Tag Archives: Burgundy

Into Burgundy

“Climats” in Burgundy present a cultural landscape, a 2015 UNESCO world heritage site

Note: After my third visit to the wine region of Burgundy in France, I consider it to be my annual summer writer’s retreat amidst vineyards, exceptional gastronomy and the “Climats.”

By Emma Palova

Fixin, FR- On an early Sunday morning, I woke up to the ringing of the church bells and a local gentleman shouting at his dog, a lot louder than the dog’s barking.

From my studio, I heard the cars rolling down the narrow Rue Magnien that leads into the tiny wine village of Fixin. The walls around the estates magnify the sounds and funnel them into endless echoes.

Wine villages of Burgundy.
Major street through Fixin

But, just before the light broke, I could hear the chirping of the birds in the mulberry tree. The mulberry tree is the only tree that grows between the bricks in the small courtyard in front of the house.

The stone house rises three stories with “lucarnes” or windows in the roof. Sources tell me that the house was a brasserie, before getting divided. After the division, the house lost the right wing, but none of its Burgundian charm or massiveness.

Surprisingly, the house does not have an adjacent vineyard behind it. New or old vineyards in Burgundy are hard to come by, according to my daughter Dr. Emma Palova-Chavent. However, a dream to get a vineyard sometime in the future may become a reality, knowing my daughter.

The journey from the corn and soy bean fields of Michigan, USA to the vineyards of Burgundy is about 4,000 miles long across the Atlantic Ocean. After an endless flight to Paris, we took a reasonable Uber ride for 45 euros to the Gare Percy train station near the famous Lyon Station, one of seven train stations in Paris.

I have a great affinity to train travel that originates in my homeland in Czech Republic.

Typical Burgundy architecture.
Township hall “Marie” in Fixin with school.

The local train took us swiftly into Dijon, the capital city of Burgundy, a principal wine-producing area. Travelling by train in France is a great alternative to the automobile due to the efficiency of the entire transit network.

Fixin sits on the Grands Crus Route which winds from the northernmost Chenove to Remigny in the south for a total of 57.8 kilometers.

You can ride it, bike it or walk it for a unique experience of a lifetime. Whichever you choose to do, there are accommodating facilities along the way like Hotel les Grands Crus in Gevrey-Chambertin sitting directly on the wine trail.

The “Balades en Bourgogne” app offers e-guided tours highlighting off the trail locations with châteaux, churches and wineries.

I’ve experienced the magic of this wine route during my three distinct visits to Burgundy. In 2009 with a base in Nuits-Saint-Georges, then in 2013 in Dijon and now I stay in Fixin in the north part of the Grands Crus Route.

La Perriere XII century mansion
La Perriere mansion of the Dukes of Burgundy in Fixin.

The vineyards in the heat of the day are just as peaceful as they were a century ago when the monks established them. Perfect rows of wines in small plots that hug the slopes, are sometimes divided by stone walls, stone arches or by stone shelters known as “cabottes.” An occasional walnut tree oasis with a bench serves as an observation platform.

The UNESCO has recognized this complex magic in designating the vineyards of Burgundy as the “Climats,” a world heritage site in 2015 to be preserved for all mankind.

This small plot viticulture of vineyards that are terrain based create an impressive mosaic of more than 1,000 Climats lined up from Dijon to the Maranges.

Wine villages in Burgundy.
Hiking between the wine villages of Fixin and Couchey.

“In Burgundy, when we speak about a Climat, we don’t look to the sky, we keep our eyes to the ground,” said Bernard Pivot, writer and president of the support committee for the Climats.

As I walk the winding path through the Climats, in the distance a church steeple in Couchey shimmers with yellow and blue tiles. Only the bell tolls the time. The time has stopped here in the vineyards and the watch seems unnecessary.

I bend down to pick a bluish purple small grape, the Pinot noir grape variety of the region of Burgundy deeply embedded in the red soil. As the sweet juices touch the palate, I realize that thousands of years of hard work have gone into this one grape to bring it to perfection.

And that this second is the same as it was one thousand years ago when the monks established the vineyards.

Church of St. Martin, Fixin
Church of St. Martin, 1172 in Fixin .

The monks, the Valois Dukes of Burgundy, the wine merchants and wine growers, have all carried the wine tradition over the centuries.

On the horizon to the left, I see the magnificent seat of Dijon nestling in a valley with all its museums, archaeological abbey, the Palace of the Dukes of Burgundy and the gourmet restaurants.

Walking from one wine village to the next, is like being born again with a new view on the world.

During my different stays in Burgundy, I noticed that some little things have changed, while the most remain the same. It’s that same stability that we constantly seek around us, no matter where we are.

Burgundy wine caves in Fixin
Burgundy wine caves

Among the changes are: more bilingual tourist stations and chambers in the villages, greater use of the wine trails via bike tours, walking and hiking.

However, the steady constant vibrates in the romantic wine villages with stone architecture, in the gastronomy and in the exceptional Crus wines.

The Climats have given us the high quality wines sought after around the world. These include: Montrachet, Romanee-Conti, Clos de Vougeout, Corton, Musigny, Chevalier-Montrachet, Chambertin and more.

Unique and fragile, the Climats, vineyards of Burgundy, are our heritage, one that must be protected and passed on. Their inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage List as a “cultural landscape” is part of this objective. This is a commitment that has been undertaken, and witnessed by the community of nations, to respect and to preserve the “Outstanding Universal Value” of the Climats, as “combined works of nature and man.”

[Article 1, paragraph 3 of the Convention of World Heritage]

 For more information on the Climats go to www.climats-bourgogne.com

For more information on Burgundy go to http://www.burgundy-tourism.com

For “Balades en Bourgogne”: a collection of trails app go to Google Play or Appstore.

To be continued


Copyright © 2016 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

On the road-Dijon, FR

Base camp Dijon, FR Sept.14

We’re back in Dijon, a city renowned for its mustard and the former seat of the dukes of Burgundy. But, mainly it is in the heart of the Burgundy wine region that produces the best wines in this world. My daughter Emma lives here with her husband Adrien and Ella.

We both are avid travelers and we took this unique opportunity to explore and broaden our horizons, and to share this with all our friends.

Dijon, Burgundy
Dijon, Burgundy

We started out in Paris on Sept.4th  after my arrival from the United States. (See my previous post “On the road”) from Sept. 7.

Paris Sept. 4th Pere Lachaise Cemetery

After seeing the Eiffel Tower and the Notre Dame Cathedral in 2009, like many tourists we’ve always wanted to visit the gravesite of singer, song writer, author and poet Jim Morrison, founder of the group The Doors, at the famed Pere Lachaise cemetery.

Morrison’s grave is the fourth most visited site after the Eiffel Tower, the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Pompideau Center, states a Paris guide.

It’s quite a ways out from the standard Paris tourist path located in the 20th Paris arrondissement near metro station Philippe Auguste.

It is the world’s greatest collection of dead human talent, according to listverse.com “Top ten fascinating graves.”

Jim Morrison's grave at Pere Lachaise in Paris.
Jim Morrison’s grave at Pere Lachaise in Paris.

Walking through the cemetery’s narrow cobblestone streets lined by sepulchers and mini chapels, I realized that this is a true “City of the dead” still operating on 110 acres with more than one million dead bodies. It is more a museum than a cemetery.

It even has a square Samuel de Champlain with benches, where people read novels or make notes. Morrison himself visited the cemetery one week before his death on July 2, 1971, and expressed a desire to be buried there.

Morrison’s humble grave is constantly surrounded by tourists and flashing cameras, probably bringing in more admirers then when he was alive. However, his bust was vandalized with graffiti and removed. The grave is regularly guarded and watched by two hidden cameras. It has the following inscription in Greek, “He caused his own demons.”

For more info on Jim Morrison’s frequented sites in Paris check out “The complete Paris guide for Jim Morrison fans” at http://pioum.chez.com/morrison/

Another famous grave is that of English author Oscar Wilde who escaped England to France to avoid the shame of his conviction for “gross indecency.”

Engraved on his grave is a verse from the “Ballad of Reading Gaol” by Wilde:

 And alien tears will fill for him,

Pity’s long-broken urn,

For his mourners will be outcast men,

And outcasts always mourn.

Other graves of the famous include: singer Edith Piaf, playwright Moliere, Honore de Balzac and Frederic Chopin.

…to be continued with Versailles, Palace of the King of the Sun

Copyright © 2013 story and photos by Emma Palova