour
groups by revisiting France. He now travels with his wife and friends. They
winter in Argentina or San Miguel Mexico. His newly found spare time
is taken up with his painting and writing. "I must write every day." His
current work is a cautionary manual for would-be tour leaders.. "So
You Want To Be A Tour Leader."
Arnie now travels with friends. He continues writing
Travel articles about unusual places but often concentrates on novel
writing. Two books based on French Art will be published this year.
Keep reading his web for travel ideas. His next
novel HELLSTORM'S Folly,
will be available this fall. He now
lives in British Columbia.
www.top-travel-ideas.com or contact him directly at
(More about the writer.)