Sunday, October 7, 2012

All About France, Beautiful Bourgogne (Burgundy)

Bourgogne was the last place in France my husband and I visited before moving back to the States.  It was a month before our departure, and we felt it was befitting that we return to the place where we began our first roadtrip in France.

Bourgogne is known as the spiritual heartland of two of France’s raisons d’être, food and wine. The vineyards along la Côte d'Or, stretching only 37 miles from Santenay to Dijon, are filled with some of the most prestigious names in French wine­making.  Rows of terraced vines rise in tiers above the D122, N74, D1138 highways (La Route des Grands Crus), passing through the towns of Puligny-Montrachet, Volnay, Beaune, Nuits-St-Georges, Vosne-Romanée, Gevrey-Chambertin, and Marsannay-la-Côte, and it is one of the most scenic areas in France to drive through.
Bourgogne is also filled with beautiful cities and towns, and our favorite is Beaune.  Located about 30 minutes south of Dijon, Beaune is the unofficial capital of the Côte d’Or and is one of the best places in France for wine tasting.

Also, as relatively unknown town in the region, it is an ideal place for a stopover, especially since there is a large selection of charming hotels.  It’s also a city known for some of the finest (haute) cuisines in the world and world-class restaurants.  So, my husband and I were not surprised when we had one of the best meals we’ve ever had in Beaune at the restaurant Le Fleury.  Also, the town has a wonderful outdoor market on Saturday mornings, which offers a large selection of produce as well as crafts, and of course, the medieval architecture of Hotel Dieu is definitely a must see. 

Hospices de Beaune, Hôtel Dieu
wonderful outdoor market
our beautiful Hotel Belle Epoque
Besançon was one of the first cities we’d visited in France, and as a beautiful little town close to the German border, it was always an ideal stopover on our way home from France.
Dijon, known mainly for its mustard, is one of France’s most appealing provincial cities. It’s also famous for its elegant medieval and Renaissance architecture, excellent museums, and lively center that is perfect for strolling.  Unfortunately, we’d underestimated its size and its beauty, as it was impossible to cover all the notable landmarks in a day.  We definitely plan to return to Dijon to explore and discover more of this beautiful city.
Abbaye de Fontenay
Commercial, industrial and banking powerhouse for the past 500 years, grand old Lyon (Lyons) is the focal point of a prosperous urban area of almost two million people, France’s second-largest conurbation. Outstanding art museums and a dynamic cultural life lend the city a distinctly sophisticated air.
Semure en Auxois
Although we’d merely driven through Semure en Auxois, it was one of the most visually stunning towns we’ve seen.
Beautifully perched up on the top of the hill, Vezelay is one of the most well-preserved UNESCO heritage sites in France.    

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