Postcard From Burgundy - Part 2

Postcard From Burgundy – Part 2

This scene sums it up: the vineyard, the softly undulating landscape, the church steeple marking the center of a beautiful village, and the backside of a biker. Bikers were always ahead of me because, a) I am slow, and b) I stop to take pictures, which makes me, c) even […]

This scene sums it up: the vineyard, the softly undulating landscape, the church steeple marking the center of a beautiful village, and the backside of a biker. Bikers were always ahead of me because, a) I am slow, and b) I stop to take pictures, which makes me, c) even slower.

Burgundy vineyard
Riding through the vineyards of Chambolle Musigny, outside Nuits St. Georges, Burgundy, France.

The good news is I often had charming company in the form of Carolyne Roehm, who takes even more photos than I, if that is possible. You who know about Carolyne know she is knowledgeable on a host of subjects to do with houses, gardens, flowers, interiors, and art; and she is also fun. Once you get over the fact that she really does look perfect just about all the time, she is an excellent wingman. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Carolyne’s next book, Flowers, coming out in November. You can pre-order it on Amazon and elsewhere. The girl is a force of nature, in the loveliest way possible.

Carolyne Roehm and Simon Peninger biking in France
Carolyne Roehm and her handsome beau, Simon Peninger

Trips like this are all about the people you’re with; and part of the fun is discovering what their interests are. The wine was not as interesting to me, frankly, as the scenery, the villages,  the wildflowers, and of course the houses and gardens if we happened by them. One house in particular was just wonderful, partly because you actually could imagine living in it–unlike those big honking castles that take small armies to maintain (because that in fact is what they were originally for…)

Chateau in Burgundy
Chateau in Burgundy

Our trusty guides Rachel Foulkes and John Brooks know the owners of this handsome property, and they were gracious to allow our visit. The house is called La Folie, the folly,  in the Domaine de Chandon de Briailles. Our hostess was the very lovely Claude de Nicolay, daughter of the Comte and Comtesse de Nicolay, cousins of the Moet et Chandon family from Champagne. In other words, they are fancy.

Chateau with roses
The roses are in full bloom this time of year, and you see them everywhere.
Chateau detail
...
Chateau garden
The formal gardens lead to a shell-shaped folly. I love follies because they exist for the sole purpose of beauty and pleasure.
Folly at Burgundy chateau
The folly. Rough stone "layers" resembling porous volcanic rock alternate with stucco for an interesting striped effect. This same unusual rough rock "trim" appeared on other outbuildings as well.
Chateau in Burgundy
View from the folly. Quelle belle maison.

Like nearly all the vineyards and wineries in Burgundy, this is a family-run business and generations old. We were treated to a tasting of their wine–right from the barrels in the cave.

Claude, wine tasting
The lovely and knowledgeable Claude de Nicolay explaining the rarefied art of winemaking and tasting, and why the cycles of the moon are crucial in the process (which I never quite understood).

When we emerged it was pouring rain. No bicycling for moi; as I would surely melt. Or worse. Not to mention any names, but I was not alone in that van ride to Beaune. Just sayin’.

Upon arrival at the Hotel de Cep there was a snafu about the rooms and some of us were given broom closets instead. I mean not big enough to swing a cat in.  These things happen. To get from the bath to the bed, His Grace had to sort of leap from the armoire over a suitcase and across the end of the bed, if you can imagine. Poetry in motion, it was.

Next day, back on the road. Fields of wildflowers and crops of wheat line the route. Spoiler alert: The mustard of Burgundy’s famous Dijon is no longer grown on location. The bright yellow stuff we see is rapeseed, also known as field mustard, from which canola oil is made. (click here to read up on it; it’s interesting.) The actual mustard plants are grown in Canada and the seeds exported to France where the mustard is made. Shocking.

Burgundy landscape with rape seed
Fields of rapeseed and wheat. In the distance is the quarry from which the stone was taken to build the Louvre. And when the museum's carousel addition was constructed some years ago, the very same stone was quarried.

Coming in Part 3: Bopping around Beaune.

21 Comments

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*