Two Hours from Geneva: spend a leisurely
weekend exploring antique shops and eating marvelous meals
in the area around Tournus.
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."
choice for a recent last minute booking when we suddently
decided to get away for the weekend was Le Chateau de Beaufer,
a place Id 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 households 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 chateaus 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
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
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.
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
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
At La Levanchee, further along the N78, be
sure to stop in at Le BrocAntic, 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: BrocAntic, 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 potters 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 artists 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. Id 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, 03.85.74.17.34
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.