Posted by: vlibrizzi | November 8, 2009

Girls’ Weekend in Burgundy

DSC_0046This weekend, four friends and I packed into a tiny Citroen for a girls’ roadtrip in Burgundy. Since most of us have been to Beaune and Dijon this year with our husbands, we wanted to experience the other sites in Burgundy that we didn’t get to see on our first times in the region. 

So early on Saturday morning we drove to the town of Chablis…what a lovely, little place! We walked through the town for a bit where I snapped the photo to the left of a cute vegetable store. Then we stopped for a coffee before setting off on our real reason for stopping in Chablis…tasting the wine!  We stopped at a Lonely Planet guidebook recommended “caveau” called La Chablisienne and sampled some lovely Chablis chardonnay.

Just as we left the cave, however, it began to rain…and didn’t stop until late that evening. We tried not to let the weather bother us too much, and just decided that instead of walking through the towns we wanted to visit, we would mostly just drove through them, with a few quick walks while clutching umbrellas. 

 

DSC_0076After spending the morning in Chablis, we stopped for lunch in the town of Flavigny-sur-Ozerain, where the film Chocolat was filmed. Unfortunately, there are no chocolate shops in the town and Johnny Depp didn’t even visit the town during the filming (he filmed his riverboat scenes near Beynac in the Dordogne). But we movie-buffs still enjoyed seeing the town church (photo to the left), as well as the grouchy count’s house (which is the town hall), and the hairdresser’s shop.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DSC_0074But the best film-related building in Flavigny was the place that was used as Juliet Binoche’s chocolate shop . As you can see in the photo to the left, it now seems to be an abandoned storefront, but that didn’t stop our mouths from watering as we remembered the chocolate-filled window in the film. 

 

 

 

 

DSC_0068As the rain got a bit heavier, we stopped into a little shop to buy the local claim to fame: anis candy. Instead of selling chocolate in Flavigny, the town is famous for it’s delicious, little anis candies. They look like tic-tacs, come in many flavors, and all subtly taste like anis (which is similar to licorice). I inserted a photo of the candy shop to the left; it was adorble, and being inside was a nice break from the rain for a bit.

 

 

 

DSC_0086Later that afternoon, we drove up to a hilltop in the town of Alise Sainte Reine and found a massive statue of the former chief of the Gauls, Vercingetorix (don’t ask me how to pronounce that…I was barely able to spell it). Apparently, Alise Ste. Reine played host to one of the last uprisings of the Gauls against the Romans (in 52 B.C.). This statue commemorates the months-long battle between the Romans and the Gauls. 

 

 

 

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Then, on our way to our chambre d’hote, we stopped to take a photo at the top of a hill of the medieval town of Semur-en-Auxois. Unfortunately, it was too rainy and cold to stop in the town. Although the views from outside the town were pretty great, we were ready for some warmth.

So after about another half hour drive, we arrived at our wonderful chambre d’hote, Les Champs de Cordois ( http://www.les-champs-cordois.com/spip.php?rubrique-49.html) on a huge plot of land with horses and gardens in the town of Bessieres. The hotel is run by a lovely French couple who treated DSC_0098us like guests of the family. The place was so clean and spacious—the five of us ladies stayed in a two room wing of the house (photo of the house to the left).

And after freshening up for a bit, we joined the two owners for dinner. They served us an apertif of kir (a Burgundian specialty), and then we walked over to the table to have our dinner of beet, cheese, and endive salad, a white fish with a creamy leek sauce, a cheese course of local cheeses, and an apple tart for dessert. Best of all, we washed our meal down with some wonderful Aligote. 

After dinner, we returned to our rooms and spent the rest of the evening playing cards and games while sipping on some of the wine we bought earlier in the day.

DSC_0135Luckily, the next morning we woke up to a bright, sunny day. And after  a quick breakfast, we hopped back into the car and drove to the Abbey of Fontenay, a Cisternian abbey built in the the 1100s. You can see the five of us road-trippers standing in front of the abbey in the photo to the left. 

 

 

 

 

DSC_0116My favorite part of our visit to the abbey was the cloisters (photo to the left) where the monks would spend most of their days working on manuscripts or their other daily tasks. It was so sunny and peaceful there. I could have walked around the halls for hours. Even better, there were very few tourists at the abbey at all (I guess November is low season for Burgundy), so we really had an undisturbed tour of the grounds.

 

 

 

DSC_0162After our visit, we drove to the town of Vezelay where we stopped for some yummy pizza, and then visited the famous for its Basilica of Ste. Madeline (Mary Magdeline). According to some, the relics of Mary Magdeline rest in the crypt of this cathedral. But on our tour, we were able to see only one bone (which, to us, resembled a rib or some other kind of thin bone).

The basilica was absolutely beautiful inside, and was so different from other cathedrals I’ve seen in France. Since it is in the Romanesque style of architecture, it has wonderful columns and arched ceilings. Also, it has only one stained glass window and the walls are not decorated at all; to me, it made the church seem much more powerful and holy. It was a bright, peaceful place.

 

 

 

 

DSC_0166After visiting inside the basilica, we walked behind the building to see a beautiful view of the Cure River Valley and the small villages that dot the countryside. Also, we were able to have a nice view of the basilica from a different angle, with the beautiful autumn trees (photo to the left).

We walked back down the hill to our car through the winding, narrow streets of the town of Vezelay, and then started our drive back to Fontainebleau.

But before leaving Burgundy, we had one more stop to make….

 

DSC_0172…another wine cave. The owner of our chambre d’hote suggested that we stop at this particular cave on our way home because it is famous for its cremant (or Burgundian champagne). We sampled some cremant as well as some fruit liqueurs in the inside of the cave (with a musty smell and moss growing on the walls–very cool!), and of course bought a few bottles to celebrate future special occasions…or to bring with us on future Girls’ Weekends 🙂

 

 

 

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