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This Week...

News and events around the Burgundy region, Bourgogne Franche-Comté

december 15


Christmas Inspiration

gifts made in bourgogne franche-comte

Made in Bourgogne Franche Comte

Bourgogne Franche-Comté has a host of craftsman tucked away in their ateliers making just the perfect gift items - here's our pick of the crop. The fine jewellery workshop Firouza in Reulle-Vergy in the Côte d'Or specialises in rings, bracelets and pendants traditionally crafted; Poterie d'Evelle in Baubigny near La Rochepot specialises in contemporary ceramics in stoneware and porcelaine; manufacturers of umbrellas for countless labels, Parapluie Neyrat in Autun has been keeping the nation dry for over 150 years. And for the children, a range of wooden puppets and dolls, handmade by Charliluce in Moirans en Montagne in the Jura and startup company Cutie Pie in Dijon encourages the pastry chefs of the future with cooking kits, (good for the kids' French too).

food inspiration

Chablis wine, matching food, festive recipes

We're all thumbing through the recipe books to give a treat to friends and family over the festive season. The blog from Chablis wines has appealing ideas which are reasonably simple to make with instructions in five languages. We liked the look of tomato and mozzarella capuchino, lobster in lemongrass broth and cod soufflé with Chablis and watercress sauce. Each dish comes with a wine recommendation. For more ideas from Chablis... 

Also see: Our Chef's Recipes and Matching Food and Wine

 

inspiration In the cellar

For her Christmas roundup of reds in the Financial Times Jancis Robinson recommends these Burgundy and Beaujolais wines:


'Ch de Lacarelle 2016 Beaujolais-Villages 12.5% Ridiculously cheap for this amount of fruity, youthful pleasure. This was a delightful vintage for accessible beaujolais, one of the world's underpriced wines. £7.75 The Wine Society

Dom du Moulin d'Éole, Les Thorins 2014 Moulin-à-Vent 12.5% A relatively serious cru beaujolais with some maturity but also still some potential and chewiness. This would be lovely with cold roast beef but it does need food. £10.95 The Wine Society

Alexandre Burgaud 2016 Beaujolais, Lantignié 12.5% Just the job for guests who want a red to drink as an aperitif. Fresh and super-juicy from very old vines and made by the nephew of highly regarded Jean-Marc Burgaud. £11.50 Berry Bros & Rudd

Dom Tollot-Beaut 2012 Chorey-lès-Beaune 13% Chorey is always relatively well-priced and Natalie Tollot runs the most admired domaine in the village. Sturdy, unmistakably burgundian and ready to drink. What's not to like? £27 Richard Granger, £27.30 The Wine Tasting Shop, £40 The Sampler (halves from Four Walls Wine)

Dom du Clos Salomon, Premier Cru 2014 Givry Light, fresh southern burgundy. Very elegant with masses of eloquent fruit in a lightweight register. Lunchtime burgundy? £30–£32 Four Walls Wine, The Secret Cellar, In Vino Veritas

Philippe Livera, Dom des Tilleuls, Clos Village 2014 Gevrey-Chambertin 13% A real charmer from this attractive red burgundy vintage with sufficient fruit to stand up to turkey but this one should still be going strong well into the next decade. £42.50 Harvey Nichols Dom Christian Sérafin, Vieilles Vignes 2007

Gevrey-Chambertin 13% You pay more for real burgundy … The chief attributes of this wine with its combination of bitter cherries and leaf mulch are that it has bottle age and is from a particularly accessible vintage. The 2010 at £79.50 has more grunt and definition. £60 Berry Bros & Rudd

Read Jancis' other suggestions


december 8

a whiteout

© Pixabay/Creative Commons


Temperatures dipped as low as -9 in Pontarlier in the Franche-Comté on Sunday last as the Arctic blasts took hold. Three weeks early, the ski station is open this weekend at the Ballon Alsace and weather warnings continue to be in force across the region

 

Johnny HallidayThe passing of an idol


Fifty seven years after his first concert, the French legend Johnny Halliday passed away on Wednesday after a fight against lung cancer. Burgundy was the venue for his debut concert at L'Escale de Migennes in the Yonne, a cabaret spot, popular in the 60s. Halliday performed many times in Burgundy throughout his long career, and participated in several films made in the region
.

 

A wonderland of winter whites


Jancis Robinson in her round up of seasonal wines in the Financial Times featured this week, dry white wines. She chose three from Burgundy: Cellier de St-Jean 2015 Chablis; Dom. du Clos Salomon, Premier Cru 2015 Montagny, and Dom. Lafouge Les Boutonniers 2015 Auxey-Duresses. Jancis' list and tasting notes..

 

december 1

new regional appellation viewed with caution


Decanter
magazine reports: 'As most media focused on the record-breaking Hospices de Beaune wine auction, journalists also tasted a brand new regional appellation, ‘Bourgogne Côte d’Or’, inaugurated in Beaune just two days previously. Integrated as a Bourgogne Régionale AOC, it is not a new appellation per se, but rather the 14th regional Burgundy AOC'. The wine merchants appeared cautious in their enthusiasm. The Burgundy classification is already a complicated affair. More...



Rue Jo Cox


Rue Jo Cox Avallon BurgundyJo Cox, the British MP murdered in 2016, worked for Oxfam in the UK, Europe and the US before going in parliament. Each May, Avallon hosts the Oxfam Trailwalker event and the town has honoured her memory by naming the street where the event begins after her. From Rue Jo Cox, teams of four will begin the 100 km circuit race through the Morvan Natural Park. As Connexion newspaper reports, 'last year’s Trailwalker saw 242 teams raise an impressive €439,034 for Oxfam France’s work helping people in need around the world.

In our inbox this week, a reader writes: '  I was very moved when I learned today in The Guardian that your mayor has named Rue Jo Cox in Avallon. Please thank him from all those in the UK who always feel European and who send their friendship'.

The sign says: Rue Jo Cox, British MP, murdered because of her convictions, June 22, 1974 – June 16, 2016.

 

restaurant woes

 

Jérôme Brochot, the Michelin starred chef of 'Le France' in Montceau-les Mines has relinquished his one star due to the economic woes in the area. Businesses here have been struggling since the closure of the mines and this top end restaurant which opened in 1999 has become uneconomic to run at such a high level. It will however continue serving traditional Burgundian fare.

november 18

winter watch in Bourgogne Franche-Comte

Early snowfall in Franche-Comte, photo Rene Sun; Boeuf Bourguignon, photo BIVB; Chocolate market at Santenay

As the snow fell in the Haut-Doubs in Franche-Comté last Sunday afternoon the stage was set for winter. The picture above was taken by René Sun in the commune of Doubs. The cross country skiers togged up on Monday delighting in the early action.

 

When asked which dish most represented French cuisine, Boeuf Bourguignon came out top of the charts in the survey conducted by L'Institut Toluna for la Fondation Nestlé France (above left). Blanquette de veau came second followed by Steak-frites. Follow our chef Bob Chambers recipe for this favourite winter dish, and take a look too at his other mouth watering suggestions to keep the cold at bay.

november 11

catch up on:

  • Splash out on and get 30% off the room rate over the winter at one of Burgundy's finest hotels
  • The awaited 2018 dates at Dijon Prenois - the Coupes Moto Légende and L'Age d'Or. plus...

beaujolais blues

Beaujolais in autumn, photo Andrew JeffordWhilst most of the Burgundy wine producers are happy with their 2017 harvest, the story is not so good down in the Beaujolais region. Andrew Jefford, writing in Decanter tells of a tale of woe  for the producers as a result of the weather. Some of the young wine growers are '
facing career-threatening challenges thanks to two successive years of hail-induced losses' he says. Netting is one solution that the growers are looking at but it is not permitted at present by the INAO and it would mean for example that Richard Rottiers who has lost 80 per cent of his Moulin-à-Vent harvest in both 2016 and 2017 would have to sell his wine as Vin de France. 'The irony is', Jefford says, 'that Beaujolais cru quality in 2017 looks exceptionally good'. More...

 

Rock attitude

 

Olivier Streiff is a colourful character - the colour being black. This goth looking owner of the Relais de Saulx in Beaune first became famous on the programme Top Chef back in 2015. Having just launched a cookbook, this showman was dressed for TV once more, in Chopin attire, with the accompanying music playing in the background for the interview. The book, 'La Cuisine Merveilleuse d'Olivier Streiff looks inspiring with 60 recipes and poems by his wife, Nina.

november 4

Musee de Solutre exhibition by Benoit ClarysThrough the eye of the artist


Archaeology has been Benoît Clary's passion and livelyhood for the past 25 years. He has used his artistic talents to draw and paint people and animals from the Prehistoric era onwards through history. In this age of computer graphics, how gratifying to see the real thing. Helping to bring the Solutré museum to life, an exhibition of some 50 of his pictures,entitled 'Le Passé comme si vous y étiez', alongside some of the sources of inspiration such as cranes and mammoths, will be exhibited from Nov 1 to Sept 30, 2018.

 


Clos de Tart changes hands

Clos de Tart, photo: Artémis DomainesWhen Clos de Tart, one of Burgundy's most prestigious wine domains, went up for sale 'ferocious bidding' began. It is the largest Grand Cru Monopole in Burgundy, has been managed until recently by one of Burgundy's most respected wine growers Sylvain Pitiot, and has a history dating back to the 12thC. With this fine lineage, the estate has been bought by François Pinault owner of Bordeaux's Château Latour for, it is believed, an eye watering
sum of $230 million. The Wine Spectator has the story.


october 21

The answer lies in the soil

Bourgogne, the birthplace of terroir, BIVBThis week at the Oenovidéo wine-themed video festival at Imaginarium in Nuits-St.-Georges, the BIVB video 'Bourgogne, the birthplace of terroir' won the prize for the most inventive film. Over eight minutes the evolution and geography of the region is explained clearly and concisely with the help of animation - it would make a good teaching tool. Available on Youtube in French, English, Chinese and Japanese.

wine tops diamonds and classic cars

With the Hospices de Beaune Wine Auction coming up, you might consider investing in fine wine. The Knight Frank Luxury Investment Index for 2017 has just been released and it shows that fine wine prices rose an average of 20% in the 12 months to the end of June. ' Knight Frank measured price growth in ten luxury investment sectors' reports Decanter Magazine. 'Wine was the highest year-on-year performer, ahead of fine art, classic cars, jewellery, antique furniture and diamonds'. The founder of the index, Nick Martin, said: , ‘Blue chip Burgundy remains very strong, up 31% last year and 12% year to date. Scarcity paired with global demand for sought-after producers has made top Burgundy a consistently good bet, with 10 year gains of 411%.’ More...

Knight Frank Luxury Investment Inex 2017

october 7

artistry of wine

Louis Roederer International Wine Writers' Awards, Artistry of Wine 2017
At the annual Louis Roederer International Wine Writers' Awards each year there is a category 'Artistry of Wine' which can be photography, film or original art. The winner for 2017 was George Rose from California with his image 'High Stakes' shown top. Of the six shortlisted entrants, Gretchen Greer's work 'Snow in St-Romain' and Jon Wyland's picture of the 'raucous' gathering with Dominique Lafon pouring at La Paulée de Meursault 2016 shows the diversity of the submissions. More...

september 30

Under our feet

Archaeological finds in northern Burgundy revealed the Treasure of Vix in the 1950's. But with advances in technology we are able to discover what else lies beneath the forests of the Châtillonnais and Parc National des Forêts de Champagne et Bourgogne  

Musee du Chatillonnais, Lidar making archaeological finds possible

As technology develops it is opening up revelations about the past, under the very ground we walk on. A plane can fly over the forest, and through a system called Lidar, you are able to see what is under the surface of the ground beneath the trees. Lidar (standing for Light Detection and Ranging) is not new, it has been around since the 1960s but it is advancing all the time. Combined with GPS. using laser light, and measuring the reflected pulses with a sensor, digital 3D representations can be made. From everything to geography to seismology, forestry and atmospheric physics, Lidar is doing the business.

As an aid to archaeologists, new possibilities unfold in the Châtillonnais forests and the new National Park of Burgundy and Champagne. At the Musée du Châtillonnais this technology opens up endless possibilities of new discoveries of ancient cultures.  

The 2017 harvest: Much enthusiasm in the Bourgogne region

Grape harvest in Burgundy, photo BIVB Armellephotographe.com

The BIVB reports: 'This year, it all happened very quickly. The harvest began at the end of August, with quality and quantity much in evidence and picking peaked during the first two weeks of September. After a series of vintages that have suffered the whims of the weather - 2016 in particular – the Bourgogne winegrowing region has returned to cruising speed in terms of production, while
averages across the rest of France are down.'
This, and more on Wine News

Climats de Bourgogne UNESCO site motorway signage photo Bien PublicSpreading the word

Driving along the motorways in the Côte-d'Or, the A6, A36 and A39, you will see striking new panels advertising the UNESCO rated Climats de Bourgogne. More will be added over the winter on the roads to the villages and towns along the route with information panels and viewing points highlighted.

Beautification of the Côte de Beaune and Côte de Nuits is also going to taking place. A fund has been set up to renovate some of the old walls (220km), entrance arches and stone buildings or cabottes etc. on the listed vineyards so that the whole area appeals further to tourists. Application dossiers for funding need to be in by December 1.

september 23

Getting in the Community Spirit


Vezelay vineyards Burgundy, photo BIVB

Summer's coming to an end, heralding Autumn, a perfect time for walking. Marilyn Floyde joins a local group in the vineyards around Vézelay, improves her French, and samples the wine too

If you love exploring beautiful French countryside on foot and aspire to ‘integrate with the French community’ you could try connecting with one of the many thousands of local associations in villages and towns all over France.

However small, these associations are registered legal entities with a President and other officers elected by the membership, and can be anything from a group of enthusiasts with a common passion (e.g. Photography, Fishing, Singing, etc.), or a group following a broader remit such as Local History, or Friends of. . .. Many groups include talks and social evenings as well as active participation.

Walking is enjoying a surge in popularity in France as it is everywhere else, attracting everyone from device-wearing pace-counting urbanites to families wanting some healthy fun together. There is almost bound to be a group near you either with walking, rambling or orienteering as a central activity, or with walking as a part of something broader such as mycology, local history or folklore. Exploring beautiful countryside, and allowing your senses and your thoughts to wander freely throughout the experience, is one of walking’s greatest pleasures  – and Autumn is a marvellous time for walking.

On Sunday I joined a group of around 40 people for an event that had just about everything going for it. It was organised by an association called simply THAROISEAU J’AIME. I’d had no connections with this group or any of its members before then, although I knew the lovely old village of Tharoiseau which is within the Vézelay commune, part of the wider Avallonais and the Parc Naturel Régional du Morvan. On top of a hill, just below the site of a neolithic oppidum, Tharoiseau is the highest point for miles around and affords fantastic views of the Vézelay Basilica on what used to be known as the ‘Scorpion Hill’; Mont Liboeuf and possibly the site of the mythical battle of Vau Bouton mentioned in the epic C12th Chanson de Geste de Girart de Roussillon; the village of St Père where, after millennia Les Fontaines Salées still bubble with helium; the distant black hills of the Morvan celebrated for its ancient Celtic history and the supply of water, wood and wet-nurses to the populated towns and cities of the past. Looking out from Tharoiseau is like standing on the edge of history.

The event was publicised as a ‘Randonnée dans la vignoble autour de Tharoiseau’ and promised not only an instructive scenic 8km ramble amongst autumnal vineyards, but also, when we got back, a free wine tasting offered by the Viticulteurs du Vézelien with the opportunity to sample their range of AOC reds and whites, bio and non-bio, in the village’s picnic area. It sounded good on the little flier that I picked up in the pharmacy at Vézelay. In reality it was even better, and worth every cent of the €5 participation fee. I phoned the Presidente, Mme Marie-José Cebaret, who was very welcoming, and booked my place.

Walking in the vineyards of Vezelay, photos Marilyn Floyde

The walk started with a tour around the village itself, punctuated by snippets of local history including the Scottish origins of the family who founded the Château and its dedicated Chapel. We saw the Puit supplying fresh drinking water to the village which had never run dry, and the water troughs containing ornamental fish, surrounded by pots of geraniums, beside the church. We left the village and on into the hills to explore the local vineyards and paused for a while beside a small field of hybrid grape vines – one of the very few left in Burgundy – while Alain Moiron, President of the Confrèrie de Vézelay, told us the story of some of the remedies explored after the devastating Phylloxera disaster and its consequences. He handed out little bunches of cross-pollinated hybrid grapes for us all to try. Their taste and texture was quite unique. M Moiron also gave us an overview of the history of the region. On our way back to the village through Fontette we walked gently uphill on a long footpath lined with hedges of blackberries, elderberries, rosehips and escaping vine shoots heavy with fruit almost ready for the vendange, and irresistable to walkers with an eye for foraging. Back at the picnic area set out on long tables were bottles of AOC Bourgogne Vézelay wine, a relatively new region encompassing the communes of Tharoiseau, Vézelay, Asquins and St. Père, ready for the degustation.

The obvious benefit of taking part in this kind of organised activity is the social introduction to people within your community, and with it the opportunity to improve your French and learn new vocabulary in an informal and enjoyable way. It’s often quite difficult to strike up a conversation with people you’ve never met before, especially if you’re not an entirely confident French speaker. When you’re walking along, the visual context makes it much easier to find a topic you can share, and the vocabulary needn’t be too complicated either. It’s also very useful to walk with local people who know the routes and pathways and, especially at this time of year at the very beginning of the hunting season, with people who know where and when the local hunters will be gathering.

 After a long hot dry summer the ground isn’t yet providing the mouldy/mulchy environment for many mushrooms - the mainstay of French foraging. As soon as it does, there will be mycological associations coming into their own all over France, as well as mushroom festivals and fairs, which are delightful. The promotion of these events isn’t always as aggressive as it could be – so keep your eyes open for little fliers dotted around, advertisements in local papers and magazines and sometimes just handwritten announcements stuck on communal notice boards.

Sharing the fruits of the earth amongst people who are sociable and welcoming, as I found the members of J’AIME THAROISEAU, is a happy experience, and Autumn in Burgundy, when the leaves are beginning to turn and the vendange is just around the corner, is a wonderfully exciting and rewarding time to take to the hills.

© Marilyn Floyde

See Wine News for more on Vézelay Wine and Walking

Côte D'Or: The Wines and Winemakers of the Heart of Burgundy 

by Raymond Blake

To all Burgundy aficionados, the Côte d'Or produces the ultimate wines. In this new book, Raymond Blake, wine editor of Food and Wine Magazine in Ireland, explains 'succinctly the history of winemaking in this part of Burgundy, the complexity of the subdivided vineyards and the special role played by geology and climate in the creation of these wines. Visiting a selection of notable producers, Blake provides his take on each, along with a suggestion of that winemaker’s most distinctive or interesting wine for readers to try. After a rundown of the characteristics of each vintage from the last thirty years, and notes on some outstanding earlier vintages, Blake considers what the future might hold for the côte, including the challenges of premature oxidation, extreme weather and world events. He ends the book by providing some ideas to help those planning a trip to the region get the most out of their visit'.

News Snippets

Back to Burgundy: this film by Cedric Klapisch, Ce Qui Nous Lie in French, has received mixed reviews in the press but Rosi Hanson, writing in Decanter Magazine says: ' I loved this film, but then I love Burgundy. If you do, too, you will forgive the slightly clunky plot and some sentimentality. It’s very French in style, and it gets under the skin of Burgundy. Read more...

Keigo Kimura expands: the talented one star Michelin chef of L'Aspérule in Auxerre has announced that he is leaving the town to open a restaurant in Dijon in the spring of 2018.  With the help of the Mairie in Auxerre he has tried to find larger premises but to no avail. All is not lost for Auxerre however, as Kimura is keeping the restaurant in Rue du Pont as a bistro run by some of his staff.

september 1

Yang Lu, Master Sommelier, photo Decanter MagazineA first in China


We featured Yang Lu in our article 'How to become a wine professional'. This expert and lover of Burgundy wine is the first person in China to achieve the Master Sommelier award after a very exacting examination. Only 236 people worldwide can proudly wear the lapel pin. A huge congratulations to Yang.

Bibracte revisited

Bibracte, photo Philippe Desmazes, AFPNew evidence is emerging, reports Le Figaro, that Bibracte at Mont Beuvray was not so much a town but more a vast city stretching over 200 hectares, now forest. 150 years after the excavations began of the capital of Gaul, a huge terrace has been discovered which is believed to be linked to the fortifications. As archaeological techniques improve with technology, the discoveries are set to continue well into the future. The article in French.

august 25

Would you like to stay in a chateau like this?

Chateau in Burgundy for a House Party Chateau in Burgundy for a House Party

With families living in far flung places, a once in a while get-together in a fabulous place has a lot of appeal. 'Why Do Ordinary?' asks Oliver's Travels, a top end travel company started ten years ago by two Francophiles, Ravi and Oliver. They have hand selected châteaux in Burgundy, and villas in other desirable destinations and offer top customer service to ensure that you go to the place that's right for you and your friends and family. Sleeping anything from 32 people downwards, plus a few smaller properties, plan your house party or wedding party using their free concierge service for advice on the location or to organise catering etc. Above left, the 18thC château sleeps 14, with nine bedrooms and six bathrooms, near Saulieu. Above right, also sleeping 14 with seven bed and bath, near Chalon-sur-Saône.  See the listing 

Hotels for Foodies

L'Abbaye de la Bussiere Burgundy Hotel Restaurant Le Montrachet Hotel Restaurant Puligny Montrachet Burgundy, photo Chateaux Hotels

The UK Times newspaper has come up with its recommendation for the top 20 foodie hotels in France. High on the list at numbers four and five are two of Burgundy's best - L'Abbaye de la Bussière in the Ouche valley and Le Montrachet in the little wine village of Puligny Montrachet. More

Grottes d’Aze, Waterfall, Burgundy, France
august 18

a journey to the centre of the earth


France3 Bourgogne reports that there has been a 15% rise in visitor numbers already this August at the Grottes d'Aze in southern Burgundy. This important prehistoric site where 300,000 to 400,000 years ago Cro-Magnon man lived side by side with bears and big cats is open until November 5 and offers a guided tour lasting an hour and a half into the bowels of the earth with its interesting rock formations and underground river with the dramatic waterfall, shown right. There are auto guides in English, German and Dutch, reservation required.  

a stately pile

Chateauneuf en AuxoisDriving around Burgundy suddenly as you turn round a bend, you will come across a majestic château. These buildings have drawn visitors over the centuries and are undoubtedly one of the great charms of the region. Some of these vast structures have been turned into hotels, others are owned by wine domains, and then there are the stately homes, some still in private hands, and others owned by the state. Of these, we feature some of the grandest and most interesting on the historic places pages but there are more than 50 on the official list from the association which oversees them, see their website Les Châteaux de Bourgogne et de Franche-Comté.

august 4

A cautionary note

A staggering 920 million euros was raised from speeding fines last year in France reports Connexion magazine. On this, another busy weekend on the roads, beware of the prying eyes, the radar devices.

july 28

pommard rebrands itself

Chateau de Pommard rebrandingAccording to the Wine Market Council, people in their 20s and 30s drink more than 42% of the wine consumed. Out to attract this new generation of wine lovers, Château de Pommard has rebranded itself with sleek and sexy bottles, the wine equivalent of an haute couture gown for the top end luxury market.

Château de Pommard was bought in 2014 by the Carabello-Baum family from San Francisco and since their purchase, they have been updating with biodynamic practices and revitalizing the brand to create 'a destination where expert wine education and entertaining experiences go hand-in-hand'. The new bottle is stunning, but the focus on natural practices and pure expression of terroir is the most important,” commented Gérard Margeon, Head Sommelier and Executive Wine Director at Alain Ducasse’s restaurants.


july 21

The sweet smell of success

Mulot et Petitjean factory Dijon, photo Bien PublicThe Mulot et Petitjean shops in Dijon have been a visitor attraction for years. One example is the ornate boutique in Place Bossuet where the display of the pain d'épices, or ginger bread, and associated products is a work of art and makes a purchase a must. The ginger bread is a Burgundian speciality, served with savoury and sweet dishes in the region from foie gras to raspberry soufflé. Now you can visit the factory which has been extended to include a museum and visitor centre, but be prepared for the hunger pangs to strike from the delicious aroma. It is open all year from Tuesday to Saturday from 10.00-12.30 and 14.00-18.30, entry 8 euros for adults and 6 euros, age 12-18 years. Groups welcome 0033 (0)3 80 30 07 10, address: 6 Boulevard de l'Ouest in Dijon.

fly the flag

Burgundy flag Franche-Comte flag New Bourgogne Franche-Comte flag  2017

The task of the heraldic graphic designers was not too problematic when it came to amalgamating the Bourgogne flag (left) with that of Franche-Comté (centre) following the joining together of the two regions last year. The harmonious new look (right) was unfurled last week.

june 30

The Dragonfly
by Kate Dunn

Shortlisted for the 4th Virginia Prize for Fiction, The Dragonfly is the new novel by Kate Dunn described as 'a charming family drama set on the waterways (and in the prisons!) of France'.
Amazon says: 'When Colin discovers his son is on a murder charge in France, he trails his small boat, The Dragonfly, across the channel to stay in Paris to try and help him. There he meets his grand-daughter the irrepressible Delphine for the first time. They embark on an exciting boat journey through the picturesque French canals, heading south through Burgundy.' This is 'an unusual story of family, love and heartache'.
Another good holiday read

The Maison des Climats

The Maison des Climats opened on July 3 next to the Tourist Office in Beaune at Porte Marie de Bourgogne. Showing 2000 years of winegrowing in Burgundy from Jurassic times to the present day, a nine metre long relief model of the vineyards and villages will illustrate the 1247 'climats, the terroirs given UNESCO Heritage status two years ago. A film and other animations will be on view.


june 17

the clash of the titans

Richard Orlinski's sculptures in Saulieu Burgundy

Richard Orlinski is a star -  he sells his enormous sculptures to the rich and famous, employs 150 people in the making, and is considered one of the top ten French artists in terms of the value his work fetches around the world. The Musée François Pompon in Saulieu has arranged an exhibition of his sculptures. Pompon's famous gentle bear, one of the signatures of the town, is confronted with Orlinski's towering adversary in the 'Le Choc des Titans' Other surprises in store include King Kong and the croc, part of the artist's 'Born Wild' series. The exhibition is on display in Saulieu until the end of December.

love and death in Burgundy
by Susan C.Shea



American mystery author Susan C.Shea is known for her Dani O'Rouke mystery series. Her latest book 'Love and Death in Burgundy' includes all the expected accoutrements required for French country living with a host of eccentric characters into the bargain. This is the first of a series, described as 'cozy' in the reviews, with a murder thrown in for good measure. Good holiday reading.

june 3

Bourgogne Live Air, Image bank of the vineyards of BurgundyCalling all film location scouts

Through the photo library of the BIVB, the Burgundy Wine Board, we have shared with you on burgundytoday many stunning images of the vineyards by photographer Aurélien Ibanez. Together with François Desperriers, their company Bourgogne Live Productions has taken to the air and now offers Bourgogne Live Air, over 600 aerial videos available for purchase by television, cinema, production companies etc. From Mâcon to Chablis, the vineyards, geography, history and tourist attractions can be viewed from above.

may 20

A Moveable Feast

The USA film crew from the very popular programme Moveable Feast with Fine Cooking on PBS channel arrived for filming at Château d'Ancy le Franc on Monday as part of their culinary road trip in Italy and France. Two of the region's top English speaking chefs, Jean-Michel Lorain from the Côte St. Jacques in Joigny and Nicolas Isnard from L'Auberge de la Charme at Prenois cooked lunch for fifteen invited guests featuring some of Burgundy's favourites, escargots, Bresse chicken, and Kir. With the sumptuous setting of the Château both inside and out, the programme presented by Australian Pete Evans will be transmitted and viewed by over two million people in the autumn.


Who claims King Arthur?

A stained-glass window depicting the knights of King Arthur's Round Table seeing a vision of the Holy Grail at Église Sainte-Onenne, in Tréhorenteuc  Brittany, photo Nick Inman ConnexionWho lays claim to King Arthur, the British or the French? As Nick Inman points out in this month's Connexion newspaper, towards the end of the 12thC, the story, which had until that time been a British narrative, was taken up by the French, particularly Chretien de Troyes, a court retainer. Several episodes of the Arthurian saga supposedly take place in the Bois de Broceliande. This mythical forest is now generally accepted to be the Fôret de Paimpont, in Brittany, Nearby there is an Arthurian Centre housed in the Château de Comper near Concort.

However, our readers will know that a very convincing argument stating that King Arthur was in Burgundy has been put forward by Marilyn Floyde in her book, now in its second edition, King Arthur’s French Odyssey: Avallon in Burgundy.

“In the back of my mind I had always been bothered about the ‘Island’ aspect of the legendary ‘Avallon’,” she told Connexion. “People would say to me, ‘That’s all very well, but wasn’t Avallon supposed to be an island? Burgundy’s just about as far from the sea as it’s possible to get in France’.

“It is far from uncommon to find French ‘Isles’ inland; islands created by rivers or other waterways, not necessarily the sea. “I opened up all my five large-scale maps on the floor, spread them out and overlapped them, and looked for any water courses that might define it as such. I realised that my perspective had been too localised around the immediate area of the village, and that if I looked beyond and outwards from there, in both directions, towards Avallon to the northeast and Les Fontaines Salées to the southwest, it’s blindingly obvious that Avallon is on an island, and that it’s bounded by the River Cure, and the River Cousin.” Read the Connexion article. More on Marilyn's book

may 13

at the turn of the 20th century there were only 3000 cars in France ...


What a difference a century has made. The French have always excelled at marketing whether it is wine, cheese, perfume or fashion, and with the rise in popularity of the car, tourism for everyone took off with guide books and starred recommendations promoting hotels and restaurants along the way. Two of Burgundy's attractions with staying power are marking their coming of age - join them and help them celebrate.

100 years on

Moulin des Ruats Avallon Burgundy 100 years ago Moulin des Ruats luxury hotel restaurant Avallon Burgundy

The Cousin valley below the ramparts in Avallon is undeniably one of the top beauty spots in Burgundy. Back in the 18thC the valley was industrial and home to working mills, one of which processed flour, the Moulin des Ruats. The exterior of the building appears to have changed little and the working water wheel still turns but inside a transformation took place.

In 1917 a certain Mr. Pierre from Paris acquired the Moulin with pieces of gold and turned it into an hotel with 14 rooms. This was a brave move indeed - don't forget at the turn of the century there were only 3000 cars in France and the Michelin Red Guide was a free pamphlet in its infancy.

The five 'C's

Moulin des Ruats Cousin valley BurgundyIn the 1930s the Berthier family really brought the place to life and its reputation for warm hospitality over two generations spread apace. Today recommendation guides are commonplace but back in 1954 the 'Route de Bonheur' was a new marketing idea. This 'route of happiness' between Paris and Nice was created by Nelly and Marcel Tilloy and it consisted of eight hotels of which the Moulin des Ruats was one. The principles of the Route de Bonheur were made up of five "Cs" -  Character, Courtesy, Calm, Charm, and Cuisine.  The eventual fusion of the groups Relais de Campagne,  Relais Gourmands and Châteaux-Hôtels became in 1975 the prestigious hotel chain Relais & Châteaux, which today still abides by the tenets of the five "Cs".

That same year, the Châteaux & Hôtels Indépendants chain was formed, which in 1998 would be acquired by Alain Ducasse to create Châteaux Hôtels Collection, of which the Moulin des Ruats is still a member.

In 1995, Jocelyne and Jean-Pierre Rossi took over the reins at the Moulin, which today counts 25 charming bedrooms and a panoramic, gastronomic restaurant.  A warm and authentic welcome still awaits travellers who come to relax and recharge their batteries in an idyllic, natural setting, which remains forever engraved in the memory.

april 21

Top Tourist Attractions in the Cote d'or
Top Tourist Attractions in the Cote d'Or Burgundy, Bourgogne Franche-Comte

You will have noticed how the French love collecting statistics and tourist offices and public buildings will always ask you where you come from in the world. This is the list published by Le Bien Public for the visitor figures for the top attractions in the Côte d'Or department in 2016, shown above from the top left. The results highlight a couple of lesser known places to visit - the Musée Rude in Dijon and the crypt at the Abbaye de Flavigny for example. (Humour us with our second photo, regrettably burgundytoday is not the number two attraction in the region but the AC Cobra at the Dijon Prenois Circuit certainly was and brought many admiring glances.)

1. Hôtel-Dieu Beaune (425,530)
2. Dijon Prenois Racing Circuit (300,000)
3. Le Casino Santenay (188,146)
4. Musée des Beaux Arts (155,692)
5. Le Jardin des Sciences de Dijon (109,159)
6. Le Parc d'Auxois (92,676)
7. L'Abbaye de Flavigny ( 92.532)
8. L'Abbaye de Fontenay (83,071)
9. Musée Rude de Dijon (82,965)
10. MuséoParc Alésia (72,951)
11. Le Château du Clos de Vougeot (48,604
12. Le Cassissium de Nuits St. Georges (43,537)

Cloud seeding

After several seasons of severe hail storms in Burgundy which destroyed some of the grapes at a crucial time in their development and resulted in low yields at harvest time, a 'hailstorm shield' is in the process of being installed across the whole region. The Telegraph reports that it consists of '125 ground generators that cause tiny particles of silver iodide to rise to the clouds above where they stop the formation of the hail stones and thus reduce the risk of damage.' The hi-tech process is called 'cloud seeding'. More....

april 7

This week saw the publication of two must-have guidebooks for visitors to Burgundy, le Guide Vert du Michelin 2017 and Guide du Routard du Canal de Bourgogne.

The latest edition of Le Guide Vert at present is only in French with the English version, the Michelin Green Guide, following on this October. New in 2017, the Musée des Beaux Arts in Dijon has been awarded three star status, joining the basilica in Vézelay, the Hôtel-Dieu in Beaune, the Abbaye de Fontenay, the Abbaye de Cluny and the Puits de Moïse as must see places.

The Puits de moise

Puits de Moise, BurgundySo what makes the Puits de Moïse so special? Translated the Well of Moses, this is a sculpture by the celebrated Claus Sluter, carved between 1395 and 1403 for the Carthusian monastery Chartreuse de Champmol in Dijon. Philip the Bold planned this monastery as the burial place for his dynasty but as it turns out, his tomb now lies in the Musée des Beaux Arts.

With Easter in the coming week, the Puits de Moïse takes on special significance. This highly acclaimed example of late medieval sculpture shows a crucifixion scene, a cross on a hexagonal base which was surrounded by the six prophets who had foreseen the death of Christ on the Cross (Moses, David, Jeremiah, Zachariah, Daniel and Isaiah) and standing between these prophets are six weeping angels. Only fragments of the Crucifixion survive, including the head and torso of Christ which are now housed in the Musée Archéologique in Dijon. The hexagonal base with its sculptures remains in a special building, along with the chapel in the grounds of the Hospital de la Chartreuse, now a mental institution.

The Puits de Moïse is open all year, Oct to Mar from 9.30 - 12.30 and 14.00 -16.30 and April to Sept from 9.30 - 12.30 and 14.00 - 18.00. To arrange a visit, contact the Dijon Tourist Office on site, tel: 0892700558.

april 1

what is Crit'Air?

In an attempt to control pollution in the large cities of France from March 31 foreign registered cars need to show a Crit'Air sticker when travelling through Paris, Lyon or Grenoble. (This has applied to French registered cars since January 2017) If you stay on the ring roads, this does not apply but don't let your GPS take you through the centre of these towns without getting the sticker.

march 25

Musee du Vin revitalized

Musee du Vin Beaune, the building dates back to the Dukes of BurgundyAfter extensive renovation, the Musée du Vin in Beaune reopened on March 15. In this beautiful building dating back to the glory days of the Dukes of Burgundy, you can gain an overview of the region's most precious commodity, wine. Open from March to May and October to November from 10.00-13.00 and 14.00 to 17.00, closed Monday and Tuesday. From June to September it is open one hour later in the afternoon and only closed on Tuesdays.

march 17

Set in stone

Iraq Afghanistan Memorial by Paul DayThis week the memorial was unveiled in London by the Queen to honour the many thousands of UK military and civilians who served in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Gulf. The sculpture was the work of Burgundy resident Paul Day famous for the Battle of Britain monument, which stands nearby on the Embankment, as well as the Meeting Place, the sculpture of an embracing couple in St Pancras station.

This, his latest commission stands in Victoria Embankment Gardens and commemorates both duty and service - the bronze medallion shows the military on one side and civilians on the other. The medallion is set between two stone monoliths.

march 3

St Vincent Festival St Veran 2018 BurgundySt Vincent 2018

The St. Véran appellation in the south of the Mâconnais was created in 1971. Comprising of the villages of Davayé, Prissé and Solutré-Pouilly in the north and Chânes, Chasselas, Leynes, St-Amour and St-Vérand in the south, this is the land of the Chardonnay grape. In 2018, the appellation will host the St. Vincent Festival, centred around Prissé when 40,000 visitors will be expected. Preparation has begun already with their new website, at present in French only.

cycling? a warm shower awaits


Crash hats for under 12s obligatory in FranceThe Warm Showers Community is a free worldwide hospitality exchange for touring cyclists with 38,000 hosts and 83,000 members. Hosts sign up and provide contact information and may occasionally have someone to stay with them and share stories and a drink. All members agree to host others either now or in the future. The hospitality may be a couch, a tent in the garden or a room. Judith Un van de Toorn, is one of five hosts in Chalon-sur-Saône and an avid promoter of all things cycling (she is organising the Tour des Reines in Dijon on March 8). See warmshowers.org for more information on friendly hospitality in Bourgogne Franche-Comté.


On bicycles,crash hats are obligatory for children less than 12 years of age from March 22.

Cycling in Bourgogne Franch-Comté

Ouibus from Paris to Nevers, Chalon sur Saone or DijonLow cost bus travel

Ouibus, the budget coach company already runs routes from Paris to Chalon-sur-Saône and Dijon. In April a third route comes into service from Paris to Montargis, Nevers and on to Clermont-Ferrnand. Flexibus and Isilines are other low cost operators in the region. More on bus travel

february 24

travellers' choice 2

Townscapes


Self catering holidays in Burgundy , Beaune, Dijon and Semur-en-Auxois

Above left:
 La Maison du Couvent in the centre of the town of Beaune, a stylish apartment for holiday rental. Soak up the atmosphere in the wine capital of Burgundy.

Centre:  Stay in an apartment in a traditional town house in the centre of Dijon. There's a lot going on in this buzzing city from history and culture to nightlife

Right:  Step back in time and stay in a romantic medieval town, Semur-en-Auxois at the Maison Secrete, Burgundy Holiday Homes ref 164198vb. A good location for visiting Burgundy's treasures.

keeping fit



Above left: At  the Castel de Très Girard in the Côte des Nuits you are in the vineyards of Morey-St-Denis. Explore the area on foot or by bike, particularly beautiful in summer and early autumn

Centre: On the eastern edge of the Morvan Natural Park, close to Avallon, the Moulin des Ruats hotel and restaurant lies in the beautiful Cousin Valley, a walker's treat.

Right: On the west side of the Morvan, the Logis de la Poste in the village of Vauclaix with its pool will be a welcome break after a day of hiking and exploring.

Travellers' Choice

Here's our pick of where to stay in Burgundy this year. Depending whether you want an action break or a relaxing getaway, there's something for everyone in all price brackets.

For Luxury

Chateau de la Resle, L'Abbaye de la Bussiere, Chateau de Villette, Burgundy

Above left: Château de la Resle - bursting with contemporary design ideas, chill out at this boutique bed and breakfast in northern Burgundy and visit Chablis and Vézelay.

Centre: L'Abbaye de la Bussière - once a Cistercian monastery, the setting is now sumptuous, as is the food by the much acclaimed chef, Guillaume Royer. The Route des Grands Crus is closeby.

Right: Château de Villette - surrounded by lush countryside, the accent here is on food and wine. A good touring route takes in the Morvan Forest, Autun, and Bibracte.

For Touring

Marcs d'Or Dijon, Carpe Diem, Chateau de Flee Burgundy

Above left: Marcs d'Or - a well-priced bed and breakfast in Dijon with private parking. Explore the city and the Côte d'Or wine region at your leisure.

Centre: Carpe Diem - a boutique bed and breakfast with a fabulous garden. From here visit the medieval villages of Noyers-sur-Serein and Montréal, Vézelay and Chablis.

Right: Château de Flee - full of interest and character, from this château Semur-en-Auxois, the Abbey of Fontenay, Alésia and more of Burgundy's prizes are within easy reach.

Family Holidays

Desjardins Cottage, Village Toue, Canal Cruising with Canalous and Locaboat Burgundy

Above left: Desjardins Cottage - experience village life in a self-catering cottage. At Escamps St. Germain all home comforts are supplied with a certain French chic. More self-catering ideas

Centre: Village Toue - a wooden houseboat on a lake or a gypsy style caravan, either will be a memorable holiday for the adventurous. This is in a nature reserve in southern Burgundy.

Right: A Canal Cruiser - you don't need a licence to take these self-drive boats on the canals of Burgundy. Stop off en route and walk, cycle, and switch off from your everyday life.

See also: Accommodation for more ideas

february 10

Burn  the calories, enjoy the reward



On the idyllic Canal du Nivernais, Elisabeth and Steve Roberts invite you to stay at their chambres d'hôte, Villa Castel Danynou, on the canal bank. Walking, cycling along the canal and relaxing make this a perfect holiday choice for country lovers. To get to the house at Cercy la Tour, there are fairly frequent train services from Paris via Nevers, ideal if you want a drive-free break. Excursions with a driver can be arranged.

Themed weekends are also suggested from fishing to wine tasting. Cyclists will enjoy the weekend along the Voie Verte and sampling the local cuisine. The route along the canal is mainly flat, suitable for all cycling levels, the bikes are provided (price reduction for bringing your own bike) and there is assistance en route should it be needed. Elisabeth is an accomplished cook, and lunch in the local restaurants and dinner at the villa are included in the price of 550 euros per person.
More...

february 3

wine tourism


Wine Routes in Burgundy photo: BIVB

A much improved brochure published by the BIVB, the Burgundy wine board, is now available for 2017 listing the wineries, wine areas, wine events and general tourist information associated with it. The area wine maps are particularly good. En route vers les Bourgogne is in French and English and can be found online and at tourist offices.

Cooking up a treat

burgundy on a plate cooking classesImpress your friends by cooking a truly Burgundian meal. Next week, the Burgundy on a Plate cooking classes resume in English with a French chef. You will cook a three course meal of modern French cuisine with a Burgundian twist and, after you have eaten the spoils of your labour, Sue Boxell will take you to visit the famous vineyards with a cellar visit and tasting included. New for this year, pâtisserie and bread making classes with the experts. For full details, sue@burgundyonaplate.com

january 27

value, quality and style

The BIB Gourmand recommendations came out on January 13, ahead of the main, always much awaited, announcement of the starred chefs on February 9. The BIB Gourmand is the Michelin Guide selection of value for money establishments where you can get a menu with starter, main course and dessert for a maximum of 32 euros a head. In Burgundy five new restaurants have been added to the list: Le Chastellux near Avallon; Le Relais de Saulx, Beaune (below right); Le Bistrot des Moines at the Abbaye de la Bussière (below left); L'Auberge des Tilleuls, Messigny-et-Vantoux; Le Soufflot, Irancy.

january 20

Tracing the Constellations

Luxury barge for four The Randle by Edge Charter 'Once we left Auxerre' says Katharine Norbury, 'the lock-keepers and fellow barge dwellers were the only people we saw for hours at a time, although we enjoyed the companionship of grebes, mallards, herons, swans, Canada geese, butterflies and dragonflies.' Writing in the February edition of the Lonely Planet Traveller magazine, Katharine cruised down the Canal du Nivernais on the luxury barge, the Randle, run by Edge Charter. 'Days and nights on the canal expanded, slowed down. We swam in the river below the hilltop town of Mailly-le-Château. We traced the constellations. ..I saw school children waiting for a bus, attended by a family of geese.'

For anyone thinking of a trip on the Burgundy canals this summer, this is a charming snapshot of what you can expect. The article includes tips on where to eat along the route from Auxerre to Clamecy and where to visit too. The February edition of the magazine is onsale at newsagents. Also see Barge Hotels

wallow in chocolate

Bernard Defoux Chocolate Course La ClayetteIt is fair to say that Bernard Dufoux has devoted his life to chocolate. He will be 80 this year but still he is expanding his business (his sixth shop opened last September in Dijon), and continues to pass on his enthusiasm for this passion from his headquarters in La Clayette. One afternoon at the beginning of each month, he or one of his team give a masterclass for four hours in the afternoon. Be prepared to wallow in the silky chocolate to make the mouth watering delights such as orangettes, griottes and ganaches. The class, Atelier Gourmand, is in French, unfortunately probably not, they say, advisable for non-French speakers, and runs from 14.00-18.00 in La Clayette, price 80 euros. Wednesday February 1 is the first class of the year. More...

User friendly wineries to visit with Rue des Vignerons

Domaine Famille Picard Chassagne-Montrachet BurgundyHere's a new website for visitors to Burgundy or Beaujolais who would like to visit a cellar for a tasting along the famous wine routes in the region but are not looking for a full blown guided tour. In Burgundy the wine grower may be a one man band or a family affair and as Jancis Robinson points out in her article on visiting Burgundy's wineries, it is not easy to find them in their cellars to pay them a visit, often they are out in the vineyard tending their plants. In Beaune and Chablis the tourist is well provided for with tastings on offer but drive out to Gevrey-Chambertin or Aloxe-Corton and where do you start? Now help is at hand. Rue des Vignerons is a website which tells you of the user-friendly winegrowers offering tastings and cellar visits. There is no fee for their services, book online, preferably ahead of time but a minimum of 30 minutes before you want to go. Some of the tastings are free of charge, and the website gives full details of tours on offer and the prices plus a map and directions. The domaines' wines are often available at a reduced rate too. This certainly simplifies life and assures you of a warm welcome. Above, Domaine Famille Picard, Chassagne-Montrachet.

Crossword Solutions

Burgundy Today Cryptic Crossword Solutions

Across

1. Nevers, 4. Tenant, 9. Noël, 10. Prodigious, 11. Bateau, 12&23 down Burgundy Today, 13. Kilometer, 15. Père, 16. Acts, 17. Reveillon, 21. Exported, 22. Petite, 24. A Rare Error, 25. Dope, 26. Events, 27. Troyes

Down

1. Neo Nazi, 2. Valse, 3. Rupture, 5. Emigré, 6 .Adieu Nell, 7. Trundle, 8. Double headers, 14. Outsource, 16. Auxerre, 18. Emperor, 19. Octopus, 20. Street. 23. See 12 across

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