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Exploring the Vineyards of Burgundy

March 22, 2015

Situated in the heart of prestigious vineyards, like Pommard, Corton-Charlemagne, La Romanée-Conti, Nuits-Saint-Georges and Gevrey-Chambertin, you will find the town of Beaune, only 45km from Dijon and the focal point for wine tourism in the Burgundy area. Arriving in Beaune our guide for the day Fabien met us off the train to begin our full day guided tour of the Route des Grands Crus.

From Dijon all the way to the wine village of Santenay the “Route des Grands Crus” takes you through the vineyards of the Côte de Nuits and the Côte de Beaune.

Fabien our guide, the son and grandson of local wine makers has many contacts within the most famous wine growing companies of Burgundy. His passion and knowledge for wine was obvious and we hit it off from the start.

 Côte de Nuits

Beaune / Aloxe Corton / Pernand Vergelesses / Nuits St Georges / Vosne Romanée / Vougeot / Chambolle Musigny / Morey St Denis / Gevrey Chambertin

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Our first stop was in the vineyard of Romanée Conti in Vosne Romanée. Wine from this vineyard is among the most sought after, and expensive, in the world. Romanee-Conti is a Grand Cru vineyard site (and corresponding appellation) of the Cote de Nuits sub-region of Burgundy. One of six Grand Cru sites in the village of Vosne-Romanee, the vineyard is the only one to be bordered on all sides by other Grand Crus. Covering just 620ft (190m) across at its widest point, the Romanee-Conti appellation is one of the very smallest in France.

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For me no visit to France is complete without visiting at least one Chateau, so I was delighted the next stop was the Chateau du Clos de Vougeot.

IMG_4911 Chateau du Clos de Vougeot was originally a wine farm, built-in the 12th century by monks from the nearby Abbey of Cîteaux. In the 16th century, a Renaissance style château was added to the existing buildings.

The medieval vat-house and four enormous oak presses are found in the winery.

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In the centre of the little courtyard you find, the Porteur de Benaton, the work of the famous Burgundy sculptor, Henri Bouchard de l’Institut (1875 – 1961).

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Badly damaged during the Second World War, the Château was patiently and lovingly restored over the years by the Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin and their many friends.

Even though the Chateau du Clos de Vougeot does not produce wine anymore it has been a national monument since 1949 and is well worth visiting.

Our next stop was the wine cellar of Moillard-Grivot to sample various wines from the Cote De Nuits.

Côte de Beaune

Beaune / Pommard / Volnay / Meursault / Puligny-Montrachet / Chassagne-Montrachet / Santenay

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In the afternoon we focused on Côte de Beaune and the vineyards of Puligny-Montrachet and Chassagne-Montrachet. Visiting the vineyards gave us a better understanding of the Côte de Beaune.

Our last visit of the afternoon was to Santenay to Prosper Maufoux, found in the heart of the Santenay village, this beautiful mansion-house built-in 1835 by Jacques Marie Duvault-Blochet, who at the time was the owner of the prestigious domaine de la Romanée Conti.

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Here we enjoyed visiting the vaulted cellar dating back to the fifteenth century and enjoyed a wine tasting from the Côte de Beaune.

I hope you enjoyed my day exploring the vineyards, has anyone had a similar experience, has anyone enjoyed wine tours or wine tastings anywhere else in the world? As always I would love to hear your thoughts and comments.

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Travel

My Travel Adventures 2014 – Part 5

March 1, 2015

Our last trip of 2014 was in October when we travelled to Dijon in Eastern France after spending the day in Paris. Dijon is in the Burgundy region of France, the world-famous wine growing region, notable vineyards, such as Vosne-Romanée and Gevrey-Chambertin, are found nearby and the road from Santenay to Dijon is known as the “route des Grands Crus”, where eight of the world’s top ten most expensive wines are produced. The city of Dijon is of course also well-known for its famous mustard, Dijon mustard first originated here in 1856.

We spent a few days based in Dijon, having a base here enabled us to enjoy the city while also getting out and about in the world-famous vineyards.

Dijon, Eastern France

The Musée des Beaux-Arts

Located in the former Palace of the Dukes of Burgundy in the historic centre of Dijon, The Musée des Beaux-Arts in Dijon is one of the oldest museums in France. It is well-known all over the world, due to its huge collections ranging from Egyptian art to the 20th century.

The reconstructed tombs of the first two Dukes of Burgundy, Philip the Bold and John the Fearless are found in the great hall.

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The Owl’s Trail

There is a lot to see and do in Dijon and it’s easy to find your own way around town. Just follow the Owl’s Trail or “Le Parcours de la Chouette“. The trail is named after the stone owl at the Notre-Dame church, La Chouette, the little owl carved on one of the pillars is the bringer of good luck, stroked by countless passers-by. Adopted by the town as its emblem, little gold owls are embedded in the pavement all around the centre of Dijon, you can buy a guide to the Owl’s Trail at the Tourist Information Office. This provides brief explanations of the 22 stops along the trail.

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The Old Town – Rue des Forges

The Rue des Forges is a lovely area full of old timbered houses, quaint shops, and cobblestone streets. It was great to stroll around, enjoy a cake or two and photograph all the fantastic buildings.

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Wine tastings & tours

We did a few tours on this trip and visited several vineyards which as always was an amazing experience. I intend to post more about these tours individually so meantime here are some photo highlights.

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I hope you enjoyed following my travels over the last year, I have had some fantastic experiences.

As always I would love to hear your comments and thoughts, what do you think of the new design and layout of the blog?

Travel

My Travel Adventures 2014 – Part 4

January 11, 2015

Part 4 of my travel adventures in 2014

October – Paris & Dijon, France

In October we travelled to France a country I have visited frequently in recent years. Although I have visited Paris before this was my first time back in Paris for many years so I was quite excited to experience it all again. Paris is one of my favourite cities, it holds a special place in my heart as it was the first place I visited outside of the UK and you could say my love of travel and experiencing different cultures began right here in Paris.

We did not have much time in Paris one full day and night before travelling to Dijon in Eastern France so here are some of my Paris highlights.

The Musée d’Orsay

The Musée d’Orsay is on the left bank of the Seine. It is in the former Gare d’Orsay, a Beaux-Arts railway station. The museum holds mainly French art dating from 1848 to 1915.

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 One of the museum’s giant clocks, inside from the restaurant you can get a great view through the clock.

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The Musée d’Orsay, seen from the right bank of the Seine river.

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The Louvre Palace and the Pyramid.

One of the world’s largest and most visited museums. Even in October the queue was huge so we  gave it a miss.

Walking around Paris makes you hungry so we did as the locals do and went for a baguette. Boulangerie Eric Kayser is a famous Parisian bakery and the queue to buy bread was out the door but luckily they also have a café so we were able to get a table and enjoy the wonderful breads and pastries and soak up the atmosphere.

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 Onto the The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris, commonly known as The Basilica Sacré-Cœur. The basilica is found in Montmartre, the highest point in the city so you get lovely views. It is a really busy touristy area where you can get your portrait sketched and buy the usual touristy trinkets but it is also one of the most historic and interesting neighborhoods in Paris so make sure you explore the steep and cobbled streets around here.

The Basilica Sacré-Cœur

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The next stop was the Montparnasse Tower which is the only skyscraper in Paris. The only floors open to the public for viewing the city are the 56th & 59th floors. One of fastest lifts in the world takes you up to the 56th floor 38 seconds to be precise. The 56th panoramic floor has a covered terrace and restaurant, you then have to climb the stairs up to the 59th floor to the roof terrace which on a clear day you can see up to 40km away. It offers a spectacular view of Paris and especially the Eiffel Tower which you can’t miss as Montparnasse is directly opposite.

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The Eiffel Tower from Montparnasse

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A view of the roofs, avenues and monuments of Paris from Montparnasse.

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We just had enough time before it started to get dark to visit the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris. A masterpiece of Gothic architecture, it is the most visited monument in France and no visit to Paris is complete without visiting here.

The Western Facade of the Notre-Dame

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The Eiffel Tower

Saving the best for last we visited the Eiffel Tower, Paris’s most famous symbol. It was just getting dark and we got there in plenty time for the Illuminations. Every evening, the Eiffel Tower lights up with its golden covering and sparkles for 5 minutes every hour on the hour, while its beacon shines over Paris.

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I hope you enjoy my short video of the illuminations below, it really was breathtaking and magical.

We finished off a fantastic day with a wonderful meal. As usual it was not long enough but I am sure I will be back in Paris again very soon.

(Just incase you are wondering why I did not feature shopping in Paris it was because we visited on a Sunday and it is normal to find all the shops are closed not just in Paris but all over France on Sunday’s.)

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I hope you enjoyed my day in Paris. Where was the first place you visited?  What is your favourite city and does anywhere hold a special place in your heart? As always I would love to hear your thoughts and comments.

Join me again soon for my last travel adventure of the year in Dijon the capital of the Burgundy region of France.

Travel

My Travel Adventures – 2014 Part 3

January 3, 2015

Part 3 of my travel adventures in 2014

August- The Highlands of Scotland

Crossing the Skye bridge over to Kyle of Lochalsh we travelled on to Plockton the very pretty village on the shores of Loch Carron. An idyllic place it is a haven for tourists and artists. Plockton was mainly a fishing and crofting village and while the village is no longer dependent on this, the sea still plays an important role, with many local people owning a boat.

Plockton at low tide

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The famous Palm Tree’s.

The village faces east, away from the prevailing winds, which together with the North Atlantic Drift gives it a mild climate.

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Locally caught shellfish

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Plockton Bay

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Eilean Donan Castle at Dornie is one of the most iconic images of Scotland.

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Situated on an island at the point where three sea lochs meet, and surrounded by some majestic scenery (can you spot the heather on the hills in the background) it is one of the most visited and premium tourist attractions in the Scottish highlands.

You can wander round most of the fabulous internal rooms of the castle viewing period furniture, Jacobean artefacts, displays of weapons and fine art. Guides are on hand inside the castle to answer any questions, you can even have a wedding inside the beautiful banqueting hall.

It has a lovely visitor centre with tourist information, shops and a café but it also has plenty of picnic benches outside so if you are ever visiting the castle bring a picnic and enjoy the beautiful views towards the castle.

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Highlands cows at the very quaint crofting village of Duirnish. Duirnish is between Kyle of Lochalsh and Plockton.

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Kintail Northwest Highlands

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Hope you enjoyed this stunningly beautiful part of the Highlands, see you tomorrow for my Autumn adventure when I visit France.

Travel

My Travel Adventures – 2014 Part 2

January 2, 2015

Part Two of my travel adventures in 2014

August – The Isle of Skye & The Highlands of Scotland

Late August saw me travel to the Isle of Lewis again but only for a few days as my main reason for going was to get the ferry from the Isle of Harris to Uig in Skye to spend a few days in this area. I wanted to start at the top of Skye and work my way down to the mainland. This was one of my favourite travel adventures this year as we got some incredible late summer weather which really did show how beautiful Skye and this part of the world is.

Coming into Uig Skye on the MV Hebrides

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The Uig Tower a 19th century folly overlooking the bay.

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At Kilmuir Graveyard we found the grave of Flora MacDonald. This imposing monument overlooks the sea. Flora is of course famous for helping Bonnie Prince Charlie escape from Benbecula in the Outer Hebrides over the sea to Skye after the Battle of Culloden.

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The Skye Museum Of Island Life is also in Kilmuir. It is a fantastic preserved township of thatched cottages or black houses as they are known on the islands. They depict as closely as they possibly can how people lived on the island at the close of the nineteenth century. A hundred years or so ago thatched houses were very much a part of the Highlands and Islands, warm, sturdy and economical they suited the landscape and the climate.

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File4166This was so interesting and each cottage has a different theme one being the barn, the smithy etc . I loved looking at all the items they have inside the cottages on display, with some being very familiar to me having grown up on the islands.

Following the coastal road round you come to the ruins of Duntulm Castle. The castle was built in the 14th and 15th centuries. It stands on a rock above the sea and you can see the hills of Harris in the distance. Unfortunately the ruins are now in very poor condition but there are some amazing views from here.

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No visit to Skye is complete without a visit to the The Quiraing which is a landslip on the eastern face of Meall na Suiramach, the northernmost summit of Trotternish in Northern Skye. A fantastic drive on that bendy road this is a hill walkers paradise and on a day like this you can see why!

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View from Quiraing to the Staffin Bay

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Our next stop was Dunvegan Castle & Gardens, Dunvegan Castle is a mile and a half to the north of Dunvegan. It is the seat of the MacLeod of MacLeod, chief of the Clan MacLeod. Dunvegan Castle is the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Scotland and has been the stronghold of the chiefs of the clan for 800 years.

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On display inside are many family heirlooms, oil paintings and clan treasures but it was the gardens that really impressed me,  I was not expecting them to be so beautiful. Dunvegan Castle has five acres of formal gardens.

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A quick pit stop to Portree the largest town in Skye

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Portree Harbour with its colourful houses.

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It was now time to leave Skye, this is just a small snapshot as there is so much more to see and do. I simply did not have the time on this occasion. The drive down from Portree to Kyle was stunning.

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The Skye Bridge from Kyle of Lochalsh

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Hope you enjoyed the Isle of Skye see you tomorrow for the next part of my adventures visiting the village of Plockton and the iconic Eilean Donan Castle.

Travel

My Travel Adventures – 2014 Part 1

December 31, 2014

 Happy Hogmanay from Scotland everyone!

 As you all know I love to travel so when I am not working I am usually off on my travels, here is a snapshot of my travels this year (some of the places I have not got around to writing full blog posts about yet but I promise I will soon as I have some fantastic photographs and experiences to share with you.)

March – York, Harrogate & Knaresborough 

My first trip out of Scotland this year took me across the border to England for a few days. I absolutely loved York and the historic market towns of Harrogate and Knaresborough. Renowned for its architecture, quaint cobbled streets, iconic York Minster and a wealth of visitor attractions, York is a city you could keep coming back to as there is so much to see and do. I only had a day here and my highlights were York Minster and the epic climb to the top to see the amazing views of the Yorkshire countryside. I also really enjoyed York Castle Museum and took advantage of the York Pass and the York Sightseeing Bus to make the most of my time.

One of my favourite things at the York Castle Museum was the authentically recreated Victorian Street & Shops!

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York Minster on a glorious spring day

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Harrogate

Harrogate the famous Spa town in North Yorkshire is a busy and prosperous town with plenty of shops and restaurants.

The Royal Pump Room houses Europe’s strongest sulphur well but is now a museum showcasing the town’s spa history.

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IMG_2401Bettys Cafe Tea Rooms is a famous Harrogate landmark. It opened in 1919 and is still a family business. In the 1960’s  Bettys bought Taylors of Harrogate, a family run tea and coffee merchant, also based in Harrogate the company which makes Yorkshire tea. The company is one of the few remaining family tea and coffee merchants in the country.

Knaresborough

The historic market town just 4 miles from Harrogate, Knaresborough has many historic sites including the remains of Knaresborough Castle, Mother Shipton’s Cave, the House in the Rock, and St Roberts Cave (dating from the Middle Ages). Knaresborough is the site of Ye Oldest Chymist Shoppe in England, opened in 1720 and the Courthouse Museum in the castle grounds.

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 April – Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides

April to me means Easter, spring flowers, longer days and lambs and a time to recharge the batteries after a long winter and what better place?

This year TripAdvisor named the island of Lewis and Harris among best in world, it was ranked fifth best island in the world in the TripAdvisor Traveller’s Choice Awards and it also saw Lewis and Harris ranked number one in the best island in Europe category.  A unique and special place its something us locals always knew and to me it’s simply home.

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 June – Turkey 

June takes us to Turkey for our annual trip a whirlwind two weeks which always goes by too quick.  As always we spend quality time with the family, eat incredible food and enjoy the glorious weather (well usually) this year we had some crazy thunderstorms during the first week.

This year we visited Cappadocia & Antalya. In Cappadocia we saw some amazing sights and went Hot Air Ballooning which was one of the best experiences of my life!

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 Thank you for reading, following and commenting this past year. I do enjoy reading and replying to your comments. Happy New Year/Bliadhna Mhath Ùr to you all.

Part 2 coming tomorrow!