Seeking out the Style, Craftsmanship, Tastes & Experience of a Good Life

Seeking out the Style, Craftsmanship, Tastes & Experience of a Good Life

dijon france

Dijon, France

Dijon, France. A cut above the hospitality, the culinary delights, the outstanding wine and, of course, the mustard.

Dijon, France

By Andrew Threlfall

Dijon

“There’s a Mama Shelter hotel in London too”, the St Pancras Eurostar staff shout to me me as I embark for Paris and then a swift two hour train to finally settle at the very central Mama Shelter in Dijon where this most eclectic hotel is set 30 metres across the road from Irish pub Flannery’s where I watch Kylian Mbappe playing out his final minutes in a PSG shirt later surrounded by pleasantly jolly football fans. Surreal is the word. All of it. As I sure play a mean pinball on the lobby machine, a very cool Dr No Sean Connery edition.

The bar area at Mama Shelter transcends into a glorious breakfast buffet complete with Tom and Jerry cartoons on the screens.

Dinner earlier on the regal town square in the restaurant le Pré aux Clerc had been as daring, going head first for the snails. Michelin stars abound in this region so even if they don’t have one they keep up to the good standards.

Post the PSG defeat the next day I seek early gastronomic therapy: à Visite de la Cité Internationale de la Gastronomie et du Vin – expositions et dégustation de vins à la cave de la Cité, easily translated as a visit to foodie and wine (this is Chardonnay country so I’m fine thank you) heaven all under one roof.

The Mustard Fights Back

Next, I’m off to a very yellow-looking Moutarderie Fallot, the local mustard factory and shop. This did seem like a good idea until my guide Sophie Chapuis notices my watering eyes and coughing might be down to the one thing I’m allergic to, rape seed, a prime source of my hay fever and chief ingredient to this particular mustard. No matter, I soldier on and Sophie is as fabulous with the English Patient as Juliette Binoche was with an equally ailing Ralph Fiennes.

A short lie down then or Colonel Mustard will have done for me? No chance as I’m off to hospital. Well, to be precise a visit of the part old care home for the poor Hôtel Dieu, with Chloé Le Brech (médiatrice culturelle to be even more precise). Now Chloe looks and laughs quite like Christine and the Queens so tales of plagues and bedpans are highly enjoyable and recommended.

Right next door to the Hotel le Cep I have the second of three Michelin esque meals at the restaurant Loiseau des vignes.

I’m quite honestly stunned by this point and what I’m eating. Have I lucked out in this part of France where the prices are very reasonable but the cuisine is possibly the most extraordinary I’ve tasted anywhere in the word.

Beaune

This a whistle-stop trip so I reluctantly tear myself away and move on to discover what treats I can find in Beaune, 20 minutes away by train. Jean Claude Bernard, the rather famous and genial owner of l’Hôtel le Cep is there to greet me. And a larger-than-life figure he proves to be, as he regales at length about long nights at the hotel bar.  Which, like the breakfast buffet is open 24/7 at this astounding stylish old hotel.

Hôtel le Cep, Beaune
Hôtel le Cep, Beaune
Stunning interiors fill Hôtel le Cep, Beaune

Beaune is much smaller than Dijon but even more beautiful and historic. Thankfully, before leaving there’s just time for a deep tissue massage at the excellent wellness centre in the hotel from Lucy with the magic hands, a triumph of Jean Claude’s Ayurvedic vision.

A visit to the brand new Cité des Climats explaining this most unique wine region followed by wine tasting (I decline lunch because breakfast at l’Hôtel le Cep was just too good) is squeezed in before one last hop by train.

Hôtel le Cep in the centre of beautifully historic Beaune
Hôtel le Cep in the centre of beautifully historic Beaune

Tournus

Tournus is 34 minutes away and euro for euro has more history than anywhere in France. Probably. The third oldest crypt in France anyone? 12th century churches one of which hosts a regular flea or antique market to die for?

And of course more highly recommended tastings and education of the local vineyards at Cave de Mancey. Literally a man cave as I was asked to taste 5 wines and a cognac in under 20 minutes. A record for me.

An exquisite destination then and the Hotel Les 7 Fontaines, while more functional to look at, boasts an impressive pool and spa and yet again, the most incredible in-house restaurant. The chef creates as the evening crowd gather. And it’s art. Truly.

Discover much more about this wonderful region on the Burgundy Tourist Board website here

Title image: Dijon by Peter Herrmann
Beaune and Hôtel le Cep interior images: curtesy Hôtel le Cep


You may also like to read about our adventures over on the east cost of France, at Médoc Atlantique

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dijon france

Dijon, France

Dijon, France. A cut above the hospitality, the culinary delights, the outstanding wine and, of course, the mustard.

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