Entries from August 2008 ↓

French wine tradition

Last holiday in France was a good experience for me, it was the first time I visited it on the road and I appreciated many aspects of that country. The highway isn’t crowded as in Italy and is far away from the main cities, there are many herds grazing on green fields far away from pollution. I also loved cheese, it’s so creamy and tasty! The territory is bigger than Italy and there are countless trees, woods, forests and natural parks. But the main characteristic that I appreciated of France is wine and, above all, the centenary story of it. In fact I realized for the first time how France has an important tradition about wine, wineries and grapes. I understood why the French wines are considered at the top of the world. The reason? Story, territory, climate, restricted rules and high quality of products. The interesting visit at Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin was the confirmation of that, especially when the PR, during the visit, said: “Around 1815 Madame Clicquot sold thousands bottles of champagne in St Petersburg”. Amazing!

Manu in Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin

Holiday in France

Champagne, bubbles and bad hotel / France 2

After about three hours drive from Dijon we finally arrived in Epernay, a small town in the Champagne region, which is obviously famous for its sparkling white wines.
We had made a reservation at Hotel Les Berceaux, located in the center, which had been suggested to us by other Belgian friends as a good place to sleep. But once in front of the hotel, we first thought we had arrived in the wrong place, as from outside the building looked very old and dirty. The entrance hall on the contrary was recently renovated in a quite stylish design, so we thought the rooms would have been renovated accordingly. But we already changed our mind when we squeezed ourselves and our luggage into an old, small and stinky lift. Then we arrived at second floor and to get access to our room we had to pass through a self closing door, into a small passageway where no more than one person at a time could pass (and it acceded also to another room, so when the other guests came out of their room at the same time, it was all like “Oh, sorry, please, you go first…thanks…”). So imagine myself, with luggage in one hand, trying to open the door of the room with the other hand and willing to keep the first door open with a foot… quite a funny view, believe me.
But not as funny as the view of the room and of the bathroom… A ridiculous small bed (Manu had to sleep with his feet outside the blankets!) with absolutely no space around it. The bathroom was small and old, really a shame! There was a small balcony with view on a horrible building and dead flowers in the pots.
Moreover, the employees at the reception where also quite unfriendly (maybe they were simply unhappy to work in a place like that…).
So when we went down and finally met our Belgian friends, we all had to order a glass of Champagne to be able to get over our disappointment (you know, we always find an excuse to drink).
We made a commitment for the future: always double check friend’s suggestions for hotels and restaurants…

Holiday in France

Bourgogne, a charming region / France 1

Our trip through France started (and also ended, eight days after) in Bourgogne, a lovely and beautiful region that fascinated us with the charme of Beaune and its surroundings.
Beaune is a small town but a real jewel with a joyful atmosphere given by the many wine shops and restaurants, but still without being too touristic. The style of the houses is distinguished and discrete, elegant but not severe.

Beaune Bourgogne

Shields with names of wine producers appear everywhere, and when you look in the distance it’s all surrounded by vineyards, so when you walk through Beaune the only thing you really desire is to taste a glass of wine!
When we arrived on August 14th, after settling in our nice room at Hotel Grillon, we went out to visit Beaune, but unfortunately it was raining cats and dogs, so we were not in the mood for a big walk. In fact it was already quite late so we decided that we had no other choice (what a sacrifice!…) than to look for a restaurant…
The one we preferred was full, so we went to another typical French style bistrot where we had a simple and nice dinner with a bottle of red Bourgogne. Emanuele tasted the famous “boeuf bourgignon” but he didn’t really drive crazy for it…
On the next day we woke up with sunny weather, so we could enjoy the surroundings of Beaune, driving for a couple of hours through the astonishing vineyards of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, passing through all those tiny old villages, stopping for a coffee in Nuits-Saint-Georges (which gives the name to many important red burgundy wines). We particularly fell in love with the old village of Aloxe-Corton (surrounded by many prestigious vineyards) and we reserved a room for the week after, for the last night of our trip, at Hotel Villa Louise.
Then we drove to Dijon, the capital of Bourgogne, famous all over the world for its mustard. Also a beautiful town, with a great Palais in the main square and many other historical buildings. Our visit was just a quick walk, as we were expected to meet in Epernay (in Champagne) with our Belgian friends few hours later.

Holiday in France

Holiday in France

We spent our holiday 2008 in France “on the road”. We visited many places in four different regions there: Bourgogne, Champagne, Bretagne and Loire in 9 days.
We left Verona August 14th and our tour step by step was following:

Bourgogne, a charming region:
– Beaune:
– Nuits-Saint-Georges and other surrounding villages
– Dijon

Champagne:
– Epernay, bubbles and bad hotel
– Reims, Mussy, Champagne bubbles

Bretagne:
– Rennes : Rennes and the forest
Forest of Broceliande
– Vannes
– Concarneau
– Audierne: Bretagne, beauty and wildness
– Pointe du Raz , Bretagne wildness and romance
– Douarnenez
– Perros-Guirec
– Pommerit Jaudy et Côte d’Ajoncs
– Paimpol
Saint-Quay-Portrieux
– Laval, a fabulous night

Bourgogne
– Beaune, visit to an historical winery
– Aloxe-Corton

This is the map of our trip:   MAP