Dijon is to mustard what Wellington is to boots. And tough-as-old boots is what the beef was like that went into the first Boeuf Bourguignon. Faced with an inedible lump of 95% beef gristle, an enterprising Burgundy chef decided to cook it very slowly in red wine until it was really sorry. After 3 days in the pot, the lump of gristle relented. This contingency recipe for intractable steak was adopted and made famous by France’s celebrity chef, the Delia of Dijon, Auguste Escoffier. Escoffier, the Nigella of Nîmes (I could go on), also created the Peach Melba in honour of the Australian soprano Dame Nellie Peach. Escoffier’s last job was at the London Carlton, where one of his pastry students was the future Vietnamese revolutionary leader Ho Chi Minh (the Sophie Grigson of Saigon).
Which bring us on to Gustave Eiffel, who built the General Post Office in Ho Chi Minh City. Gustave was born in Dijon. His family name was not originally Eiffel, but one of Gustave’s ancestors changed it to Eiffel because he was fed up with the French mispronouncing his real name – Bönickhausen. Inseparable from his Meccano from an early age, Gustave went on to build a tower in Paris, the railway station in Santiago and the gas works in La Paz, Bolivia. He also provided the internal structure for New York’s Statue of Liberty. You can read about the oedipal inspiration behind the Statue of Liberty in our guide to Alsace.
Also born in Dijon was the sculptor François Rude, creator of “Napoleon Awakening to Immortality”, “Neapolitain Fisher Boy Playing with a Tortoise” and “Mercury fastening his Sandals”. Rude, the Tracy Emin of Trouville, sadly died in 1855 before he could finish either “Immortal Napoleon Realising He’s Left His Wallet Behind” or “Same Neapolitain Boy Discovering that Tortoises are Really Boring During the Winter Months”. No trip to Dijon is complete without a visit to the The Rude Museum.
Burgundy wines have been described as “varied”, “complex”, “human” (?) and “sophisticatedly homely” (like Armani dishcloths or Rolls-Royce slippers). You should, however, beware spending more than half the value of your house on a bottle of Bourgogne Grand Cru. The most expensive Burgundy wines have also been described as “Veblen goods” after the Norwegian economist Thorstein Veblen. Veblen identified the phenomenon of “status symbol” goods and pointed out that a nice pair of £9.99 slippers from BHS will keep your feet just as warm.
Auxerre is home to Chablis Grand Cru ©, a bottle of which will set you back about £50. (Somerfield, by comparison, do a very nice Frascati for £3.29, which will get you just as drunk). Auxerre is twinned with Redditch. In 1995 Auxerre was named “Town of Art and History”, whilst in 2007 Redditch was named “Town of Jacqui Smith”. Auxerre is also famous for a bishop and an actress. Bishop Helladius, no slouch with a pair of scissors, performed the first recorded tonsure on St Amator, creating the classic “monk look” which remains popular today. Amongst monks. Auxerre-born Carol Ficatier, meanwhile, was Playboy’s Playmate of the Month in December 1985.
© 2008 richardheacock @ mac.com
Burgundy is one of France’s largest regions Burgundy is located to the North and East of central France. Flanked on the East by Franche-Comte, and with Auvergne and Rhone-Alpes to the south. The Centre region lies to the West, and Ile-de-France and Champagne-Ardennes regions on its northern borders. The departments in the region are Yonne, Côte-d’Or, Nièvre and Saône-et-Loire.
The Burgundy landscape is a wine lover’s paradise with rolling landscapes of vineyards stretching for miles. The landscapes vary from wooded and open country-side, criss-crossed with the world famous vineyards of the Cote d’Or, plus lush agriculture fields and gentle green meadows.
The Canal of Burgundy joins the Rivers Yonne and Saône, allowing barges to navigate from the north to south of France through the Burgundy countryside.
There is the intoxicating “Routes des Grand Crus” traversing Chablis, Cote d’Or, Beajolais and Macon for wine lovers.
So beyond wine, coq au vin, dijon mustard and beef bourguignon – what else does Burgundy have to offer?
There are magnificent cathedrals to view, including the spired Cathedrale St. Benigne in Dijon, as well as Cluny’s Benedictine Abbey, once the largest Christian building in the Western world. Dijon is a splendid city – see below.
Beaune is a tourist trap but the architecture and ornate tiled roofs are well worth a visit and dare we mention it – more wine cellars!
In the south of Burgundy there are beautiful natural resources to enjoy like Touroparc with its 120 distinct animal species, the Eden Nature Discovery Centre, the Combes Tourist Park and the European Gallery of Forestry and Wood Industry.
The summer months are warm and dry, with rainfall averaging miserly 6 cm per month in July and August. During Spring and Autumn, the climate is similar to that of the South-eastern tip of England with a mixture of sun and scattered showers with temperatures in the mid 20’s. Morning and nights can be cold in winter.
Paris Charles de Gaulle / Orly – then train or car into the Burgundy region
Visitors from other parts of the world may wish to fly to Paris, Lyon or Geneva from where they can hire a car or take a train and then hire a car.
From Paris Gare de Lyon, the train journey to Cosne Cours sur Loire takes about 2 hours.
There is a good network of autoroutes from Calais – one route via Paris and the other that travels to the east of Paris.
1.6 million inhabitants.
Dijon is the Capital of the region, where the former Palace of the Dukes of Burgundy, contains one of the finest medieval art museums in France. Delve into golden past at the Amora Maille Museum (Musée Amora), or sample the varieties on tap at the Maille boutique.
Chalon-sur-Saône is situated on the River Saône, and is a port and busy industrial centre. There are many their festivals such as the carnival in March with its parade of giant masks or later in July the national festival of street artists, and then in October there is the film festival.
Nevers is a small provincial city on the rivers Loire and Nièvre. It is krenowned for its nougat and fine porcelain. There are many old buildings in the “old town” dating back to the C12th.
Beaune – well worth a visit (see above)!
Rural properties are still relatively cheap particularly around the National Parks but prices do rise steeply in the major towns of the region.
Apartments: 100,000 – 250,000 euros
Farmhouses: 150,000 euros (renovated)
Townhouses: 200,000 + euros (in major towns)
Villas: 200,000 + euros
Land: from 10 euros per sq. m
Burgundy Property SelectionListed below are the departments in the region of Burgundy; the number of properties in each department are denoted in brackets - click on a department to see the properties available.
All the properties in Burgundy by department.
(Number in brackets = number of properties)
Nievre Property (9)
Saône et Loire Property (2)
Yonne Property (5)