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This Week...

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

july 21

Chalon dans la Ruechalon pulsates

Chalon-sur-Saône will be pulsating over the next four days as the street party Chalon dans la Rue takes off. Theatre, dance, circus and music acts take place around the centre - 150 acts in all - as 220,000 spectators are expected to hit town. Most of the entertainment is free of charge. The festival runs until Sunday July 23. Programme

Picnic at Chateau de Bussy Rabutin Burgundy, photo: Dorypicnic at the chateau

Get your finery out of the wardrobe for a romantic evening at the 17thC
Château de Bussy Rabutin
near Montbard. The tables, napkins and candles are provided but you take your own special picnic and dine under the stars. In this most elegant of settings it could be dinner for two or a party of friends for this enchanted evening on August 5 at 20.00. Tarif is 6.50-8 euros a head, reservation on 0033 (0)380 96 00 03.

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.

july 13

nuits st.georges puts out the flags for the tour de france

Having repaved the road on the final straight, Nuits St. Georges was finally ready last week to receive the Tour de France. Tens of thousands of guests descended for Stage 7, putting the town in the international spotlight. Decked out and full of pride, the town's enthusiasm was overflowing.

june 30

A Walk in the Vines

Explore the vineyards on a two hour walk in the Côte de Beaune organised by the Burgundy wine school, Ecole des Vins de Bourgogne. With a glass in your hand, the intricacies of the region will be explained from terroir to local history. There are two dates: Saturday July 22 or August 26, price 39 euros per person, commentary in French. ecoledesvins@bivb.com

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

Hopeful optimism in the vineyards

Grapes forming on the Burgundy vines, photo BIVBFrom north to south in Burgundy, the vines have finished flowering and the grapes are forming. So far so good for the 2017 harvest: the sun, heat and sufficient rain have been perfect for the vines.

The panic of April, when emergency bale-burning helped to prevent widespread frost damage, helped reduced the losses. The exception to this is Chablis where the frost lasted over 15 nights and where some areas suffered a 30-40% fruit loss, and the
Châtillonnais (Crémant de Bourgogne country) where it is reported that 90% of the fruit has been lost.

The anti-hail generators are in place to combat the summer storms. Here silver iodide particles are fired at the storm front, a method reported to be 48% effective in reducing hail damage.

So, the wine growers are hopeful for the 2017 harvest. It is now all dependent on the weather over the next couple of months.

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 10

more on cremant- Which one to buy?

Cremant de Bourgogne, photo BIVBCrémant de Bourgogne, the sparkling wine from Burgundy, is a great success story with sales recently increasing by 20%. Andrew Jefford in his weekly article for Decanter  highlights the different characteristics of the wine from the main producers from the north to south of Burgundy.

 “The whole of Burgundy is involved (in growing grapes for this wine) ,” says Pierre du Couëdic, the man who has run the UPECB (Union des Producteurs Elaborateurs de Crémant de Bourgogne) for the last 15 years. “There isn’t a single village in Burgundy that doesn’t produce grapes for Crémant.” Is he serious, asks Jefford? They’re growing Crémant grapes in Vosne-Romanee? Apparently... Read the article.

Must Buy or Definitely Try...

A Cup of JoIt's no surprise if you get confused when it comes to buying wine, there is now so much choice, but the medals awarded in wine competitions are a good guide. At the Decanter World Wine Awards 2017 in London, 258 wine experts judged a total of 17,200 wines from all over the world. Sarah Jane Evans MW, one of the new three co-chairs for DWWA 2017 said: “This event sorts out the ‘must buy’ and the ‘definitely try’…It’s a shortcut for all of us to quality in every region and variety. There are grape varieties that are really rare; regions that are very new; and plenty of the favourites.

Burgundy did well in the competition receiving 32 prestigious Gold Medals, seven of which went on to win the Platinum Best in Show status. We have listed these on Wine News.

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.

Essential Winetasting

Wine Tasting, photo Ecole des Vins BeauneMichael Schuster, MW, is what has been described as 'a wise owl'. He first wrote Essential Winetasting 17 years ago and it has now been revised and published again with much improved design, illustration and more content. As part of his book review on Decanter Magazine, Andrew Jefford 'gave the book to a friend who enjoys wine but has never ‘learned’ about it, and he was impressed. “It’s a great book for constantly dipping into. I like his pitch: a true expert who doesn’t believe in mystification and bullshit. I like the fact that he doesn’t just recommend expensive wines. His science is good; he doesn’t make a big deal about winemakers; he’s got clear explanations about off wines. It’s the kind of book you can come back to you over many years as your experience expands.” See the review. More on books about Wine

Rear view mirror for cyclists

Strap this mirror to your wrist as you cycle, and increase your safety on the road. This natty idea comes from revelationstore in the States and sells for just under 18 euros plus reasonably priced postage to Europe.

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.

News in brief:

A Matter of Taste: Get current with the experts' wine tasting note descriptions from Earthy to Honeysuckle. Follow the link on Wine News.

An Avant Garde Presentation. Restaurant writer for the Financial Times, Nick Lander visits Troisgros, the Michelin establishment which was previously in Roanne just over the border of Burgundy, which has now moved to Ouches.

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.

Sunday Brunch Les Halles Dijon May to SeptemberSunday Brunch

Chill out with the locals. At Les Halles in Dijon, the market building, head for Sunday brunch. It proved so popular last year that it is being repeated from May to September with top notch food by local chefs and music from 11.00-15.00 for all to enjoy.

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...

holidays for all the family

River Loue, Huttopia La Plage BlancheIn the list of their top ten campsites in France, The Guardian recommends two beautiful locations in Bourgogne Franche-Comté.

On the banks of the delightful Loue river in the Jura near Ounans, head for the Huttopia La Plage Blanche. Apart from the stunning wooded scenery, there are plenty of activities for the kids from kayaking and canoeing to cycling and swimming. For the grown-ups Arc-et-Senans and Arbois with its distinctive wines are within easy reach.

Camping Merry-sur-Yonne is another beautiful location close to the Roches du Saussois and the Canal du Nivernais. Walking, cycling, tennis and football as well as climbing can burn up the energy, or visit the caves at Arcy-sur-Cure, the Basilica at Vézelay, and the nearby vineyards south of Auxerre.

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

a world of his own

Enter the dream world of Olivier Penhouet at the summer exhibition in Château d'Ancy-le-Franc. Penhouet uses a technique called peintures tissees working from pictures on his computer taken from his digital camera to get a series of black and white sketches which he then colours in by hand. With the sketches he builds a new picture, five layers at a time, to create his fantasy world. The exhibition runs from March 25 to October 15, entry f.o.c. See website for opening times.

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.

Musical Interlude

Some of the many pleasures of summer in Burgundy are the top notch classical concerts across the region. Top of the agenda has to be the International Festival of Baroque Opera in Beaune each weekend of July.  Booking for this is now open. Then there's the Vézelay Festival at the end of August with a very full and varied programme already online. Just up, the programme for Musicancy concerts at Château d'Ancy le Franc, booking from April 1. In every case the setting is both beautiful and elegant, the atmosphere relaxed, and the music,sublime.

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


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.

star struck

La Montrachet in Puligny-Montrachet was the only casualty in the Michelin Guide stars announced on February 9 when they lost their one star rating. This was the only change across the Bourgogne Franche-Comté region. See full list

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...

Tracing the past

The prehistoric site Solutré in southern Burgundy was discovered 150 years ago. To mark the occasion, an important exhibition of finds has been brought together from museums, towns and universities across the region. There are four major sites where traces of the Neanderthals have been found: Arcy-sur-Cure (Yonne), Solutré (Saône-et-Loire), l’aven de Romain-la Roche (Doubs) and La Baume de Gigny (Jura). The exhibition at the Solutré museum runs until October 1, 2017.

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


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


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