pam elson brings you Burgundy Today's roundup of news and events february 27 2015
On general release at cinemas on March 13, the film Suite Française is a must-see event. Kristin Scott Thomas heads up the cast playing Mme Angellier, 'a tough, pinched vindictive widow'. In an interview in the Sunday Times, she says 'The story examines how difficult it is to live in a country under occupation. It's about chacun pour soi, the law of every man for himself, and the consequences this has for decent people's behaviour.' The film is an adaptation of the classic novel of the same name by Irène Némirosvsky which was discovered in a suitcase and only published in 2004, 62 years after the author's death.
The story tells first of all of a group of Parisians as they flee the Nazi invasion and make their way through the chaos of France; secondly it follows the inhabitants of a small rural community under occupation who find themselves thrown together in ways they never expected. In the book, they flee to a village in Burgundy but in fact the filming has been done in locations in Belgium, Paris and Lorraine.
Another film which sounds Burgundy-related has, in fact, nothing to do with it. Don't expect the lavish richness of 15thC France if you go to see 'The Duke of Burgundy' - the title comes from a species of butterfly. Peter Strickland's film has been described by the Guardian film critic as 'a lucid dream of sexual adventure.'
Sailing on a sunny afternoon
No sails required on a self-drive cruiser on the Burgundy canals, life goes at a leisurely pace on board. But to make the most of what is on offer in this region, rich with speciality foods, wine and heritage, some new ideas of what to do when you moor up come from Locaboat, the boat hire specialists. Visit the Chagny market then return to your boat and have a cooking class on board your vessel, go on a wine tasting tour in a château, or take the kids to an archaeological workshop. The trips are available from
departure points at Saint Léger sur Dheune and Mâcon
and advance reservation is required. More information
News In brief
Politics: With the run up to the fusion of Burgundy with the Franche Comté region in January 2016, a website is up and running with the latest developments within the corridors of government. www.bourgognefranchecomte2016.fr
Food: Get and overview of cheeses from the Franche Comté. Chef Monica Galetti from the Michelin starred restaurant La Gavroche in London travels to the Jura region to meet the cheese and wine producers and to reconnect with the land. BBC2 on iplayer.
Travel: It's so easy to get caught for speeding and fined on the French roads. For the latest update showing the speed cameras in Burgundy in each department, follow this link
Business: Marc Meneau's restaurant L'Espérance in St Père sous Vézelay has got into financial difficulties again and has been placed in receivership. Restructuring is taking place in the hope that the son, Pierre Meneau can take over the business.
No translation needed
Fans of silent movies will enjoy the Ciné-Rétro Festival which takes place annually in Beaune. This year the dates are July 25 to August 22. Pianist Jean Claude Cottier is the festival director, he composes the music, plays the grand piano and entertains the audience too with anecdotes. All time favourites of the silent screen will be shown such as Buster Keaton, Laurel and Hardy, Chaplin and Harold Lloyd, in the setting of the Chapelle St Etienne in Beaune every night at 21.00, with the exception of Thursday when the venue moves to the Comédie du Vin with a wine tasting included.
Tickets cost 10 euros, with a reduction on Sundays and Mondays to 6 euros. Booking: tel: 00 33 (0)7 81 83 99 39 or 00 33 (0)3 80 24 90 57
Peregrine on French Tour Guides
You have probably arrived at a château and found that you have to take the official tour around the interior. Usually this is in French, and sometimes foreigners are handed a well-used crib sheet in their language to take with them. On top of that you are told that photography is not allowed. Of course they don't want the precious possessions placed on a robber's hit list, but in the age of social media, a few selfies would appeal to a younger audience and help the visitor numbers no end.
Le Rosbif, alias journalist Anthony Peregrine writing his regular column on his adopted country France in The Telegraph takes up this conversation and has some advice for tour guides. 'They consider themselves on a mission', he says, 'to sustain the gravity of the French heritage. This involves ceaseless architectural detail until, were you nearer the front of the group, you’d chuck the bloody woman over the late 15-century battlements. Lightheartedness, human interest, chat about a king wearing dangly earrings (Henri III, since you ask) - all threaten to fracture the edifice of Project France'.
' France has more history than it knows what to do with. The country is very good at preserving it. It can, though, be very bad at infusing it with, if not passion, then at least colour'. He points out that in France guides have become very professional at their job, they have done their homework and ' know more about the Capetians than the Capetians knew themselves' BUT... they are so serious about it. They need to lighten up he says. Read his other suggestions....
What goes with what?
If you are interested in food and wine matching, the Ecole des Vins de Bourgogne wine school in Beaune is offering a day's course on pairing food and wine.
With the help of a selection of wines for tasting, you will soon pick up the key tips you need to ensure successful combinations of delicious food and Bourgogne wines.
The Ecole des Vins de Bourgogne has created a brand new module, in partnership with some of the world’s greatest sommeliers, to provide you with the keys to ensuring the perfect food and wine partnership every time.
Morning session: This involves a presentation of the eight families of Bourgogne wines and an exploration of the key principles involved in finding the right food/wine combination, through a detailed tasting session.
Lunchtime session: A lunch in a famous Beaune restaurant will awaken your senses and allow you to put the morning’s ideas into practice. Enjoy a unique experience in this restaurant in a 19th century winemaker’s mansion where, in pairs, you will explore the full range of flavours.
Afternoon session: The afternoon will be dedicated to discovery and indulgence, with a delicious gourmet journey through the Bourgogne region’s specialties.
You will be able to taste around 15 different wines.
Price including lunch: 210 euros per person. Contact the Ecole -
email@example.com for dates of the one day courses in English.
A walk on the wild side
The 2015 Oxfam France Trailwalker event will take place on June 6-7 in the Morvan Natural Park. Made up of teams of four, the aim for each is to walk 100 km in less than 30 hours with this year's fund raising target set at 450.000 euros. Now is the time to join up - 168 teams have already enlisted, and 250 volunteers are needed to man the route which starts in Avallon. Time to get into training...
Quality bed and breakfast places at a reasonable price take a bit of finding. Carpe Diem is just such a place, not far from the medieval town of Noyers-sur-Serein. For this year it has received the accolade of being the Tripadvisor Traveller's Choice, the only one in Burgundy.
Tasteful decor in a charming village setting with friendly service and the possibility of a delicious dinner too More...
secrets of the castle
You can read Ken Follet's Pillars of the Earth to get an idea of building problems in medieval times but there is nothing like seeing the real thing in action. The BBC went to Guédelon, west of Auxerre, and over a six month period, they filmed the skills and techniques needed to construct a medieval castle. Historian Ruth Goodman and archaeologists Peter Ginn and Tom Pinfold joined the archaeological experiment and the result is an engaging and informative series, Secrets of the Castle now on DVD. Better still, include a trip to Guédelon in your holiday planning.
Classical music in a château is a perfect combination. The summer programme of concerts at Château d'Ancy le Franc from the association Musicancy is now available and booking opens at the beginning of April. Among the attractions, vocal ensemble Aedes, classical guitarist Sébastien Llinares and Le Banquet du Roy playing 16thC music. More...
Invest in Burgundy wine for the price of a bottle
For as little as 10 pounds sterling, you can invest in Burgundy wine-maker Domaine Chanzy through a crowd-funding scheme. The aim is to raise 1.9 million pounds through the London Stock Exchange - Alan Tovey, reporting in The Telegraph explains how you can get a piece of the action..
Before the announcement on Tuesday that the Côte St. Jacques restaurant in Joigny had lost one of its three stars in the Michelin Guide, there was talk in the press about the upgrading of the hotel to five star status. Chef Jean-Michel Lorain is not taking the regrading lying down, he will be investing heavily in the hotel in the near future. The
Conseil Régional de Bourgogne has agreed to award a grant towards the cost of this work which is proving controversial locally.
The only restaurant in Burgundy receiving a star in this year's announcements is L'Aspérule in Auxerre, run by Japanese chef Keigo Kimura. See the full list
house and garden -
Smoke Detectors and moles
If you are a home owner in France, it will be obligatory to have a smoke detector installed in your house from March 8 onwards.
Benjamin Haas from Burgundy4U points out: 'You will need to inform your house insurer that the device has been fitted and failure to do the installation will mean a loaded excess on your policy - some insurers may be unwilling to offer cover'.
The regulations state that only a minimum of one alarm need be installed. No location is prescribed, although the best position is generally considered to be on the ceiling in the hallway. An alarm on the ceiling on the upstairs landing is also advisable.
When Lucia Latenstein talked about plants to keep away moles in the garden in her gardening article last year, it sparked a lot of interest. There is nothing more annoying when you look out on your lawn or peruse your kitchen garden to find those piles of fine earth. The moles make tunnels and while this is good for drainage and makes the soil more airy, they are something to be controlled. (Incidentally, the soil from the molehills is excellent for potting.) One solution is an ultrasound mole repeller
which works on solar energy says Lucia.
Get away 2015
Make irresistible chocolates with a master chocolatier, chill out with a day's private charter on the river, compare and contrast Burgundy wines with those of another French region on a two centre break, polish up your cooking skills and combine the practical with a wine masterclass... Here are some new additions to popular activities in Burgundy
Lynne Hammond's cooking class, 'Cook with Confidence' (above) has proved a great success. It can now be incorporated with a wine masterclass at the farmhouse near Autun over one or two days for a maximum of four people. The price is 295 euros for one day and 550 euros per person for two days.
If chocolate is your weakness, head on down to La Clayette and have a four hour indulgence with master chocolatier Bernard Dufoux. His afternoon classes take place on the first Wednesday of the month, commencing on February 4 at 14.00. Orangettes, Truffes, pâtes d'amande, Griottes au kirsch and Palets d'Or are just a few of the specialities he will be demonstrating. The price of the class is 80 euros per person.
If wine is the reason for your Burgundy visit, Burgundy Discovery, the wine tour people, are now offering two centre trips. Two days in Burgundy is followed by a further two days in either the Loire, Savoy or Rhone valley with expert guides in each of the regions so that you can compare and contrast the wines. Prices vary according to the region but start at 900 euros per person.
For a total chill out, take The Randle motor barge for a one day private charter from Auxerre down the river Yonne, stopping off for lunch at Vaux and wine tasting in Irancy or Chitry. The boat can take a maximum of six passengers and the total charter price for the day is 1500 euros. Make the most of the lazy days of summer.
Burgundy is a very bike friendly place. Not only are there designated cycle tracks, the Voie Vertes, and the canal towpaths, good signage, maps and tourist information, it is also easy to transport your bike from place to place on the trains, both on the local TER and TGV fast services. There is a special section on the SNCF website with all the information. Also see our Cycling sections. (Photo Michel Joly)
three for value
The launch of the Michelin Red Guide at the beginning of February is always a much heralded event. To whet the appetite, the 'Bib Gourmand' new entries have been announced. This category offers good value meals with a maximum price of 32 euros in the provinces and 36 euros in Paris. In Burgundy, Au fil du Zinc in Chablis, Les Bons Enfants in St-Julien-Du-Sault and Rouge et Blanc in Romanèche-Thorins receive the recommendation.
number 15 - burgundy's lucky number
Milan, Cuba, Philadelphia and Yellowstone National Park head up the list of the 52 places to go in 2015 in the New York Times. Amongst this list of illustrious destinations, Burgundy comes in at number 15. A great booster for the region. Here's Adam H. Graham's assessment:
'Burgundy - A Unesco candidate gets a redux and a renewed vigor.
Adieu Burgundy. Bonjour Bourgogne! The renowned wine region has ditched its musty Anglo moniker and reclaimed its French name in all official wine communications. With this rebrand come several changes and a new generation of winemakers and hoteliers. In 2014, the luxury conglomerate LVMH bought the Grand-Cru estate of Clos Des Lambrays near the village of Morey-St.-Denis, marking their entree to a region peppered with excellent vineyards. The picturesque hub of Beaune continues to draw interest with annual projects like Lumières de Beaune, light installations on the village’s half-timbered houses. Not to be outshone, Dijon is debuting a pair of projects this year: the new Vertigo, a Design Hotel opening in January; and a new beach on Lake Kir that’s made with 350 tons of imported sand. Bourgogne has also been nominated for Unesco’s 2015 World Heritage list, specifically for its 100 historic appellations that have deepened the collective understanding of the concept of terroir'. See the other contenders on the New York Times list.
Gourmet Weekend at L'Abbaye de la Bussiere
Following the success of the 2014 weekend, L'Abbaye de la Bussière in the Ouche valley and leading Burgundy wine event specialists, Bringing Burgundy To You, have joined forces once again to create a weekend of great food, superb wine and amazing accommodation. The Abbaye is an incredible 11th century former monastery now converted into a luxury hotel with a Michelin starred restaurant. It nestles in a private park between Dijon and Beaune in the heart of Burgundy.
This weekend provides Burgundy wine lovers with the opportunity to enjoy some of the regions top wines including the Grands Crus through a tutored tasting at the Ecole des Vins, during private Domaine visits and paired with the exquisite cuisine, in superb surroundings.
The price is €1650 per person and includes accommodation for three nights at Abbaye de la Bussière, all lunches and dinners, wine tastings and chauffeured transport throughout. Travel to and from the hotel is excluded. The dates are
March 26 to 29.
Full programme and reservation details.
the skills of the Neanderthal
Marilyn Floyde mentioned in her article on the Grottes d'Arcy that bone fragments have been discovered in caves dating back 250,000 years. Much more information is coming to the fore as the results of the annual dig at the Grotte du Bison at Arcy-sur-Cure in June 2014 reveal that the bone tools were used by Neanderthal man dating to between 55,000 and 60,000 years of age. These findings by
and a group from the University of Montreal have just been published in the Bulletin de la Société préhistorique française. The edges of the implements have been honed with a hard surface, probably rock, and the
tools are thought to have been used for butchering game and
multiple uses such as scraping hides.
Quintessentially Burgundian holiday rentals direct from the owner
by the book
Here are three new wine books to browse through that caught our eye. Land and Wine by Charles Frankel, a geologist with a love of wine, looks at terroir across France; Jamie Goode, journalist and founder of wineanorak.com studies Wine Science and Wink Lorch talks about the wines of the Jura in Franche-Comté with local food and travel tips. See Wine guidebooks
With the garden in hibernation, study your favourite garden books and make plans for spring planting. 'My favourites at the moment', says Lucia Latenstein, 'are the series e-books of Michael King: Perennial Meadows. They consist of ready made planting schemes. There are six e-books: Introduction, Prairie, Dry Steppe, Open Perennial, Wet Perennial and Shady, € 4,99 each.' See Lucia's January planting article and order your plants from her for February delivery.
january 1 2015
A big year for Burgundy as a decision will be made this summer on whether the application 'Les Climats du vignoble de Bourgogne' succeeds in giving the Burgundy vineyards a UNESCO heritage ranking. And, as the amalgamation of the Bourgogne region with the Franche-Comté begins for the January 2016 completion, what changes will take place? Will Dijon be the capital of the region or Besançon for example?
Football doesn't escape discussion either.
More as the year unfolds.
french region of the year
Beaujolais, says Anthony Peregrine in The Telegraph, ' is the only major wine region (in France) that embraces the stuff with joy and conviviality, rather than with the insane pretence that wine is a branch of high culture'. He nominates this area, part of which lies in Burgundy and part in the Rhône-Alpes, as his region of 2014. Known for its wine, there are very few tourists, 'gorgeous goldstone spots such as Ternand and Bois d'Oignt', and a warm welcome too. More...
Stay at chambres d'hôte Rougeclos or chambres d'hôte Plaisances in St-Julien
Arguably the most influential interior designer in the world, Philippe Starck has come up with Mama Shelters, a chain of budget hotels. Paris, Lyon, Bordeaux and Marseille are open. 'They’re playful, comprehensible, practical, have free movies in the bedrooms and sex toys for sale in the lobby' says Anthony Peregrine writing in The Telegraph. Can't we have this innovative concept in Burgundy?
We may imbibe a little too much over the next fortnight but hopefully it will not induce the headache of years gone by after a good night out with a bottle of plonk. Techniques and processes in winemaking have become more sophisticated and we have become increasingly conscious of the methods used to produce the drink we consume. When it comes to wine, the organic wine movement has had considerable influence in making a purer end result.
There has been a lot in the news in Burgundy with the case of Emmanuel Giboulot, a biodynamic winemaker, who refused to spray his vines with pesticide to protect against a deadly vine disease. He saw his conviction overturned on appeal earlier this month in Dijon.
Britt and Per Karlsson, Paris residents hailing from Sweden are wine experts, writing and photographing the subject, hosting wine tours and appearing on judging panels. Their first book to be published in English is called Biodynamic, Organic and Natural Winemaking; Sustainable Viticulture and Viniculture. It looks at the do’s and don’ts of organic, biodynamic and natural wine production, both outside in the vineyard and in the wine cellar and sets out clearly what a winemaker is allowed to do, including processes, additives and chemicals, and looks at the potential long-term benefits of going organic or biodynamic. The book doesn't focus on the wine regions of the world, but Burgundy producers are well represented, and as Britt says: “Burgundy has had an active organic movement ever since the early 90s. Today the roll call of organic growers in Burgundy is a list of some of the most famous and sought after wine growers in France and in the world.” Biodynamic, Organic and Natural Winemaking: Sustainable Viticulture and Viniculture
is available on Amazon, a good introduction to the subject for wine enthusiasts and professionals alike. Photo above right : © Per Karlsson, BKWine Photography
Celebrating the Morvan
An exhibition of 33 photographs by Jean-Baptiste Stéphane is on in Nevers to show the beauty of the Morvan Natural Park entitled 'Le Morvan, Une Montagne de Talents'. The Parc Naturel Regional du Morvan in partnership with the Conseil Général de la Nièvre has staged the exhibition on the Place de la Résistance and Rue Charles Roy in Nevers and it will run until February 28.
Burgundy and Franche-Comte Joined at the hip
The Burgundy Franche-Comté union has been agreed. The bill creates 13 major metropolitan areas instead of the 22 at present. See our overview of Franche-Comté, an area well worth visiting if you love the great outdoors. magnificent scenery and much much more. For wine lovers, journey time from Nuits-St-Georges to the wine area at Arbois in the Jura is only an hour by car.
How is Burgundy Wine Made?
After the harvest, what happens to the grapes to turn them into wine?
We look at the intricate winemaking process for red and white wine from harvest to bottling.See our step-by-step guide.
The Top 10 Attractions in Burgundy
Our list of must-see places to visit during your stay in the Burgundy region from the Hôtel-Dieu in Beaune (centre) to the Grand Cru wine route (left), Vézelay and Guédelon (right). More...
Pam Elson ©burgundytoday.com
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