By Claude Grancveaud-Vallat
On the road to your holiday, Burgundy deserves more than just being driven through. It is worth spending some time there, discovering its cultural and gastronomic treasures and strolling around. While enjoying the golf courses of Château de Chailly, La Chassagne and Château d’Avoise, three stages of the Golfy Network.
In 1990, in the heart of the Auxois region, the Château de Chailly Golf Club was created by Yasuhiko Sata, a passionate Japanese, and the talent of Géry Watine and Thierry Sprecher.
With a polished layout, designed between low dry stone walls and beautiful water features linked to the Rubillon, the game is as pleasant as it is varied. Between rolling greens, well-levelled tees, neat and flowery roughs, the harmony is successful on an estate orchestrated around a beautiful hotel, installed in a 16th century castle.
To speak of the Golf de La Chassagne is to evoke a family affair, that of the Rances. At the beginning of the century, Philippe, the father, and his son Sébastien acquired a 115-hectare plot of land in the La Chassagne forest.
In 2012, nine holes were playable, ten years later, the entire course was inaugurated between the woods and the Douix, a stream that meanders along the fairways. The views over the Ouche valley give volume to a fairly short but technical layout. Strategy and precision are required before lingering on the terrace of a pretty club-house which should soon be extended.
Thirty years old, the Golf du Château d’Avoise has taken on a beautiful patina as the trees grow around the fairways.
On a former industrial wasteland, Martin Hawtree designed 18 holes on 120 slightly undulating hectares.
An interesting layout, alternating holes enclosed by foliage with wider, less stressful fairways, towards small capricious greens. Between the birches, beeches, oaks, some copses and a piece of water in play on a third of the course, the challenge is permanent, while waiting for the respite of a welcome terrace.
Where to stay ?
The Hotel Golf du Château de Chailly is the ideal place to stay in Burgundy. Framed by its two white stone towers, the 16th century castle stands proudly opposite the course.
With 45 rooms and suites under the medieval panelling, and 8 one- to six-bedroom flats in the Clos Champagnac – 100 metres from the castle – the offer is adapted to the clientele who enjoy the attractions of the region. The variously decorated rooms are equipped with all modern comforts. They are all located in the castle and its wings and overlook the course and the countryside. Between the Rubillon bistro and the Armançon gastronomic table, the culinary wealth of the region is honoured on the menus as well as on the wine list… Chef Alexandre Clochet-Rousselet, who came from the Relais Bernard Loiseau in Saulieu – a starred table in synergy with Chailly – confesses to a particular interest in the products of the Morvan, his heartland. “A plate must be good before it is beautiful”, the Chef has said it all, he respects the adage with talent! In case the agape is too generous, the relaxation area of the Vinesime and Oriental Charm Spa, with jacuzzi, hammam and sauna is a delight. The outdoor swimming pool, open from May to October, the tennis court and the fitness room complete the wellness area, which can be enjoyed before and after the game.
The centuries-old capital of the Dukes of Burgundy, the city of a hundred steeples, Dijon has a historical, architectural and gastronomic heritage that deserves a certain amount of attention, even affection, in order to be discovered. If today the city is crossed by tourists in summer transhumance, it was through the centuries by the Vandals, the Burgundians, the Arabs, the Normans… before in the Middle Ages the Dukes of Burgundy put some order on their lands.
All these epics have left monumental traces, half-timbered houses topped by watchtowers on the corner of the alleys, numerous churches – there were many religious communities -, palaces, and museums that are nowadays highlighted. Starting with the Palace of the Dukes of Burgundy, redesigned in the 17th century, it remains the city’s most emblematic monument. Located in a wing of the palace, the Museum of Fine Arts has opened up to contemporary art with more than 1500 works on display. From the top of the 316 steps of the Philippe le Bon tower, adjoining the palace, the whole city can be seen like the Burgundian countryside on the urban horizon. It is impossible to visit Dijon without caressing the owl of the Notre-Dame church. Perched on a buttress of the chapel, it will grant your wishes if you stroke it with your left hand… Check out the market hall during the Sunday market, where the stalls compete with each other for food. Enough to break the crust and cheerfully toast. Burgundian grape varieties, marbled ham, gougères, cheeses and gingerbread… It didn’t take long for the owl to convince you!
In this region where the table is not an empty word – Dijon is not just about mustard! –The Cité Internationale de la Gastronomie et du Vin, which will be inaugurated in 2022 in a very modern architectural style – in partnership with UNESCO – has the ambition to celebrate the French art of living. Admission is free, although some exhibitions and activities may be subject to a charge. Over nearly 2,000 m2, you will discover the thousand facets of French “eating and drinking well” through tastings, interactive activities and meetings with producers, craftsmen, breeders and people who are as passionate as they are exciting. In the Cave de la Cité, more than 3,000 wine references are on offer, including 250 served by the glass – with some great Burgundy wines. Enough to delight the taste buds as well as the brains !
Nicknamed the gold of the Valois because it was served at the table of the kings of France from the Middle Ages onwards, the Burgundy truffle (Tuber Uncinatum from its Latin name) is harvested from September to December.
It likes limestone plateaus, undergrowth planted with hazel trees, oaks and beeches and compares favourably with its black cousin from the Périgord, even though its production is more limited. The autumn pearl must be chocolate with white veins to receive the approval of the truffle commissioner on the markets. At more than 500 €/kg, there is no question of compromising on quality. At the table, it easily accompanies an egg scramble, risotto, scallops, mashed potatoes or, more simply, a slice of toast covered with slices of truffle and accompanied by a pinot noir wine, a Mercurey for example. It is not advisable to cook the truffle, it is better to incorporate it into the dish just before serving…
Although man has been eating snails since prehistoric times – the time of the hunter-gatherers – the reputation of the Burgundy snail dates back to the beginning of the 19th century. Talleyrand was fond of them, and it is said that he made Tsar Alexander I of Russia taste them during the reign of Louis XVIII, during the first Restoration (1814-1815). The entire Parisian bourgeoisie was then infatuated with this “exotic” dish, it was necessary to know how to eat them without getting dirty. Today, French consumption is estimated at 30,000 tonnes per year, even though not all gastropods come from Burgundy. The Burgundian name is linked to the preparation with butter, garlic and parsley that accompanies the little creatures during cooking. This speciality has regional variants such as snails à la franc-comtoise prepared on a fondue of cancoillotte and Morteau sausage, à la bordelaise with morels and red wine, Catalan cargolade à la braise or more sophisticated versions such as the snail cream with garlic butter confit from Relais Bernard Loiseau. Here, the little beast is sublimated, we change planet !
Under the glazed tiles of the Hôtel-Dieu museum, six centuries of history transpire behind the walls of the Hospices de Beaune. Founded in 1443, the hospital institution has endured through wars, famines and epidemics, always with the same philosophy, that of works of charity as intended by Nicolas Rolin, chancellor of Duke Philippe Le Bon, and Guigone de Salins, his wife.
Over the centuries, the “Palais des Pauvres” has acquired a wealth of land throughout the region, but above all, wine between the Côtes de Beaune and the Côtes de Nuits, with 60 hectares of the best appellations brought together thanks to legacies and charitable donations. Although no more patients have been housed and treated at the Hôtel-Dieu since 1980, the place receives media attention every year during the famous Hospices de Beaune wine sales. Since the Second Empire, during the third week of November, Beaune has been abuzz with street performances, folklore parades of the wine brotherhoods, and the bids fly. Burgundian pieces (228-litre barrels) are sold under the hammer of an auctioneer while “people” perform for the cameras. The craze for this sale pushes up the prices, where charity and reason are antinomic… The big trading houses all want to be part of it, a sort of barometer of wine prices in the world. In the region, this festive weekend is the occasion for tastings in the properties, the winegrowers bring out their beautiful bottles. A great way to treat yourself to some nice birdies !