BurgundyJust back from a fabulous week in Burgundy, a name I'd only previously known as a color and a wine. An ancient land about an hour's train ride South East of Paris, Burgundy's rich heritage dates back to Roman times as a trading center on the old Roman road and later as the famous wine producing region with vinyards dating back over a thousand years. Another product that the region is famous for is the world famous Dijon Mustard. Burgundy abounds with Gastronomic delights as in addition to some of the world's great wines, there are a number of Michelin 3 star restaurants. My first 2 nights were in the charming river-side town of Joigny where I stayed at La Cote St. Jaques, home of world famous 3 star Michelin Chef Jean-Michel Lorain. Dinner was a 4 hour tour de elegance including a visit to the wine cellars where some of the bottles were the price of a new car ! I asked my waiter in my rusty French for the wine cork for a souvenir and he brought me back the wine labels from the bottles we had shared which he had soaked off the bottle, mounted on velum paper and encased in plastic which he presented to me after dinner. The next day we toured the fabulous Fontenay Abbey founded back in the 10 th century where hundreds of monks had toiled throught the century inventing the first water wheel powered machinery which in turn gave birth to the Industrial revolution. From there we visited the town of Saulieu , a Roman trading town and home of another 3 star chef, Bernard Loiseau. Lunch was a masterpiece of taste and presentation hosted by the chef's wife. Sadly we learned that the Chef had a taken his own life a couple of years back when he heard a rumor that he might lose one of his Michelin stars. The rumor proved to be false but the damage was done.
One of the most facinating sight in Burgundy is Guedelon where a group of dedicated Renaissance Faire refugees are building an authentic 14 th century castle with 14 th century technology. All hand built, no machines and they expect it will take them 25 years. They are now in their 12th year and it looks fantastic ! On the way to Dijon we stopped at Vezelay, a quaint medieval town classed as a UNESCO world heritage site with a beautiful Basilica which served as the launch point for King Richard's Crusade.
Just 30 miles South of Dijon is the wine capital of Burgundy, the town of Beaune. This medieval treasure is just filled with ancient ramparts, castles and the famous Hospice. We spent a splendid afternoon touring the vinyards by bike and learned much about this industry which has served the region for over a thousand years. It always amazes me that this land which has seen people tramping over it for so many years and yet has remained so beautiful and unspoiled.
Dijon, the capitol of Burgundy has a well preserved medieval center of town with Ducal Palaces, 9 th century crypts, cathedrals, art museums and all the cultural attractions of a much larger city.The beauty of Burgundy lies in it's unspoiled elegance, unequalled gastronomy and quiet pace of life that has endured down through the milenium. A place not to be missed.
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