Grape Rentals

The Grape News

Volume V – Fall 2001 – November 1, 2001

I was getting this issue of the Grape News ready to send out mid-September, but after the tragic attacks of Sept 11th and the continuing fallout this and many other things seemed somehow superfluous and were pushed to the back-burner. Let me just take this opportunity to say that since Sept 11th our thoughts have been with our many American friends and former house guests. Your country and fellow citizens have shown tremendous grace in a time of great difficulty.

Now, back to this issue of the Grape News, as now more than ever everybody seems to be craving respite from our everyday lives…

Dear all,

A local enjoying a break from the market in Beaune.

We spent three fabulous weeks at La Maison des Deux Clochers in late June / early July. Most of our time was spent outside with Franck's family, listening to the crickets chirp, barbequing Merguez, and sipping on chilled rosé. The evenings were phenomenal. Warm, peaceful, and seemingly endless. Our decision to go was rather spur-of-the-moment, but we managed to carve out three weeks for ourselves on the reservations calendar and pick up a great deal on a British Airways seat sale, and are we ever glad we did!

The airline trip with Charlotte (now 18 months old and with a promising future career as a world class sprinter and climber) was a little more challenging than last time, but still eminently do-able nonetheless. I'm sure even she felt that all the good food she ate during her stay, paté, divinely smelly cheeses, and endless quantities of baguette and croissant, made the long plane rides more than worth it.

We also arrived home to a "Happy Bastille Day" card from John & Bill. Merci Beaucoup!

Without further ado, here's the latest news about the house, the garden, places to eat, and things to see…

  1. The Garden
  2. Believe it or not, this is the first time since April 1999 that we have been back to France during the Spring/Summer. I'd forgotten how beautiful it is with all the window boxes full of geraniums and the vineyards undulating waves of tender green. We couldn't believe how huge everything had grown, the lavender puffs way out into the courtyard and the Hollyhocks have overtaken the bottom of the stairs.

    Scene from the market in Beaune.

    Franck, being the ever industrious fellow he is and wanting to work off a bit of our prodigious consumption of wine, cheese, and charcuterie, repainted our garden fence white; a project we had been meaning to do since we did the major refurbishing in 1999. It looks great, and we're hoping our guests will spend lots of time relaxing in the garden and enjoying the peaceful surroundings.

  3. Ever-growing Library
  4. Many guests have kindly left books at the house at the end of their stay, not wanting to cart them back to North America I suppose, instead preferring to fill up their luggage with wine and other goodies! Along with the selection of books that Franck and I left at the house initially, this has turned into quite an impressive and eclectic little library. When we were there in July I enjoyed the Biography of Mary Queen of Scots, a BIG book left at the house by one of our many mystery benefactors.

    So, a note to those of you who are planning a trip to the house in the near future; if you are short on luggage space, rest assured that you will find ample reading material at La Maison des Deux Clochers. The choice is becoming so diverse that almost anyone can find, I believe, something to suit their tastes.

    For those of you kind people who anonymously donate books which make the house even a more pleasant place to stay, please put your name and the date of your stay inside so we can know who to think of and thank for our reading material!

  5. Two Great Restaurant Finds, Plus a Great Fromagerie
  6. Pastoral scene in Verdun-Sur-Le-Doubs.

    As usual, this was a "working" holiday for us in that we felt absolutely obliged to seek out and try new restaurants to share with our guests…(sigh), yes our existence is an arduous one…Luckily, this activity has not been curtailed in the least by the arrival of Charlotte, who has inherited her parents taste for the good life.

    So, always with our ear to the ground, we followed up many whispered tips from the locals, and found three new gems which merit inclusion in our ever-expanding restaurant index.

    Au Feu de Bois 21200 Montagny-Les-Beaune Tel/Fax: 03.80.24.14.27 *deservedly popular so make reservations Open evenings from Tuesday through Sunday from 7:00pm

    Locals are all raving about this great restaurant just outside of Beaune which the ideal spot for a casual dinner in the summertime. Most of the seating is outside, and the décor is eclectic and magical. There are reams of twinkling fairy lights, papier mache animals of every description, and a babbling fountain. The food is downright fabulous; amazing wood-fired pizzas, delectable salads and local specialties. The desserts are also out of this world, I would definitely recommend the Poire Belle Helène or the Chocolat Liégois, although everything looked pretty darn good. The prices are very reasonable and the ambiance is quite casual, jeans would be fine here. Although they don't cater in particular to tourists, I was pleased to find that their menus all contain English translations of the dishes. Makes for an extremely delicious and relaxed evening out!

    Restaurant Beau Rivage Chauvort 71350 Allerey-sur-Saône Tel: 03.85.91.87.45 *good idea to make reservations, especially on sunny days

    It is a long held local tradition to go down to the banks of the Saône River at least once a summer and eat at on the terrace of one of the riverside restaurants. These restaurants specialize in food that comes from the River and the surrounding marshes; frogs legs in cream sauce, as well as crawfish (écrevisses), and freshwater fish. For a long time Franck has been longing for a plate of Cuisses de grenouilles a la crème just like in the good old days.

    One of Franck's sister's colleagues lives on the banks of the Saône, and recommended the Beau Rivage as one of the best restaurants in the area. He wasn't wrong, and four out of five of us had the frogs legs and found them among the best of any we'd every tasted. All in all a great destination for an original open-air lunch, especially if you make it on a Thursday to coincide with the market in the nearby town of Verdun-Sur-Le-Doubs.

    Christian from the Caveau Saint Uguzon

    Caveau Saint Uguzon 3, rue Grenier a Sel 21700 Nuits-Saint-Georges Tel: 03.80.61.21.59

    A great little fromagerie in the heart of nearby Nuits-Saint-Georges. A few of our guests have bought cheese here and have been thrilled with the quality. The shop carries local specialties hand-picked from the best cheese makers of the region.

    Ask for a recommendation as to what cheese is particularly good right now. Cheese, just like produce, has its seasons. We had a memorable Brillat Savarin and an Époisses from the venerable local cheesemakers Berthault. A great stop to make while you are enjoying the small town charm of Nuits-Saint-Georges, particularly lively on a market day.

  7. Day Trips - #2 – Le Jura
  8. This is the second installment of our ongoing series of day trips you can take from La Maison des Deux Clochers. In Grape News 4 we gave an overview of Lyon.

    Franck and I often try to make a trip to the alpine region known Le Jura. The scenery is spectacular, the wine is very different than the wine from the Côte D'Or but is nevertheless superb, and the local cuisine is rustic and delicious.

    • How to Get There:
    • A great site to help you prepare your trip in Europe.

      We have found a great new site for information about France and the rest of Europe as well as directions to or from anywhere you want to go. Go and have a look, it is a great place to begin your travel planning.

      www.viamichelin.com

      For specific directions from Beaune to Lons-Le-Saunier in the Jura (a good departure point for all of the activities I have listed below), click here.

      This whole site can be viewed in English! The links we have given you direct you to the English version of the site.

    • Must See / Do's:
    • The Jura is quite a large region, so it would be almost impossible to do all the things I'm mentioning here in one day. Just pick a corner of the region and then explore in depth - you will not be disappointed. However, here are some ideas to get you started:

      1. Château-Chalon
      2. This jaw-droppingly spectacular hilltop town is definitely worth the stop. The view from the town is panoramic and dramatic. Park your car and wander around. The old stone houses and cobblestone streets transport you back at least 200 years or more. There is a quiet, ageless quality about this spot that is truly magical (however, we did go in November, and I've heard it can be quite a bit busier in July and August). The church, perched on a rocky outcropping that plunges down to the vineyards very far below is worth devoting some wandering time.

        The thing that Château-Chalon is best known for, however, is its famous "yellow" wine which goes by the same name Château-Chalon. It has long been considered the Grand Cru of all of the wines of the Jura region. It is an unctuous, golden concoction that is completely unlike any of the wines you would find in Burgundy. It is particularly renowned for its longetivity - it is not unheard of for families to keep bottles of Château- Chalon in their cellars for 50 or 100 years, and apparently the end result is superlative.

        Franck and I are trying this out, as we purchased 6 bottles from a very reputed producer of Château- Chalon named Jean Macle. However, knowing us the chances of any of our bottles lasting for 100 years is slim to none! His house and domaine is in Château- Chalon itself and is definitely worth a visit. Château- Chalon wine is not cheap, but you can also buy the less expensive Vin jaune, or Vin de Paille (lovely dessert wine). Both of these give you a delicious taste of the region as well.

        Domaine Jean Macle Château- Chalon Cave Open every day from 9-12am and 3-7pm Preferably by appointment Tel: 03.84.85.21.85 Fax: 03.84.85.27.38

        Another good place to buy wine is the local wine Co-Operative in the nearby town of Voiteur.

        Baume-Les-Messieurs Fruitière Viticole de Voiteur 39210 VOITEUR Tel: 03.84.85.21.29 Fax: 03.84.85.27.67
      3. The Village of Baume-Les-Messieurs
      4. Baume-Les-Messieurs

        In the valley down from Château- Chalon you will find this picturesque village. It is a mythical spot surrounded by cliffs, rivers, and waterfalls.

      5. The town of Lons-Le-Saunier
      6. One of the famous "spa" towns of France, renowned for their thermal waters, Lons-Le-Saunier is a friendly town which gives you a good feeling for the spirit of the Jura. Try one of the two cafes in the center of the main square, La Place de La Liberté, which are housed in what used to be the old opera house. I've rarely seen ceilings that high or that ornate.

        If you are lucky enough to be able to make it on a Thursday morning, you will also be able to experience the lively market which takes place on the Place de La Liberté. Also do not miss a stop at "Au Prince D'Orange" chocolatier. The treats here are truly decadent works of art and a must for any chocoholics.

        Au Prince D'Orange Place de La Liberté 39000 LONS-LE-SAUNIER Tel: 03.84.24.31.39

        Also, Lons is a great place to stop for lunch. t's authentic and inexpensive restaurants serve such local specialties as the Tarte Flambée (onion and cheese pizza -like tart), and cheese fondue.

      7. A Cheese Tasting
      8. The Jura is renowned for its cheeses, especially its Comté. Franck and I stopped off at a fruitière as these cheese producers are known as, that was recommended by a friend who hails from the Jura. It is a small operation and we got a personal tour from the operator.

        Did you know that the cheese has a different taste depending on what month it was produced because of the changing diet of the cows throughout the year? The spring cheeses are particularly valued as the lucky cows wander the hills noshing on wildflowers and clover, giving the cheese a heavenly taste. We also got a tasting - YUM! We bought a large wedge of Comté and a creamy Mont D'Or (another local cheese which you actually scoop out of its wooden container with a spoon!).

        Everything you want to know about Comté cheese.

        Fruitière Napiot Fromagerie du Val D'Usiers 25520 Val D'Usiers

        However, do be aware that the Fruitière Napiot is a very small operation with extremely sporadic hours, so don't go far out of your way to visit it alone - you may be disappointed to find it closed.

        The Maison du Comté is very interesting and walks you through the history of this cheese that dates back to the middle ages. It has regular hours and you can contact them ahead of time to confirm when they are open.

        La Maison Du Comté Avenue de la Resistance 39801 Poligny Tel: 03.84.37.23.51

      This is just a starting point, you could literally spend weeks exploring the Jura. Every time Franck and I go back for any length of time we always try to make it there on a day trip and explore a little bit more, as well as buy some more wine for our cave. We strongly recommend this little corner of France.

      Have a look at www.comte.com a great web site that tells you everything you would want to know about Comté and lots about Jura region as well.

  9. 2002 Availabilities
  10. We had a record number of guests in 2001, mostly from word of mouth, and found ourselves almost completely booked up between April and November, with only a few gaps in between. So far in 2002 about eight weeks have been rented so far, but there is still quite a bit of space outside of the month of October, which is already booked up.

    If you are interested in getting any specific information on any particular dates, don't hesitate to contact us at….

  11. Our new address
  12. Scene from market in Beaune

    Yes, we have moved again! We finally have bought a house in Victoria near the beach, so for a few years at least we should be maintaining this address - it's a keeper!

    Laura, Franck & Charlotte Germain 523 Oliver Street Victoria BC Canada V8S 4W2 Tel/Fax: (250) 598-5682 Email & website have remained the same (thank goodness) Email: laura@graperentals.com Website: www.graperentals.com

    As usual, we always love to hear from all of the friends we have made through La Maison des Deux Clochers. Drop us a line and/or photos and let us know how you're doing. Anytime we can help with providing any information about France, Burgundy, or La Maison des Deux Clochers do not hesitate to contact us.

À Bientôt! Happy dreams of Burgundy in the meantime…

Laura and Franck