France 2023 – Paris, Champagne and the Bourgogne

This should be an awesome journey. We’ll be traveling with good friends, visiting some wonderful places, seeing some beautiful sites, eating delicious foods and drinking some terrific wines. If I were to predict the future, I think I would see fun, laughter and a calorie or two!

We will be starting in Paris and will be staying in the 6th arrondissement. The hotel location will be central to the places we want to visit, as well as convenient to the Metro and Taxi stands. We’ll be close to some small museums, a park, churches, restaurants and two chocolate shops – Perfect!

After a few days in the French capitol, we will be grabbing a train and heading to the Champagne region. It may be schmalzy, but Don Ho had it right when he sang: 🎶 “Tiny bubbles, in the wine, make me happy, make me feel fine”. 🎶

Whether celebrating, sharing with friends or just because, it’s hard to not enjoy some bubbly. We’ll be going to the heart of the Champagne region to explore and taste a few different champagnes to see the subtle differences between the champagne houses. Mind you, it’s strictly for research purposes.

Image excerpted from  @wedrinkbubbles website

Once our research is complete, we will be off to the Bourgogne (or Burgundy) and some of the finest white and red wines in the world.

Original image from presentation

To learn about and taste some white wines, the town of Chablis will be our first stop. It looks like a perfect place to relax and soak in some culture. The town is surrounded by vineyards and some wonderful wineries are in easy walking distance from our hotel. In fact, we are literally right across the street from Domaine LaRoche.

As with most white wines from the Burgundy region, chardonnay grapes take center stage in the vineyards. The soil and cool climate make the area a perfect place to grow chardonnay grapes. For you history buffs: 150,000,000 years ago, the entire area was an inland sea. There are two main soil types in the area. One is called Kimmeridgian Marl, and is predominantly limestone, clay and fossilized oyster shells. The other type is Portlandian soil, and it is also clay and limestone, but with fewer fossils.

There is no blending of grapes in Chablis or Burgundy. The taste differences are mainly due to the characteristics of the area in which the grapes are grown. This is also called the ‘terroir’. The soil, the slope of the vineyards, the amount of sunshine and the wind all play into the smell and taste of the wines. The winemaking process may be slightly different between wineries, but only slightly.

While visiting Chablis, we will be within easy driving distance of some interesting towns. Perfect for daytime excursions while allowing us to return to Chablis for dinner. We are still deciding, but I would imagine you’ll be reading about Auxerre, Avallon, Saulieu, Noyers-Sur-Serein and the Vezelay Abbey come the fall.

After leaving Chablis, we’ll head southeast to the Cote d’Or where instead of Chablis, we’ll be tasting White Burgundy. Same grape, just a different taste profile. The best white burgundies come from the Cote de Beaune and the Macon in the south of Burgundy. These wines are found under a variety of different names: Bourgogne Blanc, Pouilly-Fuisse, Meursault and Montrachet are just a few of them. Whatever you call them, they are still Chardonnay and they are darn good!

But just to break the rules a little bit, we also plan on tasting at least one or two Aligoté wines while we’re in the area. Aligoté is a cousin to Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, makes delicious wines and usually costs a lot less than White Burgundy.

Original image from presentation

Then it will be time to shift our focus to Pinot Noir and the magnificent red wines of the Bourgogne. Once again, the terroir makes all the difference.

High atop the hills in the Côte de Nuit and the Côte de Beaune you will find an area which is considered the perfect spot to grow Pinot Noir grapes. This area has been parceled out to form 33 Grand Cru vineyards. It’s not a large number of hectares or acres that make up these vineyards, This area produces some incredible wines, but in very small quantities.

From my old accounting days, high quality combined with small quantities means high prices. And if my math is correct, that means we will be driving by wondering what the wines taste like rather than tasting them. Sorry, Domaine Romanee-Conte… no inheritance checks are coming my way.

However, there are many more excellent wines without astronomical price tags to be found – and we will find them! Seriously, they can’t hide. Premier Cru, Village wines and plain old Bourgogne are plentiful and I would guess there will be a few of them making their way back home when we leave.

So besides tasting wines, there are many historical and beautiful places to visit and enjoy. The Cluny Abbey, Chateau Cormatin, Chateauneuf-en-Auxois, Hotel-Dieu and Savigny-les-Beaune are all easy drives from Beaune and Chablis. The actual towns of Beaune and Chablis, Auxerre, Dijon and Avallon all come highly recommended. Lest I forget, there are walking paths, driving routes and many other potential things to keep us busy.

After Burgundy, our friends will travel further south to enjoy a little bit of Provence. That’s the beauty of the European rail systems…90 minutes by train and voila! We’re going to stay in Beaune for a few extra days before dropping off the car and catching a train.

That train leaving Burgundy will be returning us to Paris, so our holiday won’t be over quite yet. We’ll have a couple more days in Paris and then we’ll meet back up with our friends for the return flight home.

It won’t be long now, so it’s time to enjoy the nice weather here at home while taking care of the small details.

Au revoir, à bientôt!

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1 Response to France 2023 – Paris, Champagne and the Bourgogne

  1. travelingjan says:

    the excitement builds….it’ll be a fabulous trip! The combination of wine tastings, medieval villages, and exploring out-of -the -way places will add up to an exciting adventure, thanks to our trip planner extraordinaire.

    Liked by 1 person

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