Feature / Europe / France / Vonnas
Driving to the South of France (with dog)
Many of us, particularly those with dogs, drive to the South of France each year. And every year we ponder where to stay en route as it’s an 11-12 hour drive from Calais to Nice/Cannes (2 hours less to Provence).
So, Globalista is hard at work compiling the ultimate guide as to where to stay the night. So far we have come up with three excellent choices but we would welcome your advice on other options.
Our three choices are naturally in Burgundy, which is about 5.5 hrs from Calais - a little longer of course with stops at the Aires.
The first is to stay in Beaune which is only 10 minutes off the motorway coming down from Rheims, which with Epernay is not worth considering as an overnight stop as it's too close too Calais and too far from the Midi.
Our top choice is L'Hotel (5 rue Samuel Legay 21200 Beaune (France) - Tél. +33 3 80 25 94 14 - Fax. +33 3 80 25 94 13) which is right in the centre and absolutely delightful. (You can park in their courtyard which is a major plus.)
For supper you can either eat at the hotel's own bistro which adjoins the hotel or go to the starred Loiseau des Vignes (31 rue Maufoux, 21200 Beaune - Bourgogne - France; Tel: +33 3 8024 1206). As with many Michelin starred restaurants in France, it's rather clinical in decor but thankfully not particularly formal. The food is excellent and the selection of 50+ wines by the glass allows a perfect opportunity to taste various Burgundy vineyards. (Dogs welcome.)
An alternative is the Hostellerie Levernois (Rue Du Golf - 21200 Levernois, Beaune; Tel: +33 3 80247358) 10 minutes from Beaune in an enchanting little village. This has the advantage of being a country house hotel so it's great for dogs to run around as many of the rooms have terraces leading out on to the lawn. Food wise it's also Michelin starred and pretty good, though at 289€ for two with only a half bottle of wine it's very pricey and whilst excellent, didn't quite overall hit the heights that one might have expected - though the Poulet de Bresse for two was superb.
Our third choice is Vonnas where there are two hotels – the simpler L'Ancienne Auberge (Place Marche, F - 01540 Vonnas; Tel: +33 4 74509050) and the Hôtel Relais & Châteaux Georges Blanc ( Tel: +33 4 74509090) 100 metres away.
Ditto there are two restaurants to choose from - the L'Ancienne Auberge or the gastronomic main restaurant at Georges Blanc.
We’re told that the perfect chicken (Poulet de Bresse) to have is the simply roasted chicken in the L’Ancienne Auberge. We chose the 3-star main restaurant in the Hotel Georges Blanc which is utterly delicious and opted for the Menu Esprit Classique with a starter of Bar which was extraordinary, then the Poulet de Bresse which comes served in a foie gras, champagne sauce, followed by cheeses and superb puddings. We can't recommend more highly staying and, of course, dining at Georges Blanc.
Finally do visit before you leave his Deli where you can stock up for the journey South with a cooked or fresh chicken and an amazing cornucopia of jams, spices, biscuits breads, pates and wine. PS: it's a very dog friendly hotel with the leftover chicken minus bones beautifully boxed for your hound.
We have had a great response from members which we will be gradually be including in this guide.
First off, is what looks like a fantastic option namely to stay the night in Troyes, a gorgeous medieval town about 4 hours from Calais. This might be a bit far for those of you driving up to Calais from Nice/Cannes but perfect if coming from Arles or Avignon.
On the restaurant front the small restaurant in La Maison de Rhodes, La Commanderie, has been recommended. (We will research other options for our galloping gourmet members and post shortly).