Sunday September 24

Ancien moulin Creancy, Creancy: 47°14’53.7″N 4°35’03.1″E

Hotel le Bristol, Reims: 49°15’24.3″N 4°01’36.0″E

Bernard prepared a beautiful breakfast for us, complete with bowls of café au lait and fresh croissants served on his grandmother’s best china. It’s going to be hard going back to instant coffee with toast and peanut butter ☹.

Oscar the dog kept us company in his favourite chair.

Bernard advised us to take a route that included the toll highway, otherwise our cross-country trip could take 6 or more hours.

Fifi was waiting patiently for us under the tree for this our last road trip with her.

Our route ended up being a mixture of back country roads through little towns, open countryside and major highways. We were impressed with the number of modern windmills all along the toll highway. There were hundreds of them!


We dropped Fifi off at the TGV train station just outside of Reims & then took taxi to our hotel in the center of the city. Fifi, our Fiat 500 with a 6-speed manual transmission was a great little car, carrying us safely over 1,200 kilometers around France.

Our hotel room was not quite ready so we stored our luggage with the hotel security, found a place for lunch and did a little exploring. The pedestrian esplanade right in front of our hotel is a busy, vibrant area with dozens of cafes and bistros and attractive architecture.

Saturday September 23

Hotel Athanor Centre, Beaune: 47°01’25.7″N 4°50’07.5″E

Ancien moulin Creancy, Creancy: 47°14’53.7″N 4°35’03.1″E

Today we drove a backroads tour from Beaune through the Burgundy wine region to Creancy. We were motivated to take this particular route after reading about it in Rick Steves’ France Guidebook. Along the way we had some really nice view of the canal and saw many people on biking tours.


The Canal de Bourgogne (Burgundy Canal) looked pretty inviting!

Our first stop was the hill town of Chateauneuf-en-Auxois. At 2,000 feet elevation this town was visible from a long distance and reminded us of medieval castle scenes in movies. It must have been really impressive to people on foot and riding horses or in carriages “back in the day”.

The castle was built in the 14th century and was surrounded by the village.

Today it’s a busy tourist town. It’s like stepping back in time and all of the buildings looked pretty much like the day they were built – very well preserved and respectful of their heritage many centuries later.

Several of the homes in the village had walled gardens. It was fun to peek over the walls to see what was inside.

We stopped for coffee at a café outside the castle after walking around the village enjoying the gardens and architecture.

I also found a nice car for Cath – a very well preserved Citroen 2CV but lost interest quickly when I found out that they were worth about $20,000 and higher back home.

After leaving the hill village we headed north to Flavigny-sur-Ozerain. On our way there we passed through Posanges and drove quickly by a small castle right beside the road. It was so intriguing we turned around and stopped to take a closer look.

This is the Chateau de Posanges, built in year 1440, complete with drawbridge and moat.

Sadly it is no longer open to the public. Definitely worth turning around to see it even from the outside and I would have gladly paid 10 Euros to take a tour though it. I wonder if it will be for sale someday – could be an “Escape to the Chateau” for Cath and I.

We arrived in Flavigny at lunch time. It is really old town that has been home to an abbey since the year 719! Stuff around here is really old!

The abbey is still in use – in fact there are 50 Benedictine monks living at the abbey of St. Joseph. We saw some of them walking down the street but thought it would be rude to take a photo.

This town also had another “15 minutes of fame” in year 2000 when the movie “Chocolat” starring Johnny Depp was filmed here.

We had lunch in a candy factory in the town that is famous for its licorice candies. A very charming location and they serve up a great quiche too!

Just before leaving town we found another classic Citroen for me 🙂

Our last stop was to visit the abbey at Fontenay featured in Rick Steves’ book and on his PBS TV show.

This abbey was founded in year 1118 and was created to recapture the simplicity and solitude of the early church. It is now privately owned and open to the public. The grounds and the buildings are in pristine shape.

It was interesting to see that the abbey church is the same today as when it was built – the floor is earth, there are no furnishings, no stained glass windows and only 1 statue which was of the Virgin Mary.

The simplicity of the architecture added to its beauty.

We drove back south to the little town of Creancy where our B&B host Bernard and his friendly dog Oscar were waiting for us at the Ancien Moulin (the old mill).

Friday September 22 – Lyon to Beaune

Le Jardins de Beauvoir B&B, Lyon: 45°45’22.1″N 4°49’07.2″E

(8 Rue de Trion, 69005 Lyon, France)

Hospices de Beaune: 47°01’19.3″N 4°50’11.2″E

We were up for an early breakfast again so we could get started on our next road trip – driving from Lyon to Beaune, a town famous for the charity hospital built in the 1400’s by a wealthy patron.

If we took the freeway route it would take us about 90 minutes to drive about 160 kilometers from our B&B in Lyon but we have had enough of white knuckle driving on the freeway so we took the cross county route.

We had a few missed turns on the way out of Lyon but the GPS got us back on track without too much stress. Our cross country route added another 90 minutes to our driving time but it was much more relaxing & we got to see some of the best of rural France. Lots of small towns in between acres of vineyards, olive groves & a variety of food crops (squash, pumpkin, leeks, corn, etc.).

Traffic on this route was much more manageable

We arrived in Beaune around 2:00pm & were able to check in to our hotel – the Hôtel Athanor Beaune Centre. It truly is in the center of the town & it was only a five minute walk to the Hospices de Beaune. We took a brief rest in our room & then went in search of a place for a light lunch. It started raining pretty hard so we lingered in the shelter of our cafe until the worst of the weather had passed through.

After lunch we took a tour of the hospice. The hospital, officially known as: Hôtel-Dieu Museum – Hospices de Beaune Hôtel-Dieu – Hospices de Beaune was built in In 1441 by Nicolas Rolin, a wealthy Duke of Burgundy and his wife Guigone de Salins. This was an act of philanthropy & it also put the patrons in good stead with the Catholic church & the French aristocracy.

Our admission fee included a personal hand held audio device that provided commentary for our self guided tour. This is an excellent arrangement because it allows you to tour the entire facility at your own pace. The commentary is excellent & you don’t have to listen to tour guides shouting out to their groups. It makes for a much more relaxing & quieter experience for everyone.

Below are several photos of the hospice. It was one of the most interesting historical places we have seen on this trip. A definite “must see” place if you are traveling in this part of France.

The hospice main courtyard

The interior of the main hospital area – a total of 30 beds – 15 on each side

Each bed had the same arrangements for the patients.

The architectural details were amazing. Note the dragon’s head holding the cross beams and the carved faces of people in between the beams


Every carved face is different & a bit whimsical – perhaps to cheer up the patients

Even the kitchen had some very interesting plumbing! Note the swan head & neck taps.

The entire facility is maintained in pristine condition & has a lot to do with the prosperity of the town of Beaune. If you are interested in knowing more about this fascinating place here is a link to a travel video by Rick Steves on YouTube:

When we were planning our trip to France his travel program and this segment about the hospice was a big motivation for us to come here.

The town of Beaune is very busy with traffic & tourists & the number of restaurants within a 20 minute walk from our hotel is astonishing. We were thinking of going out for dinner but this area is definitely for “high rollers” with many restaurant dinner menu suggestions starting at 100 Euros per person plus wine!

We chose a much more modest option & went to the local grocery store to buy some cold meat, veggies & crackers supplemented with a value priced wine.

Just outside the grocery store I saw this “outdoor laundromat” in the parking lot & had to take a photo of it. Toss your laundry in while you are shopping for groceries!

A pretty sharp contrast to the 1400 AD circa hospice!

Tomorrow we explore more of the Burgendy region  


Thursday September 21 – Lyon

Le Jardins de Beauvoir, Lyon: 45°45’22.1″N 4°49’07.2″E

(8 Rue de Trion, 69005 Lyon, France)

We spent today exploring Lyon. No car for us – we had enough driving yesterday. Time to give FiFi a rest.

Our hosts told us that they have lived on the property for about 25 years and started their B&B business about 10 years ago. The property was originally a small convent.







We had a great breakfast at our B&B and then headed out to explore the old city. This was very interesting because where we were staying in the city was very high elevation overlooking the Rhône river below and the city of Lyon. On route to the basilica we passed more Roman ruins.

Those guys were everywhere! We made it to the basilica of Notre Dame, located even higher than where we are staying so we had a pretty good climb on steep streets and sidewalks to get there.

Our efforts were well rewarded though because the basilica was very ornate with mosaic floors and frescos as well as a gorgeous vaulted ceiling painted dark green with gold stars.

We were fortunate enough to get inside the cathedral as a morning mass was being celebrated. We sat quietly in the back with many other people while the congregation participating in the mass were seated further forward. The service was in French & even though we didn’t understand much of what the priest was saying it was very beautiful.

Everything else that we wanted to see was on the streets below us so it was all downhill from here – but certainly not downhill as far as the sights we were seeing.

The streets in the old city are very narrow and the buildings about 5 stories high so it makes for long shaded passageways. It is easy to understand how Lyon became a centre of the French Resistance in WW II as there were many ways to avoid detection and pass through the city relatively unseen.

Many of the buildings are painted pastel shades of yellow, pink and cream. We walked across one of the several bridges to see another part of the city that had more modern buildings blended in with the old ones.



We went to another cathedral of St. Jean Baptiste, a gothic cathedral begun in 1180 and completed in 1476, considered to be the heart of the old city.

From there we walked back to the Gadagne Museum which told the story of the city of Lyon. Attached to this museum is the MAM – museum of marionettes which hosted a collection of puppets of all eras from around the world. Fascinating. Outside of the museums is the Charvet clock, built 170 years ago, which features marionette figures that move when the clock chimes on the quarter hour.

We walked along the cobbled streets to find the funicular to ride almost straight up and stopped just steps from the B&B.

 The funicular was surprisingly mostly underground from the bottom of the hill to the top. It must have been a massive project to do all that tunneling up such a steep incline.

After resting for a while back at our B&B had dinner at a charming bistro close to “home” and walked back in the pouring rain. Steak again for me! A full day!

Tomorrow we’re back on the road again to explore some of the Burgundy region & check out the canals there – for a future cruise? But this time we’re sticking to the smaller roads – no multilane freeway for Fifi!


Wednesday September 20 – Avignon to Lyon

Maison Boussingaul B&B, Avignon: 43°56’45.4″N 4°48’12.3″E

(39 Rue Boussingault, 84000 Avignon, France)

L’isle-sur-la-Sorgue: 43°55’12.8″N 5°03’19.2″E

Gordes: 43°54’28.6″N 5°11’52.2″E

Le Jardins de Beauvoir, Lyon: 45°45’22.1″N 4°49’07.2″E

(8 Rue de Trion, 69005 Lyon, France)

We had an early breakfast with Bruce and Barb at our B&B and then prepared to get on the road to Lyon which was about a 3 hour drive from where we were staying. It was hard to say goodbye to Bruce and Barb after having so many wonderful adventures with them over the past couple of weeks but it was time for them to head home & time for us to move on. We really enjoyed our stay at this place. John Paul was an excellent host and really helped our visit to Avignon be special.






Before we headed to Lyon, we made a couple of stops to see some more sites in this area. Our first stop on the advice of John Paul was to visit L’isle-sur-la-Sorgue, a very picturesque place that is supposed to be one of the prettiest towns in France. It is unique because the river La Sorgue passing through the town actually splits into five different smaller rivers in the town center.

This is a very busy tourist place with lots of cafés and bistro’s lining the river banks. We stopped at noon for a drink and a small snack at a café beside the cathedral that we intended to visit right after but we should have remembered that everything closes from 12 noon until 2 PM for lunch, including this cathedral – so no cathedral visit for us today. We continued our walking tour of the town and then got back in the car and headed towards Gordes, a hill village typical of this region.

Gordes was an amazing place to see from a distance. It is not that big of a village but it is perched high on a steep hillside overlooking the valley below with mountains far off in the distance.

This place was very busy with all kinds of traffic and it was difficult to find a parking spot so we just stayed on the opposite side of the narrow valley and enjoyed the views of the village.  Then we hopped back in the car and resumed our journey to Lyon.

The GPS calculated that we had a 2 1/2 hour drive to Lyon on the freeway/tollway. We had only been on the road for about 30 minutes when it started to rain. The traffic was pretty heavy and the rain got harder and harder. It was an interesting drive in this tiny Fiat car, bombing down the road and about 120 to 130 km/h and being passed by other cars and trucks like we were standing still. Fortunately the rain only lasted about 45 minutes and the further north we drove the better the weather got.

We arrived in Lyon around 6:30 PM. There was some road repairs being done in the neighborhood where our B&B was located so we couldn’t get the GPS to drive to the address we were given. I finally found a safe place to pull over that was close to where we were supposed to be & Catherine went on foot to find our B&B. She finally found the front entrance of our B&B and rang the bell for assistance. This is a very big “front” door!

Our hosts Mimi & Nicolas came out to greet us. Mimi helped Catherine carry our luggage up to the house while Nicholas helped me take the car to a nearby parking garage. We were certainly happy to be off the road and into our room.

We rested for a few hours & then went looking for a place to have a bite to eat. We found a nice little bar/pub only a few steps away from our B&B and enjoyed a glass of wine for Catherine, a big draft beer for me and a shared tapas plate.

There was even a bonus for both of us because a European Champions League football game was on the bar telly for me and the bar owner’s dog (named Loco) came and made friends with Catherine.

Tomorrow we explore Lyon.