My Travel Blog

If Not By Canal Then By Car – Chateauneuf Here We Come!

We met our friends Tom and Ilana at the Dijon train station. Rabelo’s gearshift and throttle were still not working, but at least we were moored in a safe place, and could use the car to go sightseeing.

Meeting Tom and Ilana at the train station.

Our first stop was the Musee Des Beaux-Arts, or the Museum of Fine Art.  It used to be the Ducs of Burgundy palace.  In a sense it still is as Philip the Bold and John the Fearless along with his wife Margret of Bavaria are entombed in their magnificent sarcophagi at the museum. The museum also contains two exquisite gilded alter pieces from the 14th century.  I had no idea that in the 14th century Burgundy was larger than France.  It extended all the way up to Amsterdam in The Netherlands, and included all of Belgium and Luxemburg.

The beautiful tomb of Philip the Fearless and his wife.

Ilana checking out the suits of armor.

One of two magnificent gilded alter pieces.

With Rabelo out of commission we had plenty of time to tour.  We decided to take Tom and Ilana to Chateauneuf, which is one of our favorite villages.  It sits on a high promontory looking over the Oche Valley.  From the village you look down on the Burgundy Canal and the village of Vandenesse where we like to moor Rabelo.  It’s only a forty-minute walk up a steep hill to Chateauneuf past white charolais cows and ripe blackberries.  Alas it was too late in the season.  The cows were in their barn and the blackberries had all been picked.  Even so we had a delicious lunch at the only restaurant that was open.


Standing at the entrance to Chateauneuf.

The Burgundy Canal and the Oche Valley.

Tom is in the wine business, and was able to arrange some very special tastings while we were in Burgundy.  Our first tasting was at Olivier Leflaive.  The winery is well known, and highly respected. They are open to the public, but you must make reservations.  Be forewarned, they are not cheap. Even so, their tasting and tour was probably the finest we have ever experienced. The best part was that Tom managed to get us complimentary tastings.  To begin the tour we were taken out to the vineyards where we were given an excellent lesson in what it takes to grow grapes in Burgundy.  The vineyard owners get together and decide what they want to regulate, and believe me they regulate everything imaginable when it comes to growing grapes.  They will determine the number of plants per hectare, the height the vines will be trimmed, the number of tons of grapes the vineyard is allowed to produce, and how many fruit bearing branches can grow from one plant to name just a few.  Once the owners have decided what they want to control, the government takes over and regulates the entire process.  The regulations are there because the wineries don’t want anyone producing an inferior product with the name Burgundy on it.

After our tour of the vineyards and the winery we were taken back to a reception area, and escorted into the winery restaurant.  We were given a choice of two menus.  Because our tasting was complimentary we selected the more expensive tasting that included nine different wines and a full lunch. We have never been to a winery that offered a complete meal with their tasting.  This was without a doubt the nicest tasting we had ever experienced. I wish more wineries would follow the Leflaive example.  I was sufficiently inspired that we ended up buying a case of their delicious wines.

A lesson on how to grow grapes in Burgundy.

Tom and Ilana checking out the menu.

The tasting menu at Oliver Leflaive.

A delicious fish course at Leflaive.

One happy customer.

– 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.