Saturday, January 22, 2011

Wednesday & Thursday, January 19-29, 2011--Hello Burgundy

Early Wednesday morning we headed off for our second trip outside paris for one night in Dijon, down in the heart of Burgundy.  Like Strasbourg it is a small city (smaller than Strasbourg) but also very charming.  We wandered through the city center, managed to get lost (this time not hopelessly), and were helped by another solicitous, elderly gentleman.

Our room at the hotel was not ready, so we had four hours to kill, which we did by wandering throughout the town.  First stop was the old city quarter where we found the beautiful Hotel du Vogue (notice the brightly colored  roof tiles--a sign we learn of opulence a couple centuries ago) and the Notre Dame Dijon cathedral.  This is another magisterial edifice with gothic architecture.

Hotel du Vogue

Notre Dame Dijon

From there we wandered without real direction but found the beautiful post office, a couple more churches, and some very distinctive looking buildings.We headed back to the hotel and had a wonderful lunch at a little place, Le Crepe Triskell, where we ate, what else, crepes.  We then checked in, took a brief rest, and headed back out to buy wine for Mary's birthday and find a decent restaurant.  We also wandered over in to a far corner of the city to see Dijon's version of Les Halles (this building designed by Gustave Eiffel, yes, the one and only), two more historical churches--St Philibert and St Benigne--and then wandered by some of the university buildings.  With only 20 minutes left, we visited the Museum of Beaux Arts, and then headed back to our room.  Alas no dinner; when we finally headed out a again, the city had rolled up the carpets and gone to bed.

Dijon PO

old town Dijon

Hotel de Ville Dijon

Dijon Les Halles

Palais des Ducs et des Etats de Bourgogne

Cafe Le Treskell

The next morning our driver, Nicolas, arrived to take us on a tour of the wine country.  It was a wonderful, incredibly informative excursion.  We learned how to read French wine labels, about varying methods of wine production, about government regulations, and the fact that Burgundy is not a blend (like Bordeaux) but either Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

We stopped at two wineries and tasted some wonderful Pinots and Chards.  We were also allowed into some two hundred year old cellar that, though small, was amazing for its mold (we were informed this was good) and again bottles (some dating back to the thirties and beyond).

On the drive back to town  we talked to Nicolas about dealing with tourists and he said often Americans ask him why the French hate Americans.  He was truly puzzled and asserted the French do not hate, but rather like the Americans, even, he claimed, our dreadful accents!

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