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pam elson brings you Burgundy Today's roundup of news and events
At the Guy factory the beautiful 100 year old copper stills and the huge oak casks are still in use. You can make a free visit and tasting from Tuesday to Friday and on Saturday morning at the Rue des Lavaux distillery in Pontalier.
Coupes Moto LEgende 2016
Ever popular with bikers across Europe, the Coupes Moto Légende at Dijon Prenois every May attracts thousands of piston heads. Here's the information many of you have been waiting for: the 2016 dates are May 21-22.
Again this year, Burgundy has missed out and not been included in the 2016 Tour de France route. Franche-Comté however has, with the departure of Stage 16 from Moirans-en-Montagne on July 18. This stage through the undulating Jura countryside to Berne will prepare the riders for the alpine sequence of the tour.
delicious wine at delicious prices
Should you happen to be travelling on Brittany Ferries there is a great Burgundy wine promotion on offer. Six bottles of white Montagny La Framboisière and six of red Mercurey La Framboisière from Domaine Faiveley in a wooden case will cost you £99, a saving on the UK recommended retail price of £150! Worth planning a day trip to France with Brittany's winter offers.
Holidays on the move
Burgundy has some very good campsites to offer. Now you can rent a motor home or campervan through Auto Europe at a competitive price, cutting down on accommodation costs considerably. The motorhomes can be picked up at the airports in Paris or Lyon. The website has useful links with campsite information.
la part des Anges
Adjoining the restaurant Loiseau des Ducs in Dijon, "La Part des Anges" is the latest acquisition of the Bernard Loiseau group. It's a small wine bar and café in a beautiful 16thC vaulted cellar in Rue Vauban. Wines by the glass, coffee and light meals from 15.00-22.30, Tuesday to Saturday.
Dominique Loiseau was given the accolade of the top restaurateur in France 2015 at the association, Les Grandes Tables du Monde in Vienna this month. She made a special mention of other women in the business who often, she said, stand in the shade of their husbands but upon whom a great
responsibility rests for the success of their establishment.
honouring st Bernadette
Next July it will be 150 years since the young girl Bernadette Soubirous arrived in the town of Nevers from Lourdes to become a nun at the convent at St. Gildard. She was later beatified and her body lies at the convent. This has become a very popular place of pilgrimage (number ten in visitor ranking in Burgundy) and is, of course, important for the prosperity of the town. There have been discussions about Lourdes wanting her body returned to her home, and possibly to fend off these suggestions, Nevers is honouring the Saint by preparing a Son et Lumière on a grand scale next summer with the first performance on July 7.
A strange gallery of portraits
In the words of the Niepce Museum of photography in Chalon-sur-Saône, 'Olivier Culmann introduces us to a strange gallery of portraits. A guru out of his ashram, a sinister looking policeman, a simple office employee…The Indian man, split between his respect for traditions and his attraction to the western way of life. Without ever really revealing his real identity…' The exhibition of photographs entitled 'The Others' will run from October 17 to January 17 2016.
A sparkling prize - 12 bottles of cremant de bourgogne to be won!
Our autumn competition prize comes courtesy of Burgundy winemaker Louis Bouillot in Nuits St. Georges, famous for the award winning Crémant de Bourgogne Perle d'Aurore. Think fine pink bubbles, and summer fruits - the wine has hints of wild strawberries, blackcurrants, firm-fleshed cherries and crushed raspberry, conjuring up summer even on wintery days. The lucky prize winner will receive 12 bottles of bubbly. Enter the simple prize draw
Romance and Adventure Hemingway style
' I still need more healthy rest in order to work at my best. My health is the main capital I have and I want to administer it intelligently' said that adventurer and master story teller Ernest Hemingway.
Cruising along the Canal de Bourgogne in a luxury barge hotel with Hemingway Cruises is one way to restore body and mind, eating top notch food, drinking Burgundy's famous wines, cycling and walking along the tow path and visiting the best attractions the region has to offer. Activities include a balloon flight, wine tasting in Beaune, the Dijon market and a visit to one of the most picturesque medieval villages en route. Your hosts have travelled the world and are adventurers themselves with many stories of their own to recount. More...
Putting over the passion
If you need a reminder of why this wine region keeps beckoning you, take a look at Youri Lebault's book, 'Discovering the vineyard climates of Burgundy'. Concentrating on the Côte d'Or in the wake of its UNESCO ranking, Youri explains the 'climates' and origins of the vineyards leading up to the present day, he talks to some of the well-known growers such as Aubert de Villaine of Romanée Conti who has written the preface to the book, to Olivier Leflaive and Sylvain Pitiot. Lebault operates a luxury-end wine tour business and the final section of the book is devoted to tourist routes which he recommends. All this is presented with intoxicating pictures by Armelle photographe and good maps by Syvain Pitiot making you want to arrange your trip to the vineyards tout de suite. As one reviewer of Youri's trips says: he will 'enhance your experience beyond all your expectations'
The book is available in an English version and a French one, costing 25 euros, plus postage from Youri. A great Christmas present for any Burgundy enthusiast.
St Vincent Festival 2016The 32 winegrowers in the Auxerrois will host the annual St Vincent Festival on January 30 and 31, 2016 in the pretty village of Irancy near Auxerre. The area was granted AOC status in 1998 and this prestigious event is a first for the village. More...
'cocooning de l'hiver' - Winter Warmer Offer
Liven up the thoughts of the oncoming winter by booking a luxury break. The Abbaye de la Bussière in the beautiful Ouche valley is offering a 30% reduction on their usual bed and breakfast rate from November to the end of March 2016. The offer is not online and is only available by reserving directly with the Abbaye either by telephone 00 33 380 490229 or email, through René at reservations. December 31 and January 14 are not included.
All mod cons in a 17thC Convent in Beaune
Here's a beautiful old building exuding the charm of yesteryear which has been skilfully renovated to encompass today's contemporary design. The latest in property available for holiday rental, La Maison du Couvent dates back to the 17thC. Interior designer Caroline Gigandet has restored the building 300 m from the centre of Beaune, and included all mod cons. Minimum stay 3 nights, long term also available. More...
New Book launches - fiction
Last week we brought you three non-fiction books about France. Here are the latest 'good reads', each set in France. The Fires of Autumn is the prequel to Suite Française, showing life between 1912 and the start of WWII. Citadel by Kate Mosse tells the story of a Resistance cell of women in south west France from 1942 onwards. Robert Merle's Fortunes of France series is described as 'swashbuckling historical fiction' based in the 16th C.
new book launches
In order to even begin to understand the French psyche, you have to look at the role history has played. Here are three new launches to shed some light on crucial times in the evolution of the nation during the Hundred Years War, from the Revolution to the present day, and more specifically, the French Resistance, with special reference to women and Jews..
Fighters in the Shadows, A New History of the French Resistance by Robert Gildea
Hundred Years War Vol 4: Cursed Kings by Jonathan Sumption
The History of Modern France from the Revolution to the Present Day by Jonathan Fenby
sumptuous conservation comes at a price
Architectural Digest has recently featured Château Digoine in southern Burgundy, shown above. The sumptuous photographs by Pascal Chevalier alerted us to this fantastic make-over by French film maker and antique collector Jean-Louis Remilleux. This is his private home but the good news is that during the summer season, it is open to visitors making it one of the most beautiful historic places in Burgundy to spend some time.
This avid aficionado of antiques from the Louis XV and XVI period found just the right setting for his collection. Château Digoine was designed by architect Edme Verniquet and built from 1700 onwards. A later addition in 1842 was the private theatre frequented by Sarah Bernhardt and Offenbach and the neo-Gothic library, built shortly before, around 1825, for the then owner Comte de Moreton-Chabrillan.
Remilleux has spent the last two years saving the château from decay. In the Architectural Digest article by Mitchell Owens he tells how the creature comforts have been installed to make it habitable such as the addition of 150 radiators and carefully concealed new baths: . “I love history,” Remilleux says, “but I want a nice shower, too.” 18thC style with all mod cons.
But of course the renovation has come at a price and in order to carry on the work in the stables, the outbuildings and the theatre, Remilleux is putting part of his extensive collection of paintings, furniture and works of art up for auction. They will come under the hammer on September 28 and 29 when Christies will offer over 1000 lots.
Château Digoine is at Palinges, north of Paray-le-Monial, open to visitors from 14.00-19.00 each weekend from May to October and everyday during July and August.
Architectural Digest article
Bringing Burgundy to You is living up to its name and exporting its knowledge about the local wines. David and Lynne Hammond are giving masterclasses on Burgundy wine both in holiday homes in Burgundy and further afield in the UK and other parts of Europe. The class lasts three to four hours and is tailored to the audience which can be anything from two to 30 people. Ideal for a group of friends, a wine club or corporate event, the Hammonds start off with a glass of Crémant de Bourgogne with gougères, then move on to discuss the wine areas with tastings and an aroma session. A personal information pack and lunch of French cheeses and charcuterie paired with the wines up to Grands Crus is included. This year, venues have included a château in Puligny Montrachet and private homes in Guernsey and Norfolk. For more information, firstname.lastname@example.org
wine news: Read David's report from the vineyards after an exceptional summer for weather
for Early birds
Looking ahead, French Wine Explorers, the leading luxury wine tour company in the States, has launched its 2016 programme with Burgundy and Bordeaux the focus. The Grand Cru Tour of Burgundy is an in-depth exploration of the Côte d’Or’s finest estates and a unique opportunity to taste the 32 Grand Crus of Burgundy, as well as experience special winemakers’ meals and exclusive tastings at some of the best estates of the region. The tour can take 10-12 people.
Another company specialising in the American market, the luxury hotel Barge Luciole (above) has the 2016 booking calendar up on its website. The barge can take up to 14 and there are still a couple of places left during the 2015 season too.
a week of celebration
The long awaited news was announced on July 4, Burgundy was successful in its bid for the vineyards of the Côte de Beaune and Côte de Nuits, the 'Climats' to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is great news for everyone involved in the wine and tourist industry in the area with the possibility of some funding for future projects.
'We are delighted by the decision, which reflects eight years of hard work, raising awareness, and mobilizing communities,” said Claude Chevalier, President of the BIVB. “And we are even more happy that we can share our joy with our friends in Champagne. But this decision is by no means an end. It is a marker in our history, the history of the women and men who have shaped these landscapes, built these walls, constructed these shelters, identified every plot, and constructed towns and villages across the Bourgogne winegrowing region,” he added.
It looks as if the hard work will continue apace. There are two large projects in the pipeline which will enhance the region further. Next June, Dijon will unveil La Cité Internationale de la Gastronomie, an exhibition centre covering 6.5 hectares in the centre of town on the site of the old hospital. And under consultation at present, Beaune is working on the Cité des Vins de Bourgogne project, an information centre devoted to the 'Climats' due for completion in 2018.
Savagnin, not Sauvignon
With increased interest in Jura wines, Jancis Robinson's latest article for the Financial Times is entitled 'Lifting the Veil on the Jura.' Savagnin is one of the five grape varieties grown in the Jura, and is particularly revered because it makes Vin Jaune which is aged under a film of yeast known as a voile or veil for over six years. (The other grape varieties are Chardonnay, Poulsard, Pinot Noir and Trousseau.)
'Until recently , says Jancis, 'the Jura has been an unusually hermetically sealed wine region, with virtually no outside investment – which has perhaps helped to retain the very special character of its wines'. This is changing, - Boisset from Burgundy for example purchased Henri Maire, the largest Jura wine producer, at the beginning of the year. Read the article
'France 1940. As Hitler's armies descend upon Paris, Lucile (Michelle Williams) awaits news from her husband who is being held a prisoner of war. Leading a stifled existence with her domineering mother-in-law (Kristin Scott-Thomas) Lucille's life is turned upside down when a handsome and charming German officer (Matthias Schoenaerts) is posted to live with them. Despite the many taboos, they find themselves drawn to each other, until the realities of war threaten to destroy them'. The book is available in paperback at Amazon
Driving along the A6 in Burgundy, Châteauneuf-en-Auxois stands supreme in the distance on the rocky spur. The château was donated to the state in 2008 and the Regional Council has spent the last year restoring the great house at the château, once home of Philippe Pot at the time of the glorious Dukes of Burgundy. The visitor centre in this 'logis' opened last week to a huge fanfare by the choir Arsys Bourgogne.
During the summer months musical events are planned, there are workshops, night-time visits and overall, the place has been given a new lease of life. See programme. Châteauneuf is labelled one of the most beautiful villages in France.
a charm all of its own
Last week we spent an action packed time exploring the Franche-Comté. Over the next few months an eclectic mix of articles will be appearing on burgundytoday about this region to the east of Burgundy in time for the merging of the two areas at the beginning of 2016. We visited a salt mine, Comté cheese factory, Vauban forts, Le Corbusier's chapel at Ronchamp, discovered Courbet and Ledoux and the meadows of the Haut Jura, ate a lot of cheese and of course tasted the delicious wine around Arbois. The town of Ornans, shown above, on the river Loue, was one highlight of the trip.
We found Franche-Comté to be a gentle place, with very friendly people, beautiful scenery and good roads (lorry runs best avoided). As is the case with all the proud regions across France, the locals are concerned about retaining their identity. 'We are worried about being swallowed up by Burgundy. For example will Besançon university get taken over by Dijon?' said one spokesman. This area has been used to fortress tactics throughout history but if they embrace the new regime, it seems likely that Franche-Comté could gain much from its more outwardly affluent neighbour and visa versa.
Coinciding with this visit, the New York Times published an article 'Exploring Franche-Comté, France's Well Kept Secret' majoring on Besançon and the surrounding area. Read the full article to get a taster of things to come.
A quick recharge
The first recharge point for electric vehicles in Burgundy has opened on the A31 motorway at Dijon-Brognon at the 'aire de repos'. The full recharge will take half an hour. By the end of the year, there will be 45 points on the motorways which have been co-financed by EDF electricity, the EU and the car manufacturers.
In the blue zone
Many towns across France have blue zones for parking. From tourist offices and newsagents you can buy a disc for 2 euros allowing you to park for up to two hours (excluding 12.00-14.00.) Simply set your arrival time on the clock and place in the windscreen saving time, hassle and money.
renting a car on a UK driving licence?
On June 8 driving licence changes come into force in the UK. As it stands at present you need to take the paper version (counterpart) of your licence as well as the photocard driving licence with you when renting a car. The DVLA website says:
'From 8 June 2015, you may wish to check with the hire company what they need to see when you hire a vehicle. If you’re asked for evidence of what vehicles you can drive or confirmation of any penalty points, you can request a unique code from GOV.UK which allows you to share your driving licence details or you can download a summary of your driving licence record. The code lasts for up to 72 hours and will allow the hire companies to make any necessary checks. You can also request a code by calling 0300 790 6801. This also applies if you have a paper licence that was issued before 1998'. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/driving-licence-changes
Your little bit of France
A pretty village house in a medieval village may be a dream but for a week or two it can be yours. Petit Crème in Montréal near Chablis is a self-catering holiday home which has recently been revamped and offers beds for 6-7 persons. The essentials of modern living such as WiFi, a DVD player and TV with English and French channels plus a garden and use of a pool ensure that all the family can have a relaxing holiday, home from home.
fine dining in the Franche-ComtE
Gradually over the course of this year we shall be adding information about the Franche-Comté which joins up with Burgundy on January 1. There are 11 Michelin starred restaurants in this mountainous region which have now been added to the 2015 list making a total of 43 for Bourgogne Franche- Comté. More...
jura wines in the spotlight
At the André Simon Food & Drink Book Awards, just announced, Wink Lorch has won the award for the best wine book. Wink has taken the wines of the Jura region in the Franche Comté to her heart and as well as writing about them, she has been spending time abroad spreading the word. Man Booker-winning novelist Julian Barnes, who was this year's assessor for the wine books, said: "Jura Wine is the first proper book in English about the wines of Jura. When its author took her first-ever glass of it, she thought it was 'weird'. It is a reaction many of us have shared, and perhaps not got beyond. Happily for us, she did, and has produced a personal and deeply committed guide to this often intractable region." See Wine Guidbooks
france at its best
This is what France and Burgundy are about, and it really gets the taste buds going. It's the provenance of food, prime produce with that special quality from the best sources.
Get out to your local market for the sights and smells of glorious food.
Our picture of the week, shot at the Beaune market, comes courtesy of Château de Villette luxury bed and breakfast near Autun. Sample Catherine's acclaimed food, using the best local ingredients. More...
Meeting today's exacting standards in holiday rentals, Penelope Sai asked the help of interior designer Sophie Seeger to decorate her cottage. The result is Desjardins' Cottage, pure French country style. South-west of Auxerre, it is a great place to relax, experience village life, as well as a good base from which to explore northern Burgundy from Chablis with its wines to the medieval village of Noyers-sur-Serein. Wifi is now an essential requirement for all holiday accommodation, a good kitchen and bathroom, and home comforts - all on offer here. More...
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
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.
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...
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.
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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