Burgundy

World Travel Magazine - - Contents - BY VICKI MOR­RI­SON

Burgundy has had a ro­mance for cen­turies with wine con­nois­seurs and gourmet food lovers, for good rea­son.

“I AM VIVIDLY DRAWN INTO CHILD­HOOD MEM­O­RIES AS THE AROMA OF GINGER­BREAD DRIFTS ALONG THE COB­BLE­STONE STREETS”

“THE SOUNDS OF CHURCH BELLS INTERWEAVE WITH THE AROMA OF FRESHLY BAKED BAGUETTES THAT FLOAT FROM THE COV­ERED MAR­KET”

‘Eat more!’

is my Euro­pean mother’s mantra. So trav­el­ling to Burgundy to dis­cover the best of its culi­nary de­lights seemed a nat­u­ral fit for me. Burgundy has given birth to some of France’s great­est del­i­ca­cies. Cou­pled with whis­per­ing canals and beck­on­ing bike paths, this re­gion is known as one of the most en­tic­ing food and wine trails in the world.

BURGUNDY’S CHAMPS ELYSÉES

The ‘Grands Crus’ tourist route, The Côte de Nuits, is known as Burgundy’s Champs Elysées. In 2015, this fa­mous 20 kilo­me­tre stretch of vine­yards was awarded world her­itage sta­tus by UNESCO, of­fi­cially pro­tect­ing the vine that have graced these hills since the Mid­dle

Ages when the Cis­ter­cian monks planted them. I chose to en­joy my first drop at the start of this route, in Burgundy’s cap­ti­vat­ing cap­i­tal, Di­jon.

The streets of the town are a mix of old and new; beau­ti­fully re­stored his­toric fa­cades that em­brace con­tem­po­rary de­sign in­side. As I wan­der past the half­tim­bered houses down Di­jon’s main street, Rue de la Lib­erte, I look up at the fa­mous glazed roof tiles; each build­ing daz­zles with a sym­phony of colours against the sun’s rays. The sounds of church bells interweave with the smell of freshly baked baguettes that float from the cov­ered mar­ket, Di­jon les Halles, a gourmet’s cor­nu­copia. Seafood that still moves, cheeses that weep, fruit that em­brace their colours so vividly that they seem al­most un­real, deca­dently flow from ta­ble to ta­ble. I fear it’s pos­si­ble to gain weight just from the smell.

TAST­ING TEMP­TA­TIONS

The streets around the mar­ket also offer no weightre­duc­ing re­lief. The culi­nary ge­nius of Mon­sieur Maille lies nearby. His orig­i­nal store, dat­ing back to 1747, still trades in the same place at 32 Rue de la Lib­erté. This fa­mous Di­jon mus­tard once adorned the ta­bles of the Dukes of Burgundy. The only dif­fer­ence now is that I get to try Maille mus­tards in en­tic­ing gourmet flavours in­clud­ing Cognac & White Wine, Di­jon Black­cur­rant Liqueur & White Wine, or Blue Cheese & White Wine. For the eco-friendly mus­tard afi­cionado, you can also buy the best-sell­ing Black Truf­fle and Ch­ablis mus­tard by the pump!

Back out­side, I am vividly drawn into child­hood mem­o­ries as the aroma of ginger­bread drifts along the cob­ble­stone streets, for it is here, in the 14th cen­tury, that this much-loved del­i­cacy was born. Then in 1796, the fa­mous ginger­bread man­u­fac­tur­ers, Mu­lot & Petit­jean,

“THIS FA­MOUS DI­JON MUS­TARD ONCE ADORNED THE TA­BLES OF THE DUKES OF BURGUNDY.”

be­gan, us­ing a recipe dat­ing from the Cru­sades. Af­ter a trip to its store at 13 Place Bos­suet and tast­ing the del­i­cacy Pain d’epice, I exit slightly rounder, yet hap­pier for the ex­pe­ri­ence. There is some­thing about ginger­bread that just makes you smile.

My sweet tooth is de­lighted, but I gen­er­ously award it one more fa­mous Burgundy treat: Anis de Flav­i­gny. These anise-flavoured can­dies are still made in the same monastery used in 1592, in one of France’s most beau­ti­ful vil­lages, Flav­i­gny, the back­drop for the film, Cho­co­lat. But for ease, I head up to the fourth floor of Gal­leries Lafayette in Di­jon (the same fa­mous depart­ment store ad­mired in Paris), to pick up a se­lec­tion to take home.

THE WINE CAVES

I delve un­der­ground to what I hope will be some sal­va­tion from all this temp­ta­tion, but to no avail. In the cav­ernous stone tun­nels of the Cave, or cel­lars, wine tast­ings are of­fered in abun­dance. I unashamedly tasted to my heart’s con­tent, en­cour­aged by en­thu­si­as­tic som­me­liers. As I dis­cov­ered, wine tast­ings are not only of­fered in Di­jon but also in Beaune, the cap­i­tal of Burgundy’s wine re­gion.

Caves Pa­tri­arche Père & Fils, in Beaune, is one of the old­est cel­lars in the re­gion; its owner, Pierre

Cas­tel, one of the rich­est men in France. Un­der­neath his ex­tra­or­di­nary col­lec­tion lies five kilo­me­tres of tun­nels, con­nect­ing all his 35 cel­lars. To taste Premier and Grand Crus wines by can­dle­light, in the dark­ness of this stone cav­ern, was an ex­pe­ri­ence I am glad not to have missed!

Be­une is also home to Burgundy’s no. 1 tourist des­ti­na­tion, the me­dieval hos­pi­tal, Ho­tel Dieu, which glit­ters in the sun and shines equally in­side, laden with an­tiq­ui­ties. It hosts Europe’s largest wine auc­tion each Novem­ber, rais­ing €6 mil­lion each year to sup­port the hospice.

PIC­NIC BY THE CANAL

Back along the Canal du Cen­tre, my lo­cal friend, Véronique, and I pic­nic. A fam­ily cy­cle past on the ded­i­cated bi­cy­cle path that winds around the edges of the canal. The waters along the edge lap gen­tly as a barge slowly moves past, re­flect­ing the me­an­der­ing pace of life found in Burgundy. A group of tourists lounge on its deck and raise their glasses to us as they pass. With my own glass of Pinot Noir in hand, I offer them the best of lo­cal cus­tom; I smile back, raise my glass and salute them.

From top, the sweet al­lure of Les Anis de Flav­i­gny; Sleep in lux­ury at Ab­baye de la Bus­sière; The 15th cen­tury Hos­pices de Beaune; Di­jon’s fa­mous ginger­bread, pain d’epices Op­po­site, from top, the world-renowned wine cel­lars of Marche Aux Vins, Beaune;...

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