Friday, September 25, 2015

France Trip Part 2 - Burgundy Region

Ok, I need to keep posting about this trip before I start forgetting details!  Although to be honest, posting about it 2 months after the fact does help the memories come streaming back pretty readily and it's like reliving the whole trip again!  So we left off with K and I catching the train to Dijon, France, home of mustard (and yes, we did buy some while we were there!)  The train ride itself was an adventure because apparently there were 2 trains leaving from Lyon heading to Paris at the exact same time.  One train was a direct trip to the city of lights (not the train we wanted), while the other made stops along the way, one of which was in Dijon (the train we wanted, but not the train we got on...).  So yea, we were directed to the wrong train in Lyon and made the trip over half way to Paris before we realized that according to the schedule we should have gotten off in Dijon 20 minutes before.  Luckily K speaks French and was able to explain our situation when we arrived at the Paris train station and they put us back on another train headed to Dijon.  Whoops!
So we finally made it to Dijon, got a taxi to our airbnb apartment and then headed back out for a quick dinner before all of the restaurants closed (since it was a Sunday night, our options were limited anyway).  I was feeling kind of cruddy at this point, and it had been a long day of travel, so we went to bed early.  The following day we explored the city of Dijon, and it was delightful!
Our first stop in Dijon was the post office (we accidentally forgot to leave the key for our Lyon apartment in said apartment and needed to mail it back), which was an adventure itself as the post office was definitely off the beaten path (and of course closed for lunch when we got there).  So we spent some time in a nearby garden until it reopened and got that taken care of.  On our way back into town we stopped off at Maille, a famous Dijon mustard shop and stocked up on the local specialty!

In Dijon there exists this self-guided tour system called the Owl Trail.  There are these adorable little owl-adorned brass triangles inlaid in the sidewalks throughout the city and a printed tour guide that is available for sale a the tourist center that points out all of the notable landmarks along the Owl Trail.  So K and I figured the guide was worth the small investment and we spent most of the rest of our day following the trail throughout the entire city, stopping to eat or shop when the whim hit us.  After a somewhat early dinner we met up with an official tour guide for a guided architectural night tour!

Amazingly, most of the stops were different than those we saw on our self-guided Owl Trail tour and the back stories on the city gave us some wonderful insights!  After the tour we headed back to our apartment and packed our things up as we were headed out again the following day.

The following day (Tuesday) was our vineyard and Burgundy exploration day!  We caught the train back to the bus station and rented a car so we could meander our way through wine country.  Our first stop was the most picturesque little cottage/winemaker nestled into a hillside of vineyards, but unfortunately they only accept people who have made reservations with them in advance (the downside to our random exploration approach).  So we pulled up another vineyard and found ourselves in a mansion with the most incredible roof (a hallmark of the Burgundy area)!  There we tasted about 6 wines (I naturally fell in love with a $60 bottle, but couldn't convince myself to buy it) and explored the wine cellar before we hit the road again for Beaune.

Beaune is a quaint little town that was recommended to us by a number of our friends in Lyon.  It's notable features are once again the amazing colored roof designs that are common in the area.  There were also a number of vineyards, wine shops, restaurants, and retail shops lining the very narrow streets (parallel parking was quite a feat!).  The first picture above from Beaune is definitely nerdy of us... Se-boar-a.  Get it?  Yeah, Nerdy....

From Beaune we drove for a little while to the town of Auxerre, a beautiful, hilly city along a river with some beautiful churches.  We chose to just meander the streets here down to the river and enjoy the view.  Clouds were rolling in, but we never actually got rained on, they just gave the city this quiet, moody atmosphere.  After we left Auxerre we drove to the town of Vernon and our airbnb rental for the night.  Vernon is just west of Paris, which is where my next blog post will pick up.

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