After leaving Paris, we went to Vernon and Giverny. We stayed in Vernon
and biked 20 minutes to reach Giverny, which is where Monet’s house and gardens are located. The gardens are huge! We were there at a good time of year because the water lilies were in bloom. I’d love to see the gardens when no one else was around. After walking along all the paths in the garden, we sat down on a bench shaded by a willow tree for a while. I could have stayed there forever…
The next stop was Dijon. Our train arrived in the afternoon, so we just wandered around the city after getting settled at our apartment. We stumbled upon a store called Grain de Cassis that had a lot of local and French-made products. Everything looked and sounded delicious so it was hard to decide what to buy! I ended up getting rose cream (a sort of spread for crackers or bread), a paté (of pork, mushrooms and hazelnuts), a set of mini dijon mustards (I’m not a fan, but I know some family members who’d like to try the different flavors), and a loaf of pain d’épices (a spice bread that’s a traditional food of the Dijon region). We devoured the pain d’épice after our dinner! It was fine with the rose cream but the spices overpowered the rose flavor; we actually preferred it with a little raspberry jam.
While walking around Dijon, we passed a pretty dog that I think would have enjoyed joining us on our “promenade.”
The following day we took a train to Beaune for the day. I visited a museum called Hôtel-Dieu : Les Hospices de Beaune, where I’d been dying to go ever since I saw pictures. The colorful roof tiles are so much more fun that your typical monotone roof! The building used to be a hospital. Nicolas Rolin, who was chancellor to the Dukes of Burgundy, founded the hospital in the 13th century to provide high quality medical care to the poor who would not otherwise be able to afford it.
In the afternoon we went on a self-guided bike tour through the vineyards between Beaune and Meursault. The landscape was absolutely stunning! I realized I was repeatedly exclaiming “woah” as I turned my head to look to the right and left of the bike trail to take in the scenery. A couple times I became so absorbed in looking around me that I started veering off the trail…whoops. Luckily there weren’t a lot of people around, and I left a safe distance between my friends’ bikes and my own.
In Meursault we stopped at the Domaine Jean Monnier et Fils for a wine tasting. A wine blender named Régis let us taste four white wines from vineyards surrounding Meursault and one red wine from Pommard (the first village we biked through after leaving Beaune).
The second white wine we tried. I bought a bottle of it to bring home with me!
It was interesting to hear his philosophy about wine, which he said was typical of the attitude towards wine in Burgundy. I’d asked him how he would describe the flavor of one of the wines we were tasting, and he responded by saying that the aroma is actually more important to Burgundian wine makers. He said that a wine should be like a perfume. It should be distinct without overwhelming the senses. Wine shouldn’t be overly sweet, because one should be able to drink several glasses of it without becoming sick. He also instructed us to move our wine glass back and forth under our nose after swirling its contents, rather than plunging our nose into the glass and inhaling.
Spent our last night in Dijon eating very well!
The bathroom (“throne”) at the restaurant we ate dinner at, a nice little restaurant called La Petite Roi de la Lune (the Little King of the Moon).
Sitting in Monet’s garden and biking through the Burgundian vineyards are two of my top life experiences. Both were incredibly freeing: Monet’s garden because it plunges you into a world so filled with plant life that it feels disconnected from your everyday life (or at least my everyday life); biking through the vineyards because the work that occurs in them is so focused, and those who perform the work are so passionate about it that they have turned it into an art. Both are definitely experiences I hope to repeat before much time passes.