Spring in Burgundy always takes me by surprise. The landscape appears to wake up from hibernation overnight. Suddenly the sky is sighing with swallows and butterflies, vines stretch out their tendrils, and the colza fields light up in cadmium yellow far into the green horizon. Markets brim with fresh produce, neighbours exchange chocolates and flowers for Easter, and there are plans for aperitifs and barbecues.
After shuffling out of the cosy winter cocoon, I’m in the mood for rejuvenation and oxygenation. The first obligatory stop is the parapharmacie to glean beauty and skincare secrets, and then we’re off to an idyllic déjeuner sur l’herbe – you’re invited!
This is a ‘desert island’ item, an incredible dry oil with multiple uses for hair and body, it nourishes and repairs any winter damage and prepares the skin to welcome the fresh air. It’s addictive. €25.90 for 100ml. Website: www.nuxe.com
I am never without the original Embryolisse lait-crème concentré face cream, the one that comes in the retro metal squeeze tube. It has a cult following, transmitted from mother to daughter, it is inexpensive, easy to wear under make-up, and available in any pharmacy or parapharmacie. €15 for 75ml. Website: www.embryolisse.com
To find our way to our perfect picnic spot along the 800km of signposted cycling routes – maybe along the Route des Grand Crus, or the edge of a forest, among the vineyards, or by a canal – we can download the detailed Burgundy-by-Bike map on our smartphone, or the Balades en Bourgogne app with not a dint in our budget. €0. Website: www.cotedor-tourisme.com
Une pique-nique Bourguignon: quail and almond terrine, country pâté, the famed local mustard, Aligoté wine and a sweet finish of Nougatine de Nevers. Add a fresh baguette and you have a party in a basket. €49. Website: www.saveursdebourgogne.fr
The best ways to explore Burgundy are by canal and by bike – preferably a combination of the two. The hills are manageable, the locals are friendly, and the wine needs no introduction. We roll in style on a Peugeot bike with timeless classic lines. €450. Website: www.cycles.peugeot.fr
These are the perfect crossover from active outdoorsy to city smart. Bollé is my favourite go-to brand for eyewear, from ski goggles to reading frames or sunglasses. Bollé Origin Tortoiseshell €165. Website: www.bolle.com
For our picnic aperitif a visit to a caviste for a bottle of the refreshing local fizz, Crémant de Bourgogne. One part Crème de Cassis liqueur at the bottom of the flute and three parts chilled Crémant for a Kir Téméraire aperitif, a variation on the Kir Royal. Crémant de Bourgogne Brut Cuvée Agnès – Domaine Vitteaut-Alberti €14.90. Website: www.bourgogne-selection.com
The second ingredient for our aperitif, la crème de cassis, is a local liqueur made from blackcurrants. It has a surprising depth, and an unexpected tart and dry balance to the sweet nectar. In Burgundy you’ll find cassis everything… Crème de Cassis Boudier €22 for 70ml. Website: www.boudier.com
There’s a great choice of fantastic spas here, so for some vivifying pampering, we’ll head to the Nuxe Spa at the Hôtel Saint-Georges in Chalons-sur-Saône. Since we’re re-energizing we’ll go for the Escapade Femme Prodigieuse treatment for €200. Website: www.hotel-saint-georges.fr
A stop at Hermès for a morning zest of Eau de pamplemousse rose. It’s fresh and happy and won’t last more than a couple of hours, so it won’t clash if you later need to transition to a ‘serious’ parfum. €55 for 50ml. Website: www.hermes.com
From France Today magazine