France – Burgundy Region (Part 2)

Part II of our adventure through Burgundy. Enjoy the pics! Journal continues below…

Pedestrian area of Joigny Becky, Abby and mom under the archway leading up to St. Jean Church; Joigny Interior of St. Jean Church; Joigny St. Jean Church; Joigny A serene scene in Joigny Fosse Dionne pool; Tonnerre Boulevard near Château d'Ancy-le-Franc Central square; Noyers-sur-Serein Medieval gate leading to Noyers-sur-Serein Half timbered houses; Noyers-sur-Serein Vine covered house in Noyers-sur-Serein Towers of Semur-en-Auxois River scene in Semur-en-Auxois The cracked Golden Orle Tower. The crack dates from 1602; Semur-en-Auxois Knights armor on display at the Musée des Beaux-Arts; Dijon The Palace of the Dukes and Estates of Burgundy; Dijon Place François Rude; Dijon A well maintained lock keeper's house; Canal du Nivernais Snow on our last day in France! Our treacherous drive from Semur-en-Auxois to Stuttgart Detail of Cravant's water fountain Getting ready to cruise into an open lock; Canal du Nivernais Main street in Vincelles Happy cows on a dairy farm; Vincelles Bales of hay stacked high at the farm; Vincelles Tom and dad enjoying the view on our cruise from Bailly to Auxerre Quaint French villages dot the landscape on the Canal du Nivernais Abby operating the hand crank to open the lock gate; Canal du Nivernais Lock number 79 on the Canal du Nivernais Friendly dogs cruising with their owners down the Canal du Nivernais. Check out the doggy life jacket! Cruising into Auxerre. Yes, the boat will fit under the bridge! Our canal view in Auxerre! Abby befriending Auxerre's swans and ducks Water fountain; Auxerre Attic window; Auxerre A hodgepodge of timbered houses; Auxerre We loved the architecture of pretty Auxerre Interior detail of Cathedrale St-Etienne; Auxerre Stained glass window; Cathedrale St-Etienne in Auxerre Phenomenal detail on the entrance arches of Auxerre's Cathedrale St-Etienne View of Auxerre's 1483 Tour de l’Horloge Auxerre is definitely a city to explore on foot! Restaurant poster in Auxerre Cute townhouses just below Abbaye St-Germain; Auxerre Crucifixion of Christ; Abbaye St-Germain Elaborate headdress; Abbaye St-Germain Lots of interesting statues on display at the Abbaye St-Germain (free); Auxerre Close up of the carvings above the entrance to the Church of St. Pierre en Vallée; Auxerre Visible from the Yonne River, the Church of St. Pierre en Vallée is worth a visit; Auxerre Misty morning view on our departure from Auxerre Follow the snail signs for Burgundy's best escargot at Billot; Bassou Tom and Abby riding through Bassou Vineyards close to the Joigny waterfront Purple flowers galore in Joigny Robby and Abby busy taking photos of Joigny A Twizy (compact electric car); Joigny House of the Tree of Jesse, one of Joigny's most famous buildings Sun and moon detail inside the Church of St. Thibault; Joigny Delicatessen in Joigny Chateau of Tanlay Château d'Ancy-le-Franc Noyers-sur-Serein is a lovely Burgundy town, full of half timbered houses A carved angel on a half timbered house in Noyers-sur-Serein We enjoyed our stroll through Noyers-sur-Serein Town house; Noyers-sur-Serein Vine archway; Noyers-sur-Serein Stone ramparts of Noyers-sur-Serein A fork in the road; Noyers-sur-Serein Imposing stone gateway to Noyers-sur-Serein Two of the four twin towers of Semur-en-Auxois are visible on our drive into this picturesque village Our tiny corner of paradise in Semur-en-Auxois. We stayed at the lovely Logis des gouverneurs, the tower with the glazed tile roof The Notre-Dame church; Semur-en-Auxois Entrance to Semur-en-Auxois' old city center Carved detail of Notre-Dame Church; Semur-en-Auxois Plaque commemorating the US soldiers who perished fighting in France during WWI; Semur-en-Auxois Circa 1927 stained glass window commemorating the American soldiers who fell in France during WWI; Notre Dame Church in Semur-en-Auxois Dad and mom strolling around beautiful Semur-en-Auxois. Too bad the weather wasn't cooperating! Early morning misty view of Semur-en-Auxois Wandering through the fortress town of Semur-en-Auxois is a delight Carved lion statue; Semur-en-Auxois View of lower Semur-en-Auxois as seen from its pink granite bluff Hideous gargoyles on the Church of Notre Dame; Dijon Glazed, tiled roofs are an integral part of Burgundy. We saw lots of them in pretty Dijon Decorative archway; Dijon A hunter and a hare; carved wooden detail on one of Dijon's many half-timbered houses Saint Michael Church; Dijon Built in 1828, the Grand Theâtre of Dijon commands a key position in the heart of the city Tomb of the Dukes of Burgundy (in the Guard's Room); Musée des Beaux-Arts in Ducal Palace, Dijon Medieval carving on display at the Musée des Beaux-Arts; Dijon Ducal Palace, Dijon Outdoor cafe in the Liberation Square; Dijon Strolling down Dijon's pedestrian street Multicolored glazed tile roof that Burgundy is world famous for; Dijon Partial view of the 51 decorative gargoyles (or grotesques) on the western façade of Notre Dame Church; Dijon Drive back from Dijon to Semur-en-Auxois Cravant's petite town square Pont de la Porte d'Orléans; Cravant Carved animal and human heads; Vincelles dairy farm Escargot feast! Tasty, cheap and plentiful...wines from Chablis Church of Vincelles Posing with our favorite lock keeper on the Canal du Nivernais Mom and dad in the garden by Les Caves Bailly Lapierre Enjoying the free samples of wine and crémant; Les Caves Bailly Lapierre 4 million bottles of wine are produced each year at Les Caves Bailly Lapierre A carving depicting river barge travel to transport wine and people at Les Caves Bailly Lapierre A free glass with a sample of crémant to conclude our tour of the immense limestone caves of Bailly Place Surugue; Auxerre Striking a pose in Auxerre The world famous Maison Billot, specializing in escargot; Bassou One of locaboat's wide beam boats Joigny cat The clock is accurate twice a day; old half timbered house in Joigny Noyers-sur-Serein Carved figurines; Noyers-sur-Serein Beautiful timbered buildings; Noyers-sur-Serein Ever since we lived in one, we've loved half timbered houses! This trio caught our eye in Noyers-sur-Serein Sunset overlooking Semur-en-Auxois Bridge view of Semur-en-Auxois, one of Burgundy's prettiest villages Typical Burgundy multi colored glazed tile roof; Dijon Panoramic view of Liberation Square (in front of Ducal Palace); Dijon Mom buying lamb at our favorite boucherie in Cravant Pretty flowers on display in the gardens of Bailly Caves Riddling of the crémant is done by gyroplate (the winery has about 80 of these devices); Les Caves Bailly Lapierre Freezing our bums off as we cruise into Auxerre A fountain in Auxerre Side view of the imposing Cathedrale St-Etienne; Auxerre Ceiling view of the Cathedrale St-Etienne; Auxerre Another view of the Tour de l’Horloge, built in 1483 as part of Auxerre's fortifications Display at Abbaye St-Germain; Auxerre Wide angle view of Abbaye St-Germain; Auxerre purchase photo gallery softwareby v6.1

8 Oct (Accolay – Cravant): Day 9 of our trip was quite possibly the laziest one so far. We had to navigate through a whopping 4 locks to reach Cravant, which all of us voted needed a return trip to because of the tender lamb meat we had discovered in this village last week. We ended up loading up on lamb (in preparation for Tom and Abby’s arrival in a few days), and enjoyed some tasty lamb chops for dinner. Cravant lamb…we still dream of you!

9 Oct (Cravant – Vincelles): On our 10th day cruising the Canal du Nivernais, we made our way from Cravant to Vincelles. Our friendly lockkeeper told us about a local farm in Vincelles where we could buy some homemade cheese and yogurt. We were a bit confused by his directions and he could see that we hadn’t a chance to find the place so he graciously offered to accompany us to the farm. Definitely our favorite lockkeeper! The farm was great, with a nice sample of cheese. Mom and dad bought two wheels of hard cheese, a couple of soft cheeses and some coconut yogurt. The farm is pretty neat, with carved human and animal heads above arched doorways in its massive barn. The cows look super content here too! However, the farm wasn’t the best find of the day for us. We rejoiced when we discovered the art of buying frozen escargot in bulk at the wonderfully stocked Vincelles supermarket. Quite possibly the best find of the trip! Needless to say, we bought several bags of escargot and ate to our hearts content. Yummy yummy escargot!

10 Oct (Vincelles – Bailly): On day 11 of our trip, we awoke at a leisurely hour to enjoy a late breakfast followed by a wander into Vincelles for their market day. Based on the flyers and posters around town, we thought the market would be quite sizeable. Imagine our disappointment when we discovered a solitary booth set up selling moldy cheese! Good thing we hadn’t made a special detour to check out the market, ha. From Vincelles, we cruised over to Bailly, which was our meeting point with Tom and Abby who were joining us later in the day. Since we had the entire afternoon to kill, we decided to head up to Les Caves Bailly Lapierre for some wine and crémant tasting. As luck would have it, a large Norwegian bike group was visiting the same time as us. And their guide had coordinated a very special, one time only tour in English! We were invited to join along which was great because tours normally are held during the weekends only in the off season (and in French with English pamphlets). The caves of Bailly (built in the 12th century) are located in an old limestone quarry. In 1972 the caves were converted to store sparkling wines because of their humidity combined with the constant 12 degrees Celsius temperature (perfect for storing wines). Our guide told us that approximately 80 wine growers participate in the creation of the crémant wines that Bailly is so famous for, with strict rules on what grapes can be used: Pinot Noir, Gamay, Chardonnay and Aligoté. Riddling is done by gyroplate (the winery has about 80 of these devices). In the past, rotation of the wines was done manually, but now the machines rotate the wines on a set schedule. The coolest part of our cave tour was the sculptures carved into the walls of the limestone cave. Several of the sculptures were tied to the theme of wine but a few were quite risqué and adult centric. The winery produced a whopping 4 million bottles of wine each year, and we ended our tour with a free sampling of crémants and a keepsake wine glass. What a way to spend an afternoon! Needless to say, we did not leave the caves empty handed! Tom and Abby finally arrived by early evening, and mom had roasted lamb ready for dinner. A few sessions of Catan may have ensued before the six of us squeezed off to bed in our respective cabins.

11 Oct (Bailly – Auxerre): Today we made our way from Bailly to Auxerre. The pleasant fall weather we had been experiencing was now a thing of the past, with cooler temperatures prevailing. At least it wasn’t raining! As we chugged along the canal, Tom and Abby were given a block of instruction on canal locks. Abby quickly become proficient at opening and closing the lock gates with the hand crank. The lock keepers were all in sync with our schedule, so we wasted no time getting through the necessary locks with our entourage of 3 boats. By early afternoon, we were in lovely Auxerre. This time, the Cathedrale St-Etienne was open, so we were able to finally pay it a visit. The St-Etienne Cathedral is one of the most recognizable and dominating landmarks on the Auxerre skyline with its massive 68 meter tall bell tower. Afterwards, we walked the medieval district, passing under the Tour de l’Horloge, a circa 1483 tower built as part of the city’s fortifications. Back on our boat, we decided to break away from the group to check out two of Auxerre’s other “must sees”. The first was Abbaye St-Germain. We read that there was a 6.50 Euro entrance fee, but the abbey’s cloister was free when we visited. It was late when we decided to try to squeeze in the Church of St. Pierre en Vallée (completing the trio of churches visible to us on the Yonne River). We arrived just as the caretaker was locking up, so unfortunately we weren’t able to check out the interior. The exterior was quite impressive though, and we were happy that we took the time to check it out. With 6 of us on our canal boat, it was a crowded night in Auxerre!

12 Oct (Auxerre – Joigny): Day 13 of our canal trip. Today we had to navigate 31.8 km to reach Joigny from Auxerre. We were finally bidding the Canal du Nivernais goodbye as we made our way back onto the Yonne River. Luckily for us, several other boats were returning to Joigny as well, so the lock keepers were on standby to get us through the various locks as quickly as possible. At the lock just before the village of Bassou, we decided to take a detour to visit “Billot”, the escargot store. It was a chance to break out the bikes for a ride on a sunny day, and we were in Bassou in no time. Unfortunately, Abby’s bike was a bit too big for her and she got slightly injured so Tom had to take over riding duties with Abby riding shotgun. Back on the Yonne, we wasted no time making our way to Joigny, where we had to return the Lezinnes to locaboat tomorrow morning. Since the locks don’t open until 9:30 am, it essentially meant we had to be back at the base station the night before in order to turn the rental boat in on time. In Joigny, Tom and dad decided to drive down to Bailly (so Tom could pick up his car for the drive back to Wiesbaden tomorrow), while the rest of us explored the city. Joigny is an easy, walkable city with lots of half timbered houses. We admired the 16/17th century townhouses with their carved facades and checked out the Churches of Saint Jean and Saint Thibault. What a beautiful city to end our Burgundy canal trip at! We had one last cramped night on board the Lezinnes.

13 Oct (Joigny – Tonnerre – Tanlay – Noyers-sur-Serein – Semur-en-Auxois): Two weeks into our Burgundy vacation. Even though we were no longer on a canal boat, we did have a rental car so we decided to see some of Burgundy’s other highlights. First we had to say goodbye to Abby and Tom who were heading back to Germany. Then we made a beeline from Joigny to Tonnerre, which is famous for its Fosse Dionne pool (surrounded by ancient houses and still providing water to the town). Next up was the Chateau of Tanlay. Unluckily for us, the chateau is closed every Tuesday so we weren’t able to visit it. Undeterred, we drove onward to Noyers-sur-Serein, which is touted as a must-see on any Burgundy itinerary. “The absolutely picturesque medieval village of Noyers (pronounced ‘nwa-yair’), 30km southeast of Auxerre, is surrounded by rolling pastureland, wooded hills and a sharp bend in the River Serein. Stone ramparts and fortified battlements enclose much of the village and, between the two imposing stone gateways, cobbled streets lead past 15th- and 16th-century gabled houses, wood and stone archways and several art galleries. Lines carved into the facade of the 18th-century mairie (town hall), next to the library, mark the level of historic floods. Noyers is a superb base for walking. Just outside the clock-topped southern gate, Chemin des Fossés leads northeast along the River Serein and the village’s 13th-century fortifications, 19 of whose original 23 towers are extant. A few hundred meters beyond the last tower, climb the marked trail to Noyers’ utterly ruined hilltop château, then follow signs to the Belvédère Sud for spectacular perspectives on the town and the valley below.” With a description like that, you know we enjoyed our visit to Noyers! It was a toss up between staying at Noyers or Semur-en-Auxois (a fortified hilltop town) but Becky had found a gem of an apartment in Semur so that solidified our decision. We had to drive onward to Semur so we could stay at the lovely Logis des gouverneurs ( Our host, Maïté, greeted us with an excellent bottle of French wine and local pastries (specialty from Semur). The apartment was freaking fantastic. Spacious, gorgeous (used to be the Governor’s mansion), and in the absolute perfect location for exploring spectacularly scenic Semur-en-Auxois. We couldn’t believe our luck! We didn’t know anything about Semur before the trip, but we had read this tantalizing description on someone’s blog and figured we had to see it for ourselves! “Don’t miss Semur-en-Auxois, an incredibly picturesque small fortress town. Perched on a granite spur and surrounded by a hairpin turn in the River Armançon, it is guarded by four massive pink-granite bastions, and the centre is laced with cobbled lanes flanked by attractive houses. At night the ramparts are illuminated, which adds to the appeal. Most of the old city was built when Semur was an important religious centre boasting six monasteries. Just beyond the tourist office, pass through two concentric medieval gates, Porte Sauvigne (1417) and fortified Porte Guillier (14th century) to reach pedestrianised rue Buffon, lined with 17th-century houses. Further on, the Promenade du Rempart affords panoramic views from atop Semur’s medieval battlements. Don’t worry about the menacing cracks in the 44m-highTour de la Orle d’Or – they’ve been there since 1589! Collégiale Notre Dame: (9am-noon & 2-6.30pm), A stained-glass window (1927) and a plaque commemorating American soldiers who fell in France in WWI are inside this twin-towered, Gothic collegiate church.”

14 Oct (Semur-en-Auxois to Dijon): We awoke to some pretty shit weather on our first full day in Semur. Darn it…we really hoped that the weather would cooperate for just a few days longer but our luck ran out today. Despite the cold constant downpour, we trudged outside to explore pretty Semur. Even in the rain, this town is gorgeous! After walking around for several hours, we voted to explore Dijon after lunch. That meant a short drive from Semur to Dijon where we were able to find free street parking. Dijon is a gem. All we knew about it was Dijon mustard, but there is so much more to this city than the condiment! Many of the old historic buildings were spared during the bombing raids of WWII and as a result, Dijon is one of the prettiest of France’s cities. We started at the Notre Dame church (13th century, Gothic “masterpiece”) and stopped by the tourist information office. The helpful staff gave us a map and told us to follow the brass pavement markers of an owl. Dijon’s sights are fairly compact, and its definitely a city to explore by foot. Since we only had an afternoon to explore, we only scratched the surface but what we did see was fantastic…Dijon could lure us back any day! Back in Semur, we sorted through photos, organized laundry, and got ready for the next phase of our European vacation (a whirlwind week in Germany)

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