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  • Jennifer

A few days in Bourgogne: Auxerre and Vézelay, France

Updated: Jun 1, 2023

In August we were fortunate to attend a wedding in France (a much anticipated wedding, since it had been cancelled the year before due to COVID). We stayed in Joigny, the town where the wedding was held at the beautiful Chateau du Fey. Joigny was a small lovely town along the Yonne river, but not much going on. Our hotel overlooked the river and had a lovely little spa area for us to catch a few winks by the pool after our long flight and the drive from CDG airport.

It took us all of just a few hours to walk around the town before we realized we would need to explore further the next day. But it was a nice introduction to rural French towns, and we couldn't wait to see more.

With time to kill before Saturday night's festivities, we headed to the town of Auxerre.

The fields of sunflowers along the way kept us ooh'ing and ahhh'ing and before we knew it we'd reached Auxerre, which is also along the Yonne river. Right away the tips of the cathedrals were visible and calling our names, so we decided to walk around town before stopping for a bite.

It was gorgeous, with lots of little stone streets and shops, and quite buzzing with activity at the restaurants along the river.

I'd say that if you're in the area, definitely visit this little gem.

The day after the wedding, we departed Joigny for Vézelay. Once again, the landscape along the way didn't disappoint, there were fields of sunflowers and hills and rolling meadows.

The weather wasn't the greatest, but that didn't stop us from exploring this Unesco Heritage hill town. It's a great little heart-pumping walk up to the cathedral at the top, where you get a spectacular view of the surrounding area.

Unfortunately, we couldn't find a place to eat to save our lives. Were the restaurants just turned off by our attempts to speak French, thanks to both of us taking the language in high school, or were they limiting the number of guests due to COVID restrictions? We didn't know, but every little spot we stopped at in town frowned at us and declared, "Complet!" As in, go away, you're not eating here.

That night we finally managed to find a place to eat and were surprised and thrilled when we were treated to live music by a local performer. It was like something out of a movie.

Take a listen, close your eyes, and imagine a plate of garlic-butter drenched escargot (or something more to your liking if snails aren't your thing).

The next day we ventured further afield, only to find...well, not much. In fact, we ended up at a woodsy campground where we purchased some beer from the campground's convenience store and sat on a bench in the middle of some random rural French neighborhood and had an afternoon refreshment. We discovered that, unbeknownst to us, camping is actually a popular summer time activity in the area.

That evening, though, we moved on from beer to wine at a lovely local vineyard, La Croix Monjoie. Once again, the weather wasn't cooperating, and even though we had a reservation, when we arrived the owner, Sophie, said that it wasn't looking good for sunset. We said we'd take our chances and stay, and Sophie proceeded to make us an amazing charcuterie board and provide a tasting of their wines. All amazing! And, so cool, the family's adorable dog hung out with us while we soaked up the food, wine and view, and we learned that she was actually responsible for hunting the truffles we were enjoying! Sunset was overcast but still beautiful, and the evening ended up being a huge hit.

Of course, on the short ride back to Vézelay we decided the party must continue so we stopped at an adorable bistro on the side of the road. As we approached the tables outside, excited to experience the local flavor, we were told in no uncertain terms, "Complet!" There was one other couple eating and drinking so we chalked this up, again, to a general disdain for our presence. Oh well! We went back to the same restaurant we dined at the previous night, before turning in and heading to the much bigger city of Paris in the morning.

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