I had expected my first trip to Burgundy to be a leisurely meander along the Saone, sampling French cuisine and the liquid treasures of the Cotes de Nuits, the Cotes de Beaunes, and the easier (on the purse) delights of the Chalonnais and the Maconnais.
In fact, our car broke down between Chartres, where I had finger-walked the labyrinth, and Orleans, a town that had been the obsession of a former girlfriend. I was with my 21 year old son, who usually kicks off in such situations but retained an almost Zen like composure throughout. I believe this was a conscious decision, reflecting his greater maturity in life, and it made me feel proud of him!
Green Flag excelled. The various garages listed on Google Maps proved to be a mirage, but the lady who answered our call in Edinburgh quickly identified Place de l’Auberge in the none too glamorous village of Allaines-Mervilliers where the car had instinctively rolled towards when the electrics cut out on a roundabout. Within an hour or so, a large truck rolled up and we were winched on to the back of it, surveying the Loiret region from a new lofty perspective, about that of the top floor of a London bus.
By sunset, we had an Avis hire car, and we wound our way from Montargis down the A6 in complete darkness: through to Auxerre, the gateway to Bourgogne, then Chablis in the darkness off the motorway like a wide-eyed houri and then down past Dijon, the gourmande capital, and Beaune, and the vineyards to the south of it on the Route de Pommard, Puligny Montrachet, Meursault, Rully, Santenay, such great names, then down and down the motorway, through Mercurey, Givry, Chagny, and then Chalon, and finally making our way into the Maconnais, and finally on to the town of Macon, where we drove with the Saone river on our left, mysteriously dark, and kilometer after kilometer of KFC and factory outlets on our right.
By midnight, despite everything, we were both fast asleep in our AirBnB and looking forward to exploring the region.