Vacation rentals in France (farms, cottages, gites, apartments)
Review 5071: Owner, #147605
2bed/1bath in Semur en Auxois, Burgundy
July 2010, one week
We chose this place for the location -- just below the medieval walls and towers of Semur-en-Auxois. It is a cottage in a small cul-de-sac. A few steps between buildings and one is onto a pathway/road running alongside the river Armoncon. The cottage owns a nice little walled orchard and has a patio and outdoor furniture in a garage for tenant use. (one could use the garage, but we didn't attempt it -- tricky back and forth on narrow riverside path.) The orchard had fruit trees and berry bushes although nothing much was ripe while we were there.
The views from the orchard up to the walls of the town were stunning -- we enjoyed eating out there on the patio to soak in the ambiance. It did mean schlepping the foot out of the cul-de-sac and then down to the orchard -- but there were trays in the kitchen and it was worth it.
Semur is lovely and it was a great base for touring Burgundy.
This was a slight drawback. Luckily the cottage came stocked with bread, wine, oil, cookies etc., because it was a bit of a trek up the hill to find provisions. It was so beautiful walking up the stone steps that this was not necessarily a drawback in good weather, but it is a trek and a long way to carry things. We had some trouble finding bread when we were there. Several bakeries were closed and you have to actually reserve bread at the one bakery that is open if you want it for Sunday breakfast. Since rentals begin Saturday, it meant I hiked up the hill and stood in a long line at the bakery only to learn that all those lovely loaves were going to those who had reserved them. So make arrangements to reserve a load; I assume the local agent could do so.
There is a good butcher shop, wine stores, and some rudimentary grocery stores (others are easily accessed by car going into or out of town).
There are many nice little restaurants in the town and when we were there the town was sponsoring entertainment on Saturday nights and we heard a really very fine chanson singer during dinner at an outdoor restaurant.
We loved the place. Lots of ancient architectural details like the skylight window in the second bedroom. We thought from the website, that is would be more of an independent cottage but it was part of a cluster of connected houses on a small cul-de-sac. The place does have its own orchard and easy access to the river path which leads to the orchard. One has a key to the orchard gate; sort of a 'secret garden' feel to it. The parking exists but it was a bit tight. When we arrived back late we often got the last spot and that involved parking on a hill that was difficult to maneuver out of the next day. (we were the people spinning our wheels to the amusement of the locals as we tried to back up onto the road from this steep perch) The parking spot right in front of our cottage which appeared to be 'our spot' was occupied the whole time we were there by a car belonging to residents of another cottage who had two cars parked in this very limited space. (the spots were not assigned apparently).
We spent a couple of days just sitting on the bench on the river enjoying the magnificent views -- which are also visible from various windows of the house. The area is just so magnificent.
Already mentioned the orchard with its patio and tables and chairs and umbrellas. And the river included a nice bench. View from this are to Pont Pinard one of the ancient bridges in the area. It is also not far to the old wash house and assorted other old structures. We loved the orchard and ate dinner there several nights.
The situation was just filled with natural beauty. We were just so happy with the orchard, the river bench, the stone bridge up the way, the many pleasant pathways and even the long steep stone stairs up the hill.
The place was nicely in order with welcome basket of foodstuffs important given the lack of very close groceries.
The living room is small and a bit Victorian overstuffed, but the WiFi worked.
We appreciated having a local contact number, although we didn't have need of it.
Nice shower and roomy bathroom/dressing room. The usual toilet under the stairs. The place is well supplied with towels and even wash clothes and there is a nice washer and American style separate dryer.
Comfortable beds. It was hot. We only used the bedroom above the front door and with a fan running all night, it was reasonably comfortable. The second bedroom would have been pretty stifling and the extra bed on the landing which looked like a nice little nest moving for a fifth guest, would have really been hot. The place probably needs a fan for each sleeping space. If I were renting in summer for a larger party, I would want to be sure there were ample fans. It cools down at night on the river, but the fan is important to get the ventilation. Oddly we did not have a mosquito problem in spite of the nearby slow moving river.
Kitchen very well equipped. There must have been a dozen crueset pots. Plenty of glasses, plates and cutlery. We cooked in most nights and the kitchen was pleasant and spacious. All the usual appliances and a dishwasher.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
The owner was very responsive to email queries. We wanted to be sure there was a hair dryer and it was not mentioned on the web site; she assured us that the local agent would provide one if the one assigned to the cottage had disappeared. The dryer was there and worked fine. The deposit was returned timely. We did not have any contact with the on-site agent but s/he had left the cottage well prepared including a welcome basket of bread and snacks.
We paid €950 for the week or thereabouts which was pricey for two but if one had another couple to share, would be very reasonable.
We rent a lot and are very careful and had 'good vibes' from this owner from the beginning. We have confidence in their integrity and they have a lovely place that they have lavished with care.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
We loved this place and would love to stay there again. If we were going to be a larger party we would want to be sure that there were fans for each bedroom.
I took some of the most spectacular pictures of our three month trip in this town; the cottage and the town are both real winners. We had visited the town before but never stayed there; we would love to come back.
Things to do in this area
We visited Fontenay Abbey, Flavigny, Chateauneuf en Auxois, drove around the Burgundy countryside thither and yon, and spent one day on a series of short hikes in the Jura mountains following the Michelin Green Guide. We hiked to the source of the Ain, to the Perte d'Ain, a deep gorge, several lovely water falls and enjoyed the countryside around the Burgundy Canal.
We also loved walking around Semur -- morning and evening -- a stunning place. The ramparts walk was a treat. And there are very nice restaurants in town. We ate at Au Duz years ago when passing through; we ate there again this time and both times had very beautifully presented well cooked meals. Highly recommend it. There are also pleasant bars to hang in the evening and enjoy a glass and perhaps a little local singing.
Although the town towers above the cottage are like but not the same as the famous entry towers to the town, they are actually very close over the top of the rock -- it is a long way round via the river road to the well known entry to Semurs -- but if you hike up the stone steps to the top of the hill from Pont Pinard near the cottage, it is only a block or so across the narrow part of the town, to those famous towers.
The cottage is very well equipped with guidebooks and information pamphlets from the area. We had brought out own Michelin Guide but there was one in the cottage as well as other helpful material.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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