Travels in Burgundy 2023

On the touristic trail from Beaune to Chablis…

By billn on August 19, 2023 #travels in burgundy 2023

Château Commarin

Beaune to Chablis on the Autoroute requires only about 1 hour and 20 minutes – you may be surprised to hear me say this but, between Beaune and Chablis, there’s much to do and see that doesn’t include wine! So why not use a whole day to take in the sights?

I revisited a few places last week, many of which I hadn’t visited since pre-covid times – remember those?! Anyway, let me make a few suggestions and observations for you – which are organised sequentially as you head north from Beaune.

1. Hotel, Abbaye de Bussière
Once a ‘destination’ hotel and still a wonderful collection of buildings and gardens in the valley of the Ouches river. Once? Well, the hotel changed hands and the upkeep seems to be difficult for the new team – the service too. Keeping the prices up doesn’t seem to have been difficult though – €600 for a room for the night or €23 for two cokes and a coffee – but for what you get at the moment, the prices are absolutely not justified. That their restaurant seemingly managed to retain their 1 Michelin star seems unbelievable to this casual visitor!

2. Châteauneuf-en-Auxerrois
Only about 10km from the Abbaye but given the Hotel’s current state, it’s more likely that you will have taken the A6 Autoroute from Beaune in the direction of Paris & Chablis. It’s actually the first exit from the A6 after you leave Beaune – 37km – and that’s a long way if you were going to Beaune and missed the exit at Savigny! – everybody does it once 🙂

One named the Château de Toisey-la-Berchère, the Châteauneuf sits proudly on the hillside above the Autoroute – like a medieval castle with turrets and flags. It requires taking a few small and steep roads – but Google Maps is your friend – to a quaint village where the castle is situated. The village is one of those places where your mind can wander and you find yourself contemplating buying one of these old houses – it’s a summer dream – because you would of course die in the winter months – many kms of steep snowy roads would be required to visit a supermarket!

The (now) unoccupied castle itself has undergone some renovation and is worth paying the few euros required to gain entrance. Here you will also find wedding photos of the previous owner – Comte Georges de Vogüé – yes, that Comte Georges de Vogüé! He gave away the castle to the state in 1936.

3. Château Commarin
Not a long drive from the Châteauneuf is the fine-looking, twin-winged, moated, Château Commarin. Also a good place to stop and drink a coffee, beer, cola etcetera – maybe to take ice cream too! This is another place where it’s worth paying a few euros to get a look inside the château and walk the gardens – gardens patrolled by pigs who live to munch on the lawn’s dandelions. There’s a rather green-coloured but full moat surrounding the buildings, though it’s fed from behind by a freshwater stream. And what do you know – another house owned by the de Vogüés! In this case, it’s a different branch of the family, some of whom are still resident. It turns out that this important French surname is used by at least 1,000 de Vogüés today.

I offer an optional next stage for those of you with a burning hunger:

4. Restaurant Côte d’Or in Saulieu
Two Michelin stars, sometimes called Le Relais Bernard Loiseau. You will need to book ahead! I only ate here the once but is was beautifully executed food and with top service. If you do stop for a long lunch you may be calmed by the knowledge that they have rooms – so you have the possibility to continue your journey onwards to Chablis the following day!

5. Flavigny-sur-Ozerain
45 minutes in the car from Saulieu or about the same from Commarin. Flavigny is famous for the small white pastilles/sweets that it produces – principally aniseed but with many other flavourings too. We didn’t visit this year but our experience was ‘different’ on a hot June day in 2022. The ‘sweet factory’ is housed in some old ecclesiastical building and looks quite cool – you can tour the factory for free. First, we wandered around the village; an interesting walk that on this day was spoiled by thousands and thousands of ‘house flies’ sunning themselves on steps and house walls – we soon decided to visit the factory. The factory itself was a good visit with lots to sample and, of course, buy! Given the heat, I was happy to find that they had a cafe – an open place with some trees – but – it was like a killing zone under and around the trees here – dead and dying bees everywhere. I could only assume that they were being poisoned by the strenth of the aniseed smell! You can probably see why we havn’t been back…

6. Abbaye de Fontenay
Of all these stops on the road to Chablis, this is the closest to a must-visit. Not on the scale of Cluny but more complete and so beautifully landscaped that it’s hard to believe that in the early 1900s, this collection of buildings began a new life as a paper factory. Eventually, a Frenchman with far more money than time available to him bought everything and set about restoring all the, by now, blackened buildings. A beautiful, restful, contemplative place. I highly recommend it. The only black mark is that their ‘café’ is simply a room with two vending machines!

You are now already most of the way to Chablis but there’s another worthy visit before you arrive:

7. Noyers-sur-Serein
Like in Chablis, we are in the department of the Yonne here – not the Côte d’Or. This is a wonderful stop to see the beautiful old houses of the village – perhaps one of the best preserved medieval villages in France(?) It’s a place where the summer dreams return 😉 Before the 25 minute drive to Chablis.


Cité des Climats & Vin Bourgogne – Chablis

By billn on May 24, 2023 #degustation#picture gallery#travel pics#travels in burgundy 2023

In the presence of three presidents (no-less!) two from Bureau Interprofessionnel des Vins de Bourgogne – the BIVB’s François Labet and Laurent Delaunay – plus the president of the Association Cité des Climats et Vins de Bourgogne, Benoît de Charette – last week, I had a tour of the soon to open facility in Chablis – one of three such places opening to the public in the next month.

Whilst I’ll reserve judgement on the soon-to-open equivalent building in Mâcon – I’ve yet to see it with my own eyes – this place in the heart of old Chablis seems to be on a very personal scale, fitting well in its surroundings. I’m not the biggest fan of the architecture and scale of what has been built in Beaune but I will reserve my full judgement on that until I’ve seen what’s on the inside – like a bottle of wine – the truth will be on the inside!

This venue in Chablis is (by comparison) compact but full of an almost open-ended opportunity to tour the history – geological and social – of this centre of winemaking – burgundy winemaking. With a small wearable you can choose your language and subject matter as you head down the rabbit-holes of information from the next earpiece – though if your a covid (or germ) -phobic, you may want to take some sanitiser for the earphones that may have cupped a hundred other ears! Released yesterday, there will be ‘programme of cultural events‘ (in all locations) too – so enjoy!

The work on the building’s façade was not quite complete when I visited Chablis but it will be finished before the mid-June official opening!

A few images:

Update on Gevrey’s prime Vin de France…

By billn on May 18, 2023 #travels in burgundy 2023

Hmm - what are those new vines?

It’s a few months ago that the work establishing some new vines became evident – it’s not a big plot, not 500 vines – but the placement is very interesting!

What was once nothing more than parking has now been planted to vine – but it was previously grand cru parking!

From all the vineyard maps that I’ve checked, the plot seems to be within the AOC for Mazoyères-Chambertin and sits just across the road from Latricières-Chambertin. When I last checked and despite a nice new wall, the identity of the proprietor was not obvious but in the last couple of weeks a stone sign has been placed and proclaims the ownership of Domaine JM Guillon.

The problem for this domaine seems to be achieving the necessary authorisation to make burgundy wine – we (they) can forget grand cru for a while – the locals tell me that it’s currently classed as Vin de France – but there won’t be any grapes to harvest until 2026 – so there’s time for it to, maybe, become a Bourgogne – maybe even Bourgogne Côte d’Or!

I assume it’s not just the issue that the land – even if part of the AOC – was never planted, it’s possibly the issue that the land was used, not just, as parking but also as a bit of a(n agricultural) tip…

Monday’s pics…

By billn on May 03, 2023 #travels in burgundy 2023#vintage 2023

Most have the vines in the Côte de Nuits now have some leaves and all of those in the Côte de Beaune do.

Looking at the weather forecast, it’s warmer in the coming nights – it looks like we can forget about frost (thumbs up!)

The Côte de Nuits in the sunshine

By billn on April 28, 2023 #travels in burgundy 2023

Also some pics from last week – before a little rain came this week!

Côte de Beaune in the sun…

By billn on April 24, 2023 #travels in burgundy 2023

Mainly Côte de Beaune pics from the start of last week:

some pics from the côtes this week…

By billn on April 15, 2023 #travels in burgundy 2023

Charles Lachaux's Romanée St.Vivant...
Charles Lachaux's Romanée St.Vivant…

Today, it’s raining in the Côte d’Or – we were luckier earlier in the week:

Beans – with Domaine Bruno Clair

By billn on April 13, 2023 #a bit of science#travels in burgundy 2023

This week (Tuesday) we took a nice walk around Gevrey-Chambertin and Morey St.Denis – 10km – only at the very end did I see some vines with the tell-tale signs of herbicide – a shame – but certainly a better result than in Puligny-Montrachet!

Fava beans in Chambertin Clos de Bèze - Bruno Clair - 2023Much more interesting were a bunch of areas we saw that looked like giant vegetable patches – the vines almost completely obscured by bean plants (right). I ‘guessed’ (actually with the help of Google Lens!) broad beans – and yes it turns out that they are better known in some other places as fava beans – and very aromatic they were too!

In this case, it was a large parcel of vines in Chambertin Clos de Bèze – and the vines belong to Domaine Bruno Clair* – so I asked what they were up to. It was Edouard Clair (brother of Arthur – and son of Bruno & Isabelle) who kindly sent me this answer:

“In the majority, yes, these are fava beans. We also sowed annual clover and rye – rye only in vines that support it.

We are going to roll flat these plant covers over the next weeks – 100% for the legumes and mid-May for the mixtures with rye.

Our objectives are multiple:

– to add organic matter to the soil
– to provide nitrogen thanks to the legumes
– to cover the ground over the winter & spring which makes it possible to minimize and/or delay the growth of weeds
– after rolling, we will try to keep the straw on the ground, which allows it to be “refreshed” in the summer
– to create porosity in the soil thanks to the ‘galleries’ made by the roots – which will remain after the death of these cover-crops (obviously you must not plough the inter-row in the summer)
– from this we hope for some soil decompaction thanks to those roots
– and to stimulate the diversity of aerial fauna – ‘the rhizosphere…’

That’s it for the summary!”

Thank-you Edouard!

*I note that, amongst others, Pierre Vincent of Domaine Leflaive in Puligny is also a big fan of planting beans in the vines!

Burgundy Report

Translate »

You are using an outdated browser. Please update your browser to view this website correctly:;