Whenever mywife and I are planning a long drive from the Channel coast to the south ofFrance, or vice versa, we always try to break the journey with an overnightstop en route.
There aredozens of impersonal motels on the French motorways, but it’s much more fun tobranch out into the surrounding countryside. La Cimentelle, in Burgundy’s Vassy lesAvallon, is one of my favourites. It’s ideally sited abouthalfway between Paris and Lyon, and is only a few miles from Exit 22 on theAutoroute du Soleil.
The fine oldhouse (first picture), set in rolling farmland, is a proper family home and, as there are onlysix very comfortable rooms or suites, you need to book well in advance. Thehigh point of the stay is dinner. The co-owner, Stephane, cooksup 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 accompaniedby a great selection of local chablis and burgundy.
I almostprefer staying at La Cimentelle out of season. Last January, therewas a log fire in our room and dinner was served around a big tablewithin sight of the kitchen. Stephane’s wife and sister moved around, chattingto 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 ourdigestif (third picture).
Don’t rushoff the following morning. Take a short detour to the gorgeous hill town andmedieval abbey of Vezelay, 20 minutes away. It’s one of the mostatmospheric spots in France.