Bazoches – an idyll in the Burgundy countryside.

STAGE TWO

I have arrived in Paradise.

Leaving Bourg-en–Bresse I stopped briefly at the historic and majestic Tournus in Southern Burgundy, with its dramatic Abbey and old quarter on the wide river Saone, passing vineyards and grape pickers by the roadside on the way.

Tournus

Tournus

The abbey was built around 1000 AD and is one of the oldest sanctuaries in France.

Tournus cloisters

The cloisters

I was heading for Vézelay, an especially spiritual town, and a UNESCO world heritage site, though I had reserved a room on a farm a little way outside of the town.

This is where paradise comes in. La Ferme D’Ecosse is in a tiny village called Bazoches in the middle of nowhere in the Burgundy countryside. The farm is on the estate of the Chateau of Bazoches which looms up on the hill behind the farm like a fairy tale castle.

LA Ferme D'Ecosse

La Ferme D’Ecosse

The Chateau overlooking the farm

The Chateau overlooking the farm

It is Farm of Ecosse, Scotland, because of some ancient collaboration of Scots and French armies fighting the English centuries ago.

The farm is quite simply idyllic. My host, the farmer’s wife Madame Perrier, is hospitable and extremely ‘chaleureuse’.   And the breakfasts she provides with her delicious homemade jams are a divine way to start my day. The farm with its roses around the doors is so pretty, and so is my charming room.

My charming room

My pretty room

Apart from the farmyard and birdlife noises it is extremely peaceful, and of course those sounds are the cheerful background music of the country. This farm keeps herds of the famous white Charolais beef cattle, and I am informed that the busy, scuttling chickens are destined for the pot one day. C’est la vie.

Bazoches is a tiny bourg of only a few souls, surrounded by rich green hills, and countryside for as far as you can see. Pitch black at night so the sky is a perfect dome sprinkled with bright stars. I could clearly make out the Milky Way, which is symbolically important to Vézelay pilgrims.   It is on the edge of the expansive natural park of Morvan – untouched forest river and lakes, dotted with ancient medieval villages and chateaux. You could stay for weeks here and every day would be a delight.

Waling to the village of Bazoches from the farm

Walking to the village of Bazoches from the farm

Here time can just slow down. Just along the road is Pierre-Pertuis, a beauty spot by the river Cure with two bridges, one old and cobbled, the other arching above, where I whiled away a tranquil afternoon shielded from the hot sun by the shady riverside, watching the river change colour.

Pierre-Pertuis

Pierre-Pertuis

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The local hero is Maréchal Vauban. More about him another time. He owned the chateau and lands of Bazoches and his body is interred in the quaint little 12th century church – but not his heart which lies elsewhere, in a place of great honour, as ordered by Napoleon.

Bazoches’s tiny church, L’Eglise Saint Hilaire, has pretty, faded and peeling frescoes on its inner walls and ceiling.

St Hilaire

St Hilaire

Church ceiling

The ‘English’ guide in the church says ‘it is heavy and squat, without movement, crowned by its towere like candle snuffer.’   I know exactly what they mean.

St Hilaire and its candle snuffer spire

St Hilaire and its candle snuffer spire

More about discovering Vézelay soon…

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