Yes, yes, I’m still here — just extremely behind on logging my adventures after spending a wonderful two weeks with my family visiting from the states. FaceTime and Skype are great, but nothing beats actually having your favorite people right there in front of you, showing them around your new city, with a few fantastic trips thrown in for good measure. I’ll catch you guys up in reverse order since our most recent adventures are the freshest in my mind. First up: Burgundy!
My dad is quite the wine enthusiast, so Guillaume was quick to suggest a visit to French wine country during my parents’ visit and we settled on Burgundy after parsing the logistics (location, crowds, timing, etc.). My parents and I met Gui at the train station after he finished work Thursday and the four of us took the short ride around Lake Geneva to Lausanne to catch the TGV to Dijon, France. It’s a good thing the Swiss trains run so perfectly on schedule: Our itinerary left us with just minutes to board the last TGV to Dijon once we arrived in Lausanne, prompting a frantic sprint down and up a flight of stairs to the neighboring platform, with my dad and Gui carrying the suitcases in their arms . Huffing and puffing, we found our seats and settled in for our first high-speed European train experience… mistakenly, it turned out. Apparently the high-speed part of the TGV route comes after the train passes through Dijon, so we had to settle for “normal” (European normal any way – it’s still night and day compared to regular old Amtrak).
We arrived in Dijon around 8:30pm, checked into our hotel and headed to a restaurant across the street for dinner. By the time we got back to the hotel to get information about the Bastille Day fireworks, we learned that they had started 40 minutes earlier, so we settled for watching the lovely Eiffel Tower display on television before going to sleep, unaware of the attack in Nice until the next morning.
We spent Saturday traveling through Côte de Nuits and Côte de Beaune on an information-packed wine tour with another family. That’s where we learned about how important the “terroir” (pronounced /terˈwär/) – or environmental elements of a plot, like the slope of the land and the amount of sunlight – is in the Burgundy region. We also ate the most incredible croissants I’ve ever tasted (our guide picked them up from La Boulangerie Pâtisserie Eiffel, if you’re ever in Dijon), took in some gorgeous wine country landscapes, made a too-brief stop in the medieval town of Beaune, learned about some ridiculously expensive wines made in the area (ever heard of Romanée-Conti? I hadn’t…) and, of course, sampled a few varieties. To my mom’s dismay, the guide also demonstrated the proper way to “taste” wine, which involves loud slurping noises to spread the wine through your entire mouth (the guys loved it). It was a wonderful day, followed by a delicious dinner back in Dijon at Treize Lucioles, which has some incredible options for my fellow veggie lovers.
Sunday we wandered around Dijon, first perusing the enormous food market and then sampling the city’s famous mustards and picking up some to bring home. We had another incredible meal in the square outside of the Musée des Beaux-Arts before checking out the museum itself and then hopping on the 5:30pm train back to Switzerland. Keep an eye out for the photo of an owl carving in Dijon that everyone rubs for good luck – its shape is now almost indiscernible – and another of the “Porte Guillaume” arch that shows the tops of French flags wrapped in black to mourn the tragedy in Nice.