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News and events around the Burgundy region, Bourgogne Franche-Comté
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 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.
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.
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
In 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. To celebrate the centenary, join them for dinner in June when a special menu at the Moulin is on offer, details of their website shortly.
80 YEARS ON
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.
1. Hôtel-Dieu Beaune (425,530)
Domaine du Pelican, a Burgundian in the Jura
'Picture the scene', says Rosi Hanson writing in Decanter magazine: 'in the elegant, two-star Michelin restaurant Le Taillevent in Paris, Guillaume d’Angerville of Domaine Marquis d’Angerville in Volnay is lunching with his wife, Pauline.
This is something he does regularly, following in his father’s footsteps; like many winemakers, he appreciates Le Taillevent’s extensive wine list. On this occasion (the year is 2007), d’Angerville is about to get a big surprise, which will take him in a new direction.
It is his habit to ask the sommelier to pick a white wine, not Burgundy, and serve it to them blind. The wine is poured, the sommelier withdraws.
‘It’s definitely a Chardonnay; it’s a Burgundy – he must have forgotten the rule,’ the couple agree. The sommelier reappears for the big reveal. It is indeed a Chardonnay, a 2005, but it’s from Arbois in the Jura, made by Stéphane Tissot.'
This set d'Angerville thinking. He had not associated Jura wine with quality before. With some trusted advisers, he set out to explore the possibility of buying land and making wine in this beautiful region. In 2012 five hectares adjoining the Château de Chavanes in the hamlet of Montigny-lès-Arsures, near Arbois became available and the rest, as they say, is history. How did d'Angerville rise to the challenge of new grapes, terroirs and local acceptance of his project Domaine du Pélican?
Probably this is news that the students at the Dijon wine school would like to hear as they develop their tasting skills. Here nearly one third of the 135 students are Chinese, willing to pay up to 13,000 euros for a year's course reports thelocal.fr. Marketing is included in the syllabus, with special emphasis on doing business in China. French wine is considered a luxury product in China and a diploma from one of France's top wine schools carries a cachet and good job prospects - agile thinking can now be added to their CVs.More on how to become a wine professional
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
In 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.
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
So 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.
The canal de bourgogne
To find out more, visit the Abbaye de Fontenay which is staging an exhibition about the waterway - how it was built and its immense contribution to the area. This exhibition runs from April 19 to May 30 and again in the winter from November 1 to December 31. Entry is included with the Abbaye ticket.
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.
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. Here's the gist:
Musee du Vin revitalized
After 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.
Set in stone
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.
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.
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.
Low cost bus travel
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.
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.
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.
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
Impress 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, email@example.com
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.
'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
know your Grands Crus
You know your Burgundy wines but would like to become more conversant with the Grands Crus - let's face it, who wouldn't? The Ecole des Vins in Beaune runs a course in English over three days where you can expand your knowledge. They advise that you do need to have wine tasting skills to get the best out of this experience. Time will be spent in the professional tasting room, you will visit wine domaines and study the Grands Crus of Chablis, the Côte de Beaune and Côte de Nuits. Visits to local restaurants with matched wines included. The Saga of the Grands Crus is planned for June 28-July 1, price on request. A gourmet's delight. firstname.lastname@example.org.
wallow in chocolate
It 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...
Here'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.
Internet connection wherever you are
Being connected to the internet seems to be an essential of everyday life, no matter how much we try to resist it. Most hotels now offer a WiFi connection as do some self-catering holiday homes but a far easier option is to rent a mobile hotspot and receive the internet as and when you need it, securely, wherever you are in France or Europe. Take a look at hippocketwifi, a simple system from a young progressive company based in Lyon offering mobile connection. More...
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