Living France - - DESTINATION -

On see­ing Lasse Hall­ström’s film Cho­co­lat, the temp­ta­tion to move to Flavigny-surOz­erain in north­ern Bur­gundy is hard to re­sist. Set in the Côte-d’Or vil­lage, the 2000 film is cred­ited with bring­ing Flavigny-surOz­erain’s sweet char­ac­ter to the world’s at­ten­tion with its story about a woman, played by Juli­ette Binoche, who opens a choco­late shop dur­ing Lent. How­ever, the plus beau vil­lage was well known for its sweet tooth long be­fore Hol­ly­wood came knock­ing.

Home to France’s old­est brand name in con­fec­tionery, Les Anis de Flavigny, the an­cient vil­lage is scented with the aroma of orange blos­som, rose petals and liquorice; fra­grances used to flavour the can­dies. The sweets’ recipe has re­mained un­changed since the 16th cen­tury and you can get an in­sight into how they are made at the an­cient Ab­baye St-Pierre, the only place where the sweets are made.

But Les Anis de Flavigny sweets are not the only thing to stand the test of time in the vil­lage; lo­cal res­i­dents take great pride in pre­serv­ing its his­toric fea­tures and its me­dieval for­ti­fi­ca­tions in­clud­ing the Portes du Val. Pass­ing through one of the stone gate­ways is an en­chanted way to en­ter the vil­lage. In­side, the an­cient ram­parts pro­vide an idyl­lic walk­way that af­fords spec­tac­u­lar views of the Aux­ois hills and vine­yards be­low. If you choose, a walk through the Flavigny-Alésia vine­yard comes to a per­fect end with a tast­ing of its lo­cal wines.

It is the sur­round­ing coun­try­side that makes liv­ing in this part of Bur­gundy so spe­cial to Louise Dean who bought a prop­erty in the area five years ago. “The sur­round­ing coun­try­side and rolling hills are quite idyl­lic,” Louise says. “It’s so peace­ful and re­lax­ing and it’s a very unique place to live,” she says.

Louise dis­cov­ered the area after work­ing on the Cho­co­lat film as a chauf­feur, and says that she hasn’t looked back since. “I de­cided (after hav­ing worked on Cho­co­lat) that I would like to pur­chase a prop­erty in the area,” she ex­plains. “I am now the owner of prob­a­bly the small­est house in the vil­lage; a square tower that has been com­pletely re­stored.”

Walk around and you’ll find lots of prop­er­ties with charm­ing char­ac­ter. The nar­row streets wind past me­dieval and Re­nais­sance build­ings and tur­reted homes hous­ing some of the vil­lage’s 338 in­hab­i­tants. And along its cob­ble­stone lanes, you’ll find small, tra­di­tional busi­nesses: tan­ners, millers, pot­ters, weavers and wine­mak­ers to name a few. In ad­di­tion, there are a few art gal­leries and craft shops along Rue La­cor­daire.

Just like in the film, the vil­lage is rooted in tra­di­tion; res­i­dents buy from the lo­cal shop, eat at the vil­lage bistros and attend the vil­lage church. And in the quiet of the morn­ing, you may hear the chants from the nearby Monastère St-Joseph. A sound­track here for hun­dreds of years, this charm­ing tra­di­tion looks set to con­tinue un­changed, much like the vil­lage it­self.

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