Chateau de Beaufer
Route d Ozenay, Tournus
Telephone: 0033385511824

Antique Shops along the route...

Restaurant Recommendation

Pottery by Marc Bescacier


How to Get There

At the entry to Tournus, take the Road for Brancion and
Cormatin (D-14). You will see signs for the Chateau, and a
small wooded lane leading down to it on your left.

(Note: During July and August the Chateau de Beaufer
accepts advance reservations for three day periods only.
However if you are just heading out for the weekend, you
can always call at the last minute to see if there happens to
be a vacancy.)

Lulu guards the breakfast table.

August 29, 1999

Bliss in Burgundy
Stay in an enchanting chateau
in the midst of the wine country

Two Hours from Geneva: spend a leisurely weekend exploring antique shops and eating marvelous meals in the area around Tournus.

Burgundy is like Tuscany. It is one of those enchanted places where it is very hard to have a bad time, and nearly impossible not to eat well. It's just two hours from Geneva, and we go as often as we can, choosing our destinations almost at random and then exploring in a leisurely radius around them. One recent weekend we chose the South Burgundy town of Tournus, known as “the gateway of Provence."

Our choice for a recent last minute booking when we suddently decided to get away for the weekend was Le Chateau de Beaufer, a place I’d read about in the magazine “Bourgogne." Although we really knew very little about it in advance, this idyllic getaway was absolutely the “find” of the weekend, if not the entire summer.

Chateau de Beaufer is a spot for animal lovers. Horses graze in the pastures surrounding the Chateau, and the first welcoming committee when we arrived was composed of the household’s six friendly dogs. They were followed quickly by members of the staff who showed us to our room. I felt a momentary twinge of anxiety when apologies were offered that none of the larger rooms were available. But we were absolutely delighted with the ‘Yellow Room.” which was exquisite: antique terra cotta tile floors, a large antique gilt mirror, beautiful old prints, fabric colored walls in a warm ochre, and certainly more spacious by far than the average accommodation. Antique blue and white tiles in a fleur de lys motif gave the shower/toilet room a fresh and cheery feeling and beyond the small window, vines doubled as draperies, letting just a hint of verdant-tinted sunlight through. To make up for this terrible hardship, the price of the room was much lower than those of th e others at the chateau: 500 FF including breakfast.

Plans to head back into Tournus were quickly shelved. We could not resist simply relaxing by the splendid pool, which is set against a backdrop of unspoiled countryside, and framed by lavish bunches of lavender and rose bedecked walls. Opening onto the pool is an enormous living room with soaring oak beamed ceilings. There is a self-service bar where you can sign out drinks to sip in front of the fireplace or by the poolside.

Madame Roggen has exquisite taste, and has beautifully decorated each of the chateau’s rooms in an individual style using a marvelous combination of Swiss and French antiques and “materiaux anciens.” We particularly liked “La Maisonnette” (ff 850 a night). It has a burgundian stone fireplace, a large sitting area, soothing peach decor, antique floral prints on the walls, and a splendid large bath tiled in blue and white. The luxurious bathtub is partially set back into the wall, giving it a particularly cozy feeling.

Somewhat darker, but also beautiful is the “Mezannine. (ff 820) The bed is nestled up on a mezannine behind a wrought iron ballustrade and there are other dramatic wrought iron touches throughout the room giving it a gothic feel. The bathroom features an antique tub and Victorian tiles with a vine motif.

Dining Tip Nearby

Le Gourmand
13 rue de Strasbourg

The Ile St. Laurent, a little island on the Saone river in the city of Chalons, is reputed to have the highest concentration of restaurants per square kilometer in Burgundy. In search of a restaurant one Sunday as the fatal cut-off hour of 1:30 approached, we choose the island as our safest bet. Our plan was to try Chez Jules, listed in the Gault Millau, but we discovered that it was closed. Next door was Le Gourmand, where we enjoyed a perfect meal, complemented by an exquisite Chassagne-Montrechet recommended by the hostesse. The food was superb, and beautifully served. And equally important, the service was excellent. The waiters never missed a step. And they never did anything other than smile as they walzed around several over-active small children kept escaping from their parents tables. We were inspired by the cheese courses, each served as an individual course marrying one cheese with fruits, nuts and other ingredients. Below is a recipee we developed inspired by a dish at Le Gourmand.

Roquefort and Pears with Walnuts

Reduce 1 1/2 cups of Port wine by boiling it until it just begins to thicken
Toss in walnuts to coat them. (If you want, you can slightly toast the walnuts first to enhance their flavor). If the port does not thicken adequately, you can add just a sprinkle of Arrowroot.

Place a small portion of Roquefort on each plate.
Core and slice 1/2 pear on each plate.
Garnish with a few of the Port coated nuts.

(At the restaurant this was served with salad, but we like the pears better.)



An Antique Itinerary
Traveling the Backroads to Tournus

You can take the highway from Geneva to Tournus. But it would be a shame to miss the back roads, which are lined with treasures. A suggested itinerary might be to take the new highway 39 to Lons Le Saunier and from there meander over the country roads toward Tournus. There are at least a dozen interesting antique shops and brocantes along the route.

At La Levanchee, further along the N78, be sure to stop in at Le Broc’Antic, a particularly well-stocked shop run in an old schoolhouse by the charming and informative Angelique Berger. As we drove up on Saturday, Angelique was busily loading up her truck and getting ready to head off to the large fleamarket which is held at the nearby “Grange Rouge" three times every summer.

Among the items which attracted us at Le Broc Antique were the iron cheese and fruit presses, the old toys and including some wonderful toy firetrucks, beautiful old farm tools, and nice rustic items, like the old farm bench for which she was asking a modest FF 460.

Address: Broc’Antic, Angelique Berger, La Levanche, 39570 Courlaoux, Tel. 0384353888

Pottery by Marc Bescacier

In the midst of the country fields along route D971 a small sign indicates a potter’s workshop. Even going by at speed, we recognized the style of the plates hanging on display by the roadside, mounted on a board just above the artist’s mailbox. A few weeks earlier while lunching at one of our favorite spots, the Cafe Gothique in Baume Les Messieurs, we had admired the hand-crafted plates we were served on. We asked where they came from, and were told “near Louhans.” I’d forgotten that bit of information, but here, by wonderful serendipity, was the place.

Potter Marc Besacier works in beautiful organic autumn tones, and uses flowing abstract motifs inspired by Islamic and Spanish pottery. There are many attractive small bowls, serving trays and other items that would make lovely gifts priced between 80 and 150 FF. Dinner plates, each one a unique piece, were extremely reasonable. Madame Besacier, who runs the shop, insists that it is possible to put the pieces in the dishwasher.

Le Champ du Vernay, Le Fay,

One town along the road, Rancy, appears to be a major center for French country-style kitchen chairs. We noted at least 10 small workshops along the road selling chairs or offering to make your set of chairs to order.