Pont De Vaux & Beaune – France

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18th July 2018 – 01st August 2018

We left the French celebrating winning the World Cup and the hordes of people in Anncey for the Tour de France and headed North. This is new territory for us as we have never covered this part of France. We are the lucky ones where we have all the time to meander and are not on a time scale. Our destination is never really planned we just decide to drive for afew hours and look for somewhere to stay. It is getting a lot busier with the start of the school holidays and we have never travelled before during this time. It is something we have always avoided. The price of the campsites nearly double and the popular ones with children’s activities, swimming pools etc are ones we try to avoid. We arrived at Pont De Vaux in the Bourgogne region, having found that there was a municipal swimming pool right next door to the campsite and lots of children. Just what I said we try to avoid. Access was free for swimming pool if you were staying at the campsite which we thought was great, did we use it ? No. We are so lazy, or our excuse is that the pool was full of children ! A short walk brought you into the town and with most French towns, you try not to expect a great deal, just a bolangarie and another couple of shops if you are lucky. Well, Pont de Vaux was a pleasant surprise with afew more shops, bars and restaurants and wait for it a Beautician. Well the excitement and only if you are female will you understand how I felt. It had been over 4 months since I had last had my legs waxed and I was always on the look out for somewhere that would make them smooth again. The lady tried to book me in and in my limited french an appointment was made for the following day Wednesday. Did I want her to write it down, ‘Oh No’ I said. After waiting this long I wasn’t going to forget the day and time. Now Wednesday in Pont De Vaux is the hi-light of the week with the market and it was huge. The French must come from miles to visit as it was packed. It is such a shame that in the UK the markets have died. In France there are no Primark or discount stores and we think this has helped to keep the markets a focal point of towns. There was everything for sale, food, clothes, shoes, haberdashery and furniture. We saw a massive queue for a cheese stall and I said to David, look at that it must be special cheese and made him join the queue. The man in front bought 2 massive chunks of this cheese costing him €25.00 but he didn’t bat an eyelid. We bought a small piece for £8.00 and still choked. The cheese is called Comte made from unpasteurised cows milk and around 64,000 tonnes are produced annually. The cheese is made in discs, each between 40cm and 70cm in diameter, weighing up to 50kg. It is made from milk of Montbeliarde or French Simmental cows and no more than 1.3 cows per hectare of pasture. Each cheese is scored out of 20 by inspectors and if it scores below 12 it is prohibited from being named Comte and is sold for other purposes. You can see why there was a massive queue for this cheese now. Anyway, time to get my legs waxed, I went bowling into the Beautians only to find out I had the right day but the wrong week. Will I ever get my legs waxed ! They were so lovely once again and obviously saw how desperate I was and squeezed me in the next day.

After finally having smooth legs once again, oh the joy. We head to Beaune the wine capital of Burgundy. The town is surrounded by some of the world’s most famous wine villages. We had visited Beaune with my Mum and Dad over 15 years ago and driving through the hectares of vines as far as the eye could see I wish he was with us to share it with him, Dad loved his wine. We stayed just outside Beaune in a beautiful village Savigny-lès-Beaune, a 30 minute cycle ride took us into Beaune centre. Whilst we were here we thought we would try out a wine tasting session, with a little research David booked La Cave de l’Ange Gardien. We cycled into Beaune after having a big lunch to soak up all the wine we would be having. Pierre the owner greeted us and with a table of 6 other English our tasting begun. It was a blind tasting which was excellent. Pierre’s passion for the industry, the wines and his knowledge made it such a wonderful experience. Having tried 5 white wines, 5 red wines, 2 sparkling wines and finally a cassis. I was pissed ! And we had to cycle home. There is certainly no obligation to purchase any but we filled David’s Panniers and he was under strict instruction not to break any bottles. You cannot come to Beaune without visiting the Hospices de Beaune or Hotel Dieu de Beaune. It was founded in 1443 as a hospital for the poor and is one of the finest examples of French 15th Century Architecture. It is an amazing place to visit and it’s polychrome roof is absolutely stunning. We also spent a day cycling through the vineyards and into the famous wine villages of Pommard, Volnay and Meursault. In the village where we were staying is the Musees du Chateau de Savigny-lès-Beaune, it houses a fascinating private display of planes, cars, motorcycles and all things transportation. David visited and even saw a Gloster Meteor a plane that his Dad had worked on as an engineer in the Air Force. After 11 days we decided we needed to start heading North, with temperatures in the mid 30 degrees and set to rise even further, we were hot in the van. I wish they made human cooling mats like they do for dogs !

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