Its been a month since we’ve returned from our Grey Wave camper adventure, and its time to close the report. As I’ve revealed in the last post, for our main event we were going to France. France is one of the largest countries in Europe. But even big European countries are built up on the remains of a vast array of smaller ones, melted to a certain degree into a centrally governed state. Some of these semi-states, like Catalonia, are well-known and are actively striving for independence. Others, like Bavaria, while also well-known, seem content being part of a larger whole. And yet others, that in their time have themselves been a major player on the European scene, are almost entirely absent from the public eye, only marginally important even to their inhabitants. We were going to such a “forgotten state”.
As the September nights in the North were getting colder and colder, we drove 400 km south, and it was the best move we could make. We came to Burgundy. Once upon a time, merely 5 centuries ago, the Duchy of Burgundy was one of the most powerful states in Medieval Europe. Nowadays it is reduced to a minor region of France, hardly known outside the story of Jeanne of Ark, Burgundy wines and beef bourguignon. Its an excellent destination for tourists looking for peace and quiet. Not quite Mediterranean, but surely not Atlantic. Not entirely continental, but too far from the nearest sea. Not yet the Alps, but on a bright day you can see the Mont Blanc from a Burgundian hill top. If this is not the heart of France, I don’t know what is.
The weather here was ideal – sunny, in the low 20’s during the day, and not dropping below 10 at night. We’ve spent an idyllic week on a camping in a castle’s garden. Ask me what we were doing there the whole week and I will honestly tell you I have no idea. One of the days we cycled to the nearby city of Tournus. The only rainy day we’ve had we took the camper for a road-trip through the hills, ending up in spectacular Cluny. Where did the other days go? Beats me. I went running along the Saône river a few times, we’ve cycled a bit around the camping, but most of the time we just spent doing nothing – a rare occasion in today’s world. The only disturbance (which has added some spice into our week) were the low-flying jet fighters roaring over our heads from time to time.
We were almost the last to leave as the camping was closing for the winter, moving a mere 50 km northwards to Beaune, our last stop of the adventure. I’ve never heard of the place before, but if you’re even slightly interested in wine you probably have – its the wine capital of Burgundy. The vineyards around here are already on the short-list for the UNESCO World Heritage List – continuously cultivated for two millenniums! Of course, in early October the town was full to the brim with grey-hair, but it probably is in any season. Beaune is a bit like Bruges, but with every other building being a wine merchant instead of a chocolatier. Wine business is done on all levels in Beaune, from vin en vrac for as low as 1.50 per litre, to the famous Hospices de Beaune wine auction selling wines for over 100 000 Euro per 456-litre barrels. Beaune was an excellent place to close our adventure – urban yet laid back, surrounded, as I’ve mentioned in the beginning of my narrative, by the most perfect sunset scenery known to man. All we had to do was drive the 700 km back to Rotterdam. At least, all I had to do was drive – due to a minor technicality (expired driving license) the wife was doing 0% of the driving. But I didn’t mind – driving a 3.5 ton camper around Europe was an adventure on its own right.
And even thought I won’t get a kick-back from them, should you consider renting a camper while in The Netherlands – check out this website: http://camperfun.nl/