I recently returned from a two-week stay in the Burgundy region of France. The trip was a combination of work (recording audio interviews for GrapeRadio.com) and pleasure. Truthfully, the entire time was pleasure, which is as it should be. I’ve been to most of the French wine regions several times in the past, and one thing I’ve learned is to have a carefully planned itinerary and daily schedule. It occurs to me that if I share some of what I’ve learned, you might have a more pleasurable time, too.
Monday through Friday I usually schedule no more than two winery visits per day, one about 10 a.m., and another around 2:30 or 3. Also, consider making a luncheon reservation, especially if the restaurant is popular, and allow two hours for a relaxing meal. In France, the restaurant won’t hurry you. So if you finish earlier than expected, feel free to linger at your table, or take a walk around town and find a café to enjoy an espresso or coffee. Keep in mind that many places, such as boulangeries and butcher shops, close daily for about two hours, usually from noon until 2, or from 1 to 3. If you need to pick up baguettes or charcuterie to enjoy with your wine at an evening meal, plan accordingly.
Saturday Although you my find some wineries willing to make Saturday appointments, I suggest spending the morning visiting a local farmers market, and the afternoon shopping or buying groceries. If there’s time, it’s also a good day to do touristy things, such as visiting a museum or taking a tour.
Sunday This is the day of rest in France. Families are out walking, or in parks or vineyards, generally enjoying the outdoors. With the exception of restaurants, bistros, and cafés, most businesses are closed. Even grocery markets are generally shuttered by noon.
With a little planning, you’ll find plenty of relaxation. This is supposed to be fun, remember? Save the daily grind for when you come home.