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Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Jersey #theislandbreak - Jersey Royals, Cows and Much More!

For an island of 45 square miles, Jersey really packs a punch – on a recent trip to the island I came to discover a place with fascinating history, great natural beauty, and one of few places in the UK with such a concentration of top quality produce – think Jersey royals, Jersey cows’ milk, Jersey oysters and lobsters, and more!

I have written about some of the great meals I had and restaurants I visited during this trip in an earlier post which you can see here, but today I would like to share some of Jersey’s fantastic local produce and the people behind them I was lucky enough to meet. 

The Big 4 

Jersey is home to a plethora of fine agricultural products and seafood, but four ingredients are the cornerstones of the island’s reputation for excellence. 

Jersey Oysters

With its huge tidal range and some of the cleanest seawater in Europe, Jersey is the perfect place to farm high quality oysters. The Island’s fast-changing and nutrient-rich waters provide an abundance of food which allows filter-feeding oysters to grow quickly and obtain a clean, fresh flavour. Over the two years it takes to cultivate an oyster, its development is closely monitored to ensure its purity, cleanliness and succulent taste. 

My first taste of Jersey oysters was at Faulkner Fisheries, where I met owner Shaun Faulkner. Nestled inside an old WW2 German bunker at L’Etacq in St Ouen, Faulkner Fisheries is the supplier of fresh seafood to Mark Jordan from Ocean, at The Atlantic Hotel reviewed here

The various rooms of the German bunker were turned into a series of tanks where the live local shellfish are stored including lobster, crab and spider crab, oysters and more. The tanks are filled with continuously flowing seawater to keep the produce in peak condition. 

Faulkner Fisheries also has a shop where locals and visitors can take home fish to enjoy with a bottle of wine, which is also sold on the premises.

In the warmer months, Faulkner Fisheries offers their famous seafood barbecue, which I hear is the place to be for the best grilled seafood on the island. I will need to return in summer to experience that, but on this visit, in early November, I got to try their famous oysters.

Smaller than the more familiar rock (Pacific) oysters, Jersey oysters have a greater concentration of flavour, seaweed and flinty mineral. 

If you haven’t tried Jersey oysters, I urge you to - without exaggeration, they are the tastiest oysters I have eaten. With 80% of all Jersey’s seafood sold to France, if you find them on a British menu, you will be in for a treat. 

Jersey Lobsters

Jersey’s coast and seabed is mostly rock, creating many hiding places for lobster to grow and feed in safety. Clear, shallow waters coupled with strong sunshine and a large tidal range also combine to provide an ideal marine environment. 

I had the opportunity to try the Jersey lobsters during a lunch at Mark Jordan on the Beach, you can read the review here. Slightly smaller than their Canadian counterpart, and perhaps because they are sustainably sourced at the peak of maturity, it had a deliciously firmer, sweeter and meatier flesh than other lobsters I have tried. 

Jersey Royals

For many, the first Jersey Royal marks the arrival of spring so it is no surprise that the island’s iconic tuber is one of the most longed-for seasonal foods and its principal agricultural export. 

Besides being unique to Jersey, the Jersey Royal enjoys EU ‘Protection of Designation of Origin’ (PDO) status in the same way that Champagne can only be produced in the French region bearing its name. In the other words, Jersey Royals can only come from Jersey. 

The variety has been grown for over 130 years on the island, since around 1880. Today, the Jersey Royal accounts for over 70 per cent of all produce grown in the island, yet despite being farmed on an industrial scale, many traditional methods are still used, such as using seaweed as natural fertilizer.

The Jersey soil is light and well drained and many farmers still use seaweed harvested from Jersey beaches as a natural fertilizer (it is known locally as Vraic). Jersey has some of the most formidable tidal flows in the world, and the strong movement of the sea deposits large quantities of vraic on the shore. The practice of using vraic on the land dates back to the 12th century.

The Jersey Royal season begins in November with planting under glass. The main outdoor crop is planted from January to April with harvesting from the end of March through to the July. 

As my visit was in early November, I was able to see some of the process of preparing for the coming year’s Jersey Royal crop with Christine Hellio at her farm, the Vinchelez. The selection and grading of the “mother” potatoes has to be done with great care, and they are packed upright and closely in boxes before being transported around the island for planting. 

However some of the restaurants on the island will serve Jersey Royals even in November, and this was my experience at Café Zephyr. Here I had a fantastic pan-roasted seabass, with tiger prawns, a rich lobster bisque, beurre blanc and Jersey royals. I wrote in more detail about this in my first posting on Jersey’s best eateries here.

At Christine’s Vinchelez Farm, I also saw my first honesty box. This is a common sight throughout the island, where farmers will place their produce for sale on the road or at the farm entrance, alongside an honesty box. I can’t see this taking off in London somehow!

Jersey Dairy

The Jersey cow in its current pure-bred form has been a feature of the Island’s landscape for more than 200 years. Renowned worldwide for its creamy, high quality milk, all Jersey cattle on the island are registered in the Jersey Herd Book, which was established in 1866 to guarantee the pedigree of the breed, much akin to Japanese Wagyu cattle. 

Today, there are around 4,000 Jersey cattle on the island, of which 3,000 are ‘in milk’, calving all year round to ensure regular supply of milk to the Jersey Dairy (formerly the Jersey Milk Marketing Board). This cooperative produces and markets Jersey dairy goods including milk, cream, ice cream, butter, cheese and yoghurt. 

It is illegal to import milk into Jersey, which helps to maintain an autonomous high quality dairy industry in the home of the famous breed. As might be expected, there is a reciprocal ban of imports of fresh Jersey milk from the island to the UK, so all the Jersey dairy you see on sale in your local supermarket is from Jersey cows farmed in the UK. It might be delicious, but it’s not the real McCoy. I was very surprised to learn this because I had always assumed that Jersey milk came from Jersey.

This ambiguity is an issue that has been tackled since the 2001 formation of the Genuine Jersey Products Association, which has created a system of authentication and a logo to certify genuine Jersey produce created on the island from dairy to agriculture to clothing. So look out for the symbol below if you want to purchase the genuine island article.

My experience of real Jersey Dairy was in the form of some excellent ice cream from MiniOti, in the company of the charming Anna Boletta, one of the founders of MiniOti. As parents, she and her business partner wanted to create a delicious but healthier ice cream for the whole family with no processed sugar or artificial sweeteners. 

They use stevia instead of refined sugar - a natural sweetener with zero calories, and up to 150 times sweeter than sugar, it is thought not to have the same harmful effects. In addition to having no refined sugars, the ice cream is probiotic, carrying live cultures which are thought to be beneficial to the intestinal tract, and is made from 100% Jersey milk and cream. 

But the proof of the pudding is in the eating, so how did they taste? They were delicious – all that Jersey milk made them luxuriously creamy, and I honestly could not tell the difference between sugar and Stevia in their ice cream. 

The Makers and Shakers of Jersey’s Artisan Produce 

During my short trip to Jersey, I visited a few other local producers, thanks to John Garton, Chief Executive of the Genuine Jersey Products Association (and weekend male model, but that story is for another day!) who drove me the length and breadth of the island to meet some of the makers and shakers of Jersey’s artisan produce

Many of these products are only available in Jersey, so as you plan your trip, make sure to find the time to try some of these at the island’s delis, restaurants and farmers’ markets during your stay.  

Liberation Brewery

One of these makers and shakers was Paul Hurley, the Beer Master from Liberation Brewery. It is Paul who creates all the blends, and decides the styles and flavours for all Liberation beers – not a bad job!

The brewery's beers are part of Jersey's rich history, and brewing has continued uninterrupted even during the First World War and the German Occupation from June 1940 to May 1945.

Liberation Brewery’s beers include Liberation Blonde and Ale, Ambrée, Noire (a stout beer), Rouge, and a Liberation IPA, among others. The brewery’s flagship cask ale, Liberation Ale, has picked up several international awards over the years. 

Paul gave me a brief introduction to what goes into the making of their beers, the different types of malt and hops, and the whole brewing process, finishing with a tasting. 

Visits and tastings are open to the public, and for full details, see Liberation Brewery's address and website details in the Travel Essentials section below.   

Fresh Fish Co

No self-respecting foodie’s trip to Jersey is complete without a visit to Fresh Fish Co. There I met the owner Vikki who has a real passion for the fish, seafood and produce of Jersey, and her shop is a testament to that love. 

You will find everything there from the freshest fish to Jersey’s own sea salt, honey, artisan bread, salted caramel sauce and many other kinds of yumminess. I spent a lot of time going through the shelves of her shop in awe – it’s a real gourmand’s paradise.

Vicki also prepares a lot of food to order, and on the busy Sunday morning I was visiting, a steady stream of customers (all of whom she knew by name) came in to collect magnificent seafood platters, coquille St Jacques, salmon en croute, crab and fish cakes, all ready for the oven or table. 

I highly recommend a visit to Fresh Fish Co in St Helier, and if you do, say hello to Vicki for a crash course in Jersey’s finest. 

Heritage Jersey Apple Tree and Press 

Hans Van Oordt worked as a garden designer in Jersey for many years before deciding to move into apple farming and making fresh apple juice from Jersey heritage apples. 

A few years ago he became aware that there were very few orchards on the island with traditional Jersey apple varieties. Since Jersey was once famed for its apples, this seemed an unfortunate state of affairs. 

His interest in Jersey apples coincided with the growth in the popularity of small-scale craft cider making. And so, not wanting to see the loss of many ancient varieties unique to Jersey, he started propagating and selling them. 

Heritage Jersey Apple Press had its first crop in 2014, after years of painstaking work and slow maturing of the trees. This was when they launched their brand new pressed apple juice products. 

They make three types of pressed apple juice – there is an Early Season Pressing, a Mid Season Pressing and a Late Season Pressing. 

Hans explained to me that all the varieties are different in taste and colour: “One of the joys of apples is their variety. As the season unfolds, different apple varieties strike different notes of sweetness, acidity, flavour and aroma” he told me. Hans’ pressed apple juice is a blend of traditional Jersey varieties, as well as others, and the composition of each batch changes as the season progresses.

I was there to see Hans pressing a batch of apples for juice. All the juice is made from squeaky clean handpicked apples with no sugar or sweetener added, macerated then the juice gently extracted using a bladder press of the type used for making Beaujolais. It is 100% pure pressed apple juice with only some Vitamin C added to stop it from oxidising.

The juice is then gently pasteurised so it has a shelf life of 12 months, or 3 days once opened if kept refrigerated. I was there for the late harvest pressing, and the juice was tart, sweet and delicious.  

Meet Jon Hackett the Pig Farmer

At a time of life when the average person thinks about slowing down, Jon Hackett of Brooklands Farm retired from a successful career in the mortgage and investment business to develop his hobby and passion for life as a pig farmer. 

Today, more than a decade on, the family business has grown from keeping a few pigs into a thriving concern, with Jon’s wife, Jenny, and son, Jono, working alongside him and a professional butcher.

Brooklands Farm is tucked away at the end of Longfield Avenue – a residential estate - off Route des Gènets in St Brelade, with breathtaking views of the sea. However, the tell-tale signs are clearly visible from the main road where pigs and piglets contentedly graze and forage freely without a care in the world. 

I had a tour of Jon’s farmhouse overlooking St Brelade’s Bay, where the basement is dedicated to a butchery and commercial kitchen. Here I had the chance to try one of his fantastic pork pies.

Apart from visiting his farm, you can also try his produce at the famers’ market at the weekends, where he has a trailer with his trademark “Me and the Farmer” logo, serving up locally produced beef burgers, as well as pork ribs and sausages flavoured with local ingredients like Jersey lavender and black butter. 

Jersey War Tunnels

So, beyond the sandy beaches, stunning countryside and all the amazing food, what else is there to do in Jersey?

There are some unmissable attractions on the island including the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, the Jersey Museum, the La Mare Wine Estate, and the Jersey War Tunnels to name just a few. 

You may be surprised to learn that with only two days on the island, and with a hectic itinerary of meals, farm visits and tastings, I still managed to find time to explore the Jersey War Tunnels, and I’m so glad I did.  

Jersey War Tunnels is a poignant reminder of the German Occupation of Jersey During World War II. Dug deep into the hillside by forced workers, the tunnels bore witness to the cruelty of the Nazi regime. 

It is now home to a series of poignant exhibitions that detail Jersey’s occupation history from resistance, to starvation and eventual liberation. 

My Jersey #theislandbreak visit was sponsored by the Jersey Tourism Board, for more information about the island, please visit their website here. The London Foodie maintains full editorial control of the content published on this site as always.

Travel Essentials

I flew from London Gatwick to Jersey with British Airways but EasyJet, Flybe and Blue Islands also fly to Jersey. The flight takes approximately 30 minutes. Jersey is also accessibly by sea from Poole and Portsmouth with Condor Ferries. Visit www.condorferries.co.uk or call 0845 609 1024 to find out more.

There are many hire car companies at St Helier Airport, and I would strongly recommend you rent a car – there is no other practicable way to get around the island unless you rely on taxis. I hired mine with Hertz, visit their website at www.hertzci.com  for more information.

With thanks to Sommerville Hotel for a very comfortable stay and the great views overlooking the quaint harbour village of St. Aubin.

Somerville Hotel
Mont Du Boulevard, St Aubin, Jersey

Genuine Jersey Products Association
I would like to thank John Garton of Genuine Jersey Products Association for his kindness showing me around his island and for introducing me to many of his association’s artisan members.

Faulkner Fisheries
The Vivier
La Grande Route Des Havres
St Ouen

Mark Jordan on the Beach
La Plage
La Route de la Haule, A1
St Peter

Didier & Christine Hellio of Vinchelez Farm
Manor Farm 
St Ouen 
JE3 2DB 

Café Zephyr
The Royal Yacht Hotel
St Helier
Channel Islands
T: +44 (0) 1534 720511

Minioti Ice Cream - Natasha Dowse & Anna Boletta
St Lawrence

Jersey Dairy
La Route de la Trinité

Liberation Brewery
Tregear House
Longueville Road
Les Varines
St Saviour

Fresh Fish Company
Unit 5 Victoria Pier
St Helier 

Heritage Jersey Apple Tree and Press - Hans Van Oordt
Field House
Rue du Feugerel, St John
JE3 4FX 

Brooklands Farm - Jon Hackett
Long¬eld Avenue 
La Route des Genets
St Brelade 
Jersey JE3 8EB

The Jersey War Tunnels 
Les Charrieres Malorey
St Lawrence

Friday, 24 February 2017

Fine Wines, Epoisse and Gingerbread – The London Foodie goes to Burgundy

I recently returned to the French region of Burgundy, as part of the #VisitFrenchWine campaign - I spent three heavenly days learning all about Bourgogne’s wines, fine produce, and its dining scene, the latter of which I wrote about in detail here.  If you are planning a visit to Dijon, you will find some great restaurant recommendations there.

Today I am sharing my experiences exploring the wines and Climats of Burgundy, the great ingredients and dishes I discovered, and some amazing things to do in the region. 

Learning About the Wines of Burgundy and its Climat

Discovering the Routes des Grands Crus with Bourgogne Gold Tours

Going on a private 1:1 wine tour of the region might seem a bit intimidating, but I need not have worried as I was in the capable hands of Bourgogne Gold Tour’s founder Youri Lebault. Wine education is a real skill, and I know only a handful of people who can deliver such specialist knowledge in an accessible and engaging way. Well Youri had plenty of all that!

Our wine tour took in the wonderful Routes des Grands Crus in Burgundy, the region for the world’s best Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays, but also home to some great Gamays and refreshing Aligoté wines. The route runs from Dijon in the north, through the lovely central town of Beaune, as far as Santenay in the south. 

As I only had a morning, the tour took in only the northern-most region - the Côte de Nuits, from Dijon to Corgoloin. This is the most prestigious stretch of the route, as it contains some of the greatest red wines in the world including 24 of Burgundy’s 33 Grand Crus (the highest classification in the region).

We set out from Dijon, heading along the Côte de Nuits, passing stunning vineyards with golden-leaved, autumnal vines – it was a sight to behold. We went past a number of villages on the way and I recognized some evocative names I knew only through wine bottles and their contents – Marsannay, Gevrey-Chambertin and Morey-St-Denis for example. 

Just before Chateau Clos de Vougeot, when I thought we were stopping for a photo-opportunity, Youri whipped out some of his maps and charts of the region for a 10-minute crash course in situ. One of the most interesting things I learned that day was about the climats of Burgundy, and by the way this has nothing to do with climate!  

So what is climat? You can think of climat as a term used in Burgundy for a single vineyard plot. To understand the way climat is used, it helps to understand terroir first. Terroir is a French term that translates loosely into “sense of place”, suggesting how the combination of climate, soil type and typography influence the way a wine turns out. Given that terroir refers to this concept, then climat refers to an actual plot that is unique because of its geographic characteristics or terroir. The climat classification is unique to the region of Burgundy, and in 2015 UNESCO recognized the climat of Burgundy for its World Heritage List.  

So what does this mean for the wine buyer? The idea is that every plot of land in the narrow strip between Dijon and Santenay will make for a unique wine style due to its soil and location. Some climats are more prized than others – there are those that are tiny and produce small amounts of Grand Crus wine which will be then be dearer than larger sites with a different soil make up. 

Our second stop was at the Chateau du Clos de Vougeot, a 12th century chateau built by the Cistercian monks. 

While the Chateau is not strictly speaking open, you can visit a number of its working buildings that house four huge presses, the cellar and the dormitory of the lay brothers whose magnificent woodwork dates from the 14th century.  

Burgundy Wine Tasting

Chateau du Clos de Vougeot is a great place for a visit with a real sense of place, and to take in the history of almost 1,000 years of wine making in Burgundy. From here, we drove a short distance to La Maison Vougeot to finally try out the eponymous wine. 

La Maison Vougeot is a modern wine boutique kitted out with oenomatic machines keeping wines in the perfect condition and temperature for tasting. 

It is similar in style to The Sampler or Vagabond in London, with a card to purchase credit before embarking on a tasting session. 

It’s a very elegant spot, and a great place to try a huge variety of the wines of Burgundy in 25ml measures, without committing to a full glass or bottle. It was here that we tasted a measure of the magnificent Vougeot Clos du Prieuré Monopole 2014. 

Our next stop on the tour was at the biodynamic winery Domaine Michel Magnien for a great tasting of some of Burgundy’s iconic wines. 

These included 2012 vintages of Morey Saint Denis (€69), Chambolle-Musigny Vielles Vignes (€48) and their Premiere Cru, Borniques (€50), the lovely Gevrey-Chambertin Aux Echezeaux and finally the Grand Cru Charmes-Chambertin at a whopping €90 per bottle. 

Made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes, these fine wines at their best are deep ruby in colour, and express aromas of strawberry, blackcurrant, liquorice and spice. With age, they develop power and elegance, with a full and complex body. It is not hard to understand why these are some of the most sought-after wines in the world.

Lunch at Le Castel Très Girard

The end of our tour was a fabulous lunch at the nearby restaurant Le Castel Très Girard, which is also a small boutique hotel. Here I had two of the Chef Chern Gan’s specialties, which included some of Burgundy’s finest ingredients.

A delectable starter of escargot (snail) ravioli in parsley butter served with a refreshing glass of Saint-Romain, Alan Gras, 2014, a wonderful Chardonnay I enjoyed so much I bought six before returning to London, but more on that later. 

It was my last meal of the trip, so of course I had to order the Beouf Bourgignon for main course. Served with a gratin dauphinois, this was perhaps the best I had on the trip. Succulent, tender meat in a richly intense wine sauce that saw me scraping my plate with relish!

To accompany, I had another taste of Morey Saint Denis, but this time a 2013 from Domaine Arlaud, which had a great depth of berry fruit flavour and sufficient structure and length to partner the mighty beef.

Burgundy Wine Buying at Grands Bourgognes

The Castel Très Girard Hotel & Restaurant is owned by a wine merchant whom Youri seemed to know well. His wine business, Grands Bourgognes has a mind-boggling selection of every type of Burgundian wine (see details in the Travel Essentials section).

As I was returning to London by Eurostar (with no weight limit), I decided to pay a visit to stock up my cellar. Grands Bourgogne is a huge warehouse with a shop out front, in an industrial estate outside Dijon, much like a massive Majestic Winestore. Perhaps because of this, there is a wide range of wines for every budget, including some affordable Grand Crus and Cremants de Bourgognes. It is also possible to purchase online for delivery in the UK, and I highly recommend it.

When it comes to wine travel, France has so much to offer. Like the Routes des Grands Crus, there are popular wine touring routes all over the country, including in Champagne, the Loire Valley, Bordeaux and the Rhone, but few are as picturesque or with so many legendary names as the one in Burgundy.

If you are planning a visit to discover more about Burgundy’s wine routes and to taste some fantastic wines on the way, I highly recommend one of the many itineraries provided by Bourgogne Gold Tours

For information about wine tourism in France, visit www.visitfrenchwine.com.

Discovering Burgundy’s Finest Ingredients

Dijon International Gastronomy Fair

Every year the Dijon International Gastronomy Fair takes up residence for two weeks in November. This is a major event in Burgundy, and the sixth biggest in the country, attracting nearly 200,000 visitors, and over 600 exhibitors each year from across the world. 

I spent some very enjoyable hours talking to many French food producers from different areas of France. Some of these included La Biscuiteria Basque, where I tried their superb Basque Gateaux, the nougat makers from La Maison du Nougat, and my very favourite, the lovely people from Le Domaine Macarons de Réau who make old fashioned macarons of every flavour and colour. They were delicious. 

The Dijon International Gastronomic Fair is a great day out in town and a fantastic opportunity to learn and sample a huge variety of French produce and dishes.  

Cheeses of Burgundy

Burgundy is not only about its wines, but the cheeses are also noteworthy. I got to visit Fromagerie Gaugry for a fantastic cheese tasting of 4 different cheeses of the region including Epoisse, Brillat Savarin, and L’Ami du Chambertin. 

Priced at €12.50, the tasting also included and a glass of wine and a guided tour of the factory with a detailed explanation of the various processes in cheese making. 

Fromagerie Gaugry is well outside the centre of town on the RD974 road between Dijon and Nuits St Georges, and while I would not normally pay a special visit, it happens to be just a few metres from the Grands Bourgognes wine store, which makes it a great stop if you fancy stocking up on cheese as well as wines before returning to the UK.

Dijon Mustard

A visit to Dijon would not be complete without paying homage to the city’s eponymous mustard. There are two stores that really stand out – La Maison Maille, and Edmond Fallot

I am a total convert to Maille mustard, and have written about it in detail following a very inspiring tasting at the Maille boutique in London’s Piccadilly, which you can read here.  There is much more to mustard than just a spread on your ham sandwich, with many different types and ways of cooking with it - I found it a truly eye-opening experience. 

Edmond Fallot have been making mustard in Dijon since 1840, and is another big name for quality mustards of Dijon. I paid a quick visit to their store and was astounded by the variety of flavoured mustards available. 

One to note was the yuzu mustard which I got to try and it blew me away with its flavour intensity. I would love to be able to cook with it if it were available in the UK. 

Pain d’Epices

Around the corner from Edmond Fallot’s mustard store is the charming Pain d’Epices Mulot et Petitjean, founded in 1796. 

An enchanting shop, it is known for its Pain d’Epices (usually translated as ginger bread although it does not contain any ginger). 

Pain d’Epices is a sweet, dense bread that comes in many shapes and sizes, and sometimes coated in a sugar glaze or filled with blackcurrant (cassis) jam, another important ingredient in the region. 

I found it delicious on its own, but was told it makes for great toast topped with pan-fried foie gras and a cassis-based sauce. I had a tasting at the shops old kitchen of the different styles of Pain d’Epices, with a classic pairing of Crème de Cassis. 

Mulot et Petitjean is the top maker of Pain d’Epice in France, and for Londoners, it is the French equivalent of Fortnum & Mason. I highly recommend a visit and tasting here. 

Crème de Cassis

It was also at Mulot et Petitjean that I discovered the region’s fondness for cassis (blackcurrant). The berry is a major ingredient in the cooking and drinks of Burgundy. 

It was a former mayor of Dijon named Felix Kir, who invented the first cassis cocktail, the Kir, made with two local drinks - Aligoté white wine and crème de cassis. Everyone knows Kir Royale made with crème de cassis and Champagne, but this was a fancier version of the Dijonnaise original.

What to Do

Owl Trail

You may be surprised to learn that between the wine tours, cheese tastings and other indulgences, I still managed to explore the old town on foot!

Dijon’s Owl Trails are self-guided walking tours with 22 stages designed to give a taste of city’s charm and to take you back in time and show you the history of the town. 

Each numbered stage takes a place of interest and a whole trail can be covered on foot in about one hour. There are 3 trails covering different areas and aspects of the city. 

Having no sense of direction whatsoever, I still managed not to get lost as the trail is so clearly marked by brass owls in the pavement for every stage, with painted dots joining the owls along the route. It was great!

Tower of Philippe le Bon

One of the best stops was at the Tower of Philippe le Bon, Duke of Burgundy between 1419 and 1467. 

It is possible to have a guided tour of the tower, climbing 316 steps to the top for commanding views of the city. 

This must be booked at the Dijon Tourist Office (€3 per person) where the tour begins.

Where to Stay

I stayed at the Hotel Vertigo, a chic hotel in the heart of the city overlooking Place Darcy, and a few metres away from Rue de la Liberté.

The building was constructed in 1926, and is now listed, but inside it has been ultra-modernised - my room had some wacky features like a ‘floating’ bed, and a huge mirror that doubled as a TV (which I only discovered by pressing the remote control button). 

The hotel felt intimate, with a small spa and swimming pool, a fitness centre, and a beautifully designed and welcoming lounge area. 

The tram stop is right outside the hotel, which was handy to get me to the International Gastronomic Fair and to explore the city. 

Best of all was the hotel’s breakfast buffet, with a generous selection of great cheeses, freshly squeezed juices, charcuterie and patisserie including breads, cakes and croissants. 

There were also some cooked options, served in individual cast-iron cocottes. I loved the velvety, creamy scrambled eggs, and the ham and sausage.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that Hotel Vertigo offers free use of the latest BMW electric bikes for its guests to explore the city. I thoroughly enjoyed my stay at Hotel Vertigo, and thought it was a convenient location for all that Dijon has to offer. 

As you plan your trip to Dijon, bookmark this page and make sure to visit any of these venues to experience the best of Bourgogne cuisine, wines and hospitality in town. For information about wine tourism in France, visit www.visitfrenchwine.com.

The #VisitFrenchWine campaign was created and managed by Captivate in partnership with ATOUT FRANCE – France Tourism Development Agency. The London Foodie maintains full editorial control of the content published on this site as always.

Travel Essentials

Visit French Wine (Wine Tourism)

Bourgogne Gold Tours
Mr Youri Lebault
+33 (0)

La Maison Vougeot
1 Rue du Vieux Chateau
21649 Vougeot

Le Castel Très Girard
7 Rue du Très Girard
21220 Morey-Saint-Denis

Grands Bourgognes
ZAA Le Saule
Chemin de Saule
21220 Brochon

Dijon International Gastronomic Fair 

Domaines des Macarons de Réau
Rue Frédéric Sarazin
77550 Réau

Fromagerie Gaugry
RD 974

La Maison Maille
32 Rue de la Liberté
21000 Dijon

Edmond Fallot
16 Rue de la Chouette
21000 Dijon

Pain d’Epices Mulot et Petitjean
13 Place Bossuet
21000 Dijon

Dijon Tourist Office
11 Rue des Forges
21000 Dijon

Dijon’s Owl Trail

Tower Philippe le Bon
Palais des Ducs de Bourgogne
21000 Dijon

Hotel Vertigo
3 Rue Devosge
21000 Dijon

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