• France's news in English
 
app_header_v3
My France - Burgundy
'Burgundy is about much more than just wine'
Tracey Thurling with an ouvrier (worker) from one of Burgundy's famous vineyards on horseback behind her. Photo: Tracy Thurling

'Burgundy is about much more than just wine'

Ben McPartland · 15 Feb 2013, 15:11

Published: 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.

Story continues below…

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.

Tracy Thurling 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
Christians and Muslims to mourn murdered French priest
A regional Muslim council has planned a "brotherhood march" in Lyon, while a church in Bordeaux said it would hold a non-denomination vigil for the 85-year-old priest. Photo: AFP

Muslim and Christian groups will hold vigils on Saturday for a French priest murdered by extremists in his church, as police charged a man in connection with the brutal attack that has plunged the nation into mourning again.

France church attackers 'smiled' and spoke of Koran
Three nuns were in the church when Father Jacques Hamel was killed. Photo: AFP

One of the jihadists who murdered an elderly French priest smiled as he carried out the attack, and nuns who witnessed the grisly murder said the killers spoke about the Koran.

Air France strike grounds 20% of flights

Air France on Saturday cancelled around 20 percent of its flights on the fourth day of a strike by flight attendants during the peak summer travel season, the airline said.

Summer in France: The top ten beaches
Photo: Gomezdegomera/Flickr

How many have you been to?

France braces for busiest day of traffic all summer
Photo: AFP

Thinking of driving this weekend? The French are being advised to think twice.

Opinion
'France has problems but it's not on brink of civil war'
A French police officer stands in front of a Muslim prayer room after it was destroyed by a fire, suspected to be arson, in Ajaccio.. Photo: AFP

While certain French politicians and security chiefs have openly talked of the nightmare prospect of civil war in France, one expert tells The Local the country is too resolute to go down that path.

Ten hidden gems in France you should visit this summer
Photo: Erik Harström/Flickr

Looking for holiday ideas this summer?

What's on: Ten cool things to do in France in August 2016
Photo: AFP

August is almost here - and we've got you covered for events.

Paris in August: Should you stay or should you go now?
Photo: AFP

When it comes to August in Paris, you're either a stayer or a goer. But which is the best choice?

French PM: 'France needs new relationship with Islam'
Photo: AFP

As France struggles to get to grips with an increasing number of terror attacks the French PM says the country needs a new relationship with Islam.

Sponsored Article
5 reasons to try dating in Paris with The Inner Circle
Travel
Summer in France: The top ten beaches
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
France: A timeline of terror since the Charlie Hebdo attack
A timeline of terror in France since Charlie Hebdo
Culture
Thirteen free and easy ways to learn French
Culture
32 mistakes foreigners make when they arrive in France
National
Here are the worst scams to avoid whilst driving in France
Analysis & Opinion
Isis can simply be a conduit for the violent desires of psychopaths
Features
Six outdoor bars in Paris you simply must visit
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Culture
The open-air Villette cinema has been cancelled over security fears
Culture
Henri Rousseau exhibition proves huge hit in Paris
National
Frenchman caught trying to sell Nice massacre souvenirs online
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Society
OPEN NOW: Here's why you should head to the Paris Plages
Culture
What's on in France: Still plenty to see and do in July
Lifestyle
Treasures of Versailles to go on display in Australia
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
National
How to keep cool during France's heatwave
National
Nice attack: What we know so far
National
Nice attacker: Body-building, drug-taking, violent flirt
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
National
IN IMAGES: Drawings in tribute to Nice attack victims
Society
Promenade des Anglais: The iconic heart of the French Riviera
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
France faces more questions after latest deadly attack
National
Why is France the target of choice for jihadist attacks?
National
Nice truck attack: 'Bodies went flying like bowling pins'
Nice attack: Families of missing make pleas on Twitter
2,753
jobs available