Friday, November 14, 2008

Boat Trip in Burgundy, France with friends (Aug 16 - 24)

For our anniversary Shannon and I went to Burgundy, France for a week-long boat trip with three other couples at the end of August. We boarded the boat around Dijon, France and then cruised down the portion of the Saone River located on the northern side of the Burgundy region. We had rented a gigantic boat with 4 mini bedrooms, kitchen, casual dining table and patio tables with chairs, 5 bathrooms (1 in each room, plus a common one) and lots of deck space to lay out and get a tan, plus we ate on the deck occasionally along with drinking plenty of beer and wine! For the most part, the guys took turns being the captain driving the boat; though, I even drove it for a little bit (we didn't go through any locks while I was driving, thank goodness!).

Every day or so, we'd make a run for the Boulangerie, Bouchere or convenience store (Bread and Butcher shops). Each couple took turns cooking every night so we had a variety of meals (Mexican - tacos and beans, Slovakia soup with mushrooms and spicy meat, cabbage and sausage soup, red Thai curry with a white fish, vegetarian chili, pancakes & eggs). We even BBQ'd a few nights after we docked up for the evening. The guys cooked everything from steaks and brats to even corn on the cob which we stole from a neighboring cornfield! Shannon couldn't get enough of the spicy and cheesy brats that one of the couples brought from Austria or Germany...they were pretty dam good!. We also ate lots of bread and cheese for snacks. We ate mostly Comte fromage (cheese), one of my favorite cheeses, which happens to come from the region, Franche-Comte, one of the provinces we went through.

When we were done coasting down the canals and had turned in our boat, we decided to drive a bit further south to a few popular wine regions around Nuits Saint Georges and Beaune. It is believed that the area around Beaune has produced wine since 300 AD. Anyway, we had fun stopping off at wine caves to do tastings which usually resulted in the purchase of a few bottles! I think we ended up buying around 10 - 15 bottles which we plan on letting age since they're mostly red. They may be in our shipment home in 3 years! We were told to buy wines produced in the year 2005 since it was a really good year for French wines, so when looking for a French wine I'd recommend that year and maybe even let it age a tad longer. Another bit of information, wines from Burgundy tend to be a little pricier than other French wines due to the lower production volumes.

We actually stayed one night in the beautiful town of Beaune. We visited the Basilica Notre Dame Church, wine museum and the Hospice de Beaune, being the highlight. The Hospice de Beaune was founded in 1443 by Nicolas Rolin, chancellor of the Duke of Burgundy Philip the Good, and his wife, as a hospital for the poor and needy. The original hospital building, the Hôtel-Dieu, one of the finest examples of French fifteenth-century architecture, is now a museum visited by several tourists every year. From the rectangular courtyard, you can view different buildings decorated with a remarkable glazed-tile roof. This beautiful glazed-tile architecture spread to other places within Burgundy.

Below are some facts about Burgundy wines if you'd like to read, otherwise skip this part and head to the pictures.

Burgundy wine (in French called: Bourgogne) is wine made in the Burgundy region in eastern France. The most famous wines produced here - those commonly referred to as Burgundies - are red wines made from Pinot Noir grapes or white wines made from Chardonnay grapes. Red and white wines are also made from other grape varieties, such as Gamay and Aligoté respectively. Small amounts of rosé and sparkling wine are also produced in the region. Chardonnay-dominated Chablis and Gamay-dominated Beaujolais are formally part of Burgundy wine region, but wines from those subregions are usually referred to by their own names rather than as "Burgundy wines". Burgundy has a higher number of Appellations d'origine contrôlées (AOCs) than any other French region, and is often seen as the most terroir-conscious of the French wine regions. The various Burgundy AOCs are classified from carefully delineated Grand Cru vineyards down to more non-specific regional appellations. The practice of delineating vineyards by their terroir in Burgundy go back to Medieval times, when various monasteries played a key role in developing the Burgundy wine industry.

Shannon and his co-worker Rick working as deckhands

Stopping along the shore one night for a BBQ

Rick & Clive were our musical entertainment for the evening while Vladimir kept the fire going

Stephanie, Me and Maria

Taking on the captain duties

A French village along the river

Gabby, me, Stephanie and Maria presenting our beers & Gabby's daugther, Sara

Cute French villa

House covered in vines
Along the Saone River with our boat in the background

Check out the long fishing pole!

Shannon and Rick inside the boat with our bedrooms in the background

Church in one of the towns off the River

Old Cannon
Unique flower
I loved some of the French door knobs
Town Hall (I believe)
Enjoying the sun and a little reading
Another BBQ (notice the corn on the cob we picked from a nearby field)
Shannon and me being pulled by the boat! SLOWLY
Another boat on the canals
Five of us being pulled by the boat
Doing his duty making sure we don't fry
Super long tunnel ahead of us
Our boat barely fit in the tunnel
Spectacular Chateau we stopped to see
Cute French villa
Sara chasing the ducks
French town off the Saone River

Front of Chateau
View from Chateau
Me, Stephanie, Maria, Gabby and Sara
View from Chateau
Shannon likes his angle shots
Front of Chateau
Old Public Bathhouse
Cute French town
Our boat
Trying to get some action!
Vladimir and Sara being silly
Stephanie, Maria and Me
Spectacular Chateau in one of the towns off the Saone River
Church Clock Tower with tiled roof
The girls relaxing with some wine
After our boat trip we drove further south in to wine country: Burgundy (called Bourgognes in French)
Our first stop was in Nuit Saint Georges at Morin Pere & Fils (Rick, Stephanie and Shannon)
The caves at Morin Pere & Fils
Stephanie and me in the caves
Walking among the grapevines covering the country side
Up close with grapevines
Not quite ripe enough to eat
But I just want to try one!
Shannon in the grapevines
Another place in Burgundy

Chateau of Corton Andre (notice the colorful tiled roof: this architecture is common in Burgundy)
Entrance to Corton Andre's Caves
Waiting room before wine tasting
The wine tasting was held in the cave of Corton Andre
Wine caves of Corton Andre
The Chateau of Corton Andre is surrounded by hills of grapevines
Church in Beaune
Hospice de Beaune (15th century)

Hospice de Beaune (check out the beautifully tiled roof)

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