We left Gare de Lyoñ at 730am for our train ride to Beaune, Burgundy. Arriving just before 10am,the first stop was to pick up bikes which we had booked for two days. However we were told we only had a booking for the next day. That was OK cos it was kind of chilly. Next stop was to the hotel where we also had a reservation - an old house run by an old lady who had old saggy beds in all the rooms. We hadn't actually paid a deposit or given a credit card so later on we moved to a hotel close by the train station where the beds were much better - the fact that the radiators in the room were on should have warned us about the weather
Beaune is the centre of wine production in burgundy and everywhere you turn in the old city, it is all about wine sales, wine tastings ( some free, some not so free) and expensive clothes. A market was taking place in one of the squares and we bought some cheese and dried sausages then found a boulangerie ( bread shop) where we got a baguette and a small
pot of locally made Dijon mustard. Lunch was eaten on a nearby bench. The mustard was the BEST - of course this is the mustard capital with Dijon being an 18 minute train ride away. And the cheese we bought didn't have to be refrigerated so it will last us a few days. After eating we continued on a walking exploration of the old town - including the ramparts ( stone walls) that surround the maze of narrow cobbled streets.
Everything shuts for a couple of hours in the middle of the day and at 230pm we were on the hunt for a wine tasting. We eventually settled on Patriarche, a wine merchant since 1780. The "tour" consisted of a series of interactive videos that lead us through some of the 5km of vaulted underground galleries ( caves) that housed millions of bottles of wine. At the end of the tour was a series of 3 white and 6 reds for " self service" sampling that were set up in underground rooms. The whites definitely won which is good for me. The whole thing was meant to take an hour or so but we started chatting to two American
couples and 2 hours later we were finally through.
Finding somewhere affordable to eat was a bit of a challenge - despite the large number of restaurants, we couldn't find any where we wouldn't go broke, until we discovered Dame Tartine. They offered 3 course meals for 12 euro and 4 course menus for 13 euros and up - each item selection was different according to how much you wanted to pay. We both started with warm goat cheese with salad and mustard dressing, followed by pork fricassee with mustard then a cheese plate. Kelly paid a euro more than me and had dessert as well. And we had two half bottles of local Chardonnay - 2 half bottles are cheaper than one full bottle. I think we will be back tomorrow night.
It rained overnight and was overcast the next morning when we picked up our rental bikes. Armed with a map of Beaune ( so we could find the bike route) and a hand drawn description of the villages,restaurants and wine tasting on our route, we set off. The forecast was for overcast in the morning with rain starting in the afternoon. Unfortunately the forecast was
wrong.The well signposted bike path from Beaune to Santenay.is 22 kms in length and passes through the villages of Pommard, Volnay, Meursault, Poligny, Chassagne and finally Santenay. The narrow paved road is shared by the vineyard vehicles and we were surprised at how many workers were in the fields - cutting weeds, attending to the vines. Lots of red poppies were growing along the roadside while the flower of choice in the villages appeared to be huge irises. The rain sure didn't make us want to stop anywhere for wine tasting ( it was still morning anyway) but we stopped for our first espresso in Meursault and the second one in Santenay. The only thing that spoiled the coffee in Santenay was watching two fellows eating steak tartare- RAW ground beef. It had stopped raining about 1/2 way through the ride and it didn't take long to dry out. At least we were warm because of cycling rolling hills - and wearing our kiwi possum gloves. We ate our lunch of dried sausage, cheese and mustard on a stone wall alongside the road.
Leaving Santenay we headed for Chagny ( where we could catch a train back to Beaune
) on the bike path alongside the Canal du Centre. There were a number of live aboard barges moored along the banks.Once at the train station, we had to get our bikes down and up two flights of stairs to platform #2 - we had already decided that France is not very accessible to handicapped people - elevators???? Pretty much non existent. maybe that is why we were continually being asked to sign petitions in Paris - something about disabled people. The owners of Bourgogne Randonnes ( bike rental) had given us a couple of free train tickets but as no one ever asked us for them, we gave them back.
Back in town, we first headed to the Edmond Fallot mustard factory where we did some tasting and bought more small jars of yummy mustard for our picnic lunches ( Dijon, Bourgogne and Basil) and then did a load of laundry ( our backs were filthy from the mud and water splashing up from the bike ride) before heading off for dinner.
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