Exploring Burgundy, France
Leaving the Black Forest behind us on our European Family Road Trip, the family minibus headed over the border into the Burgundy region of France.
There was great excitement as the road signs announced the fact that we were finally “En Francais”, as we travelled towards Dijon, the capital of Burgundy.
Accommodation near Dijon
Our home for the next four nights was an amazing ecologically friendly Bed and Breakfast seven miles out of Dijon in the quaint village of Ruffey-Les-Echirey . Within very easy access of the main city centre, Ruffey-les-Echirey also seemed a world away from the hustle of modern life. We enjoyed a pleasant few days soaking in some authentic French culture.
It was a very short drive to the tram station, where we were able to “park and ride” into the city centre.
Ame de la Terre is owned by a French local and his German wife, who is fluent in French, German and English.
Phillipe and Simone have successfully combined their historic 19th century villa with a sleek modern B&B, offering comfortable rooms, amazing breakfasts and outstanding hospitality.
We arrived in Ruffey-Les-Echirey at around 6pm, receiving a warm welcome from our hosts. Unfortunately, restaurant options are very limited in this quaint little village.
After a challenging day driving on the wrong side of the road, the last thing my brother in law needed was to drive back into Dijon for dinner.
So we took up the kind offer of our hostess to put together a platter for us. What a spread it was! Local cheeses, pate, terrine, garden salad and fresh French bread all washed down with a local white wine.
A “simple platter” of local produce
Emerging for breakfast on our first morning, we were greeted with a spread of fresh fruit and cheeses, fresh locally baked croissants, our choice of cooked eggs and a selection of Simone’s mouthwatering tarts and pastries, which were available with tea and coffee all day.
Table d’host at Ame de la Terre
If you are fortunate enough to stay at “Ame de la Terre” on a Tuesday evening, Simone’s “Table d’host” is well worth the small additional cost.
Simone prepares a mouthwatering five course feast for guests featuring local produce. Highlights of our menu were home made salmon terrine, Boeuf bourguignon (“It may be hot, but you cant visit Burgundy without tasting real Beef Burgundy,” Simone informed us) freshly made tarts and a selection of local cheeses, all paired with regional wines.
Our fellow guests for the evening were a German couple, visiting for the week to attend French school. This provided some interesting multi lingual dinner conversations – an enriching travel experience one would miss in a larger city hotel.
They possibly spoke less English than we spoke French or German, Simone happily acting as translator. There was also much amusement at the differences in accents between my Singapore based family and ourselves. Ian and I apparently have a distinct “Aussie twang”
Touring the Burgundy region
From Ruffey-les-Echirey we spent three days exploring the wineries, chateaux and museums of the Burgundy region. From ancient cobblestone villages, to the larger cities of Dijon and Beaune.
Simone and Phillipe were always at the ready each morning to give us useful tips for our day’s sightseeing.
We strolled through village markets, sampling the wares of charcuteries, fromageries and patisseries along the way. We tasted real Dijon mustard and, of course, stocked up on Burgundy wines to sustain us on our journeys.
Visiting Chateaux in Burgundy
Many of the chateaux we visited had survived countless wars, rebellions and revolutions over the centuries and a number had been in the same family for some 1000 years.
Each was unique in its own way, many were still lived in and opened to the public to assist with the massive upkeep, while others had been restored as museums or interactive displays.
The only drawback we found was that many of the smaller chateaux did not have an English guide, so we were limited to the printed English leaflets to read through the tour, unfortunately missing much of what would have been interesting commentary.
French village culture
Our stay at Ame de la Terre provided us with an insight into the local village culture, lining up for the pizza van and glace vendor in the adjacent village square.
Admiring the abundant poppies as we strolled past the limestone buildings on cobblestone streets.
Relaxing in the cool of the courtyard after a hot day’s sightseeing, sipping French wine or German beer. Enjoying a quick chat with the villagers who called into the “local bottlo” in the cellar of the B & B.
Listening to the village church bells chime the hour as the villagers of Ruffey-les-Echirey went about their business.
Our last evening we enjoyed celebrating the summer equinox with their local folk music from the town hall echoing through the still summer’s night.
We so thoroughly enjoyed our stay here, it was certainly “Au Reviens”, not “Au Revoir” to our friends in Ruffey-les-Echilrey as the family minibus headed off towards Auxerre at the end of our stay.