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Burgundy 2006 Archives

July 30, 2006

Paris to Burgundy

We planned on leaving Paris as early as possible Saturday, anticipating traffic after listening to everyone at Le Florimond last night celebrating the start of their vacances. Larry spent almost an hour in line at the Hertz office near Invalides watching the sole clerk get flustered and slog through three people's paperwork. An older woman took over for him, and processed six people in half the amount of time. Larry returned with the car and the renewed conviction that women of a certain age should be running the world.

To our surprise, there was no traffic to speak of. Even more to our surprise, people were obeying the speed limits. When Larry was in Toulouse last month, the people he was working with had told him of some new initiatives where people's licenses get photographed when they speed, resulting in heavy fines and rapid taking away of licenses. They say it's working, and I must say it made for a big change since the last time we've driven in France.

Since we were making excellent time, we decided to get off the A6 and head over to Chablis. We drove through rolling hills covered with vines, and then parked on Chablis' main street. Chablis is a lovely town, with many beautiful old buildings. Lots of wine shops, a few restaurants, some touristy stores, but many "real" places selling everyday things. We bought two just-from-the-oven mini quiches and a small container of celeri remoulade from a prepared food store, and walked around the corner to eat on a bench fronting the small canal that runs through town.

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Tivauche-le-Haut, View from Terrace

Tivauche-le-Haut, View from Terrace

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July 31, 2006

Sunday in the Country

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We slept very well in our bedroom under the eaves. We left the skylight and window open for the cool breeze, and were plesantly surprised to not be bothered by a single mosquito. Bill had told us it's been extremely dry, so that with the elevation must account for the absence of the nasty buggers. In the morning we heard roosters, sheep and cows.

Of course, as I was standing on the patio in my nightgown with the first coffee was when I met Michael from across the road, coming over to check on his sheep.

After some apricots and figs for breakfast to atone for the day before (and as you'll read, preparating for the day ahead) we took off for the Sunday market in Chablis. We took the highway up to save time, and it took just a bit more than half an hour. Bill said it's the most lively Sunday market in the area, and it was full of people and vendors. Everything you could possibly need, and some you don't. Ladies, you'll meet all your housedress needs here, as there were four stands selling flowered housedresses and aprons. The housedress is alive and well in rural France, and we saw many elderly women looking very comfortable in them. There were also two stands selling really pretty linen and cotton tops and dresses. I looked, held a few up, but walked away. Now I want one.

Several cheese stands; hams, sausages, pates; produce; breads; olives; fresh meat and poultry; dry goods; and a sweet couple selling huge gougeres, the hollow cheese-puff pastry of Burgundy. We had to get one. It was the size of my hand, crisp outside, and worth every calorie.
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Sunday in the Country, continued

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Some time ago, I had been told of a farm in the area serving Sunday lunch. Upon arrival yesterday,I realised that the Auberge is just across the main road, two kilometers away. We had made reservations yesterday, and were told to arrive at 12:30. Dave, I owe you.

Ferme-Aberge La Garande is in Jeux les Bard, a tiny crossroad. It's a working farm that also has a few rooms for bed-and-breakfast, and serves family-style Sunday lunch. There were several cars parked outside, and we followed the signs to a patio out back. A large group was sitting outside chatting, and we sat down nearby. More people arrived, all of whom seemed to know people in the group. Every now and then someone would come over, say bonjour, and shake our hands. Maybe they thought we were long-lost cousins?

We were all ushered into a stone-walled the dining room, and Larry and I were taken to the only table set for just two. The huge group (which probably had 30 people) were seated at a long table, and other large family groups had their tables. This seems to be the place to take grandma out for Sunday lunch. Wall decorations were cow and sheep posters from the France Meat Association or somesuch. I want a cow poster now.

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August 2, 2006

Avallon to Auxerre

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Monday can be a slow day in Burgundy. Most of the chateaux and museums are closed, many shops take the morning off, and small towns can seem empty. We headed over to Avallon, just 20 minutes away. We last visited here on our honeymoon 16 years ago. Memory is a funny thing--I perfectly remember our hotel, the church, the restaurant where we ate--and Larry might as well have never been there.

We walked around town, which as expected, was fairly closed up. It's a lovely place, full of ancient buildings, of half-timber and stone. Up on the ramparts, a pretty view down to the river Cousin. We stopped into the tourist office for a bunch of brochures on events in the area. There was a large show of the work of artists and craftspeople of the neighboring Morvan. Some really beautiful pieces, especially pottery and paintings.

We took the road heading up to Auxerre, getting off when we could to travel the smaller roads running alongside the river and through "blink-and-you-miss-them" towns. We took a road across to the west, to where another road follows the Cure. Ancy-sur-Cure was particularly beautiful, with what looked like thousands of flowers in pots and baskets in front of the stone houses. There's a tiny chateau in town, which according to the Blue Guide, is chiefly known for the obsessiveness of the guide in detailed explanation of a doorway carving. We passed.

A detour toward Joux-la-Ville led through an area of cherry trees and vineyards on one side of the slope. Back on the main road, we stopped at a sign for "Cerises" and bought small bags of three different types. So dark they're almost black, and wonderfully sweet-tart.

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Monday Night's Dinner

Brie de Meux, fresh chevre, Epoisses running off the plate. Cherries from the roadside stand, figs and apricots from the President Wilson market in Paris. Wine from Irancy, bread from the bakery in Epoisses.

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On a Walk From Tivauche

Late afternoon, we took a long walk up the hill. The cows followed us.

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August 3, 2006

Lunch On The River Yonne

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As we were driving along the river routes between Avallon and Auxerre Monday, I had seen in my Michelin a restaurant in the small town of Vincelottes that looked like a nice stop for a good lunch. It was a "two fork" Bibb Gourmand listing, which typically means excellent food at a good value. Not inexpensive, but worth the money. We made a lunch reservation.

When we arrived, we found the restaurant across from the river, with a pretty patio dining room set up right above the riverbank. Several tables were filled with couples or groups, all fairly casually dressed and speaking French. The food looked wonderful. The owner came over, switched to perfect English immediatly, shook hands, and handed us enormous menus. After that pleasant beginning, things progressed somewhat like an episode of "Fawlty Towers."

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Dijon Market Day

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Tuesday, we drove over to Dijon, a city we remember liking very much. It's filled with fine old houses built over a several hundred year span, interesting public buildings, museums, and a huge old covered market. Dijon was a very important city for a long time, and it's citizens treated it well. It's a little gritty, as I think a city needs to be, and feels vital and alive. We walked and walked through a bit of drizzle, had a fun lunch in an alleyway cafe, visited one museum, and were disappointed to find another closed. (Bad Amy for not checking the closing day) Here are some photos from the busy market.

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East in Auxois

Wednesday, we stuck close to home, exploring the area just to the east of Semur-in-Auxois. First, we stopped in Semur to explore a bit more. My first impressions of Semur stick--it's almost most appealing at a slight distance from the Pont Joly, where you can appreciate the fairy-tale view of towers and ramparts. The inner core has been stuck with cafes and gift shops for the tour bus crowds, but there are still many lovely old buildings and quiet streets to explore.

After our stop in Semur, we headed to Flavigny-sur-Ozerain. This is a tiny town high up on a hill dating from the middle ages. It now seems chiefly known for the little anise-flavored candies you can smell as you walk through the town gates. The little factory store in the old abbey was busy! It's an attractive little town, with many houses featuring turrets, weathered sculptures, and other interesting details. One reason I wanted to get to the town was the Maison de Matieres & du Design Textile. It's a wonderful little museum in an old house that explores facets of textile design and production. Each floor focuses on a method or material, and beautifully mixes ancient techniques and contemporary. There's also some fabulous textiles to buy, for those of you with more euros than I.

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East in Auxois

Wednesday, we stuck close to home, exploring the area just to the east of Semur-in-Auxois. First, we stopped in Semur to explore a bit more. My first impressions of Semur stick--it's almost most appealing at a slight distance from the Pont Joly, where you can appreciate the fairy-tale view of towers and ramparts. The inner core has been stuck with cafes and gift shops for the tour bus crowds, but there are still many lovely old buildings and quiet streets to explore.

After our stop in Semur, we headed to Flavigny-sur-Ozerain. This is a tiny town high up on a hill dating from the middle ages. It now seems chiefly known for the little anise-flavored candies you can smell as you walk through the town gates. The little factory store in the old abbey was busy! It's an attractive little town, with many houses featuring turrets, weathered sculptures, and other interesting details. One reason I wanted to get to the town was the Maison de Matieres & du Design Textile. It's a wonderful little museum in an old house that explores facets of textile design and production. Each floor focuses on a method or material, and beautifully mixes ancient techniques and contemporary. There's also some fabulous textiles to buy, for those of you with more euros than I.

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August 4, 2006

South to Autun

Autun wasn't in my plans, as I had thought it was too far south for a comfortable daytrip from Tivauche. But some time with my guidebooks and a map easily convinced me that the hour-and-a-bit drive time would be well worth it. Autun has a long and well preserved history, and is the largest town in the Morvan. We headed south on a cold morning, watching the car's outdoor temperature sensor dip lower and lower as we rode into the dark forested hills. The Morvan villages looked more deserted than the ones around Tivauche, with more crumbled houses and barns, less cultivated fields. We somehow missed the currect turn in Saulieu for the D980, and wound up on a minor single-lane track heading south. No matter which road we took which according to the map would lead us to the main road, again and again we found ourselves on the tiny D15. So we took the D15 into Autun.

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August 5, 2006

All Roads Lead to Pisy

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For a few days, it seemed that all roads lead to Pisy.

The roads just northwest of Tivauche are a tangle, leading up and down hills, through one-street towns of stone and stucco buildings of various degrees of flower-decked repair. Around fields of cows, hay, corn, sunflowers, and crops I can't identify. We often found ourselves behind our old friend the slow-moving hay truck trailing hay, risking life and limb as we dared pass it without careening into the roadside ditches. Larry was always trying to find the perfect road, looking for more direct routes that in fact took more time as they wound through the towns and landscape. Three times, we found ourselves in Pisy.


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Semur-in-Auxois, Revisited

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A few days ago, I had written that I was somewhat underwhelmed by Semur. It has this glorious, romantic look to the place, especially from a slight distance. When you visit during the day, the overall impression in the village center is of tour bus refugees milling around the few gift shops, patisseries, and cafes in the tiny streets inside the old town gates.

But when you return, it's another story. I think I've changed my mind.

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Semur-in-Auxois, Revisited

semur_2321_sm.jpg

A few days ago, I had written that I was somewhat underwhelmed by Semur. It has this glorious, romantic look to the place, especially from a slight distance. When you visit during the day, the overall impression in the village center is of tour bus refugees milling around the few gift shops, patisseries, and cafes in the tiny streets inside the old town gates.

But when you return, it's another story. I think I've changed my mind.

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August 6, 2006

North to Montbard

Montbard is a town about 10 kilometers north of Tivauche, a busy market town with small attractive old core, river and canal cutting through, a power plant, and a modern suburb inching up the surrounding hillsides. The Blue Guide doesn't consider it much worth a stop, but I do. There's a liveliness to the place that many of the beautiful old towns don't have, especially on Friday, market day.
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The market was just beside the modern Coin supermarket, interestingly enough. Outside were many clothing and dry goods vendors, and business was brisk. There's a covered market hall for the food vendors. Lots of produce, meats, charcuterie, cheese, bread...we recognised many of the same vendors from the Chablis market. And again, a baker with warm gougeres.
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Duck with Cherries

One of the lovely things about France is that some of the luxury food items that are difficult to find or expensive, or both, at home are much more manageable here. I love duck breast, but have never made it at home. I bought a duck breast the other day, wanting to attempt a duck with figs that I had eaten some time ago. Sadly, we had eaten the wonderful figs from the market in Paris, and the ones I've been seeing in Burgundy have been shriveled and dry looking.

So, cherries.

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This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Destination Anywhere in the Burgundy 2006 category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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