It’s always works a treat, driving the day before, to wake in our Les Plus Beaux Village of choice. With Pesmes on our very doorstep, it’s only moments before we’re fully immersed in village life come morning.
And by morning, I mean of course, once coffee has hit my bloodstream and I’ve pulled myself together to the point where I can face daylight once more. Being a creature of the night, life would be much better it were perpetual twilight. Perhaps with the occasional twelve weeks of permanent light, a la Arctic Circle style. There may well be a reason why there’s a village with my name on it, in Scandinavia.
Pesmes, like Eguisheim, owes its period of growth to wine related prosperity. Unlike Eguisheim though, it’s fortunes pulled to and fro through the ages.
Strategically located in the Ognon river, Pesmes also prospered in the heyday of Franche-Comte’s metal working industry which only ended in the 1990s. Over centuries, the site was fought over for its strategic location – it’s been Frankish, Germanic, Burgundian and even once Spanish before settling to France under Louis XIV’s rule in the 1600s, upon which the town was founded.
Most of the buildings remaining today are from this era and the following century. Castle ruins dominate the skyline but tucked away behind its facade is a bustling main street with all modern conveniences. I do love these ancient towns with centuries of history. It makes our home, a mere 115 years old, a latecomer.
We wander about, exploring for a while, but thoughts turn to lunch, as they invariably do. One of the very useful features of our Les Plus Beaux Villages book is its recommendations for restaurants. They’ve been amongst some of the best dining experiences we’ve had. Today’s choice of restaurant is a fine example. Situated on the banks of the Ognon with flawless views of Pesmes, we settle in for a proper French lunch: three courses, wine and coffee. It’s blow out, I know. I am unbowed and unrepentant. When in France, life is too short to count calories.
Himself has the menu du jour: salad to start, beef bourguignon for main, creme caramel for desert. In my self appointed role as taster, his choices are excellent.
I stray to the pointy end of the menu with mushrooms en croute, pork confit with gingerbread (which works incredibly well) with cheese to finish. In a word: yum.
With a local rose, it’s an utter delight in about as a perfect setting as possible: the view from our table is below, and quite frankly, it makes me glad to be alive.
Two very happy little possums roll back onto the road in the late afternoon.
We’re heading to Beaune, in Burgundy, ostensibly to go to tomorrow’s Saturday market. Despite all the time we spent in France at the start of this year’s journey, we’ve yet to run into one of our beloved French markets.
As luck would have it, the afternoon’s coffee has me buzzing on all cylinders. Why sit at home when there’s a perfectly lovely town to explore? And thus armed with caffeinated adrenaline, off we set.
Map in hand, we finally make it past Beaune’s central square and historic hospital (toured on a prior visit) to see the town beyond.
Beaune, as suspected, has a lot to offer beyond its hub. We travel to its edge to see the beautiful Bibliotheque (library) complete with herb scented courtyard, a reading nook, and even a doggo parking spot. He looks like a reader to me.
At Beaune’s very heart is the 13th century Collegiale Notre Dame with Gothic and Renaissance features.
Nearby is the Musee de Vin,
and a seemingly endless array of shops tucked away in historic architectural delights.
Copper features heavily in the homeware stores. I salivate over it, as usual.
It’s been my dream, as long as I can remember, to own a set of copper cookware. I fell in love with it as a teenager, but have never realised that dream. Modern renditions, despite their punitive price tags, aren’t a patch on the old school heavy pots, so rarely found.
Our last stop is the Marie, the Town Hall, on the opposite edge of town. The afternoon light is a delight, rendering half of Beaune in glorious light, the other half in shade.
My coffee high wears off eventually and we wander back to the square for afternoon drinks.
I do love Beaune – I can’t wait to hit the market tomorrow. Happy days, as Jamie Oliver would say. Indeed.