Indulge me in a bit of time-travel. On Day 2 of our enforced stay in Lyon, while most passengers were being bussed 4 hours to Beaune, we rented a little Alfa-Romeo and took to the road to rekindle memories of our first trip to Bourgogne, during Roger’s 1998 sabbatical. We’d rented a gite (a French farmhouse) in the village of St. Martin-du-Tartre and even though 18 years have passed, time hadn’t changed the village nor our sweet cottage.
We spent hours gathering wild raspberries and listening to the goats bleating and chomping on the other side of our ivy covered fence. Every day, I’d walk to the top of the hill and gaze at this view –while being serenaded by a herd of Charolais cows, their curly-topped heads bobbing, as they grazed in the next pasture. Occasionally, the TGV (train) would zip by in the distance, reminding me that time had NOT stopped. Inexplicably, this village and view from the hill are what I return to time and again when it’s suggested I try to find my inner ‘happy place’.
A newer farm has encroached on my hilltop view, but the village felt as peaceful as ever. (I still can’t shake the knowledge of the door-to-door slaughterer, though. We never saw or heard him, but he IS the substitute abattoir for small farm communes such as this.)
After renewing our souls in St. Martin, we revisited the Chateau d’Ige, a few miles from our farmhouse. If you are looking for an outstanding hotel recommendation, this is it! Our red-toile covered room (seriously! Ceiling, walls, draperies, carpeting, linens) is not easily forgotten; this was also our first experience with French aristocracy (or French eccentricity). A tall, thin gentleman in a bespoke suit was seated next to us at dinner in the Michelin starred restaurant at the chateau.
We nodded at each other and then noticed a subtle gesture he made, beckoning his equally tall, thin hound to take its place next to him at table. Throughout the course of an exquisite meal, the hound was treated to each course and invited to make his own choice when the cheese trolley was wheeled round. The hound behaved impeccably (and was far less demanding than his master), but we were gobsmacked by the entire experience. (Obviously, we’re still not over it.)
The gardens at Chateau d’Ige are a delight. One can relax for hours while sipping aperitifs under the plane trees. And forget about … Everything.
Another episode of Things You Don’t See in America:
Next: Back to the Future