As we pulled up to the Château de Corton André in Aloxe-Corton on the outskirts of Beaune, one of the girls on the bus said, “I now understand the inspiration for fairy tales.” She is absolutely right.
I had been to chateaux before–those in the Loire Valley and the Anjou region–but the kaleidoscopic roof and multi-towered mansion rising out of the Aloxe-Corton vineyards is far more reminiscent of the childhood home of “Cindrillon” than the usual overly-refined bourgeois castles. Its quaintness gave it a comforting character while keeping a sense of affluence. You can tell some good stories were made here.
The surrounding countryside’s rolling vineyards and herds of cattle added a picturesque backdrop for the legendary “provincial” towns of France, such as our first stop in little Semur. I expected Belle to walk around the corner with a good book at any moment. However, while Belle longed for much more, I couldn’t find a single fault with any part of Bourgogne. The small stores, unique architecture, divine escargot and of course the wine all add to its charm. But for all that, what makes it special is the ever-present tranquility and underlying anticipation that something truly extraordinary could happen at any moment. Whether that moment is finding a carousel by a hidden tea shop whose walls are lined with bookshelves, bearing witness to the morning fog that idles over patchwork farms, or church bells interrupting a perfect silence of a warm autumn’s day, Bourgogne honestly made going back to the Paris “bruit” very difficult.
It is comforting, however, to know that there is at least one place in the world where fairy tales still happen.