• France edition
 
My France - Burgundy
'Burgundy is about much more than just wine'
Tracey Thurling with an ouvrier (worker) from one of Burgundy's famous vineyard's on horseback behind her. Photo: Tracey Thurling

'Burgundy is about much more than just wine'

Published: 15 Feb 2013 15:11 GMT+01:00
Updated: 15 Feb 2013 15:11 GMT+01:00

How did you end up living in Burgundy?

I first worked in Burgundy back in 1991 on board a hotel barge. Since then I have worked all over France, including other parts of Burgundy but kept coming back here to work. When I met my husband we moved to Chamonix where the children were born but moved back here six years ago to raise our family.

What's so special about Burgundy that kept bringing you back?

I just really love the area and I would not be able to afford my wine habit back in the UK. I love the countryside. It really is super rural here. You can drive for miles without passing through a village and people live in the villages here. There's also the history of Burgundy and the fact there is so much to do here, all the old castles and the museums etc.

You live in the town of Beaune, where do you always take your visitors?

We would always go to the Hospices de Beaune, a 15th century charity hospital that was used as the town's main hospital until 1971.  It was built as a magnificent palace for the poor, supported by donations from the wealthy. These donations included vineyards and today Les Hospices is one of the major landowners of the region, owning 61 hectares of Burgundy’s finest vineyards. 

And what about the rest of the region?

If I were to choose from the whole of Burgundy and the Franche Comte it would be the Citadel of Besançon, fortified by Vauban in the 17th century.  A UNESCO World Heritage site, it not only has well-preserved fortifications but houses a museum to the French Resistance and Deportation, a local history museum, a natural history museum and a zoo. Another favourite family attraction is the medieval chateau of Guédelon they are building in the Yonne, using traditional methods and materials. It is great to visit as each year they have built a little more and added something different.

Which Burgundy wine do you always recommend to people?

It's impossible to choose a favourite. The wine of Burgundy is so varied and never constant, each tiny parcel of vines has a different taste to discover.  Because the parcels also have different owners, the way the winegrower makes the wine influences the taste. Then each vintage is different depending on the weather.  A typical aperitif of Burgundy is a ‘kir’ named after Canon Kir of Dijon, hero of the resistance and Mayor of Dijon for 23 years.  This is made of Aligote wine, (from the Aligote grape) and mixed with Crème de Cassis, a blackcurrant liqueur also made in the region.

What is your favourite restaurant in the region?

Clos de Napoleon in the town of Fixin serves traditional regional dishes, presented beautifully. I take many of my guests there and they always love it especially when I tell them it was featured in the recent BBC series 'Raymond Blanc – A Very Hungry Frenchman'.  The service is brilliant, not too fast, not too slow and the surroundings are brilliant, in front of the fire in an old vaulted cellar in winter, out on the terrace surrounded by vines in the summer. 

Also very popular in Burgundy now are tasting lunches. These take place at the winery, a simple meal accompanied by a selection of the winegrowers wines, with commentaries from the sommeliers on the different wines and how they are made. My favourites are La Table d’Olivier Leflaive in Puligny Montrachet and La Table de Conte Senard in Aloxe Corton.

Everyone has heard of Burgundy but are there any secrets left? 

That there is so much to see and do here besides the wine.  The area has such a rich heritage, so many UNESCO sites, medieval churches, beautiful villages – the film ‘Chocolat’ was filmed in Flavigny sur Ozerain - that there is always something new to discover. So many of my guests come for just one or two days and are so disappointed that they don’t have time to see much, even the guests that come for a week realize that they are barely scraping the surface.

What would you advise to someone thinking of moving to the region?

Understand why the houses are cheap. Outside the Côte d’Or there is very high unemployment and it is necessary not just to speak French but to have an excellent command of the language to find a job.

Has your French life turned out the way you imagined?

No!  I never imagined I would spend the rest of my life in France nor have two bilingual kids.

Tracey Thurlling runs the tour guide company Burgundy by Request which offers bespoke tours tailored to individual needs.

Ben McPartland (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Swiss bankers pay €1bn in French fraud case
Swiss banker UBS has made a huge payment in a French fraud case. Photo: AFP

Swiss bankers pay €1bn in French fraud case

A Swiss banking behemoth accused of advising wealthy French people on how to conceal their money in Switzerland has paid a court-ordered bail of €1 billion. READ  

French welfare cuts
'Having kids in France will soon be a luxury'
Will cuts threaten France's health birth rate? Photo: Philippe Demazes/AFP

'Having kids in France will soon be a luxury'

Family associations and sections of the French media have lined up to blast the government for its plans to cut key family benefits, which they say will harm one of France’s greatest economic strengths – it’s high fertility rate. READ  

Woman, 76, raped 'for telling youths to be quiet'
A 76-year-old woman was brutally raped in retaliation for telling some men to quiet down. Photo: AFP

Woman, 76, raped 'for telling youths to be quiet'

After a 76-year-old woman told a group of young men to quiet down outside her apartment building near Paris, they retaliated by brutally raping her and then looting her home, according to reports in France. READ  

French workers threaten to blow up factory
Workers at a vacuum factory in France have threatened to blow it up. Photo: Martin Bureau/AFP

French workers threaten to blow up factory

With boss-napping apparently a passé option, French workers angry over planned layoffs at a vacuum factory have threatened to blow up the plant where they work. READ  

Paris to unveil new app to help find a taxi
Paris has created a new app that is meant to make finding a cab a bit easier. Photo: AFP

Paris to unveil new app to help find a taxi

Paris will roll out its brand new smartphone app on Wednesday which is supposed to make the sometimes impossible task of hailing a taxi in the French capital a little easier. But will it be of any use? READ  

French pharmacies shut up shop in protest
It'll likely be harder than usual to find an open pharmacy in France. Photo: Philippe Huguen/AFP

French pharmacies shut up shop in protest

All but a handful of pharmacies in France will be closed on Tuesday as part of a nationwide strike against government plans to weaken the monopolies held by self-employed professionals like lawyers, doctors and notaries. READ  

Champions League
PSG will play to win against Barcelona: Blanc
PSG coach Laurent Blanc says his side will stick to their footballing principles against Barcelona. Photo: Franck Fife/AFP

PSG will play to win against Barcelona: Blanc

PSG coach Laurent Blanc said his team will play to win against Spanish giants Barcelona when they meet in the Champions League Group F clash in Paris on Tuesday. Blanc's side however will have to do without the injured Zlatan Ibrahimovic. READ  

Guest blog - French tax breaks
'Starting a company in France is not that taxing'
Setting up a company in France might not mean the tax burden that you had imagined. Photo: Shutterstock

'Starting a company in France is not that taxing'

The words "France" and "taxes" are as synonymous as "pain" and "chocolat" but when it comes to setting up a company in the country, guest blogger Katya Puyraud, from Euro Start Entreprises says things are not as bad as they seem at first. And the paperwork is a positive! READ  

French public debt rises above €2,000,000,000,000
France's public debt has now passed the two trillion mark, officially. Photo: AFP

French public debt rises above €2,000,000,000,000

The depressing figures for the French economy just keep on coming. On Tuesday it was revealed that the country's public debt had passed the symbolic two trillion mark. In real numbers that's €2,000,000,000,000. READ  

IN IMAGES - Floods
South of France hit by devastating floods
The southern French city of Montpellier has been left under water by the floods. Photo: Sylvain Thomas/AFP

South of France hit by devastating floods

Parts of southern France were once again hit by devastating floods on Monday that left the city of Montpellier under water and a state of natural disaster declared in around 60 towns and villages. Here are some videos and images. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Marks & Spencer
Sponsored Article
Marks and Spencer: Win €300 toward your new autumn wardrobe
International
This explains why the French never seem to get a sense of déjà vu?
National
VIDEO: Here's a view from the Eiffel Tower you haven't seen before
Travel
Do Paris's iconic rooftops deserve Unesco World Heritage status?
Opinion
'France cannot reform, the pilots' strike showed us this'
National
'We just don’t work hard enough in France.' Is that true?
International
France has moved to beef up security in various public places
National
Hiking naked in France does not come risk-free
Culture
10 French customs that confuse Anglos
National
IN PICTURES: A look inside France's 'most notorious' prison
International
Isis urges killing of 'spiteful, dirty' French
National
Paris installs new device to stop 'love lock' craze
National
Paris cabby dies in vicious high-heel attack
National
'Paris is a sexy city, its beauty is inspiring'
Culture
Depardieu: ‘I drink 14 bottles of booze a day’
National
Top French chefs want banned bird on menu
National
VIDEO: Making of French rugby hunk calendar
National
Ten great bars in Paris only locals know about
Society
France's top expat tribes: Which are you?
National
France to set flat-rate for Paris airport taxis
Politics
French separatists want Scots to say 'yes'
National
Anti-dog poo offensive launched in French town
National
Scammers attack Paris's top cop at tourist hotspot
National
French leader didn't pay his rent for three years
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se