Our flight was scheduled for 4:30pm. The timing was sub-optimal for two reasons: (1) the takeoff time is inconvenient for getting sufficient sleep, and (2) traffic to the airport on a Friday afternoon is terrible. As a result, we arrived at O’Hare with only enough time to check our luggage, get through security, and get on board. We were then too amped up to immediately fall asleep, which poses the usual jet-lag challenges later.
We arrived in Madrid for our connecting flight to Lyon a little late, and by the time we made it through passport control and traveled to our new terminal, we basically ran out of time for any rest time. But we made it and got on board for a short flight to Lyon.
On arrival, we trooped down to baggage claim and watched everyone pick up their bags. Then everyone left and the baggage carousel stopped. So… yeah, our luggage is gone. Fortunately, it wasn’t essential up front, being our wine storage bags and my kitchen knives. We immediately registered a lost luggage claim and hoped for the best (more on that in subsequent posts).
We picked up our rental car and started north. Fortunately, France’s highway system is easy to navigate once you’re on your way, so we quickly were making good time (130kph / 80mph). One thing we needed to stay aware of, both today and throughout our stay, is how France’s restaurants are only open for lunch during a short window (typically 12-2pm, stopping service as early as 1pm). So we wouldn’t be able to make it to Dijon and get food there. Instead, Virginia found a restaurant called Rouge et Blanc in Romanèche-Thorins where we could get a nice lunch on time. It was about 40% of the way to Dijon, so we drove an hour to get there and then ninety minutes from there to Dijon.
By the time we arrived at our Airbnb, we were quite tired from all the travel. We met Anouk, our Airbnb host, and she showed us our new home away from home. It was delightful! Virginia had booked a 2nd floor garret with a large rooftop deck. It was at once charming and modern, and proved nearly ideal for our purposes. About the only drawbacks were that the ceilings were sloped such that I frequently ducked (or hit my head), and that the bathroom was more open to the rest of the apartment than either of us were used to. But otherwise, it was excellent. We immediately saw the possibilities of having a bed on the rooftop deck, and napped there in the warmth and sunshine.
We woke up realizing we’d made no provisions for food on a holiday weekend. So we pulled ourselves together and headed out to pick up a few essentials — wine and chocolate. We then got kebab sandwiches (far and away the easiest and least expensive way to eat) and took everything home to eat on the rooftop deck. We sat outside after dinner for a while, listening to the Bastille Day celebrations before collapsing again.
Despite falling asleep early, we didn’t get up until almost mid-morning. First order of business: find an open boulangerie on a Sunday. We didn’t have to go far, thankfully, and started finding our repertory (we eventually decided on three, which would rotate based on what we wanted). Two pains au chocolat later, we were ready to have breakfast. But first, we wandered into and through an antique market that was in the process of opening on the street we were planning to walk down. Finally, we made it back to eat breakfast (and enjoy our daily Nespresso coffee) and get some exercise. (As a side note, we brought with us a set of resistance bands, which pack down well and came in very handy for regular workouts.)
By the time we were presentable, it was close to noon. Again, schedules must be obeyed, so it was off to lunch. We decided to go to Brasserie des Beaux Arts, the restaurant for the Musée des Beaux Arts, where we could eat outside in a small park. As became our usual mode, we ordered the daily menu with some wine. Today, it was tomato tartare, conchiglioni farcis (pasta shells stuffed with ground lamb), a “smoothie” with ice cream, with a carafe of Cote de Nuits-Villages red followed by coffee.
Virginia had heard about a music, wine, and food festival at the Château de Pommard called Rootstock, which was going that weekend. So we had bought tickets for today, planning to take the train down. That… kinda worked. We mistakenly thought the train ran frequently and late, and neither of those were true on a Sunday. So what we thought would be a quick trip down turned into something much longer:
- 20 minutes to walk to Gare de Dijon-Ville
- 30 minutes waiting for the train
- 25 minutes for the train ride to Beaune
- 20 minutes waiting for the shuttle
- 30 minutes for the shuttle to drive to Pommard
The one silver lining is that we missed the rainstorm that happened during our transit. Once we got there, we then learned the latest shuttle we could take back to catch the last train to Dijon was only about an hour and a half later. Still, we’re here so let’s have some fun. Also, during our shuttle ride, France clinched the World Cup championship!
We stopped in the tasting room to try some of the château’s wines, picked up an excellent dinner (pork confit with fromage blanc and herbs sauce, vegetables, and couscous), and took our glasses of wine into the vineyard where the Soul Jazz Orchestra was playing for maybe another 20 minutes. Then it was time to go back to Beaune. We boarded the shuttle bus (the only people to do so) and let the driver know we were trying to make a train, so he became an impromptu express to Gare de Beaune. That was until we arrived in Beaune, where we became part of the “everyone’s in a parade” championship celebration. We whooped it up with everyone, responding to others and cheering along.
Unfortunately, time was running out on us, so the driver let us out and we ran for the train, continuing to participate in the celebration. We managed to get to the train station on time for our express train to Dijon. Walking back home from Gare de Dijon-Ville meant more celebrating — it was so much bigger than Bastille Day, and the streets were fairly packed with people (especially in the pedestrian-friendly city center). We eventually made it through and called it a night.