Sunday, April 23, 2017

Burgundy, and on to the Bugey

On Thursday afternoon, we returned to Gueugnon after our morning outing, and took a short stroll towards the center of the town, stopping at the former chateau that is now an arts center. When we arrived at Ghislaine’s house, one of her sons- in-law, Romain, had just arrived with his two children, and we had aperitifs with one of the Cerdon wines we brought, as well as a fantastic Grand Cru Chablis that Ghislaine had picked up when she was in that area.  After Romain and his children left, Ghisaline made dinner, and I opened a bottle of Saint Veran that we had picked up at Chateau de la Greffiere, which was outstanding.
Gueugnon on the Arroux River

Chateau/Arts Center

The next morning, Ghislaine took us to a few towns to the north of Gueugnon.  First up was Bourbon Lancay, which has a magnificent walled medieval center that we strolled around.  We then drove to Digoin, which is on the Loire River and also has a canal running through it. The most interesting part was the place where the canal passed over the Loire River. We walked along the canal a bit, and while we were doing so we passed a lock that was just being opened for a boat to pass through. That lock still has a working lock keeper’s house rather than having to be operated by the boat passengers.

Bourbon Lancay

Loire River

Canal over the Loire

In the afternoon, Ghislaine drove us through a few more small villages, then we stopped to visit her parents, who live in a village less than half an hour from Gueugnon. While we were in Bourbon Lancy we had picked up a cake called Le Beurdon, a local specialty, which we brought with us to Ghislaine’s parents.  We had some cake and coffee, then Ghislaine’s father showed us his vegetable garden. He had given us a bag of his potatoes a few years ago, so I knew he had a garden, but I had never seen it. Although he is 86 years old, he still works the garden himself, and it’s extremely large. While we were getting a tour of the garden, Ghislaine’s father cut a bunch of herbs and vegetables, including leeks, parsley, and thyme, to give us to use on our trip, and also gave us a half dozen eggs from his chickens.

That night, after a light dinner, we drove towards Digoin to meet Ghislaine’s 3 children and their children for an evening of bowling.  It was quite enjoyable; I can’t say I had ever bowled in France before. In fact, I hadn’t bowled in over 40 years, and it showed.

On Saturday we left Gueugnon to drive to our gite (rental house) in the Bugey region, where we were going to spend the next week. On the way we made a stop at the goat cheese producer we had visited the day before, and picked up some more cheese there.  We also stopped in the town of Cluny on the way, which is famous for its monastery. Cluny was the site of the first monastery in Burgundy, having been started by the Benedictine monks in 910 A.D.  We took a walk through the center of town and past some of the old monastery buildings. There also was a market in the center of town, and we wound up picking up some more cheese and vegetables. We then continued on to the village of Lhuis and found the gite where we would be staying for the week.


After getting settled into our gite we took a short walk into the village and picked up some pastries at the boulangerie, and some basic provisions at the little grocery store in town. I had read that the current owners of the boulangerie, a young couple, had taken it over 1 ½ years ago, and had developed quite a reputation.  Last Fall they received several awards from a prominent French food magazine.  As we were soon to learn when we bought some of their baked goods, those awards were well-deserved.

The weather that afternoon was glorious, and a little while after our walk we sat outside on the terrace and had some Cerdon wine and goat cheese. While we were sitting there, one of the gite owners, Patrick, came over to say hello, and brought us a bottle of wine. It turns out that he’s a winemaker in the next village, at Domaine Patrick Charlin, and he had brought us a bottle of his Altesse, a synonym for the local grape Rousette, which has the AOP Rousette de Bugey.  I read a little about Altesse/Rousette, and some people in this area have claimed that it’s the same grape as the Furmint in Hungary. However, I've since been informed by Wink Lorch, an expert on the wines of this region, that that's been disproved, and that the grape is likely indigenous to the Savoie. In any event, we wound up having that wine with dinner, and it turned out to be very good, particularly with the food.


  1. Hi Bob, no Altesse (the grape for AOC Roussette de Bugey and Roussette de Savoie) is not Furmint, nor did it originate in Cyprus, both explanations have been discredited by DNA testing of the grapes in the past few years, but growers persist in relating the wrong stories. It is believed to be indigenous to Savoie, possibly Jongieux, more in my book to come! I look forwatd to visiting Patrick Charlin on my visit to that part of Bugey in late May. Enjoy your travels and thanks for writing about them, good to know about the baker in Lhuis!

  2. I'm adding a visit to Ghislaine's father's garden to my next itinerary.