12:31PM | Bussière-sur-Ouche | France
Breakfast is in the light-filled winter dining room — soft boiled eggs, croissants, local yogurt, chèvre and locally smoked salmon. We borrow a pair of bikes from the Abbey, and set out on a 25k loop around the surrounding countryside.
The first leg takes us along the Burgundy Canal, a beautiful stretch of water dating from 1775 that connects the Atlantic and Mediterranean. We bike on the tow-path, once used by horses or cows for pulling barges. We pass beautiful wooden barges with smiling pilots, and watch them maneuver into locks and descend levels. The day is hot and the breeze is refreshing; a heron follows us along the water for a time.
We turn off the canal and head north to the town of Châteauneuf (no Pâpes here), a storybook castle and town perched on a steep hill. The climb on bikes is grueling and intense, and the ancient defensibility of the castle’s location seems more obvious with each pump of our legs. Once in the town, we break for water, picon bière, and crêpes salés — with cheese, bacon, potatoes, and spinach.
Our constitution restored, we hop back on the bikes and follow the route south back towards the abbey. We cross rolling hills of wheat and grains, and pass ubiquitous herds of white Charolais cattle. Back at the hotel we sit on the veranda, enjoying kir royales and trying to find room for dinner.
A second extensive and impressive tasting menu, dishes include morel mushrooms, crayfish, rabbit confit, escargots, and mackerel. An expansive selection from the cheese tray: melted époisses, Brillat Savarin, fresh local goat, Cîteaux, and others. Calvados and armagnac on the terrace. Paris tomorrow.