Tuesday, 25 May 2004
Distance 13 km
Duration 3 hours 35 minutes
Ascent 273 m, descent 297 m
Map 3025 OT in the TOP 25 series (Beaune-Chagny)
In view of the lack of warmth, we had arranged to meet at the bridge at the late hour of 9am, which meant that there was actually someone in attendance as we left the camping ground, to accept our €7.35.
The managers of these country camping grounds seem determined to make it as difficult as possible for their guests to pay, and we have had dozens of free nights as a consequence, on previous trips.
Before leaving Savigny we bought a camembert, a lumpy sausage and a baguette. The morning was still fresh as we set off to retrace our steps under the autoroute.
Here we reconnected with the lost GR signs of yesterday and they took us on a rising path through the forest until we reached a clear summit.
The first thing we noticed there was a helicopter, which had just landed after spraying the vineyards, and the next was the view.
A patchwork quilt of vines clothed the wide slopes below us, sprouting green, edged with low stone walls, dissolving into a bluish haze where the village of Pommard lay beyond a line of poplars. Here and there workers were tending the vines with the devotion of nursemaids.
Our path went down through this graceful landscape, and presently we approached the village on a small road hemmed in between high walls.
Pommard is famous for its robust red wines, and the old village is prosperous and pretty. In the main street we searched in vain for a bar until someone kindly told us it was just across the road, hidden behind a large parked truck.
The terrace of the Hôtel du Pont jutted out over the weedy green water of the stream and was shaded with an awning. Our morning coffee was highly satisfactory and Max and Sue topped it off with an ice cream.
Then we retired to the churchyard, where we ate our picnic lunch on a bench with our bare feet basking in the sun.
The second part of the day’s walk took us up again through the manicured vines, past the charming villages of Volnay and Monthélie. We were on little farm roads and the occasional dusty track.
By the time we crossed the highway and descended towards Meursault it was getting a bit too hot, but just then we came to the entrance of the camping ground, so we parted company with Max and Sue, who continued on to find themselves a hotel in the village.
The office of the camping ground was deserted and the only living things in sight were a few flaccid Dutch campers in deck chairs. However the showers were full of heat and power. From our campsite we looked out over a stretch of vines to the village.
In contrast to Pommard, which only makes red wine, Meursault is almost exclusively a white wine appellation. They are only a few kilometres apart and the soil is the same limestone and clay mixture, so it is a historical mystery how this difference has come about.
After a brief nap in the shade we walked into Meursault in our sandals to meet the others. The rest of the afternoon was spent under an umbrella at la Bouchon in the main square, which is centred around a Bacchanalian fountain. On the other side the town hall, a tall, rather repulsive building, was redeemed by its gleaming patterned roof of typically Burgundian enamelled tiles.
Apéritifs and hors-d’oeuvres merged gradually into dinner, which we took indoors at the same establishment. The regional speciality was Charolais beef, from the big blonde cattle of the area, but Sue and I had pork with a black-currant sauce.