Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Beaujolais and Burgundy, France

After a day in the city we set out to the more rural parts of the region. The rolling hills of Burgundy gave birth to superior wine, fine cuisine, spicy mustard, and a sublime countryside. We began our trek right outside Lyon with a swing by Paul Bocuse's 3 Michelin star restaurant, regarded as a temple of traditional French cooking.There was a window into the kitchen where the chefs were preparing for Sunday brunch. Looked tantalizing.
Paul Bocuse and Julia Child were chummy back in the day.
To learn more about the world-famous wine of the French Beaujolais region we pit-stopped at Le Hameau du Vin in Beaujolais. Beaujolais is the area to the south of Burgundy.
We made it to this Disney-esque wine park but with the 16 euro per person pricetag and a ton of toys enticing Connor in the lobby, we let Kirk fly solo on the tour while we played for free.
There were oversized games of every type: Puzzles, Legos, Chutes and Ladders...and as the sign reads in French, "I play, you play, we all play" - indeed we did!
I steered Connor far away from the oversized Pick Up Sticks. Not sure my 2 year old really understood the strategy and the spears made me pretty nervous!Our little smartie. She gathered up all the dice and we practiced matching up the number faces. In this shot Connor is working on duplicating the number six in her color-coded row of dice.Choo choo! We also played on the train outside. Nice of them to put so many freebies in their gates. Kirk enjoyed the tour and tasting, but said he missed us!The village and Abbey of Cluny was gigantic. It went on forever. Sure would love to have seen it in its heyday. This mother of all abbeys once vied with the Vatican as the most important power center in Christendom.Continuing northward we popped in on the Christian community of Taize (teh-zay).

This camp welcomes Christians for a retreat of prayer, silence, and simplicity. The Taize style of worship is composed of hauntingly beautiful chants.
We used to have Taize worship regularly with our youth when we were High School Youth Advisors in Atlanta. The calm, candlelit worship style really speaks to stressed and pressured teens in a unique way. It made me miss my Trinity Youth friends to be in the birthplace of Taize. We were not there in time for a service, but I was able to walk through the camp and the Church of Reconciliation.The Taize giftshop had gorgeous tiles interpreting the Seven Days of Creation made by one of the Taize monks. I bought the one where God created the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and commanded them to multiply (the Fifth Day). I love it. And I love the idea of interpreting the Creation story by day with art. Maybe one day when she learns it Connor and I will have to do a "From Start to Sabbath" project.Brancion was a charming town at the top of a large hill - a classic feudal village. The Duke of Burgundy used to rule from here. Today it feels like a trendy country spot with its castle and quaint residences reigning atop the emerald countryside.We finished a jam-packed day driving through the lush and immaculate vineyards of Cote d'Or. Gotta say the vineyards were brown and crunchy and not nearly as gorgeous as I know they must be with snow or leaves. But I was in awe nonetheless. They were as far as my eye could see. That is an awful lot of grapes guys!

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