Rhône, Burgundy and Champagne

Notes from our trip to France in 2014


This year’s tour of France took in the Rhone, Burgundy and Champagne. The itinerary was
Sunday – travel from UK to just south of Lyon
Monday – am taste Northern Rhone and pm, the AOC villages of Southern Rhone. Overnight near Auvignon.
Tuesday – am the AOC villages of Southern Rhone and pm, Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Overnight in Valence.
Wednesday – taste Northern Rhone and overnight in Beaune.
Thursday – am taste in Cote de Nuits and pm, Chablis. Overnight in Fontainebleau.
Friday – taste in Champagne and overnight in Epernay.
Saturday – am taste in Champagne and pm, return to the UK.
The restaurants we visited and where we stayed are described below. Links to the tasting notes
Northern Rhône
Southern Rhône
Burgundy (including Chablis)


The aim behind the restaurants is to have excellent meals so wherever possible we eat at restaurants that have Michelin stars. Generally the only reason we miss is because there are no star restaurants in the area that are open on that night.


1 Avenue Gambetta, 26260 Saint-Donat-sur-l'Herbasse Tél 04 75 45 11 82 www.restaurant-chartron.com

Chartron restaurant 
Chartron amuse bouche

They have a very pleasant walled garden in which to have an aperitif and the Amuse Bouche. We had their Menu de Saison (€38) which was very acceptable and a good start to the trip. The aperitif was a Coursodon St Joseph Silice ’12 half bottle (€24) followed by Jean-Luc Colombo’s Cornas Terre Brulee ’11 (€64). The latter was fairly priced as we bought a bottle from the winery the next day for €39.


Rue Theodore Aubanel, 84800 L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue Tél 04 90 20 66 94

Café Fleurs restaurant

Café Fleurs pork belly

They may not have a Michelin star but have a great location next to one of the many canals that dominate this town famed for its antiques fair and the Menu du Marche (€32) was quite acceptable. We washed it down with a Corinne Couturie Cairanne Blanc ‘11 (€36) followed by a Ch la Nerthe ’06 (€68). We were very happy that we were going to Ch la Nerthe the next day in Châteauneuf-du-Pape.


285 avenue Victor Hugo, 26000 Valence Tél 04 75 44 15 32 www.pic-valence.com


Pic restaurant

Pic Menu Harmonie

Pic l'Amuse Bouche

Pic La Carotte et le Whisky

Pic le Turbot Cotier et le Petit Pois

Pic la Rhubarb, l'Amande et le Cafe

We always look forward to our three star meal as the highlight of the trip and Anne Sophie Pic did not disappoint us. We selected the mid-priced menu Harmonie (€240) a copy of which is shown above as are pictures of some of the courses. This was accompanied by an Alain Graillot Crozes Hermitage Blanc ‘12 (€60) and a Andre Perret Saint Joseph les Grisieres ‘10 (€70) that Robert Parker had awarded 93 points. We had a glass of Dm les Bernardins Muscat de Beaumes de Venise ’12 (€15) that we had visited earlier in the day much to the amazement of the sommelier when we told him.


10 -12 boulevard Marechal Foch, 21200 Beaune, Tel03 80 24 01 01 www.lechambard.fr

Hostellerie le Cedre

Hostellerie de le Cedre dining room

A new one star in Beaune so we thought that we should try even though we have had great meals at the other one stars in the town and surrounds. It looks very pleasant and we selected the Menu Cedre (€55) accompanied by a Rapet Pernand-Vergelesse Les Combottes ’10 half bottle (€29) and a Chanson Beaune Greves ’09 (€75). The wine was great but the meal was a total disappointment – it took us a while to remember when we had previously had such a poor meal at a Michelin one star and it was many years ago.


43 Rue de France, 77300 Fontainebleau, 01 64 22 01 57 www.laxel-restaurant.com

L'Axel restaurant

L'Axel dining area


Restrained cheeseboard

Another brand new one star so we went in with some trepidation, but they really deserved their star. We had the Menu Gastronome (€52) accompanied by a Jean-Paul et Benoit Droin Chablis Vaillons ‘12 half bottle (€28) and a Rapet Beaune Clos du Roi ’10 (€86), the second Rapet and he makes wine that we like.


13 Rue des Berceaux, 51200 Épernay, Tel 03 26 55 28 84 www.lesberceaux.com

les Berceaux restaurant

Excellent duck

and then foie gras - all duck or no dinner?

And to dessert - tastes as good as it looks

We have been to les Berceaux many times and, apart from good food, it always intrigues us that they try to keep the table as empty as possible as shown on the starting tables with just napkins, water glasses and a bowl of flowers on them. We selected the menu (€80). Whenever we go there we always have the recommended champagne and this way have found many great ‘grower champagnes’. This time the Claude Cazals, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger Champgne ‘06 (€67) was no exception. We also had a Chateau le Bosq, Saint Estephe ’05 for about the same price.



The main aim of the hotels is to minimise the distance to the restaurant and to minimise the cost without staying in a dump.

1 Avenue Gambetta, 26260 Saint-Donat-sur-l'Herbasse Tél 04 75 45 11 82
Very pleasant rooms in the same building as the restaurant. (€80)

Hotel les Névons
205 Chemin du Nevon, 84800 L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue Tél 04 90 20 72 00
Not bad and easy walking distance to the restaurant. (€62)

Hotel California
174 Avenue Maurice Faure, 26000 Valence Tel 04 75 44 36 05
Not bad and about half a kilometre to the restaurant. (€62)

Hotel le Foch
24 Boulevard Maréchal Foch, 21200 Beaune Tel 03 80 24 05 65
Appalling, even though the room rate would not qualify it as a dump – never stay here even though it is within a couple of hundred metres to the restaurant

Hotel de Londres, 1 Place du Général de Gaulle, 77300 Fontainebleau Tel 01 64 22 20 21
The best hotel we stayed in. Within 500 metres of the restaurant. (€122)

Hôtel Restaurant les Berceaux
13 Rue des Berceaux, 51200 Épernay, Tel 03 26 55 28 84
OK rooms in the same building as the restaurant. I believe that we got a special deal because we were in rooms that had not been refurbished (€80). Others whom we know who have stayed there said that the refurbished rooms are very nice.