Alice in Burgundy


It turns out, it’s quite easy to dig a rabbit hole. I should know; I’m ten days into mine.

It started with my last blog post where I mentioned that we’d be going to Paris this fall, and that I hoped to hike Burgundy.


Pat and I spent a week in Burgundy a few years ago, splitting our time between Dijon and Beaune. It was nice, but my desire to return only crystallized on the bus ride back to Dijon. As we whizzed past one utterly charming village after another, I realized that this was the most walkable place I’d seen in rural France. I leaned over towards Pat, “We should come back someday and hike this.”

The route to Pommard

Flash forward to ten days ago.

I started my research the way I always do, with a Google search: “books about Burgundy.” Five days and five light reads later, (first, a novel called The Last Vintage which bounced between World War 2 resistance and the modern day wine business. Next, all of Laura Bradbury’s Grape Series memoirs which take place in Burgundy), I felt like I had a nascent understanding of the essence of this area.

At first blush, it’s Burgundy—a place where crazy rich people lay down five grand for a bottle of wine. I’m not seeking that place. These books provided a glimpse into another Burgundy. I was enchanted by tales of eight-hour, multi-generational meals and intrigued by vintners who produce some of the most expensive wine in the world yet refer to themselves as “simple farmers.” I became fixated on the cheese from Citeaux Abbey—and commenced searching for some reasonable means to detour there.

Research (while sipping the 4th bottle)

After all, you can’t go to Burgundy and ignore the wine and cheese. To this end, I met with my local wine man last week and discussed my route. He helped me select four wines—two Pinot Noir and two Chardonnay—from villages I’ll be visiting. I bought a wedge of the stinkiest Burgundian cheese, Époisses, plus a triple creme Délice de Bourgogne. Let the research continue.

I have anchored my walk around the length of the wine regions of the Côte de Nuits and Côte de Beaune (collectively, the Côte d’Or) and fiddled with Google maps for hours—perfecting the daily distances, detouring into each of the grand cru villages, searching for an obscure chambre d’hôte unbeknownst to the likes of

After two days of making and breaking plans, I have seven nights of rooms booked from Gevrey-Chambertin to Puligny-Montrachet. My best estimation is that the total hike is 32 miles, which basically means that I can break a limb on day four and still hobble to the finish on schedule.

After finalizing all of that, I bought a book, The Most Beautiful Villages of Burgundy, and learned of a town called Nolay nestled in the hills above my stopping point. I added a detour plus two more nights.

And why not? When you’re this far down the rabbit hole, what’s there to do but keep digging?

A typical day in Burgundy

Pat may come, but more likely he will stay back in Paris and play pétanque with his friends. This is fine by me. The greatest gift Pat has always given me is the encouragement to choose my own path along with an infectious confidence that all will end well.

I am content to find my way each day, to stumble upon an experience, to talk to a local—or ten. I believe the lone traveler is more approachable and therefore more often invited into a serendipitous moment or event.

With my rooms fixed, my only plan is planlessness—to tumble down the rabbit hole and embrace whatever adventures await.

Categories: Life in Paris

7 replies

  1. Good for you! I’d love to fall down the rabbit hole too.

  2. You will never stop amazing me and I love it!!

  3. How wonderful! I travelled north through that at area, specifically the Loire Valley, with my brother in the fall of 1989, arriving in Berlin about a week before the Wall fell. Yes, beautiful area. Glad you are taking the time to savor it. I will jot you a note via gmail. We’re heading to Philadelphia – and wondered if we could find you there. My guess is that we won’t.


  1. A Tale of Two Cheeses – The World In Between

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