January 10 2013
wife and I are planning a long drive from the Channel coast to the south of
France, or vice versa, we always try to break the journey with an overnight
stop en route.
There are dozens of impersonal motels on the French motorways, but it’s much more fun to branch out into the surrounding countryside. La Cimentelle, in Burgundy’s Vassy les Avallon, is one of my favourites. It’s ideally sited about halfway between Paris and Lyon, and is only a few miles from Exit 22 on the Autoroute du Soleil.
The fine old
house (first picture), set in rolling farmland, is a proper family home and, as there are only
six very comfortable rooms or suites, you need to book well in advance. The
high point of the stay is dinner. The co-owner, Stephane, cooks
up mouthwatering four-course meals of proper, traditional French dishes such as foie gras, poulet de Bresse and grenadin de veau façon Rossini (second picture), and they are accompanied
by a great selection of local chablis and burgundy.
prefer staying at La Cimentelle out of season. Last January, there
was a log fire in our room and dinner was served around a big table
within sight of the kitchen. Stephane’s wife and sister moved around, chatting
to everyone in both English and French and, if you are lucky, you may be offered the same delicious homemade mini-macaroons we were given with our
digestif (third picture).
Don’t rush off the following morning. Take a short detour to the gorgeous hill town and medieval abbey of Vezelay, 20 minutes away. It’s one of the most atmospheric spots in France.