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Burgundy's Côte d'Or

Bucolic country roads bordered by forests, rolling green vine-covered hills and the opportunity to visit two of the Most Beautiful Villages of France ~ yes, the Côte d'Or département of Burgundy may be just for you.

Côte d'Or means “golden slope” — the reddish-gold hillsides where some of the world's most famous grapes are grown. You may recognize Meursault, Nuits-St-Georges, Vougeot, Gevrey-Chambertin and Chassagne Montrachet among other renowned Burgundy wines. There is an abundance of wineries open to the public for tasting and purchasing fine wines, and the wine museum at Beaune is worth a visit. Don't miss Beaune's Hôtel Dieu, sponsor of the world's largest wine auction held each November and Dijon where you will discover architectural splendor and the prestigious Musée des Beaux Arts.

Beaune is first remembered for its narrow streets and bustling squares and the Hôtel Dieu, the museum created from a charity hospital (in operation until 1971)founded in 1443 by Nicolas Rolin, the king's chancellor, who came into great wealth. He and his wife decided to establish an almshouse and hospital for the city's poor.

A visit to Montbard and the magnificent Abbaye de Fontenay should be included in your journey, as time spent at this serene and historic abbey will remain in your memory forever.
Dijon is the capital of Burgundy and the heart of mustard country. It was the Romans who crushed mustard seed to mask what may have been meat that had seen better days, and here in Dijon that centuries-old coarse mustard (moutarde l'ancienne) was produced using wine vinegar. Smooth mustard followed in the 1600s, but the biggest change came when Jean Naigeon, a Dijon mustard-maker, substituted the wine vinegar with grape juice from un-ripened grapes - the popularity of famous Dijon mustard sky-rocketed.

The architecture of Dijon is quite diverse. Visit the 13th century Gothic Church of Notre Dame, adorned with some very gruesome gargoyles added in the 19th century. Its right-hand bell tower houses the Jacquemart clock - with a “family” of characters hitting the chimes on the quarter hour. The interior of this church is home to a 12th century Black Virgin, the protectress of Dijon, and a Gobelin tapestry - both connected to the date of September 11th. The Black Virgin received credit for saving Dijon from a Swiss attack on that date in 1513, and the tapestry was presented following the liberation from German occupation on that date in 1944. Make note, too, of the exceptional stained glass windows.

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FRANCE On Your Own

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