We just love everything about Burgundy; some of the best wines in the world, excellent food, and beautiful little villages. This was our second trip and we returned to some of our favorite vineyards, spent a couple of days in Lyon, and ended with a few days in Paris. Burgundy was amazing, but I blew it on some of the restaurants in Paris. I wanted to try new places, took some recommendations from friends (and even researched the on-line reviews), but a couple just didn’t pan out. Highlighted which ones to avoid.
Also read my other Posts on our last trip to the Region and the one on Burgundy wines as it has lots of additional info.
Definitely show up hungry and thirsty in Burgundy! Dijon (the city of 100 towers), Beaune, and the beautiful countryside and small villages – all serve the most delicious food imaginable. Start with jambon persillé (parsleyed ham) and escargots, follow with a classic Boeuf Bourguignon or Coq au Vin , and finish with a cheese course of Brillat-Savarin and Époisses. And to drink…begin your meal with an aperitif of Kir (white wine and black currant liqueur), follow with the famous White and Red wines from Burgundy, and finish off your meal with a glass of vielles vignes (old vine) Chablis to accompany your cheeses. Wish I was returning for a third time this year!
The countryside is filled with Renaissance chateaux’s, medieval abbeys and fortified villages, where you can stroll and take in the colorful history of this region. Hilltop villages and market towns have some of the most magnificent Romanesque structures in Europe. The Basilica of Vezelay, the Abbey of Cluny and the abandoned Fontenay Abbey are among the must-see sights. The region also has some of France’s most spectacular castles. Chateau d’Ancy le Franc is styled on the Italian Renaissance; Chateau de Cormatin is a unique survivor from the days before the revolution; and there are numerous other, intimate castles.
And of course, their are always places to eat and drink. What better way to pause during all that sightseeing than with a slab of homemade pate and a glass of chilled Puligny-Montrachet? Yummm!
We stayed three nights in Beaune and three in a Chateau in the Countryside (in the middle of nowhere so hard to dine anywhere but the hotel in the evening). Would do it differently next time and stay in Beaune longer and a couple of nights in the charming town of Puligny-Montrachet at Hotel Le Montrachet.
We love Burgundy wines, which are my all-time favorites. We had two full days of wine tasting, one with a guide and one on our own. And the rest of the trip, as we were sightseeing, we stopped in a vineyard or two and sampled new wines with lunch and dinner. Discovered some wonderful new favorites and sent home three cases. Cannot wait for them to arrive!
- Burgundy Discovery – http://www.burgundydiscovery.com/ – We tried another tour company this trip and they were great. Booked a one day “Burgundy Gourmet Grand Premier Tour” where we tasted some great Premier Cru and Grand Cru’s with a delicious lunch in Le Bistrot du Bord de l’Eau at the Relais Château Hostellerie Levernois. The Hostellerie, whose main restaurant has a Michelin star, is situated in wonderful parkland with great views from the dining room. We visited three wineries, tasted around 20 Burgundy’s and ate well. It was a wonderful day.
- Le Jardin des Remparts – 10 Rue de l’Hôtel Dieu, 21200 Beaune, +33 3 80 24 79 41 – We ate here on our last trip, loved it, and decided to return. It was hands down our best meal of the trip. The restaurant opened in 1990, in an old house that sold wines, and have since built a beautiful garden (you are served an aperitif before your meal in this lovely setting) and an elegant restaurant. The menu features “what is the best of each season”. and we chose the tasting menu, with wine paring, and put ourselves in the chef’s hands – it was soooo good.
- La Ciboulette – 69 rue de Lorraine, Beaune, +33 3 80 24 70 72 – Charming, family owned, cozy restaurant. Located right in the center of town, decorated with lots of plants and green furniture, giving the restaurant an outdoor feel. Each dish was lovely and delicious – full of colorful vegetables and fresh ingredients that come from local producers and the market.
- Bistro de L’Hotel – 3 Rue Samuel Legay, 21200 Beaune, +33 3 80 25 94 10 – Lovely restaurant that was part of our hotel in Beaune. They were famous for their whole roasted bresse chicken, and it seemed most of the diners ordered it. We ventured to other items on the menu but our neighbors at the adjoining table seemed to enjoy their meal more than us, so would recommend ordering the chicken if you eat here.
- Le Restaurant Clos Prieur – Located in our second hotel in Burgundy, Chateau de Gilly, was a convenient place to dine in the evening (given that we didn’t want to drink and drive after dinner). It was a lovely surprise that the restaurant was superb. The chef serves gourmet cuisine which is inspired by classic dishes, but modernized. They have a wonderful wine cellar (was the old Cistercian monk’s wine-cellar) with any Burgundy your heart could desire.
- Le Montrachet – 10, place des Marronniers, Puligny-Montrachet, +33 3 80 21 30 06 – While visiting the “Golden Triangle” (Puligny-Montrachet, Chassagne-Montrachet and Meursault – the villages producing the best white wines in the world) we stumbled on Hotel Le Montrachet and their lovely restaurant. Decided to have lunch and the food and service was so great that next visit we will be staying at the hotel and dining again in this wonderful restaurant.
- Chez Leon – 20 rue des Godrans, Dijon, +33 3 80 50 01 07 – Chuck loves Beef Bourguignon so did some research when we visited Dijon and found a bistro touted for this dish. He wasn’t disappointed as it was the best beef bourguignon he has ever had. Casual, very local, and Leon visits every table to chat and make you feel at home.
- L’Hotel de Beaune – 5 Rue Samuel Legay, 21200 Beaune, France, +33 3 80 25 94 14 – This was the perfect hotel. Small, lovely, great room and extremely friendly staff. Highly recommended. A restored XIX Century house, has it’s own lovely courtyard, and is situated right in the center of Beaune.
- Chateau de Gilly – 2 Place du Château, 21640 Gilly-lès-Cîteaux, France, +33 3 80 62 89 98 – Below is my view driving up to the Chateau, quite impressive! It is a historic castle hotel, with its restaurant in a former wine cellar with vaulted ceilings, and surrounded by beautiful gardens. But beware in the summer months as it does not have air conditioning.
Lyon is a world Heritage Site, with a renaissance old town, Roman ruins, and a charming 19th-century Presqu’île quarter. It is a lovely city and worthy of one visit in our opinion. This was our second visit and we would skip it next time we go to Burgundy.
Food is the center of Lyon life, and lunch is a real bargain with small prices and simple food. And it is cheap, even with wine, even with a lot of wine, even with a ridiculous amount of wine! Eat anywhere and everywhere at the small, inviting cafes and restaurants. One of my favorite lunch dishes is the quenelle (below) which is a mixture of creamed fish or meat, sometimes combined with breadcrumbs, with a light egg binding, formed into an egg-like shape, and then poached. Light and airy, it almost melts in your mouth.
Now dinner is another story. The chefs and staff are very serious about their food (though not stuffy or stiff). Lyon has a long and deep culinary heritage and is the launching pad for many great chefs including Daniel Boulud and George Perrier. You can go to many Michelin-starred restaurants, or try the more casual places where young chefs are making a name for themselves (my first choice).
- Le Apathicaires – 23 Rue de Sèze, 69006 Lyon, +33 4 26 02 25 09 – The young chef Tabata is of Brazilian origin and former Top Chef contestant. She met Ludovic Mey in a Lyon brasserie and since then the two have been cooking together. In a cheerful bistro atmosphere (library, banquette seating) they cook up simple, delicious cuisine at lunchtime, and more elaborate, and very creative, cuisine in the evening. A friend recommended this place to us, saying we wouldn’t be disappointed – what an understatement! Everything was delicious and beautifully presented with complex flavors and textures. Highly recommend this restaurant.
- Le Garet – 7 Rue du Garet, 69001 Lyon, +33 4 78 28 16 94 – SKIP THIS RESTAURANT. Another recommendation from a friend, but only go if you like eating Offal, and not prepared all that well. The menu featured Pieds de Veau (calves feet), Cervelles (brains), Rillettes d’Oie (goose rillettes), Grenouilles (frog legs – which I usually liked but these must have been on a severe diet as they had no meat, only bones and skin), and Tete de Veau (head cheese).
Hotel – Hotel Carlton Lyon – 4 Rue Jussieu, 69002 Lyon, France, +33 4 78 42 56 51 – A Haussmann-style building dating from 1894, is is situated in the heart of Lyon and easy walking to anywhere in the city.
- Chez L’Ami Jean – 27 Rue Malar, 75007, +33 1 47 05 86 89 – SKIP THIS RESTAURANT. Food was mediocre, expensive, and the chef, Stéphane Jégo, is a bit nuts. He constantly screams out direction, orders, and when a dish is done in this very small restaurant, so you are flinching each time his voice rings out. Also packed with US tourists. Need I say any more.
- Le Chateaubriand -129 Avenue Parmentier, 75011, +33 1 43 57 45 95 – Very relaxed, casual, and buzzing. Chef Iñaki Aizpitarte’s bistro lead the way for many chefs that abandoned the more formal restaurant model in favor of a relaxed atmosphere and affordable prices. The influence has allowed such wonderful restaurants to follow suit as Septime, Saturne, Au Passage, Spring, Le Servan and Frenchie. It is a 75 Euro prix fixed menu, and I loved it more than Chuck. We both agreed that the food was creative and delicious but we also ordered the wine paring for 65 Euros each, and the wines were not very good (and not enough of them Chuck complained…sounded like Woody Allen!).
- Baieta – 5 Rue de Pontoise, 75005, +33 1 42 02 59 – My favorite new restaurant in Paris. This chef can really cook! After reading a recent NYT review, I immediately booked a table for lunch. Chef Julia Sedefdjian, earned a Michelin star at 21 (she is now 23) and has now opened her own place in the 7th Arrondissement. Her focus is on one thing – the food! The review wrote about the sea bream tartare with lemongrass cream floating on lobster-infused coconut milk and I was hooked. Baieta also attempts to democratize haute cuisine with a relatively inexpensive fixed weekday lunch menu (a starter and a main for 29 euros, about $36). The friendly young staff erases any pretentious airs you would expect at a restaurant of this caliber. Everything was amazing!
- Le Comptoir des Petits Champs – 17 Rue des Petits Champs, 75001, +33 1 42 96 47 54 – ONE OF THE WORST MEALS I HAVE EVER HAD! The food was uneatable and the red wine so warm that a bucket of ice couldn’t even cool it off. Not much more to be said.
- Semilla – 54 rue de Seine, 75006, +33 1 43 54 34 50 – Cancelled the restaurant I had booked for the last night as I had become gun shy, and went back to one of our old favorites. A perfect way to end the vacation after my other restaurant mishaps. This is one of a few restaurants that has an eating bar, which we love. Sat at the bar, chatted with the bartender, and ate a delicious meal. Ordered a great bottle of Meursault, salads of fresh English peas, fava beans, and other assorted beans in season, followed by a homemade pasta with razor clams. Chuck had a rolled fillet of fish with a sauce you couldn’t help sopping up with the last bits of bread. And dessert of fresh raspberries, raspberry sorbet and meringue was light and refreshing. Dining jinx lifted!
Did all the regular visits – Louve, Notre-Dame, Musee d’Orsay, strolled the Luxenbourg Gardens, and spent Sunday in The Marais shopping and eating Falafel with the locals and tourists. But also visited the Grand Palais, which we had never seen before. It was just luck that they had a great abstract art exhibit, Kupka, that we were able to view. Unfortunately the dome was closed, but there is always next time!