Thursday, September 19, 2019

Dijon, France - Part Seven, Dijon

Les Halles market and mural beside it.
Friday and we wanted an easy day before Christoph’s departure tomorrow. Walked around the huge Musee des Beaux-Arts, Museum of Arts which is close by to the flat I’m in. My landlord said it would take many visits to see the entire thing and we discovered that today by only getting one floor done, three more to go, free entry so that will be handy and inexpensive. This links to most of the museums in Dijon, I'll let you know about a couple of others in another post. Then we walked to Les Halles, the large market, food inside, clothing outside around it. We had boeuf bourguignon (beef stew, a French traditional dish) and a glass of wine each since Christoph wasn’t driving, at Brasserie Des Halles next to the market. 
These musicians played next door to our lunch spot, and they were good!
The food was tasty but the beef could have been more tender in my opinion. We parted ways until the next day. We returned the car early in the morning (after getting a bit lost getting to the rental place) and Christoph traveled through Freiburg to Paris to start eight weeks of touring. 

We both agreed that this week we have seen a lot, travelled quite far, but both have been very relaxed about the whole thing and enjoyed it. It has been a few years since I have actually "vacationed as a tourist", seeing famous sights so this was a treat especially with the knowledgeable guidance of Christoph and the use of a car.

The rest of my time in Dijon I took a food tour and toured myself around, there will be at least one more post with some sights of the city. Stay tuned!

Cheers, Bev

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Dijon, France - Part Six, Beaune and Fixin

Thursday and we drive to Beaune stopping in Nuits-St-Georges for a coffee for Christoph.  It’s a pretty village along the wine road, but bigger than most.
Found this little butterfly on the way, it's on a city grate.
Loved this statue.

On to Beaune and lunch is first on order, quiche and salad, decent but not wonderful. We went to the Hotel-Dieu des Hospices Civils de Beaune with the multi-coloured tiles on the roofs and did the self guided tour with tape for more explanation. Here is a link with a better picture and more information
The roof tiles are typical of this region, but usually in less quantity.
A nun model praying for one of her patients, note the instruments in the foreground.
It was hospital for both rich and poor, separated into wards, you can read about it here The site is well maintained, beautifully outlaid with re-enactment of the rooms uses. 
Part of the kitchen which was large.
It was under a bit of construction at one end. The audio tape was well done explaining all the rooms and history behind them. A person could spend anywhere from an hour to three on site. We spent about an hour because we had other things to do that day.

Then to the Edmond Fallot Mustard Mill, there is an hour or so guided tour through the mill to show how the mustard is made. Third generation family owned, I bought the traditional mustard called Moutarde de Bourgogne which is sold everywhere in this region but I don’t think I’ve had this brand before, mostly available in stores is the Maille brand, also from this area. Read more about the two brands on my food tour post, coming up.
Original delivery truck or facsimile of it.
We had made an appointment for a wine tour at Clos St Louis in Fixin, where we had been at the beginning of the week so didn’t have time for the Fallot tour. A family owned winery operated by wife Virginie, husband Philippe and daughter Martine Bernard, who hosted us the first time and will take over the winery when her father retires. Looking at him, and the tour he gave us, retirement won’t be any time soon. He explained the typical farmer’s woes, weather, finding pickers, etc, all of which I could relate to having been raised on a farm. 
In the cask, all carefully labeled with Philippe's special coding.
In the bottle, not capped or labeled, they do that closer to sale, capped and labels are taxable, naked bottles are not until they are readied for sale.
The vintners are all independents in this region, they have their own equipment, some of which is only used at harvest time. There is no cooperative organization as there is in some wine producing areas to share equipment. Philippe explained that everyone would need the equipment at the same time which is the major reason they have their own. Another good visit and we saw the entire inside operation this time.

Travelling around the countryside here, if you take the fast highways there are tolls calculated on the kilometres between getting on and off, not a huge amount for a tourist but would add up for a frequent traveller. Of course, then I wonder if truckers could buy a monthly pass, didn't find out.

Cheers, Bev

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Dijon, France - Part Five, Flavigny and Semur-en-Auxois

Wednesday Jul 17: Heading off to a couple of monasteries and more churches, Sofia took us over one lane country roads, through rolling hills and into valleys for the first hour. She’s steered us wrong before (one way streets in the city) but usually is accurate outside the city, we wondered… We came out in the end to exactly our destination and it was a very interesting drive pretty with sunflowers and lots of Charolais cattle. 

Our destination was Flavigny-Sur-Ozerain which is where the movie Chocolat was filmed. What was more interesting was a an aniseed factory producing bonbons, and other products from aniseed in the village. Factory tours, count me in, this one was rather short but interesting despite it’s length. The company has been owned by three generations and is called les Anis de Flavigny “un bien bon bonbon”. If you know me, you know I don’t eat sweets very much but these are not so sweet. The tasting area was great with large, stemmed glasses with each flavoured product available. Before going on the tour we all were handed out folded hair nets as compulsory to wear. 
We all looked a bit silly, lots of giggling going on.
On the tour we went upstairs to see the process of tumbling the sugar coated aniseed and then downstairs for a glimpse into the factory where it is packaged. We walked the village after and found the site of the chocolate shop and where the Mayor lived from the movie. Charming village but hardly anyone seems to actually live there. Lamb for lunch was home cooked and a treat, at La Grange in the village.

Next on to Abbaye de Fontenay, close to Montbard, which is famous for it’s age, 1118, austerity, and UNESCO status. At it’s height approximately 300 monks lived there in dorms on straw beds. Christoph said it would have been crowded and likely rather smelly. Sprawling property with many buildings and really austere is the word here but beautiful in it’s own way. 
Water wheel used for the former paper mill on site
Fountain in the garden.
The grounds are large and manicured containing herb plants and a fountain that waters the garden.

Christoph wanted to show me the village of Semur-en-Auxois so we stopped by there for a coffee for him before returning to Dijon. He needs his afternoon coffee especially while touring and driving. The village was charming, church not in as good a shape as we’ve seen others. 
In a renovated church this wouldn't happen, there was also netting inside over the pews to keep out the bird droppings.
In Dijon I’m living on Rue Buffon, as we sat in the cafe in Semur-en-Auxois I saw we were on Rue Buffon also. Buffon was a fellow at the head of mining in the area so his name is everywhere in this region.

Another great road trip with thanks to Christoph!

Cheers, Bev and Lexi who doesn't go on day trips, she'd prefer to sleep.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Dijon, France - Part Four, Avallon and Vezelay

Tuesday found us in Avallon, where we walked the town with the church and archway.
As you can see, the tower covers the street.
Lunch was wonderful, a roasted turkey leg, in a garden at Dame Jeanne

Then it was on to Vezelay for the Basilica, Basilique de la Madeleine viewing. It, honestly wasn’t what I was expecting and not really in a good way. Large beautiful building, under construction for the last five years to be finished February 2020. The "tour" (there was no tour as such) guide took us up scaffolded stairs to the third floor where he lectured on the entire project while we stood there in the heat, dust and construction noise, viewing the main sculpture of Christ (In my mind similar to the one in Autun but apparently quite different, couldn’t see it myself.) 
Unfinished and in the process of being redone, workers tools in evidence on benches.
I kept thinking of ways to politely excuse myself but not wanting to do damage to Christoph’s reputation, I endured very reluctantly, honestly it was about a half an hour I will never get back of supreme unhappiness. Christoph, however, was very excited to go there and see it again, understood the French guide completely and learned a bit more than he knew before. He did say the guide was technically correct but had a rather dry delivery. 

I wanted to see a place that makes cassis, or current fruit products which is a tradition in this area, syrup mixed with champagne or wine is called a Kir Royale. Christoph found a small independent place up in the hills above Nuits-Saint-Georges, fairly close to Dijon. It seemed to take an age to get there but little to come back, the usual, although I think we were steered (thanks Sofia) the longer distance going. Anyway, we didn’t get to see production as such, just the store but the owner was friendly. It’s called la Ferme Fruirouge at Hameau de Concoeur, website

Now I've "met" some of the local food specialities, the mustard, the cassis, and while I haven't had the snails, I have had the egg cooked in red wine, croque monsieur (grilled ham and cheese), diced ham in parsley aspic. I am booked on a food tour in a week so we'll see what that turns up.

Cheers, Bev

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Dijon, France - Part Three, Dijon and Autun

Sunday we stay in Dijon, we decided to take a day here in the city and Christoph showed me around. The biggest icon here is an owl! A small sculpture in the wall that you touch with your left hand, closest to the heart, for good luck. 
Okay, agreed, doesn't look much like an owl, but it suffered human damage a few years ago which outraged the citizens of Dijon.
There are three walks “The Owl’s Trail” around the city which pass by major monuments to educate you about the city and get a person exploring it easily. Small triangle shaped plaques adhered to the ground point the way. 
Like this one and all the others, placed about two metres apart.
Going to the tourist office you can get a book that explains all the places, monuments and their history in brief. It’s a brilliant marketing move in my mind to get tourists exploring the city more and with educated guidance. After going to other towns, we found in Avallon they have a frog as guide, and other towns use the city hall. 
Avallon's version of the City walk.
Distinctive artist, we saw much of his work on street corners in Paris, sorry cannot remember his name.
Much more on Dijon in other posts.

Monday finds us in Autun, visiting the Salle Capitulaire Cathedral, Saint Lazare d’Autun. 
Front entry, not open, we used a side door, you will see a similarly carved entry way in another post.
It is under construction, which you will read again about other churches. We climbed the 50 stairs, not as many as getting to Adrienne’s I wager, to the “attic” where they have saved the original cornices (carved in stone) from the tops of the columns. 
Theme is the garden.
This attic space was under lock and key, unlocked by a volunteer who looked extremely bored before we arrived. When we came out the place was hopping with more tourists so that would likely make him happy. 
Patron Saints of the cathedral. The carving was very detailed and beautiful.
Autun is a pretty little town with the cathedral being the drawing card for visitors. Lunch was at “the best coffee in the world” Malongo Cafe which was cafe on the outside and Indian cushy den on the inside for the evenings, which I thought an eclectic mix. 

Coming back it was the now usual stop for coffee and pee break at Ville de Nolay. 
This is where they hold the market, the roof is made of cedar, floor of slate. 
The toilets are town owned and the strangest I’d ever seen, and believe me I’ve seen my share… A metal ring in the shape of the seat and a basin in the floor, toilet paper thankfully included and it cleans itself after every use. Actually I’ve seen self cleaning toilets in France before and it really is a good idea, well enough about them. 

So far we've avoided annoying things like heavy traffic and mounds of tourists, which is both pleasing and efficient.

Cheers, Bev

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Dijon, France - Part Two in Tournus

Saturday we went to Tournus which had a large outdoor market going on, a lot of clothing and less food but interesting. 
Market in the main town square, squint to see the statue in the middle.
There was however a spice vendor, after a day or so in the apartment I found out there is no salt and pepper, no spices at all. I bought from this very entertaining fellow a pepper mill and herbs de province mixture of spices, that should do me while here. Had a lovely lunch at a family run restaurant and hotel, Hotel de la Paix, which was certainly more basic, read cheaper, but yummy food than the rather upmarket one the day before, both good, just different. Chef came out to meet us and another gent who had sent kudos to the chef. 

Tournus is about half the size of Dijon, friendly place but large enough to get everything with good rail connections to larger and smaller towns, I was impressed, it’s also on a river, always a bonus.

Christoph cannot pass a church without stopping in, like another person I know. Usually being drawn into it becomes a welcome surprise for me. Into Abbaye Saint-Philibert, Tournus and it is lovely.

Well preserved sign of the zodiac, the rest of them weren't quite so.

More traditional stained glass of the two saints
More modern version I think but don't know for sure.
We also visited a medieval village that you needed to walk to from the parking lot, not too bad of a walk, but the village itself was on a hillside and seemed to be used for large events, many old stone buildings with some modern touches like BBQ’s and a kid’s wading pool. On top of a mountain it afforded lovely views of the fields below. The village was called La Chapelle sous-Brancion.
View from La Chapelle sous-Brancion
On the return we stopped at a village named Pommard for a coffee. There was a large wine festival happening on the street which the ticket price was 42.00 Euro, you can guess we didn't buy. That may have been the weekend price and I'm sure the wines would be top notch, just not for me at that time.

Look forward to more posts! Cheers, Bev 

Monday, July 22, 2019

Dijon, France - Part One

Thursday July 11, a year to the day Bruce/Whit passed away. I thought along with grieving I’d honour him in a way by travelling. 

Freiburg to Dijon, there is no direct train so a stop over in Basel SBB was needed, there was a train problem so a 25 minute delay but I messaged my host which he appreciated. The apartment is really small but delightfully decorated. I did a small shop to get a few basics in and relaxed. The taxi drivers really appreciated the collapsable wheels I used to carry Lexi with, all looked like “that won’t fit in my cab!” until I collapsed them. I hadn’t used them since Bruce received his wheelchair, she always went on his lap. They are needed now because even being a smallish cat, she gets heavy for me toting her around large airports and long train platforms. 

Dijon, so far, is a charming city, my landlord said it’s the “real France” obvious pride there. Next day, Friday and Christoph has taken an overnight bus from his last tour in Amsterdam to here, settled into his apartment and is ready to pick up the hired car. We meet and take a taxi south of Dijon to an industrial area. He costed getting it from the airport and it was significantly cheaper to rent from another more remote location, much less than the cab fare, a note for you who may want to do this in any city and one I didn’t realize. 

We drive further south, to farming winery to make an appointment to come back because they are all working in the fields stripping the leaves off the top at the moment, in Fixin. Basically closed for visitors, but the daughter, Martine, says she will entertain us now and so we enter. She reminds me of myself and my sister selling fruit and veg off our roadside stand, wearing gum boots, shorts and a sleeveless T-shirt, working in the fields attire. She is taking over the business from her father who Christoph has met and said is engaging and knowledgeable. The wine is excellent and I buy four bottles, we do return on Thursday, read on… The experience also reminds me of Landener, whom I will visit in the fall again. I prefer small, family owned and run wineries to big conglomerates, your purchase directly goes to the growers who have put their sweat and tears in. Okay, you’ve heard this before from me, off the soap box. 
Christoph in the tasting room of Clos St-Louis, Fixin, France
After tasting before lunch we needed some, so Martine recommended a true French restaurant  French presentation, French portions, (smallish) amuse-bouche to start and great taste at a higher than average price but probably would be higher in a city. Delightful food, a bit snobby service but we both appreciated the experience of dining in the outdoor garden under shade trees. 

Then we did a large shop at a department store called Centre Leclerc, outside Beaune. My biggest gripe with them, no labeling of aisles, enabling you, or forcing you, to walk the entire store, really dislike that concept! Basically while we have the car I wanted heavy things like litter box sand and food for Lexi. I travel with a weeks worth but need to shop soon and it’s both heavy stuff. 

After we go into Beaune to get a needed water for me and coffee for Christoph who is now getting tired after little sleep on the overnight bus. He shows me around the smaller city than Dijon, we see the Basilica Notre Dame and very tiredly leave but we’ll be back. 

Stained glass window in the Basilica
Exterior of the Basilica

Chateau along the way now used for filming and large events.
Among the multiple hectares of vineyards in this area are sunflower fields, all showing their heads to the sun, which they rotate in the direction of, early radar, very beautiful.

We have a bit of trouble navigating back into the city, it is mainly a one way system for traffic and not an easy one to do so by car when unfamiliar. Made it to my place after a few wrong turns but didn’t take long. We used the onboard car GPS for a bit until it told us to go down a one way street the wrong way, abandoned that and watched for road signs the old fashioned way but it worked. Plus Christoph had been to the city before, not driving but on a bus that had the same problems. Busy week planned ahead, busy day done.

Adrienne called for the anniversary of Bruce’s death, not the right date, no matter, intention was very kind.

That was my first couple of days in and around Dijon, I will continue to update you with further days of the tour by Christoph. We really saw a lot of sights by car so look out for a few posts to fit it all in!

Cheers, Bev