Easter Weekend: Wine Tasting and a Château

For Easter weekend Eric and I decided to save money by staying local. Luckily there were several wine tasting events to keep us occupied. First through, I have an observation about Easter celebrations in Chalon-sur-Saône. I have never thought of Chalon-sur-Saône as a particularly religious town, primarily because the largest market of the week is held on Sunday mornings right in front of the most prominent church. I thought surely Easter Sunday would be an exception and there would be no market. When I asked some of the locals, the general response was along the lines of “why wouldn’t the market happen?” Sure enough, there was the usual large market just like on any other Sunday. Other than a small choir passing along our street at 9am in the morning, it seemed like any other Sunday morning.

On Saturday we went to the 11ème Printemps de Monthelie. Monthelie is tiny vineyard town in the middle of the Côte de Beaune, adjacent to Meursault. Most of the wines are red there. At the festival we purchased wine glasses for five euros a piece and could taste as much as we wanted at 16 cellars. For lunch we had some regional favorites that were for sale at the local community hall. Eric had boeuf bourginon and I had a plate of charcuterie and cheese. It was a satisfying lunch before we continued our wine tasting. We had a pleasant afternoon, and the wines were generally good.

After we finished the tasting, we decided to visit Meursault. While normally the main activity in that town would be wine tasting, we decided we had already done enough of that for one day. Instead, we admired the views across the vineyards, visited the small local church, and took a walk to one of the châteaux in the area. Then we enjoyed a couple of hot chocolates at a local café.

On Sunday we visited the hill town of Dezize-les-Maranges, on the southern edge of the Côte de Beaune. There was another spring wine festival there, with nearly 30 wine producers offering wine tastings. The best we tasted were the reds at Domaine Edmond Monnot & Fils. For lunch we had French street food — a crepe with egg, ham, and cheese; a sausage with a potato; and a waffle with a dusting of sugar. The village was delightful to walk around.

After the festival, we decided to spend the rest of the afternoon visiting the Château de Germolles in Mellecey. This ancient home was once owned by the Dukes of Burgundy, and then later by the King of France. Though it was partially destroyed in the French Revolution and has since been transformed into a private home, it is still worth a visit. There was a lovely farm area behind it. The history and meaning behind the interior decorations were interesting to learn about. Overall the tour in English was very good, though I was disappointed we could not see more of the rooms.

I think for a holiday weekend staying local, we did a pretty good job of exploring the sites and culture of Burgundy. I think all the towns we visited are worthwhile if you are interested in finding and tasting wine off the beaten path. Germolles is also a great attraction that is not too far from Chalon.

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