Burgundy by bike, boat or car

| April 14, 2017 | 0 Comments

Want to spend a few days seeing what country life outside of Paris is like? Slip into your sandals; throw on your sunhat and look no further than Burgundy.

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Wine tasting and vineyard tours offer a sampling of the 2,000 years of viticulture history in the region. Burgundy is primarily known for its high-quality red wines, such as Chateau de Pommard, Corton and Beaune, made from Pinot Noir grapes.

 

Paris may be crawling with tourists scurrying to monuments and museums, but in Burgundy, a mere 90 minutes south  on the TGV train, sightseeing is never an object.

The pace is slow, the countryside bucolic and the pleasures of gastronomy rule supreme. The chandeliers in the Michelin-starred restaurants are eternally glittering and the puffy pillows in the chateau hotels are fluffed just so. And then there’s the wine, art and history: Here are medieval castles, galleries, gardens, churches and wine cellars for tasting.

A warm welcome aboard Kir Royal (champagne and crème de cassis )

We always received a warm welcome in Burgundy.

How to travel in Burgundy: From bikes to barges

The formula is simple: you choose the pace by foot, bike, barge or car. Glide through a patchwork of landscapes: fortified medieval villages with towers, small farms, fields of yellow mustard, meadows of sleepy cows, lakes, forests and steep slopes of vineyards.Europe 2012 897

The Vineyards Trail beckons bikers who pedal for an afternoon or a week. A wide variety of bike trips of varying lengths and difficulty are offered by US tour operators. Or it’s as easy as showing up at the Tourism Office in Beaune at 2 P.M. daily June-September. An English speaking guide will lead you on a three hour ramble through vineyards and villages with, or course, stops for wine tastings. If you prefer to do it yourself, download Burgundy a wine trail maps from the local tourism websites.

Barge and boat trips

The five star barge is a floating luxury hotel.

The five star barge is a floating luxury hotel.

Major river cruise companies offer trips down the Rhone and Saone Rivers and small companies, like French Country Waterways ply the calm canals. Barge and boat trips include just about everything: three meals a day, gratuities for guides, entries to museums, transfers from the airport and many excursions, including of course, wine tours.

Rental cars

Or rent a car in Dijon or Lyon and drive through some of the best-known wine producing areas. Stop at your leisure to lunch at a local restaurant, where you can sample Burgundy cuisine paired with its famous wines.

Wine tasting dilemma: sip or spit?IMG_1850

As if 100 AOCs in Burgundy wasn’t confusing enough, now we have 1,257 different UNESCO World Heritage Climats of Burgundy! As a Grand Sponsor of the UNESCO Climats Project; it is our (Château de Pommard) responsibility to untangle, for wine lovers everywhere, the web that makes Burgundy the most envied wine region in the world,” said Michael Baum, Propriétaire & CEO.

For the first time in 300 years, in April, 2017, the Château de Pommard  estate launched six immersive Wine Experiences designed for novices, intermediates and seasoned wine enthusiasts. The tastings include a Chardonnay Experience and Pinot Noir Experience. They are educational, entertaining and offer unique insights into the untouchable world of Burgundy’s terroir, viticulture and winemaking.

If I’m lucky enough to visit Burgundy in the fall,  the “Vendages” tour to hand-pick grapes is on my bucket list.

Guests comparing soil samples to learn about the "terroir" at the Chateau de Pommard before wine tastings.

Guests comparing soil samples to learn about the “terroir” at the Chateau de Pommard before wine tastings.Photo credit: Chateau de Pommard.

Vendanges Experience is available to a limited number of guests during harvest season, offering a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to hand-pick grapes among of the vines of Clos Marey-Monge.

 

 

Sommelier Experience teaches the essentials that professionally trained sommeliers learn in their studies and on the job, allowing guests to become a wine expert in just a few hours.

Jeunesse Experience allows young guests between the ages of 5 and 17 to learn about the lifecycle of the vineyard and how grapes transform into wine.

Museums and mustard in Dijon

Begin your visit with a tour of Dijon, where the memory of the Dukes of Burgundy still holds sway. Stride through the halls of the Ducal Palace, where the marble and alabaster tomb of Philip the Bold, symbolizes the Duchy’s power. You could spend days in the Dijon Museum which boasts one of the biggest collections of artwork outside of Paris, including the deeply moving marble statues of Mourners from the tombs of the Dukes of Burgundy.

Don’t miss the mother ship of all mustard stores: the famous Maille Mustard Shop, located on the busy pedestrian street in Dijon. It was founded in 1747, and has been producing the famous mustard and little cornichon pickles ever since. Taste some of the flavorful samples of freshly made mustards right out of the crock pots.

A festival atmosphere in Beaune

The tile roof on the Hospice de Beaune is dazsling.

The tile roof on the Hospice de Beaune is dazzling.

Beaune, located 24 miles south of Dijon, reads like a history book with many architectural masterpieces dating back to the 19th century. As you meander through the old town, located inside the 15th century stone ramparts, you’ll admire gargoyles, watchtowers and sentinel towers. All pedestrian streets lead straight to the Hôtel-Dieu: the most striking hospital in France. Founded in 1443 by Nicolas Rolin, chancellor of Burgundy, it was the first free hospital for the needy and remains one of the finest examples of 15th century architecture. The glowing roof of tiles set in geometric patterns is the star attraction in Beaune.

Beaune wine cellars

One of the oldest cellars in Beaune is also one of Bugundy’s finest winemaking establishments: Maison Joseph Drouhin. The cellars were built over Roman ruins and were once part of the Duke of Burgundy’s Parliament. You won’t be the first to admire the Roman wall in the tasting room or the wine press from 1570. Thomas Jefferson is said to have visited these cellars in his travels in France in the late 18th century. The Drouhins biodynamically farm all their estates and their famous wines showcase the finesse and elegance of the best Burgundy selections. Domaine Drouhin also has Pinot Noir vineyards in Oregon. Reserve in advance. Tours and tastings are popular with enophiles from around the world. www.drouhin.com

Explore the terroir of the Côte d’Or

Paris may be crawling with tourists scurrying to monuments and museums, but in Burgundy, a mere 90 minutes south  on the TGV train, sightseeing is never an object.

Where to stay?

I highly recommend a Relais and Chateau property, the exquisite Abbaye de la Bussiere-sur-Ouche, located 35 minutes south of Dijon, just over the hill from the Route de Grand Cru. All the rooms in the former abbey have been individually designed with antique furniture. With large gardens, ponds, two restaurants and a celebrated chef, you won’t want to leave the bucolic retreat. www.abbaye-dela-bussiere.com

For more information: Atout France – France Tourism Development – for events, harvest information and attractions.   us.rendezvousenfrance.com www.chateaudepommard.com 

www.FrenchCountryWaterways.com

Noyers-sur-Serein morning market.

Noyers-sur-Serein morning market.

At every meal the Captain explained the wine selections. Here its a Grand Cru Burgundy.

At every meal the Captain explained the wine selections. Here its a Grand Cru Burgundy.

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Category: Dining, France

About the Author ()

Marybeth Bond, National Geographic author, writer. Twelve books, explored overed 100 countries on 7 continents. Featured guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show and founder of www.GutsyTraveler.com She has been featured over 1,000 times on TV, radio and print. She is a Contributor to National Geographic, Yahoo Travel, Travelgirl Magazine, CNN, CNN Airport Network. Speaker, spokesperson, author, travel expert, Marybeth, the Gutsy Traveler walks the talk. She's an adventurer; biked 3,200 miles, two months across the USA, traveler to over 100 countries. Media travel expert for CBS News, CNN, ABC, NBC, NPR and National Geographic.

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