They strut about on blue feet and are the only kind of poultry to be honored with France’s designation of Appellation d’Origine Controlee, an honor generally reserved for wine and cheese. Sporting dazzlingly white plumage and a fiery red crest, Bresse Blue lends new meaning to the word magnificent. Bresse, France, runs from the Saone River eastwards to the foothills of the Jura Mountains. Poulet de Bresse are raised on lush grass and, by law, must be raised on plots of land totaling at least 5,000 square meters. Debbie and I have never tasted such glorious fowl and often look for Bresse on the menu in advance of our night’s gastronomical forays. Bresse is most often served for two, carved with aplomb table-side.
In our travels, the king of Bresse is Chef Johan Bjorklund, owner of L’Hotel de Beaune and Bistro de L’Hotel in Burgundy. We stay at the hotel, eat at the bistro and visit with Johan on every visit to the wine capital of Burgundy. You will not find a nicer place in Beaune to stay or dine. And yes, indeed, Bresse do have blue feet, both of which will most likely make the trip to your carving table at Bistro de L’ Hotel. If you require just one reason to embark on a high-speed TGV rail adventure out of Paris, L’Hotel de Beaune, Johan Bjorklund, and Bresse fowl team up to await your arrival.
From Gare Lyon in Paris, the deluxe high-speed TGV takes about two hours to Dijon. Next up will be your connection to Beaune (about 45 minutes by auto). Debbie and I have rented from Hertz twice, and while each trip has been a bit of an adventure, we have obviously survived, as will you if you follow a few of the basic French guidelines I have offered in previous What I Learned In Paris posts. Be certain Hertz confirms a GPS for you and shows you how to shift a European car into reverse. We paid the penalty for not knowing the little trick in Dijon on our first drive to Beaune. A French Swat team at the rail station came to our aid. On one of our visits, we enjoyed driving the wine route to Puligny-Montrachet, wine touring and lunching at Olivier Laflaive’s, and stopping at various places along the way.
Another option is taking the local train from Dijon to Beaune. If you would like to take a great Burgundy wine tour, contract with our preferred wine tour team, David Verez and Jerome Allexant. (www.bourgogne-avec-chauffeur.com). If you book a wine tour with them, they can pick you up in Dijon or even Paris. In either case, I would email the hotel as to your plans and request that they make a confirmation call to David and Jerome the morning of your arrival. Let them plan a day tour for you. Burgundy is a mini region running only a narrow 30 miles from top to bottom. By touring with Jerome or David, you get the added benefit of their local knowledge of Burgundy and its lore and the almost mystical importance of terroir. Debbie, David and I had a great day together. We learned so much and were grateful the hotel had steered us to David and Jerome. Beyond your touring, Beaune is a walkable, charming city, with many wine stores, bistros and shops. Plan to reserve for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday to avoid a Ferme sign on the other two great Beaune dining spots I will bring to you in my next installment. Obviously, Debbie and I are excited about the adventure that awaits you in Beaune. And we are looking forward to sharing with you the investment we made on our last visit. A unique experience awaits you.