You know what they say about the best-laid plans of mice and men? No, I can’t remember the rest of the poem either – although I do know it was written in 1786 by Robert Burns and that rather than going awry, the schemes tended to gang aft a-gley…a phrase that I think has quite a ring to it.
Where was I? Yes, about to say that very often the best plans when on holiday are the ones that you don’t make. Accidental tourism we call it. It’s those finds and experiences that are the ones you talk about for years after.
Like Châteauneuf. It was raining heavily on our way into Beaune, so we missed it, but coming back later that afternoon we saw it – sitting high above the Burgundy Canal on its rocky spur.
Of course, we had to go up for a look.
Most Beautiful Villages in France
Châteauneuf – or Châteauneuf-en-Auxois – is a member of the Les Plus Beaux Villages de France (The Most Beautiful Villages of France). There are 157 villages in the list, but that doesn’t take away from the sheer gorgeousness of this one. We loved it so much that we were this close to forfeiting our remaining two nights accommodation in Marigny-l’Église and finding a place to stay here.
High on a hill between Dijon and Autun, Châteauneuf held a strategic position in the area. It was also ideally situated at the meeting point of three economic regions: the vineyards of the Beaune region; the timber and charcoal from the mountains; and the agriculture of the Auxois plains.
Trade flourished through the middle ages as wealthy Burgundian merchants, and members of the entourage of Philippe Pot, Governor of Flanders moved in.
The village was also a popular stop on one of the pilgrim paths took to go to Santiago de Compostela. I don’t think I would have welcomed the climb required to walk up here at the end of a long day walking – but that’s just me.
Today there are remnants of architecture dating back to the 14th century, although most of the oldest houses still intact are from the 15th century.
Châteauneuf is dominated by its 15th-century château. It’s one of those fairytale style castles with towers and keeps – the sort where you can imagine medieval maidens letting down their golden hair.
Oh, the gardens. Wisteria, lilacs, roses, tulips…everything was beautifully in bloom. There was a garden for sale, but hubby (quite unreasonably I think) said no. In fact, he didn’t even think about it before saying no.
Did I mention the lilacs? I decided then and there that I’m going to write a book titled The Lilac Queen – now I need to come up with a plot. That garden that was for sale, perhaps?
The Burgundy Canal
When Grant and I first came through this region 20 something years ago, we said we’d return one day and do a canal cruise down the Burgundy Canal. Ok, so we haven’t done that yet, but we did drop in and have a look at it on our way back from Chateauneuf.
“But Mousie, thou art no thy-lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!”
Hi, Jo – I do hope that you get that “one day” again soon.
Don’t you just love Robbie Burns?
Jo, is there a difference between Chateauneuf and Chateauneuf du pape? That is one of my favorite wines and I assumed it came from this region, but you did not mention visiting any wineries. What an idyllic French town. I could see staying there for a few days.
Hi Suzanne. There is a difference – Chateauneuf du Cape is a village on the Cote d’Azur or down south near Provence. Where we were is Burgundy and there are some fabulous wines from around there – some of which we tried in Beaune and Dijon.
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