Friday, May 27, 2011

Two Days in Burgundy

So, Mother’s Day weekend rolls around and I’m pouting and mopey because my children are 5,000 miles away and Mr. Big is not about to bring me pancakes in bed.  Not because he’s not a nice person, but because there’s no such thing as Bisquick in Switzerland and he wouldn’t have the first clue how to make pancakes from scratch.

To console myself, I plan a last-minute trip over the Jura mountains into France to the region called Bourgogne, which is known as Burgundy, in English.  I book a room at Le Cep in the village of Beaune (pronounced Bonne) over the internet.  While searching for a hotel online, I stumble on a page called  It turns out to be a British company that gives wine tours to vineyards that tourists don’t normally visit.  Here’s the website:

Ah, I think.  What fun!  Plus, it fits neatly in with my ultimate plans to retire on a vineyard in France.  I can use this tour to subtly begin steering Mr. Big in that direction, as in, “look, Mr. Big, how cool is this vineyard and don’t you want one, too?”  I exchange a few emails with the lady from burgundyonaplate, Susan, and, voila, we are slotted in to her all-day tour on Saturday.  Which begins at 9:30 a.m.  On or about the time when, I’m sure, my beloved had anticipated waking up in Lausanne, having a large quantity of coffee and mentally preparing himself for the 2.5 hour drive to Burgundy.

Oh, dear me.  Remember, this is spur-of-the-moment stuff going on here so it is already Thursday.  You know, there really is no easy way to tell some poor guy who has been away on business all week that, once he arrives home Friday night, he has about six hours of downtime to get over his jet lag before his wife will be dragging his ass out of bed at 5:30 on a Saturday morning, putting him behind a wheel and making him drive to another country so they can begin drinking wine at 9:30 in the morning.  No easy way.

Of course, I feel no qualms about bringing out the big gun, i.e. The Guilt Card, as in the I Am Not With My Children on Mother’s Day Because You Work In Switzerland Card.  Well, maybe a small qualm, but, whatever.  It worked.  And, since we were under such strict time limits, I did let him drive all the way there on the freeway, just like the Garmin lady recommended.  He was fine, really.  Y’all stop worrying about Mr. Big.

We zoom into Beaune at 9:20, which is impossibly quaint, as is the hotel, but there’s no time to explore because Susan has arrived in her mini-van and she is Ready To Go.  We stop at another hotel to pick up the other couple who are joining us.  They are not outside waiting so Susan goes to find them.  Apparently, they are still in bed!  This does not bode well for Susan’s tight schedule so she takes the bull by the horns, rouses the proprietor who rouses the couple who take the world’s fastest showers and arrive at the minivan 30 minutes late.

Meanwhile, all Mr. Big can think about is how he was SOOOO gypped out of 30 minutes of extra sleep time.  Luckily, the young couple from Adelaide, Australia, (Eye-de-lide, mate), were so cute and their backstory was so intriguing, Mr. Big quickly forgot about holding a grudge over his lost sleep opportunity.  Even after almost three years here, Mr. Big is still flabbergasted at people who go on holiday for five weeks or more.  Ozzie Couple was on a Euro-tour for seven weeks.  I could just hear the words being screamed inside my husband’s brain, HOW DO YOU LEAVE YOUR JOBS FOR SEVEN WEEKS AND STILL HAVE JOBS TO RETURN TO?  HOW?  HOW?  HOW?  HOW DOES YOUR COMPANY NOT CRUMBLE?  HOW DOES THE WORLD GO ON SPINNING?  Etc., etc., etc.

Fortunately, he bit his tongue and our little tour group went on its’ merry way.  First stop was a vineyard in Rully.  The great thing about having a tour guide was that Susan has a close relationship with the vintners that she brings clients to see, so we got an in-depth and personalized tour of places that we never would have found on our own.  I was thrilled to see Mr. Big asking a lot of questions.  I was not so thrilled that one of the questions was, “Monsieur, if you had it to do over again, would you own a vineyard?”  I was even less thrilled when the answer was, “No way in hell.  Would you like to buy this one?”

Susan was driving, so she was only allowed to swirl and spit, but the rest of us were swallowing, so by 11 a.m. we were having a good ol’ time and were all BFFs.  Turns out Susan had quite the interesting backstory, as well.  Apparently, she lives on a houseboat on the River Saone (rhymes with Bonne) which she drove? floated? over from England many moons ago when she fell in love with Burgundy on holiday.  Her tour business is very popular and she has registered the domain name “” so I guess she will be setting sail over to Provence some time in the future.  Cool life, huh?

Anyway, this post is already too long and I haven’t even gotten to lunch, yet.  (Coq au Vin in a village called Volnay).  I’ll attach the link to the photo album from Bourgogne, Day One, here:
Bottom line, if you don’t feel like dealing with the hordes of tourists overrunning Provence and want the same kind of experience, go to Burgundy.  All of the villages are very close together so you could bring or rent bicycles and just tool around sipping wine and eating your way through any number of completely charming, medieval villages.  Heaven, really.


  1. When we stayed in Beaune, we also stayed at Le Cep. We really enjoyed it! Hope you enjoyed that little town. Oh and you probably missed it, but they have an excellent market there on Saturdays. Thanks for sharing the tour info!

  2. And this is how, after reading this, I booked the 11-13th June weekend for us in Dijon. Thanks so much for the inspiration!