Burgundy - green rolling hills, lush vineyards, Medieval buildings, charming villages. It's no wonder so many people fall in love with rural France.
Our journey to this beautiful region started after collecting our car, a Peugeot 407 station wagon, at Orly airport in Paris's south. We have leased the car under the tax-free scheme available to non-EU residents, and were pleasantly surprised to find an absolutely brand new car awaiting us.
All the vehicles are straight from the factory - ours had only 5km on the clock when we picked it up - and we had booked and pre-paid in Australia before our departure.
The trip from Orly to Beaune, the closesest large town to our destination, should have only taken two and a half hours, but a delay of an hour caused by roadworks on the A6 autoroute (freeway), added to our journey time.
On arrival at Chaudenay, the little village in which we are staying, we settled in to our gorgeous accommodation, welcomed by our very friendly Kiwi host, Bruce. The self contained two bedroom apartment is a converted wine press room and had been lovingly renovated to a modern day traditional French farmhouse. With a separate common room housing a TV and computer - with internet access - and a large garden and lawn area, the kids are in heaven!
Our first day in Burgundy started with a breakfast of fresh baguettes and croissants kindly collected by Bruce on his daily trip to the boulangerie (bakery), and then, after a leisurely morning, we borrowed Bruce's bikes and decided to explore the countryside.
Riding through quaint little villages that look like time has stood still, and along the Canal du Centre, was really beautiful and made us really appreciate the beauty of the region. Later in the afternoon we visited Beaune, the main city in this region (population about 22,000), to look around. We also had our digital photos put onto a CD to free up the space on our memory card for more photos! We ate dinner in town, sampling the local specialties Escargot (snails - well, hubby did, at least!) and Beef Burgundy.
The following day we awoke to rain and decided a day's sightseeing by car was the way to go, so we set off south for Brancion, a medieval castle and village dating back to the 10th century. It was fascinating exploring the old buildings and church and the view from the castle's tower was fantastic.
Next stop was Cluny Abbey where we looked around the museum housing centuries old books and Christian memorabilia, and then wandered through the huge abbey.
Heading back home, we stopped off at Chateau Cormatin, a huge chateau built for one of the Burgundian nobles back in 1605. Our entry ticket to the large formal gardens also included a tour of the Chateau which lasted about an hour. The tour was, unfortunately, in French, although our guide did speak English, so we could ask her questions as we went through the magnificent Chateau.
By now it was time to return home for dinner, and the kids were anxious to watch a football (soccer) game on TV.
Our last full day in Burgundy was again overcast and threatening to rain so we had a very relaxing morning staying at the apartment and taking advantage of the washing machine. Just before lunch time we headed off to Beaune via a different, more scenic route, and I was very pleased to find a field of the red poppies that always remind me of the French countryside.
After an obligatory stop to take a few snaps, we arrived in Beaune and chose a Brasserie/Pizzeria in the centre of town for lunch. A walk around the old town and a few more snaps, and then we were back in the car for the trip home via a local wine cellar that Bruce had recommended in Meursault. After purchasing a couple of bottles of the local drop, we then returned to our apartment to relax until 6pm.
Bruce, our host, had kindly invited us and his fellow guests, two Aussie couples from Victor Harbour, to join him for drinks. It was a wonderful chance to talk to the others and discuss their travel experiences - where they have been, where they are going, etc - and a great way to end our stay in Burgundy.
We have really fallen in love with this gorgeous region and will definitely put it on our 'must do again' list - just like Paris, there is so much we haven't seen. France truly is a wonderful destination and it's been a great country in which to start our European adventure.
Read more about Burgundy in our Featured Destination section.
Next stop: Bern and Lauterbrunnen in Switzerland. Read the blog here >>
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