We rise to gloriously blue skies, such a gift this late into Autumn. All the better for the full day we have ahead of us.
First, an exploration of La Clayette, home of the fairytale Chateau La Clayette.
The borough was created in the 1400s, located in the Bourgogne region, it’s not only known for wine but for the white cows “boeuf charolais”.
The chateau is quite mesmerising. Set on a moat, leading into a large lake,
it’s just how how imagine a fairytale castle to be – full of towers and turrets.
Plenty of spots for Rapunzel to let down her hair.
Unfortunately, it’s not open to the public, still entirely used as a private residence. Sadly, not mine. *Sigh*. I did ask Chris. Rather a few times. I rather fancy a chateau of my very own. My idea of heaven actually. I’d fill my grounds with woodland creatures and live my best life. 🐾🐇🐿️🦌
We lap the village, making sensible plans for lunch, even going as far as buying baugettes, then promptly setting them aside to dine out. La Belle Epoque, named for my favourite period in French history proves an excellent choice. Half the town walks in within moments of our arrival – the French take lunch very seriously. There’s no concept of “lunch on the run”.
I revert to my old favourite chevre salad,
Chris, the classic boeuf bourguignon, which is absolutely stunning, perfectly executed.
Desserts are too tempting to be refused: pomme tarte tartin and creme brulee.
It’s a delightful way of passing a couple of hours, but we eventually drag ourselves away to drive to our next destination. I’ll very much miss French lunch when we’re home. Along with about about a thousand other things.
The drive to Semur-en-Brionnais through the Bourgogne countryside delivers breathtakingly beautiful scenery.
Just when you think you know a country, it delivers a surprise so wonderful it’s like seeing it for the first time all over again. This is gently undulating, manicured, green land, crossed with low hedgerows and stone fences, dotted with the occasional cottage. In late autumn, the grass is a pale green: in summer it would become an emerald carpet. Yet another place we’ll need to come back to.
We see endless birds of prey strutting around fields then taking off, surveying their domains below. Luckily, all the bunnies know this and stay well out of sight.
It’s not long before we arrive at Semur-en-Brionnais. Fortunately our “castled out” phase seems to have passed: we happily tour the Chateau St Hughes, the oldest castle in Bourgogne.
It has an intact 10th century keep and after the Revolution, was used as a prison.
Prisoner art decorates the occasional wall and in places, games have been scratched into stone.
Upstairs is an extensive collection of Revolution posters that make fascinating translating, detailing the punishments of the day.
The views from the castle are stunning.
We visit the 12th century Romanesque church of St Hilaire with its richly adorned entrance ways.
The church is flanked by the Priory of St Hughes (now a convent) on one side,
and a chapter house the other. The latter was used for a long time as the village school, but now houses a display of Romanesque architecture in area and a decorated mediaeval fireplace and ceiling from the 17th century.
Further along the main square is the Mairie (town hall)
and a small ivy covered building, the 17th century Grenier a Sel,
the salt store, where the salt tax was levied on the population. Inside are remnants of the original decorative artworks.
A short walk takes us outside of the Semur-en-Brionnais’ fortified walls and gateway (apparently this was the tradesmen’s entrance),
leading on the the 15th century laundry Lavoir de la Madeleine.
Interestingly, the laundry was built on the site of the old parish church.
For a relatively small place, Semur-en-Brionnais packs in a great deal to see.