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My friends, I awoke this morning, thinking of how to convey the bliss I have experienced in Burgundy. Though I seemed to start on the wrong foot by taking a local train that looked like the trains you see in 50s spy films, and riding for six hours and changing twice, I ended up enjoying it, for I saw countryside that I never would have seen othewise. I can still see the look of puzzlement on the conductor's face when I said in my best French, "I don't know where I am." When he arrived at at village at the end of the line, he set things aright, and soon I was on my way to Dijon, and then to the woman who was waiting to pick me up who was to become my "Watson." 

But back to this morning, 14 November. Sleepy-eyed, I came downstairs and decided to check my emails before having coffee with Nancy. The first one said, "Horrible. Horrible. Horrible."  Another said, "Are you okay?"  And after a minute I said to Nancy, "Something terrible has happened in Paris. I have no idea what." We turned on the news, and sat watching in shock. I was supposed to leave this morning for Paris, but postponed it a day. A neighbor showed up and of course we are talking, talking. 

I took a long hike up on the road above Vire today, and decided that I wanted to end my stay here with a letter about Burgundy because once I am in Paris tomorrow, I think it will be like pulling a shade down. Burgundy will feel like a dream. 



Burgundy's landscape with its many acres of undulating vineyards,  is a tapestry of color; the Indian summer kept extending, and the vineyards were fields of gold, as were the leaves on the trees that were flooed with sunlight. Nancy lives an hour away in Lyons, where she has an apartment in the middle of the city, and spends the warmer months in Vire in a house that was built in 1820. Her interests are immediately apparent: she is a great cook, her walls are covered with art, books in French, German and English are organized on shelves that cover two walls downstairs. She makes doll clothes for her friends' grandchildren, and she keeps a computer open for the work she does for an educational association. 

I had the good fortune to mingle with her friends, one couple who, like her, come to stay in the summer from Lyons,  and another who are year-round residents in Vire.  Nancy and I stopped on our way to somewhere with the first couple, and their house goes back generations, I think great-grandparents, but maybe further. What struck me first was the elegance that comes with their hospitality, graciousness as it were, and their lovely presentation of the wine we consumed. Everything flows with these people. We "stopped by," but it was such an enchanting time that we were maybe there two hours, time that flew by. I struggled to speak FRench at least so they could understand, and then, characteristically of many of the people I met, they let on after a bit that they were fluent in English: he was, and she apologized for not being fluent, as she had taught German for many years. It was great. The other couple invited us to dejeuner in their wonderful, ancient house, and they really do not speak English, but somehow I felt quite fluent. It was a four-course meal, and we really had a great time. I am more determined than ever to improve my French.


(More Images Coming)

Nancy is also an expert driver, backing in and out of spaces that have me gasping, and driving happily along roads that appear to be bike paths.  The pattern we developed was to have a bowl or two of coffee, and yogurt and toast, and the occasional egg, then take off to meet with a winemaker. You don't do anything in the area without an appointment. The personalities of the vignerons are as different as the villages they inhabit, and the wines they make. 

What they assume when they begin speaking about wine is that the listener understands that it has been produced here for  over a thousand years, and there is a tradition of winemaking that has been handed down for centuries. That doesn't discount the new knowledge that has been gained as the winemakers deal with diseases and their prevention, for example, but they are clear that wine making by the best is an art. (I will write more about this later.)  There is something deeply personal about talking with a winemaker in Burgundy, whether I am in Auxey-Duresses, or in Bouzeron, Beaune, or in Vire. They look into your eyes when they are speaking to you, and I suspect the judgments they form are quite accurate.  The wines, both red and white, that I tasted, were delicious, and each time Nancy drove away from the smaller winemakers I was thinking earnestly about how I could help promote their wines. 

The outlying villags (from Beaune, which is an elegant city) are mostly built of stone, the architecture sublime in many cases, with stone walls built in front (for privacy, I suppose) and then shutters of various colors, and windowboxes and beautiful doors and windows adding accents. The many roman churches are usually situated on the higest point. I could stand in a part in the village of Saint-Romain and look down on deep valley where another village was nestled into the landscape.

The cuisine deserves a separate blog, and I have written down many dishes and even some recipes. Wine is mostly served in little round glasses. Nancy and I usually stopped in a restaurant for dejeuner (lunch), as mentioned earlier and always we had a glass of wine. We met a fabulous woman in Beaune, elegant, witty, lovely, (a friend of a friend), and shared two wonderful lunches with her. But don't think dinners were skimpy. As I said, more about that later.

I admit that my heart is heavy, but as I said, I wanted to write a few words about this Paradise before I pull the shade. The memories accumulated here will be with me, and of course the goal is that BURGUNDY: Twisted Roots, which is due out next September, will contain the essence of this wonderful region. 

Thank you for reading, and don't hesitate to email me with questions or responses. Warmly, Janet

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