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 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.


  1. I can’t believe Carolyne Roehm is on your trip!!! You are as talented as she is. Enjoy your bike ride.

    1. Louise! Thank you – and so are YOU by the way;) thank you for your comment – so happy to hear from you! Frances

  2. Hi Frances,
    Am laughing so hard about your tiny room b/c I visualized His Grace “flying” to get to the bed…as we’ve all done in those little broom-closet rooms all over France….none the less-it’s worth it over and over again for the experiences! Thanks again for your entertainment!

  3. Thank you, Frances, for such a lovely post. I felt I was right there along with you on your trip!

    Looking forward to part 3…

  4. CR book preordered..can’t wait. On trip along the Loire Dick and I arrived to chateaux and huge..shown to room in stable, detached and into a stall with padded toile.. So, padding on wall was space necessity by design to move about and not skin your elbow. Window was view of great house and gardens. Yes, memory is so funny. Look forward to your photographs.

    1. Thank you all for your wonderful comments! Lynn you story of the stable is hilarious and i will definitely share with HG, who will sympathize.

  5. Thanks for taking us along with you, Frances. We get the pleasure without the pain (or sweat)! And thanks for the garden pics — we are the middle of one of those projects, and now I have landscape envy.
    Say hello to the cowboy for us..

  6. LOVE YOUR blogs–read them all—and i am reminded of how you have such a great “voice”–and should surely write a novel..& soon.——also love carolyne as you do—AND she has bought a house near me in beautiful CHARLESTON-(closing this week)—so you must come visit me soon..& hit 2 + birds with one,,etc..sending warm affection…adrienne

  7. Dearest Frances, am so enjoying your trip! Surprised your cowboy didn’t hop back on his bike and head to La Folie for a good night’s sleep~although the mental picture of him maneuvering around the room is priceless…
    The pictures are lovely…

    1. Actually not sure he ever got o the bike that day. He is more a horseback kind of guy… Thank you for writing dear Cynnie… xox

  8. Wonderful post! Love the pix! I hope you turn this into a magazine piece. There are so many who fantasize about this trip but never get the chance to do it. Also, I was intrigued by the background on ‘cat swinging’. Usually, I just ask about the square footage of a room. Henceforth, I shall ask if you can swing a cat in it. You have made my world larger. (Don’t forget about the article.) LOL

  9. Pre-ordering book from Looking forward to it! Love, love, love that chateau and the roses, oh my! His Grace sounds like quite a charmer, I crack up whenever I remember his spouting “Magnifico!” Great post, as always! More, more, more, please.

  10. Frances, what a pleasure it is to be able to be along for the ride, so to speak. Your blog is the loveliest read, always a joy, and it comes just enough, not like most of those to which I subscribe that have the annoying habit of arriving each and every day, whether I want to see them or not. With yours, there is anticipation fulfilled each and every time. I agree. Write that book. But be certain to provide photographs. Yours are stunning! xoxox Happy

  11. aaaaah! beautiful! And I love knowing where “big enough to swing a cat in came from”, and the phrase “big honking castle”, of which I totally relate to.

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