My Travel Blog

Experiencing France in the Fall

While in Vandenesse, we found plenty of things to do.  The hike to the village of Chateauneuf took us just thirty minutes, and yet the uphill portion provided some aerobic exercise.  Of course, we found a great crepe restaurant at the top of the hill to reward ourselves for the short hike to the castle.  So it goes for every calorie out, there are always two more that go back in. For dessert we picked wild blackberries along the road back to Vandenesse.  We also enjoyed the walk to Escommes, which is the last stop before the summit tunnel on the Burgundy canal.  This past year the summer weather never arrived, but fall has been magnificent.  With the brilliant blue fall sky above, walks along the canal are even better.

“Lisa getting some exercise on the way to Chateauneuf.”

“Lisa picking blackberries on the way back to Vandenesse.”

“A walk along the Burgundy Canal.”

“Some old farm equipment along the canal, and look at all the fire wood.”

From Vandenesse we drove a short fifteen-minutes to Chateau Commarin.  Like many of the chateaus in France, Commarin is privately owned, yet there are tours where they will take you through portions of the interior. The same man that owns the castle at Chateauneuf owns Chateau Commarin.  It costs a fortune to maintain these ancient structures, and even the very wealthy need help.  There is a minimal charge to help defray some of the maintenance costs, but I’m sure it covers very little.  Fortunately, the French government understands how important theses castles are to tourism and apparently provides some form of monetary assistance to the owners.


“Chateau Commarin.”

The following day, we drove twenty minutes to the medieval village of Semur-en-Auxois.  Our first stop was the Tourism Office.  The lady behind the desk gave us a map for a self-guided tour of the village.  We’ve done a couple of these self-guided tours and they can be a little difficult to follow.  For example, the map said we should go up a set of stairs that had 144 steps.  We found the stairs we thought we should take, but I counted only143 steps so obviously we were in the wrong place, and needed to go back down to find the right ones.  Lisa refused to move another inch, and she certainly wasn’t going back down the steps.  She ended up standing there making a lot of noise about me being an idiot.  We continued on and somehow managed to complete the tour and find our car.  I still say we had the wrong stairway.

“The river that flows around Semur-en-Auxois.”

“The stairway with only 143 steps.”

Lisa and I love exploring these ancient villages with their narrow streets, ancient bridges and hidden portals.  Coming from Southern California, we don’t have any buildings that are so old. The churches are unique with their intricate carvings and stained glass windows. Semur-en-Auxoiseven has an old washhouse in the shape of a boat.  It is located on an island in the middle of a river that flows around the village.  I’m sure the pointed bow of the washhouse was designed to divert floodwaters during the spring.  I don’t think I would want to be inside that washhouse while the river was in flood.


“An old washhouse with the bow of a ship.”

“Wouldn’t you like to know the story behind these carvings?”


-Tom Miller
Author of “The Wave”  and “When Stones Speak”– 
Chuck Palmer Adventure novels


About the Author:

Tom Miller graduated from the University of Southern California with a Bachelor of Science in Geology. He is a consummate adventurer with over 1,000 dives as a recreational scuba diver, and an avid sailor who has traveled 65,000 miles throughout the Pacific including the Hawaiian Islands. Miller has also cruised the canals of Europe on his canal barge and given numerous lectures on cruising the canals of Europe, as well as sailing in the South Pacific. Piloting is also an interest of Miller's, and He has completed over 1,000 hours flying everything from small Cessnas to Lear jets.