When we travelled to south west France to visit Chateau Sainte-Sabine, we knew very little about how we would spend our time in Burgundy. The region is well known for its vineyards, but none were near enough to visit without a car. The town of Sainte-Sabine itself is a less a town and more a cluster of houses near a highway. There are no businesses in town aside from the castle hotel. But we don’t give up easily.
We arrived in Burgundy in the rain, but the skies cleared just in time for us to wander to the nearest town, Chateauneuf-en-Auxois, for dinner. Admittedly, the walk, which was all uphill, was more of a hike than a wander. It was worth the effort. Delicious regional specialities, like kir, sparkling wine mixed with cassis syrup, and beef bourguignon, a hearty stew, awaited us at local restaurant L’Auberge du Moissonier. All the town animals seemed to be waiting for us, too – the town is so small that pets wandered the streets freely. The tabby cat in the photo above was head of the local welcoming committee.
We had the next day free to do as we pleased. And we spent most of it walking. First, we ambled down the road to Vendenesse. The local cafe was about to serve lunch; the place was packed. After a cup of coffee, we continued on our way. We were accompanied by cows for most of our walks. The path we took passed field after field and the cows, unaccustomed to seeing people, followed along with us as if we were herding them. At one point, we reached a fence; the herd was baffled that they couldn’t follow us further. We were sorry to leave them behind, to be honest.
Animals aside, the other highlight of our visit to Burgundy was a hilarious one. We couldn’t visit a vineyard, which we would have liked to do. But walking along the highway, we noticed a farm with a sign up saying they sold wine. And so Ian knocked on the door. He met a farmer’s wife, who led him into their kitchen and proceeded to sell him six different bottles of local wine for only nineteen euros. Wine is my favourite kind of souvenir, so I didn’t complain.
It’s hard to say if we will visit Burgundy again. We have many regions of France still to visit and life is short. It really is the perfect place for a quiet vacation – quiet vacations are the antithesis of our usual travels, but sometimes, that’s just the way it should be. And if you love wine and charming old houses and have a soft spot for animals, you won’t want to miss visiting the area yourself.