When students arrived in Dijon to begin the trip in the region of Bourgogne (Burgundy), the weather could not have been more favorable. The sun was shining, and the ground was coated with shades of red and gold as leaves turned and fell from their branches, then swirled like they were swept into a storm every time the wind blew. Before navigating the city on our own, Professor Bach explained the importance of exploring all the passages that can often go unnoticed. It was true even the simple alleys and courtyards exemplified Dijon’s character. As we discovered a region that differs a bit from the now-familiar Strasbourg, we were encouraged to try all the specialties of Dijon including gingerbread, kir (a drink made with crème de cassis and white wine), escargots, and of course, mustard!
The next morning, we were off to Beaune for some intense marché-shopping and wine tasting. We discovered the difference in taste between Alsacian and Burgundian wines, which consisted of various flavors that hit taste buds I never knew I even had! That evening, we departed for the countryside, where we would spend the night in a very different way than we had in the past. After a filling meal of the traditional beef bourguignon, we were left to our own devices for the evening entertainment, which began with a few rounds of French drinking songs, show tunes and salsa dancing.
Our final stop was perhaps one of my favorites of the trip. We woke up our legs by hiking uphill along a medieval pilgrimage route to Vezelay, where we walked through a village quite off the beaten path. Quaint restaurants and boutiques lined narrow streets, which was situated at the edge of the hill we had just hiked. We were given a tour of the basilica located at the edge of the village. During the tour, mass was just ending, and we watched as numerous locals filed out of the church to the park behind it. When the tour was finished, we set out for the park where the locals had gone after mass for a picnic lunch. When we exited the church, we were immediately presented with a mind-blowing view. It amazed us all how such a vibrant village could be set so high above the country. It was almost as if we were given the opportunity to visit a place kept a secret from the rest of France. Now that I know that it’s there, I may just have to go back one day.