They drive slower than the Germans. They drive better than the Italians. France doesn’t have many speed traps. And, yes, there is some of the most beautiful countryside that Europe has to offer.
Elizabeth and I recently attended an AMAZING wedding in Rotterdam. After the wedding we decided to hit the road and visit some great places in southeastern France. We left Rotterdam and drove to Burgundy and stayed for one night. We then spent two nights in Lyon and then four nights in Provence. Here is everything I can remember. Please pardon my spelling!
We left Rotterdam and drove to the small town of Avallon. The Château de Vault de Lugny is located about five minutes out of town in a very secluded area. The chateau is in great shape as are the grounds. When you arrive, a trio of dogs saunter out to greet you. The rooms are nice and filled with antiques. We stayed in the Le Roy suite which was fantastic. The grounds are so beautiful that it is worthwhile to take a leisurely walk during your stay…bring the dogs.
As for food, we had lunch in the front grounds of the chateau…toasted sandwiches and a salad with white burgundy. For dinner, we ate at the chateau’s restaurant. There is a communal table in a room with a gigantic fireplace. There are also two private tables. If you get hot easily (or want to avoid loud Americans), go for the private tables. The food was wonderful…most memorable was the chocolate cake (one of the best I have ever had) and the coq au vin. Enjoy a cigar and a Marc de Bourgogne in the sitting room after dinner.
The next morning, we sadly left and took the A6 and took the exit to Dijon. Instead of going into Dijon, we took a road that led to the Rue des Grand Cru, a trail littered with the regions finest vineyards. Along this road, you can stop in great Burgundy wine towns like Nuit St. Georges. The trail ended in Beaune, a great town with awesome wine and one of the best cheese shops we found (you must find it). You should also visit the Hotel Dieu in Beaune. We picked up a baguette and some cheese and hit the road (A6) to Lyon.
For someone who enjoys food, Lyon blows Paris out of the water! The food is real and hearty. Beyond the food, there are some great things to see and a wonderful new hotel to stay in.
Lodging: We stayed at the Cour des Loges, a hotel owned by the genius who also owns Bastide de Marie in Provence. The hotel used to be four apartment buildings that have been converted into one hotel. There are a lot of fun “secret” passageways. The room was great (I hear the normal rooms are small, so treat yourself to a bigger one) and there is a great bar.
Sightseeing: Take a tram ride up to Fovierer to enjoy the breathtaking view. Walk back down through the Roman amphitheaters. In Vieux Lyon, be sure to wander the streets enjoying all of the shops and cafes. There is an old church (near where the Tram leaves from) with an amazing clock inside…check it out. The Hotel de Ville, the Opera House, and the area around it are also worth visiting. Try to visit the outdoor market just across the river from Vieux Lyon.
Shopping: Lyon has just about every shop that Paris has, except they are smaller.
Food: The primary reason to go to Lyon. The city is filled with the most wonderful restaurants and we did our best to try the best. Our first night, we dined at Paul Bocuse and had one of the best meals ever. There is a great little street called Rue Merciere with many fantastic restaurant. We went to Le Layon for lunch and I highly recommend it. For dinner, we wanted a traditional bistro experience so we dinner at Le Bistrot de Lyon. I had my second Salade Lyonnaise (filled with bacon and a poached egg!), a “sampling of swine” (blood sausage, tripe sausage and roast pork), and excellent profiteroles.
So I just realized that I never finished writing up my ideas for this trip. Since it has now been about 8 years, I can only give the highlights:
Stayed at Crillon Le Brave in a small hillside town (go figure, Provence). Awesome place with a fancy restaurant and a great mellow bistro. Loved seeing the who veal kidney served on a wood plank.
Visited a bunch of great small towns…could never remember all of them. St. Remy, Aix-en-Provence, Lacoste, etc…
Also stated in Loumarin at a place called Le Moulin de Loumarin. Great town. Great little inn. The restaurant there was well-regarded, but we loved the place a short drive away in Cucoran. (Click here for a Meal of My Life)