Excursions from Paris

Dijon, Burgundy and the Côte de Nuits region of France

DIJON FRANCE TRAVEL GUIDE

Happy Wednesday, friends! I know I've been talking about France an awful lot lately, and I'm still not done! Today I'm talking about another region I visited during my two week road-trip through this beautiful country: Dijon (which falls in the Côte de Nuits region of Burgundy). To be honest, it all started because I saw Dijon was on our way from Provence to Paris and I thought to myself  "Could be fun to see where the mustard comes from." Little did I know all this area has to offer in the way of wine-making and gastronomic offerings-- not to mention gorgeous countryside, rolling green hills of mustard fields and medieval villages with a wide range of architecture.

I got in touch with my friends at Destination Dijon who helped us plan the perfect itinerary for our short visit. As I mentioned, Dijon is the capital city of the historical Burgundy region in eastern France (which encompasses Côte de Nuits- kind of confusing). This area is home to most of the world's great Pinot Noirs (along with a small number of high-quality Chardonnays) so naturally, wine tasting was high on our agenda. 

cote de nuits dijon france
cote de nuits dijon france

 

DUFOULEUR PÈRE & FILS

While there were certainly and abundance of wineries we could visit, we opted for Dufouleur Père & Fils because of the great reviews we read and its proximity to the heart of Dijon (where we were staying). It was hands down the most fun I've ever had at a wine tasting. Our winemaker was hilarious and so personable- we became instant friends (and he taught us some pretty hysterical phrases in French). Not only was it fun and set in the idyllic, dimly-lit wine cellar but we also tried some seriously incredible wines. I usually only get to bring 1-2 bottles of alcohol home from each trip since I'm gone for so long and my suitcase is already so full, but this was one of my bottles (I'm not typically a chardonnay drinker, but they made the best I've ever tasted in my life and I couldn't leave without some). I'd definitely recommend popping in here for a tasting during your visit- and of course, to purchase some wine to bring home yourself!

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FROMAGERIE GAUGRY

Our friend at Dufouleur Père & Fils told us we couldn't leave the area without trying some cheese at Fromagerie Gaugry, so we took him at his word. We went on a tour of the property and learned about the process of making the cheese: starting with the milk, the ripening and coagulation of the milk, moulding, draining and unmoulding, salting and finally- maturing. After, we sat down to try all the different kinds: L'epoisses Aop, Le Petit Gaugry, L'ami du Chambertin, Le Palet de Bourgogne, Le Soumaintrain P.G.I, Le Chaource AOP, Le Brillat-Savarin, Le Brochonnais and Le Plaisir au Chablis. Each was unique in its own way, but all were delicious! We browsed the gift shop (where you can purchase any of the cheese, along with a wide variety of Dijon-made mustards in the area). If epicurean delicacies pique your interest, this is definitely a stop you'll want to add to your itinerary. 

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Both Dufouleur Père & Fils and Fromagerie Gaugry were fantastic ways to observe two great French passions, wine and food, coming together in the beautiful region of Burgundy. And there are loads of other places like them you can visit in Dijon! For more information, check out the available wine & gastronomy tours at Destination Dijon.

 

GRAND HOTEL LA CLOCHE DIJON- MGALLERY BY SOFITEL

While we spent most of our time on this trip in the outlying regions (doing the wine + cheese tours/tastings) we stayed in the heart of Dijon at Grand Hôtel la Cloche Dijon, which is a beautiful five-star luxury hotel by Sofitel. Nestled among the steeples of the capital of Burgundy, this property is a classified historical monument and in an ideal location for your time in Dijon. I loved that the exterior was quintessentially classic + French, but the interior was chic + modern. 

sofitel dijon france
sofitel dijon france
sofitel dijon france
sofitel dijon france
dijon france

The breakfast was fantastic, the room more than comfortable, and overall I give it a big thumbs up. If you're staying in Dijon, this hotel will not disappoint.

grand hotel la cloche dijon france

 

For the rest of our time in Dijon, we let ourselves get lost in the charming sandstone streets. The architecture here is so lovely - I was happy to simply walk around for the rest of the afternoon + evening to admire all of it. We sat at a cafe outside in the main square, Place de la Libération for dinner that evening which was so fun for people watching. Kids were playing in the fountains, people were walking their dogs, and we made friends with the family from Brussels at the table next to us. It was the perfect ending to our time in this idyllic town. 

DIJON FRANCE
dijon france
Place de la Libération

Place de la Libération

Dijon is a lovely little village in beautiful region worth exploring. Trains from Paris are under 2 hours, making it a perfect little excursion to add onto a pre-existing trip!

Still have questions about this area that I didn't answer? Let me know in the comments below! Thanks so much for stopping by, friends!

xx

Whitney

blonde atlas

Loire Valley: Château Des Briottières

LOIRE VALLEY CHATEAUS

Happy Thursday! Today I'm talking about another stop from the road-trip across northern France I did with my friend Caitlin this summer. Just three hours southwest of Paris, you'll find yourself in the Loire Valley: a gorgeous region of France that's known for its extravagant Châteaus and outstanding wines.  While castles and palaces are certainly scattered all over Europe, many will argue that no place is as renowned for them as here (largely because of the fertility of its land, its strategic location, and its complex history). Given it's prestigious history and beautiful scenery,  Caitlin and I knew we had to stop through as we mapped out our trip.  

There are SO many places you can stay in this area- the options are overwhelming. Given the long list of other destinations we were visiting, we didn’t get to spend nearly as much time as we would have liked to here and had to prioritize what we saw. While the heart of Loire Valley is incredible, it's also teetering on the border of feeling a bit far from other destinations you may want to include on the same road trip like we did (i.e. Paris, Normandy or Mont St Michel). To avoid spending more time in the car and keep as close to our other stops as possible, we narrowed our search to the northern border of the region. 

We wanted to stay somewhere that feels like an idyllic retreat away from the chaos without compromising luxury. But more than anything, we wanted a true, authentic French château experience.  After doing a bit of research, we came across Château Des Briottières, a private family owned and operated (for over seven generations) château situated in Anjou, which is between three rivers: the Mayenne, the Sarthe and the Loire. It's close to a wide range of wine growers, not to mention botanical gardens, abbeys, remarkable churches, and charming little villages to explore.

From the moment you walk into the châteaux you'll hear classical music in the background and feel as if you've somehow slipped back in time to the Napolean area (or that you're on set for a romantic film.) The place is truly magical and quintessentially French. 

The property is multi-faceted, containing several different places you can stay on site. The family home, which is the main building, has 10 large bedrooms- each one different from the next. No matter which one you stay in, you can guarantee there will be beautiful antiques, luxurious textiles and large windows. 

But the bedrooms certainly aren’t the only beautiful areas of the Château. We sat down in the Salon Vert with François, the owner,  for some champagne prior to dinner to learn more about the history of the captivating mansion. Neighboring Salon Vert is the Grand Saloon and Billiard Room, two equally stunning rooms where you can admire the Napoleon era antiques. François walked us through each room to tell us more about the rich history. This was one of my favorite parts of our stay because I loved learning about the family and how each detail of the property has its own story. 

 

Dinner that evening and breakfast the following morning were incredibly memorable occasions. Both take place in the 18th century dining room and the menus are inspired by their own family recipes. All the ingredients are incredibly fresh and locally sourced (and I still dream of the fresh, warm, buttery crossaints served at breakfast). 

Another building on property is a house called The Fruitier, which was built in 1850 to accommodate 6 additional bedrooms. This building offers a bit more of a contemporary atmosphere than the main house and is perfect for families or groups of friends to rent out. There is also a quaint log cabin that can sleep up to 4 for guests if you’re hoping to have a more cozy, simplistic stay. 

 

On site you can also enjoy the beautiful pool or tennis court, borrow bikes, walk through the 50 hectare park, stroll through the gardens or simply sit and enjoy a glass of wine from a variety of scenic views. 

loire valley france
loire valley france

I absolutely fell in love with this place and I definitely plan to return someday. The tranquil environment made worries from the outside world seem to dissipate while we were there. But my favorite bit was how we instantly felt like part of the family. I love connecting with people around the world while traveling and being in a position where you really get to know someone from an entirely different culture than you, and we certainly experienced that here. I highly recommend tagging this onto a trip you plan to Paris or Normandy-- it's super close and offers an unforgettable experience that's truly unique!

 

Questions about Château Des Briottières (or France in general) that I didn't answer? Let me know in the comments below!

Thanks so much for stopping by! Have a great Labor Day weekend and stay tuned for a life update I'm excited to share next week. 

xx

Whitney

LOIRE VALLEY FRANCE
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