Postcard From Burgundy - No. 1

Postcard From Burgundy – No. 1

One of the nice things about biking through the French countryside is that you can stop and smell the horses. And you can come in for a closer look. We visited the Abbey of Citeaux, begun in the eleventh century and one of only two Cistercian abbeys in France that allow […]

One of the nice things about biking through the French countryside is that you can stop and smell the horses.

Horses in Burgundy
Horses in Burgundy

And you can come in for a closer look.

Horses in Burgundy
Horses in Burgundy discuss the merits of the 2003 vintage vs. the 2009.

We visited the Abbey of Citeaux, begun in the eleventh century and one of only two Cistercian abbeys in France that allow visitors.

Cistercian Abbey in Burgundy
At the Abbey of Citeaux in Burgundy
Herb Garden at Cistercian Abbey
Herb Garden at Citeaux. Only three of the abbey's original buildings survive.

The Cistercians were a reformed bunch who felt the brothers in the north had gotten off track with their high-flying lifestyle. But the monk Robert who came to start this one ended up going back to the north after about a year, because they elected him head abbot. It sounds to me like the north might have been more fun.

Cloister at Cistercian Abbey
A restored cloister at the Abbey of Citeaux

The monks at Citeaux tended vineyards and made wine, and many of the famous Burgundian vineyards were once part of Citeaux. The rich and powerful dukes of Burgundy, who wanted to make sure they went to heaven, looked after the monks as well, and gave them bits of land. Their arrangement was what His Grace would call “a good trade.” The French revolution of course put a stop to all that.

Flowers on wall At Cistercian Abbey
Roses climbing a wall at Abbey of Citeaux

A 12th-century monk, Stephen (Etienne) Harding, who was actually English, was a talented illustrator and drew the entire Bible like a series of comic strips. The style of his drawing is very similar to that of the famous Norman Bayeux Tapestries which are considered a “memoire of the world,” up to about the 12th century, anyway.

Drawings by Etienne Harding
Drawings by Etienne (Stephen) Harding

We had a pretty picnic there and carried on riding.

Picnic at Cistercian Abbey
Picnic at Cistercian Abbey

A lovely house we passed reminded me a little of Bee Cottage because of the stucco and the color of the shutters.

House in Burgundy
A house in Burgundy

If you want to see a cowboy in tights, here is your chance:

HIs Grace and a local
His Grace, left, and a local discuss the perils of Obamacare and the nuances of the cattle market. ''Magnifico,'' said His Grace, in fluent French. ''This is my kind of bike-riding.''
Frances on bike in France
Me, ''en velo,'' which is French for I look like a dork.
drawing of bee
On the wall at the Chateau Andre Ziltner was this charming drawing of a bee, which I could not resist.

On the road again. It is pretty easy to come up with things that are nice about biking through the French countryside. Even in the rain. Did I mention it rained? It didn’t matter.

Outside Nuits St. George, Burgundy
Approaching Nuits St. George, Burgundy

15 Comments

  1. Margaret McGlohon

    Hello Frances. We have 14 SMS girls in Paris! We head to London on Sunday.

    • Margaret, you’re kidding! We go to London on Monday! I will listen out for Southern accents… 🙂

  2. Duvall Fuqua

    Looks like a beautiful trip! Tell Cowboy he looks good in tights. Did it rain?

  3. katherine

    Bonjour Frances,
    You and His Grace are having quite a trip. After seeing your beautiful photos, I’ll be putting Burgundy on my list, for sure. And don’t forget us when you get to London. At least we can live vicariously through you!
    Safe travels! Katherine

  4. Randall Day

    Loved every word and picture. We were musing last evening about how this adventure was progressing and it’s great to see it is even better than we imagined! Traveling mercies!

  5. Elizabeth H.

    Hello Frances! I love your writing! I think we actually met ages ago very briefly if I’m not mistaken – most likely in 1994 or 1995 when the Southern Accents crew went to an all-staff retreat in Atlanta-I was a new editor with the magazine then (associate editor-level, not Editor in Chief!) and I knew about your terrific work. Sorry to ramble on, but I was curious if you are with a small group tour or a luxury outfitter that plans individual bike trips? Biking in Europe is something we plan to do in the next few years! Bon Voyage, Safe travels and HAVE FUN! Thank you for your delightful blog! Warmest regards, Elizabeth Betts Hickman

    • Hello Elizabeth and I do remember you and know we have met – but not sure where… Anyway thanks so much for writing, and it is great to hear from you. About our trip – our outfitter was an independent gal named Rachel Foulkes, who came very highly recommended and lived up to her hype. A Canadian ex-pat living in France, she worked several years for B & R before going on her own and now leads biking and walking trips throughout Europe. Her email is rachelfoulkes@aol.com, and her North America contact # is 800-530-5957. Let me know if I can help you further on this or if you want to chat when I get back to New York on Friday. Best to you, and please stay in touch, Frances

  6. Frances, Enjoyed your photos! I almost felt like I was there with you!

  7. His Grace and his fluent French “Magnifico!” just crack me up. Beautiful pictures, looks like a wonderful time! Love, love, love your blog!

  8. Oh I am traveling vicariously Frances!! You are buzzing around France like a BEE…as it should be!!! Bon Voyage!! xoxox Mary Mac

  9. Your pictures — paintings included — are always wonderful.

  10. Who would even notice rain–you are in France. The picnic looked yummy.
    xo,Lissy

    • Thank you ALL for your kind words and well wishes. Lordy we have been busy and I am so behind!!! Looking forward to catching up and to giving you all the attention you deserve! Love, moi.

  11. Bonjour, Y’all!
    Lovin’ the Frances in France Postcards. Hope to see more! Also, thanks for keeping a little distance on the shot of the “Cowboy in Tights” – wouldn’t want that showin’ up in a brochure! Mon Dieu!

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