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En route to Paris

Upon leaving Lausanne we have two days before we are due in Paris for dinner with our niece Claire. Not being a fan of one night stops we opt to pick a town along the way and spend two nights.

In total it’s about 5 hours, so if we do a few hours before we stop, it will make the second half an easy drive into Paris.

We sort of stumble upon Semur-en-Auxois as our mid-point destination, another one of your typical medieval french villages sitting atop a bluff.

We really are sounding a bit blasé about the spectacular historical sites in front of us. It’s just that we are surrounded by them. Châteaux after châteaux, castle after castle; they are all magnificent, set in stunning locations, but we can’t visit them all.

We find a room for €70 at the Hotel Cymaises. A former 18th century mansion converted into a hotel. It’s well located with parking on the property (always a bonus).

We spend our full day visiting some of the surrounding towns and sites of Burgundy:

Abbaye de Fontenay, a UNESCO world heritage site, was founded in 1118, it is one of finest Monasteries in France. The 6 hectare property was converted into a paper mill between 1791-1906. Then Eduardo Aynard purchased the property and commenced restoring it. Today, the property remains in the family and they continue to maintain and restore it, primarily with their own funds.

Vézelay; another UNESCO site, is famous for the Basilica of Sainte-Marie-Madeleine. It is believed that monks had relics of Mary Magdelene. These relics were apparently torched by Huguenots in the 16th century.

Being in the region of Burgundy, it would be remiss not to sample some local wine. We visit Domain Camu just outside of Vézelay. After tasting a few, we leave with a dozen wines in hand; a start to our supply for Dordogne.

We try to stick with local wines, often the house wine; “vin rouge de la maison, s’il vous plaît.” An essential french phrase in our limited repertoire. It’s fair to say, the WCP has dropped dramatically since crossing into France. Buying bottles at a vineyard averages about €6 a bottle, about the same for a carafe of house wine at a bistro.

Driving back to the hotel we pass through Époisses. In the centre of the town stands the 15th century Castle of Époisses. It’s a very imposing and grand building, surrounded by a moat. The adjoining grounds also include a chapel and a dovecote with over 3000 huts. A rickety ladder is crafted to slide around the inside to access the pigeon homes.

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