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The Return of the Son of Burgundy & Paris

Note: This Trip Report appeared last year in other travel forums, but I wasn't able to place it here properly. Hence, this reprise in full, instead of through a dodgy link. Enjoy.

What follows is both leeengthy and jUmBLed. It may serve as a sort of trip-report-plus-tips-list based upon our recent ramblings around Burgundy and Paris. It has been re-read many times by the Department of Redundancy Dept. to ensure that there was no undue repetition, incorect spelling or grammar badly. It has been re-read many times by the Department of Redundancy Dept. to ensure that there was no undue repetition, incorect spelling or grammar badly.
See also our advice for shutterbugs. We hope that those who may be Burgundy-bound will find something of use.

Best new Parisian discovery: attached to the southern riverside facade of Paris' Hotel de Ville City Hall is a peaceful rose garden called 'Jardin des Combattants de la Nueve'. It is dedicated to the Spanish soldiers who aided in the liberation of Paris and offers a sheltered respite from the busy crowds just outside. Who knew? Bliss.

Best Traboule in Old Lyon: 16. r.d. Boeuf aka La Tour Rose; this historic pink tower is part of a 'miraboule' kind of traboule, opening onto a lovely courtyard. Skip the traboule tours, most others are dingy and underwhelming. We rented one of the three apartments at the aforementioned La Tour Rose and would recommend doing so.

Most Useful public bus in Burgundy: Transco #44 aka The Burgundy Express--much like vaporetto #1 in Venice, the value here (less than 2 euros) is unbeatable as you connect between Beaune and Dijon and most points between.

Most sympa apartment rental in Dijon: 'My Home In Dijon'--outstanding value. Coco will take care of you.

Most underrated daytrip out of Dijon: Semur-en Auxois (bus #49 dep. 7am)-not only is this a quintessential small French town where traditions still run deep, but it has world-class photo ops from its bridges Pont Pinard and Pont Joly. Skip the heavily-promoted belvedere vista up by the Citroen dealer---a hedge has been allowed to overgrow into the perspective and the view has been compromised. The St. Vernier restaurant in Semur is not yet in any guidebook (zero tourists). It specializes in local Epoisse cheese dishes.

Most underrated daytrip out of Beaune: Orches. This cliffside village in the Haut Cotes west of Meursault has excellent valley views and is quite pretty in and of itself. Added value: La Rochepot chateau-castle is just down the road, if you're into that sort of thing.

Most overrated vista: the ex-St. Christophe church archaeological site looming far above Meursault. Meh...

Most interesting Burgundian wine-producer whose reds and whites won't cost you a second-mortgage:
Pascal Prunier Bonheur. His farm-cave is right at the top of Meursault on the border with Auxey-Duresses.
Full disclosure: he helped us out of a jam, literally (see below). Seriously, his white Monthelie and his red St. Romain were just 2 of his seven very, very good wines.

(end of part one)

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288 posts

Worst trouble faced during this trip: On the second morning, we tried to re-enter our rented house on the edge of Meursault, but the massive old garage door, the sole entry, jammed and would not budge despite all our efforts and many bad words (see 'what to do when all yer stuff inc. passports, money, sex toys and everything, is locked inside. And the owners live in another country. And you are the last couple on Planet Earth who has not yet purchased that new thing called a 'cellphone'). Oui, we were soft city folk on the verge of tears. Ah mon dieu...

After a fruitless and stressful half-hour of us tryna' get in, who just happened to drive by on his tractor? (sound of trumpets) Why, our aforementioned neighbour Pascal, a 5th-generation winemaker with purple palms rough as sandpaper. He and his assistant, Eric, used their manly Burgundian know-how and tools to eventually unjam the jam. Emotionally spent, I looked on like a lost little boy. My wife, who legendary beauty was probably the only reason that Pascal stopped in the first place (see 'French men and traditional sources of attraction'), smiled from off to the side.

Best picnic table spot: The official 'aire de pique-nique' just outside of Beaune behind Pk. Bouzaizes (btw, 'bouze' means dung). Added value: for even more views ascend the trail up to the so-called 'Montagne de Beaune'. This trail leads up to a war memorial with spectacular views across the vineyards. Or if you have masochistic best intentions as you slavishly pursue 'alternative attractions', you could always make an ill-advised left turn and end up being chased by some of the world's largest and most vocal, private vineyard guard dogs. Seriously, there is an additional, far less-visited lookout to the western edge of the hill, overlooking Les Avaux climat et al.

Dumb-All-Over-Award: This trip's award goes to the lady who sat in our row and hack-coughed every 5 minutes for seven solid hours, apparently not having the foresight to bring either medications or sleeping pills (see 'narcissistic'). Why should the rest of us go on to enjoy a vacation uninfected, when its all about her?! My wife became ill.
Runner-up--The 50-something twelve year-old man who sat on the aisle seat in bulkhead right beside us and wait for it....put his feet, avec les sneakers, high up on the bulkhead wall then fell asleep for hours, thus becoming a kind of weird gatekeeper for us whenever we wanted to get out of our seats. This wannabe hipster also 'accidentally' spilled coffee on me and wasn't shy about using his sharp elbows. Tres etrange, yeah? Question--Pourquoi did the Air Canada flight attendants not confront this fellow about putting his shoes onto the wall that way?

Best possible definitely-maybe Hotel Deal in Paris: Sawdays lists in both their books plus their site, a supposed 'free extra day' special for any of their readers at the Hotel St. Paul on the left bank. We looked into the deal as part of our exhaustive search for a Paris lodging, but it fell through early on when their first email reply from a hotel employee basically ignored any mention of the deal. Then, 5 days later, the hotel manager suddenly emailed us back, including a pitch involving that deal. It was too late, as we'd booked elsewhere, but I am telling you this in the event that you may want to pursue it too.
Most Welcome New Addition to the cluster of eateries @ Pl. du Marche St. Catherine in Le Marais in Paris: Rainettes, who serve frogs legs. Hop to it.

Best Smell in Burgundy: The aromatic herbal scents that fill the Homeopathic Pharmacy in old Dijon. Go meet the brothers who run it. Christian and Claude are friendly, identical twins!

Best Boulangerie in Old Lyon with extra items needed by most every normal, hungry traveler: Chez Jules. Sandwiches, salads, baguettes (see 'the flute') pastries and extra tiny fruit cheesecakes. Unpretentious and very popular with locals of every age.

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Most Perplexing Ongoing Mystery: Which Burgundian village does rockstar-serious Pinot collector, Geddy Lee, retreat to every summer with his wife? No need to know exact address and have zero intent to ever visit. Just curious after having become so familiar with the map.

The local whom we encountered who was most seriously in need of professional help: The guy in old Dijon with his 2 leashed cats atop his shoulders while he strolled about chanting in Latin. He used the cats as props to curry sympathy from potential handout donors (long groan). Thought that I'd seen everything. Nuff said.

A fine Vineyard Walk with very few other tourists: Volnay down to Meursault. A fave with Brits in the know.

Most Under-appreciated luxe Gift to take home that has nothing to do with France: Prija-brand Italian shampoo-body soap. Made in Lugano from ginseng, cinammon and Laotian lotus. Avail. @ Hotel du Charmes in Meursault. Trust me, your female relatives and friends (boss?) will be indebted to you. My wife is from Montreal and she had a nice chat with the manager, who also hailed from that city in Quebec. Warning to allergy-sufferers--this shampoo has a strong fragrance.

Our Award for Best Marche goes to....
Actually its a 4-way tie this trip, including a couple sprawling markets that will be old hat to many of you. We really enjoyed the following:
1) Sunday farmers market @ quai St. Antoine in Lyon--hot foods to go, in addition to the usual suspects.
2) Saturday farmers market in Beaune--look for Monique's wooden-stove pizza van on r. Republique.
3) Dijon's Les Halles market, which is literally surrounded by cafes and bistros.
4) Paris' good old Bastille farmers market, look out for Mme Moufid's 'DELICE DU MAROC' booth in the middle aisle for some tasty tajine and more. There are plenty more throughout Paris, such as Belleville, rue Cler and Menlimonte.

'When we are young,
wandering the face of the Earth,
wondering what our dreams might be worth,
learning that we're only immortal
for a limited time.
'
('Dreamline' by RUSH)

Sorry, what's that you say? You want more? Well.....OK.

Posted by
288 posts

(encore) Twice Told Tales

Another Truly Outstanding Gift Idea:
Trust me, the Trinquelinette company has forgotten more about making excellent jams than you and I will ever know. They have a great range of mostly rare flavours that most of their competitors have long given up trying to produce. The quasi open-air shop that is located kitty-corner to the main market in Dijon (not the hoity-toity pricey one--I mean the regular Farmers Market) was the sole place where we were able to find this relative rarity. Satisfaction guaranteed. This is the jam of your fantasies. Even local folks remain impressed with the dedication to quality. It is not unusual for these jam jar gifts to be mysteriously consumed in their entirety prior to being packed for the flight home.

French sign on edge of private vineyard, with motif of a guard dog:
'I can reach the fence in 5 seconds. And you?'

Wonderful Wine:

I held back on saying much about wine coz who wants to be known as 'that wine bore', but we did indeed bring a sorta tip-sheet based on my research about Burgundian bargains. Wine is a way of life in Burgundy. I'm happy to share the opinionated results below and hope that they help:
White Macon Chalon esp. St. Veran--long known as better value. Rully and Coche-Dury are fantastic but with prices to match.
Cotes-de-nuits red: Morey St. Denis
Volnay red-producer Glantenay
Lyonnais red- Crozes-Hermitage or St. Joseph
Auxois area Irancy reds
Pascal Prunier Bonheur's above-mentioned wines are really good. Normally I run a mile whenever I hear the words 'white wine' but his Cote-de-Beaune whites were excellent.
St. Aubin white-Gilles Bouton
Pouilly-Fuisse is not too expensive, likewise most Chablis.
As for the 'A' league heavyweights, we preferred the best white Meursaults to the supposedly-better white Puligny-Montrachets. The red Gevrey-Chambertins and Pommards that we ordered by the glass were simply the best. Awesome. With price tags to match, however. Sigh.......
C'est Tout.
Peace Always.
I am done. The (burp) end.

Posted by
4979 posts

Wonderful! Thank you for this charming and entertaining (and yet somehow still informative) trip report.

Posted by
5251 posts

Thanks for posting this, part after part. Instead of the usual chronology you've given us your "best" and a few "worst" experiences -- a resource for future travelers. But I can't tell whether you relied entirely on buses or had a car. If buses only, kudos to your adventurous spirit!

And thanks for the reminder never to sit next to people who cough for seven hours or fall asleep with their feet up on the bulkhead.

Posted by
288 posts

Merci Dick et Jane. We did not use a car, it was all trains and buses, including that special bus #11. Get it? A pair of stick legs? We walked a great deal on this trip! Bonne Chance!
I am done. The end.

Posted by
4680 posts

Greg,

Thanks for sharing your trip with us!

I’m curious, how many nights did you spend in Beaune, Dijon and Lyon, and was this enough time to explore each of these places plus take a day trip?

Do you wish you’d have spent more time in Semur-en Auxois & Orches, or did a day trip offer enough time to see the highlights of each of these towns?

If you could have spent more time in each of your destinations which would you pick?

Thanks! Happy New Year!

Edited to add one more question...

How did you get from Beaune to Orches?

Priscilla

Posted by
288 posts

Hi Priscilla,
So I'm checking back in our old trip journal and apparently we were 5 nights in Paris, Dijon and also Lyon, plus 3 nights in Beaune. We were also in....(oh mon dieu, I can 'ardly make the name of thees 'orrible place)...Meursault for a week. I'm being silly, Meursault was great, its just that we got quite a scare with that (bad word omitted by Standards and Decency Dept.) jammed entry door.
You ask whether the time frames were enough to allow daytrips. Yes they were and we actually visited Semur twice. Orches we visited but once, by taxi. Its not even a village, I'd call it a scattered cliffside hamlet. Spending more time in Lyon would've allowed a 2nd visit to that weekly quayside market (best of its kind IMHO). More days in Beaune would've resulted in another visit to the wine bar, Le Bistrot Bourguignon (best of its kind IMHO). The latter was the sole wine bar we came across throughout Burgundy where a wide variety of the big 'A'-league heavyweights were available by the glass. Not uncheap, but less expensive than bottles. Hope this helps. Bonne soiree. Cordialement.
I am done. The end.
PS I notice that you're in Umbria. We have been wondering to what extent travel to places like Norcia, Preci, Castelluccio et al, has been curtailed. Might you have a sense of which places are still off-limits? Our Castelluccio landlord's adult daughter is completing her thesis @ Lucca Uni and is currently asking those of us who've visited the area to complete a brief, anonymous questionnaire. Her findings are clearly meant to arm the former inhabitants of Castelluccio with data to present to government powers when it comes time to move forward with repairs. I wouldn't hold my breath, but hopefully I am wrong.

Posted by
4680 posts

Greg,

Thanks for answering my questions!

I did not visit any of the places you mentioned, during my short visit to Umbria, so unfortunately I don’t know the answer to your question.

Unfortunately the damage caused by the 2016 earthquake to Norcia and surrounding areas was so extensive that it will take much time and resources to rebuild and repair all the damage.

Posted by
49 posts

Loved the format of your trip report. Thanks for sharing.