It is no wonder why one of the counties in France’s Burgundy region is known as the Côte d’Or. During our July sojourn in France’s ‘Golden Hills,’ the fields were ablaze with vibrant tournesols (sunflowers), freshly-groomed wheat, and vineyards — where still-maturing grapes glistened with dew.
In the villages of Burgundy, sand-colored stone homes were accented with shutters painted in hues of Williamsburg blue, deep ivy green, and terracotta. Delicate geraniums overflowed from window boxes, while tantalizing aromas — like toasted baguettes, boeuf bourguignon and a Dijon vinaigrette — swirled down the streets. In cafés and restaurants, blond Chardonnay flooded glasses. The scintillating wine seemed tailor-made for such balmy Burgundian summer evenings.
From the weathered buildings, friendly faces and people with lively personalities emerged. Periodically, vintage Citroëns rolled onto the scene, creating circa 1940 vignettes that were quintessentially French. One such classic voiture even ushered in a serendipitous moment that would be one of the highlights of our time in Burgundy.
One glorious afternoon, my husband, Shawn, and I turned onto a back road seemingly forgotten. As it was Sunday, most of the village’s homes and shops were shuttered and quiet. A few children kicked about a soccer ball under the protective shade of graceful, old sycamore trees. Near a small town square, there was a statue erected to honor France’s sons who were lost during the past century’s world wars. I hopped out of our car to play shutterbug before a rustic home with windows that were wide open. A cream-colored Citroën stood guard.
Out of nowhere appeared Régis, a gregarious Frenchman who was happy to share travel tips with us. He mentioned that the subject of my photograph was his ancestral home – a somewhat-dilapidated structure formerly belonging to a vintner. The home was more than 700 years-old. The clumsy old Citroën was also his.
“Voulez-vous partager une bouteille du vin de 1982?” he asked.
“Mais oui!” we exclaimed. It was difficult to decline such a generous offer to share the wine. And so it was that we were welcomed into the home that Régis and his son dreamed of restoring.
Wishing to reciprocate the hospitality that he’d been extended in past times while traveling through Africa and the United States, the agricultural engineer dusted off the 1982 Cabernet, removed its steadfast cork and unveiled a ruby red stream. As we later inched up chatty wooden stairs and ceramic-tiled hallways with glasses in hand, Régis proceeded to share tales from his life in La Réunion, where he spends most of his days. He showed us a creaky, old, wooden beam resting precariously on a disintegrating stone in the attic.
“I have nightmares,” he explained, “that someday that rock might crumble.” If it were to do so, the home’s terracotta roof would crash.
As the wine flowed, Régis mischievously led us to a hiding place in the garage’s brick wall, not far from where a dismembered Citroën stood. It was there, he explained, that he found a cartridge of 10 mm bullets. He explained that the home had been taken over by the German military in World War II. Items were broken by the German soldiers, who had also consumed much of the family’s wine. The village’s mayor would later pass on reparations in the form of a check, but the bullets would remain hidden in the wall until Régis uncovered them decades later.
As we meandered through rooms seemingly forgotten for centuries, Régis explained that the wine had been destined for the United States two and a half decades earlier. For whatever reason, it did not make it across the Atlantic to the country France helped achieve its independence.
It only seemed fitting, then, that the 1982 Cabernet would later be shared with two Americans, a day before Independence Day, under the golden Burgundian sun.
Where in the World?
- While in Burgundy, Shawn and I spent the bulk of our time in the pretty city of Beaune (admiring the Hospices de Beaune, the town’s celebrated medieval hospital that is crowned with a gorgeous tiled roof). We also briefly explored the villages of Meursault and Puligny-Montrachet. For more information about the region, see the official tourism site of Burgundy.
- In 2022, we returned to the Burgundy area. We spent three nights at a wonderful apartment in Beaune called Au Coin des Hospices (affiliate link). This stylish and comfortable apartment is located about two minutes away (on foot) from the Hospices de Beaune. You’re also in a prime location for accessing Beaune’s restaurants, cafés, and shops. Our apartment was situated on the top floor of an older building, meaning that it was very quiet. Note, however, that there were several flights of stairs and no elevator. The apartment was incredibly clean, and the self check-in by lockbox was convenient. The kitchen had a microwave, refrigerator, and stovetop, and the walk-in shower had a glass door to contain the water. (Fully contained shower cabins are sometimes a rarity in French bathrooms, which often have half- glass panels instead.)
Photography & text © Tricia A. Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.
17 thoughts on “Golden Moments in Burgundy, France”
Beautiful, Trish! Thanks for sharing.
Thanks, Laurie… If you haven’t yet tiptoed to this corner of Europe, I highly recommend it! On a side note, hoping to make it to your class one of these days!
Absolutely speechlessly fantastic!!
Dawn and Bart, I’m not sure how your generous comment ever got lost in a black hole for so long. Thank you for the kind words! :)
A pleasure to meet Monsieur Regis…Thank you for sharing. BTW, Love your Sunflower Concerto! Mag :)
Gracias, Mag. Regis’ home was reminiscent of ‘Under the Tuscan Sun.’ What a memorable afternoon it was there in his courtyard! Shawn was the photographer extraordinaire as I made that conducting debut later that evening. :) I’m glad he embraced my zeal for those golden fields of happy blooms!
I would love to work for your new travel company. ; -) Let me know when you have any openings… <3
You should have done this years ago; you never cease to amaze me.
I adore you. Missing our long talks o the phone. Love you!
I’ll keep you posted, Laura! I also wish I would’ve started sooner – I have many travel journals filled with lots of scribbles from throughout the years, but just hadn’t discovered WordPress. Let’s talk soon! xo, Trish.
Lovely! Sumptuous image after sumptuous image!
Merci! Do you have a favorite ‘wine country’ destination in Europe or beyond? We so loved this trip to Burgundy last summer; Bordeaux and Napa are next on my list.
Thanks for the share.I could see Europe through your eyes…until I plan a trip to continent… You have informed about the fundamental details through this post and the lively photographs
Pleased to hear that the post transported you to the lovely, golden hills of Burgundy!
Beautiful Tricia. I think Burgundy may be my favourite part of France. You have reminded me why!
Melinda, thank you for your kind comment. This stranger’s kindness made our spontaneous 3-day visit to Burgundy special! Next time, I’d like to devote more time to just strolling in the villages and countryside.
Hi! I’m currently on vacation in Burgundy and searching for a sunflower field like the one you have in your photos! Any chance you remember what town/where you found that field? Thank you so much!!
Bonjour Sadhana, I hope that you’re having a lovely time in Burgundy. I am currently in Provence. Since we’ll be going to see the lavender fields in the next few days, I can relate to your sunflower search. :)
I’m sorry, but I don’t remember where I took these photos. They were taken with a camera without any kind of location data so there’s no way to reference the location. I do know, however, that I took them during the first week of July, so hopefully there will be sunflowers in bloom there now. I wonder if someone at a local tourist office might be able to point you to some sunflower-filled fields? Enjoy the rest of your trip!