Burgundy, France – Prologue
This year, our summer holiday takes us to Burgundy. It’s a destination that’s been on my mind ever since I took a Fundamentals of Wine course and found myself intrigued by the concept of terroir in Old World wines. It also has a rich culinary history and many of the dishes we associate with French cuisine today (like boeuf bourgignon) originate from the region. What more incentive do I need?
The plan couldn’t be simpler: fly to Paris, rent a car, drive southeast for three and a half hours and spend the next few days sampling the region’s wine and cuisine.
We arrive at Charles de Gaulle airport around 11am, well rested but not well-fed. Opting for sleep, we only had a cheese plate on the plane the night before. After grabbing an espresso and croissant at a kiosk, we head down the escalators to the Hertz counter. Even though we were getting a car with a GPS, I stop for Michelin maps at the relay shop across from Hertz. Force of habit, I guess.
There is a slight wait for our car, an Opel Meriva with a sleek dashboard. As luck would have it, the cigarette lighter/power supply is hidden behind a non-functioning spring loaded panel which has to be pried open with an ice scraper. So here we are, going on a road trip in ninety degree weather with ice scraper in hand. Never a dull moment with our rentals.
This airport is my bete noire. In past trips, it has never failed to suck our luggage into a time-warp. Today, we are stuck in an endless loop trying to get out of here. We circle the terminal twice to get to the A104 only to find road closures up ahead. Despite this, the GPS still insists we bravely march on so I consult the map for alternative routes.
This is one occasion where the belt and suspenders approach (i.e. second guessing the GPS with a map) does not work. We only become more confused. Not only are we back in CDG again, we embark on an unplanned tour of the grey Parisian suburb of Bobigny shortly thereafter.
Finally, I’m fed up and chuck the map altogether. It’s 2pm by the time we’re on the A6 en route to Lyon. We go full speed ahead since we need to reach our destination before 6pm or risk spending the night in the car. Unfortunately, this means no lunch for us. We have to settle for a can of Pringles given out at a toll booth.
As we leave the traffic and the concrete behind us, we eventually regain our good spirits. The drive down offers some really beautiful pastoral scenery: gentle slopes with a patchwork of verdant green, flat farmlands dotted with cylinders of hay, and cream-colored cows grazing lazily on open pastures.
Finally, we exit the A6 at Beaune. From this point on, it’s nothing but vineyards.