We are right in the middle of
a very joyful and colourful time of year in Burgundy, with the Grape Harvest
going strong. Grape pickers throng the vineyards and the streets of the little
wine-making villages that dot the wine coast. Tractors piled high with vats of
purple grapes chug along the roads and everybody takes the time, even in the midst of
all this hard work, to stop and enjoy a glass of wine underneath the glorious
And we have reason to celebrate too. Thanks to
the sweat and effort of last year we have had our newest Gîte, La Maison de
la Vieille Vigne up, running, and hosting guests since the beginning of
July. So far all of our visitors have been thrilled, and we are too as the
has been booked solid until close to the end of November.
designed La Maison de la Vieille Vigne to be the perfect cozy retreat in
the Winter months, so just let us know at email@example.com if you would be
interested in coming to Burgundy for the world-famous Beaune wine auction
(called Les Trois Glorieuses) at the end of November, or to spend
for the much-anticipated Saint Vincent Festival which honours the patron saint
of winemakers during the last week in January, and is being hosted by
Villers-la-Faye (home to La Maison de la Vieille Vigne) and
Magny-les-Villers (home to La Maison des Deux Clochers) this year.
And for a little taste of Burgundy, read on...
We are very proud of our
I) Enfin! Welcome to La Maison de la Vieille Vigne
After several months of frantic days and short nights, not to
mention countless litres of kir poured in an effort to beguile the local
tradesmen, La Maison de la Vieille Vigne is now finished. We began
welcoming guests on July 2nd with the Goldsmiths from Hilton Head, South
Carolina. To peek in the door, just
We've really endeavored to preserve
all of the old details of this 300 or so year old house such as the exposed
stone wall in the living room, the huge oak beams, and the three hearty rose
bushes out the front. Then add in all the modern amenities that make life in
the 21st Century so enjoyable - thick insulation, new bathroom fixtures, a
dishwasher (yours truly really pushed for this last one), a washer, a dryer,
La Vieille Vigne has one bedroom with an
adjoining bathroom, and a main room with a kitchen on one end and a fireplace on
the other (making it perfect and cozy to rent during the Winter). It also has a
lovely private courtyard just off the bedroom which is perfect for eating,
reading, or just warming your toes on the flagstones when the sun is shining.
We also added a few goodies that we hadn't initially planned on, such as a
high-speed ADSL connection, and satellite TV with many English channels.
La Vieille Vigne can be found in Villers-la-Faye, which is less than 1
kilometer from La Maison des Deux Clochers and Magny-les-Villers. The
house is tucked away in a little lane in the quietest and oldest part of the
village. However, it is only steps away from the Boulangerie on one side, and
from miles and miles of walks in the vineyards on the other.
But we admit that we are just a petit peu biased, so here is what our
first guests thought of their experience:
“We have had a marvelous time here in Burgundy. The “Gîte”
has made our total experience more comfortable and relaxing.
We love the cottage and have come to love the village of
Villers-la-Faye as well.”
Reed & Leslie Goldsmith - Hilton Head, South
“After spending three
days in Paris and thinking it doesn’t get any better than
this, we made our way down to Burgundy. Our arrival to this wonderful cottage and the wine
that greeted us sure proved us wrong! We were so impressed
at the work and all the TLC put into this little home.”
Jasmine & Ian Ormsby - Australia
“We have had a wonderful week
exploring the Côte D’Or beginning with finding this lovely
little house (...) we have enjoyed eating out in the
courtyard in the cool of the night.”
Lorne & David Calvert - Tasmania, Australia
“Thanks to Laura & Franck for the use
of their lovingly restored and tastefully appointed
Maison. We have particularly enjoyed the patio for
breakfast and supper listening to the local noises of a
honking donkey and a neighbourly bird rehearsing the first
few notes of La Marseillaise.”
Norman & Rita Pritchard-Woollett - England
“This is the perfect
place to start life as a “Bourguignon”. You leave your other
life behind when you drive to Villers-la-Faye, drive up to
La Maison de la Vieille Vigne, open the blue shutters and
You know Franck and Laura
by the warmth, charm, and good taste you walk into. It’s a
heartfelt embrace after the trials and tribulations of the
Glorious bright colours
on the walls and furnishings, some history in the massive
oak beams, enchanting patio off the bedroom and even with
the ancient history of the place, the hottest, strongest
shower on the planet.”
Eugene Shapiro & Renée Vollens - Sonoma Valley,
find out more about booking a vacation at La Vieille Vigne, just contact
firstname.lastname@example.org. To find out about the latest availability, send me an
email or just continue reading.
season is also reaching its end. This year Franck and I hit quite a few and bought, among other
treasures, a lovely antique pine desk for La Vieille Vigne and an old
coffee grinder in a rare red colour, as you can see to the left. Jolie,
Three days of fun, frolic, and fine wines
II) Saint-Vincent Tournante 2006
This is a very special year for the villages of
Magny-les-Villers and Villers-la-Faye. The legendary Burgundian festival
honouring Saint Vincent, the patron Saint of winegrowers, is being hosted by the
villages of the Hautes-Côtes on the 28th and 29th of January 2006.
This festival is a huge
event in Burgundy, and the last time it was hosted by the Hautes-Côtes was in
1977. That celebration and all its attendant tales are still talked about in the
villages today, and from the way it is shaping up the 2006 celebration will be
The villages are being split up into four
groups, each one representing one of the four seasons. Both Villers-la-Faye and
Magny-les-Villers are part of the "summer" group, which explains why villagers
have been assembling at La Salle des Fêtes in Villers every Monday night
since January to make paper flowers. We're going to need a lot of them!
Some of the highlights of the weekend are: the procession of the winemakers shouldering their village's statue of Saint Vincent, the numerous
opportunities, and the gala "winemakers" banquet which is also open to the
The official website is only in French, but if you'd like
to have look just click on the link below:
La Maison de la Vieille Vigne we have really endeavored to make it as
comfortable and cozy in the winter as it is in the summer. So if curling up in
front of the fireplace after a day of wine related celebration appeals to you,
you may want to take your vacation in January next year.
III) A Flight over Burgundy
Just before leaving to return to Canada for a few weeks this
summer we went on a flight
over the vineyards of the Côte D'Or.
experience, much dreaded by Laura (aka the nervous flyer), ended
up being one of the highlights of her year.
- An amazing way to discover Burgundy
To read about our magnificent morning and how you could benefit
from a special price offered to our guests, just click on this link and read on:
Sheri & Gary - our first
Burgundians of the Heart
Bourguignons de Coeur
We've decided to inaugurate a new column in the Grape News, and
on our website, that tells the stories of people's love affairs with Burgundy.
Franck came up with the very clever name of "Les Bourguignons de Coeur",
which translates as "Burgundians of the Heart". The rules go like
this: the elected few can be
either Burgundy-born, or have adopted the region as their own at some point
during their lives. However, either way they have to demonstrate an almost
obsessive love of Burgundy to qualify.
Our inaugural Bourguignon de Coeur is in fact
a couple, Sheri and Gary Sipperley, from Twain Hart, California who spent the
entire past year living in Burgundy. When we met them last August they were
ensconced in the lovely village of Pernand-Vergelesses and had clearly fallen in
love with the place.
They've moved back to California for the
moment, but I suspect it won't be long until they're back...
find out how and why Gary and Sheri fell in love with Burgundy, click here:
for all the gourmands out there, here is a special bonus - Gary's legendary
mushroom soup recipe!
And for all of you out there who dream of packing up reality and
moving to France for 3 months, 6 months, a year, or in fact forever, don't
hesitate to contact Franck and I.
With many years of experience
moving back and forth between North America and France, and loads of knowledge
about the intricacies of getting settled in France, we would be delighted to
help you make this dream come true.
V) Restaurant Review
I always tell my girls that even if they think that they don't like something
(in their case, mostly green beans) they should consider trying it again
periodically, because they just might change their mind. Thus far no change of
heart has occurred on the bean front, but recently I've discovered that my "try
again" mantra can lead to some pleasant surprises.
Six years ago
when we were in the midst of renovating La Maison des Deux Clochers, we
took a Canadian friend out to lunch at Le Gourmandin in Beaune. The location is
fabulous, right smack on the Place Carnot in the heart of Beaune, and we'd heard
some good things about it. It wasn't a bad lunch - it was just a
remarkably unremarkable lunch and, as a result, we've never returned.
However, on a rainy day a few months back Franck and I were running around doing
errands in Beaune when we were suddenly felled by hunger pains (this happens to
us on a somewhat regular basis). The rain began to come down harder, and, lo and
behold, at that very moment we just happened to find ourselves in front of Le
So we gave it another try, and was I ever glad that I
sometimes listen to my own sage advice. The restaurant had changed hands at some
point over the past few years and has been transformed from a somewhat stodgy
bistro into a chic but welcoming enclave, gorgeously decorated by Isabelle
Billard, one of the new owners. Her husband Alain Billard is in charge of the
cuisine, and the same mix of elegance and simplicity shows up in the plates as
To start with, we each had a plate of three little hors
d'oeuvres served in lovely Zen-like white cups; chestnut soup, tiny chopped up
vegetables in a vinaigrette, and mussels with saffron - each one more delicious
than the next. After that, Franck had a steak cooked with Epoisses, and I
had a beautifully done chicken breast with pepper sauce. For dessert, there was
a chocolate wafer cake confection that was unbelievably delectable. All of the
dishes were beautifully presented and held just the right amount of food -
leaving us at the end of the meal feeling completely satiated but not stuffed.
Along with a beer, two coffees, and two glasses of wine, the total for the two
of us came to 65.00 Euros. We both felt this was extremely good value, and have
vowed to return again when the sun is shining and eat out on the terrace.
VI) French Favorites
CHORUS (LES CHORISTES)
Director: Christophe Barratier
Buy the DVD from: [
I don't think this film has been talked about very
much outre-atlantique, but it has broken all attendance records here in
France during the past year, ultimately supplanting "Amélie"
as the most popular French film in history.
The story takes place in
1949, in a France still smarting from the horrors of WWII. A failed musician,
Clèment Mathieu, takes a post in a remedial school for boys cursed with the
desolate name of "Le Fond de L'Etang" (translation - the bottom of the swamp).
The school, ruled by the iron fist of the principal who has given up all hope in
his charges, more than lives up to its moniker.
is revolutionary in that he believes that the boys are capable of greater things
than petty thievery and bad behaviour. He sets out creating a chorus with his
students, changing the trajectory of many of their lives, most notably of a
young boy with the face and voice of an angel but the temperament of a little
devil, wonderfully played (and sung) by the young Jean-Baptiste Maunier.
Although the story may
sound a little cliché's (cue Mr. Holland's Opus, etc.) the film is not. It is
wonderfully underplayed from beginning to end, and obviously struck a chord with
people from around the world.
CHORUS (LES CHORISTES)
Composed and Orchestrated by Bruno Coulais
Buy the CD from:
The CD, filled with the choral music from the film, has been all
the rage over in France this year, even supplanting such stalwarts as Céline
Dion and Johnny Halliday.
The lead singer and actor in the movie
(the previously mentioned Jean-Baptiste Maunier) has now officially achieved
pop-star status over here in the hexagon, complete with mobs of screaming and
fainting pre-adolescent girls that swarm every one of his public appearances.
VII) Burgundy in cyberspace
We just set up a high speed ADSL connection at both of our
rental houses. If you can supply the laptop, we can supply the world! This means
you should be able to send photos, emails, etc. from Burgundy to your loved ones
to tell them how much you miss them, and of course to make them terribly
All you have to do is let us
know that you'd be interested in using the service, and bring your laptop. Here
are the most frequently asked questions we've had from our guests in
regards to laptop use and ADSL connections at the houses.
Do I need a power converter / plug adaptor to use my laptop in France?
A. Generally most laptops made within the last 5 years have a power (i.e.
voltage) adaptor built right into them. The computer adapts automatically to the
different voltage used over here. We've used our laptops (purchased in Canada)
since we arrived here last August with no problems whatsoever. However, if you are
at all unsure whether your laptop is equipped with this, it is definitely worth
going into your local computer store and getting a definitive answer. Seeing as
our girls are into Star Wars at the moment, we'll quote Yoda on this one -
"Fried laptop does not a happy vacation make."
However, what you
do need is a plug adaptor, as the plug holes are a different diameter and dimension
over here. These can be purchased for a few dollars at most airports and travel
stores. We always try to leave one in each house for the use of our guests, but
these tend to disappear on a regular basis, so to be on the safe side bring your
Q. Can I use my home email?
You need to check this out with your local email provider. Most providers now
offer a service where their users can access their email accounts even from a
distance, but you need to look into this before you leave and make sure you have
the requisite codes, passwords, etc.. Another option is to subscribe to a free
email service such as hotmail or yahoo that can be accessed from anywhere.
However, if you're planning on sending lots of photos into cyberspace during
your stay, check and make sure these services allow large file sizes.
Q. Can I work from anywhere in the house?
Theoretically, oui. We have bought a "Wi-Fi modem/router" system for each house
which, if all goes well, means that you should be able to send the photos you
took that day of the rolling vineyards while sipping a glass of wine from those
very vineyards out in the garden or on the terrace. C'est la belle vie, quoi.
VIII) Grape Seeds – useful stuff & bits
There are public tennis courts at both Magny-les-Villers and
Villers-la-Faye. If you have room in your luggage and want to train for next
years' Rolland-Garros, bring your rackets!
The pizza van in Villers-la-Faye has moved nights from Monday to
Friday, and now back to Friday again. There is also a very good new pizza van in
Ladoix-Serrigny who spins delicious pizzas on Saturday nights.
Any guests who want to help make paper flowers to decorate the
village for Le Saint Vincent festival are welcome to the Salle des Fêtes
in Villers-la-Faye on Monday nights. It's a great way to meet villagers
and contribute to the beautification of our village during this very special
Just click here to read our latest Grape Journals about life in
IX) Availability and 2005 Booking
Starting early - Charlotte tasting
juice from the first press of grapes
from the Volnay 2005 harvest
Whew! It's been a banner year, with both houses booked straight
through until November. Read on for the latest availability information for the
Winter of 2005 and then onto 2006.
La Maison de la Vieille Vigne - our brand new (well, new
for us, that is, it actually dates back to 1650 or so), and freshly renovated
cottage in Villers-la-Faye. It has one bedroom, and in 2005 we're charging an
introductory price of 400 Euros a week.
The cottage has been booked up solid from July 2nd to November
27th, and we've already had several enquiries for the winter period and booked a
few weeks in the Spring for next year.
Contact me if you have any questions at all or would like to
make a booking, and I would recommend booking early to avoid disappointment.
La Maison des Deux Clochers - our two bedroom house in
Magny-les-Villers which costs 450 Euros a week
We have been booked solid since March 10th, and we're now booked
straight through until November 8th.
As with La Maison de la Vieille Vigne, we're already taking
bookings for 2006 and onwards, so don't hesitate to contact me.
If you would like more information about either house, or would
like to make a booking, don't hesitate to contact us at
Raise a glass of wine and toast the 2005 harvest!