We visited the Burgundy region of France as part of our Uniworld river cruise and despite the rain, I was excited to see row upon row of vines, as we were driven through some of the most famous wine villages in the Saone-et-Loire region of France.
First stop was the ancient fortified chateau in the village of Rully dating back to the 12th century with 32 hectares of vineyards, one third of which are Premiers Crus. Not only were we going to taste these fabulous wines but also to have lunch and a guided tour of the château with the owner.
The château and the vineyards are owned by the Comte de Ternay, whose family has lived here continuously for 22 generations. That period of time means that this family has been in this château and most probably producing great wine since the 12th century.
The Château is located on the side of a hill, facing the plain leading to the River Saône. The square keep was built during the 12th century with a dry ditch around the château to reinforce the defence. Later the fortress became a manor house and in the 18th century the outbuildings, the great and lower courtyards were created.
We learned that this ditch was later filled in because the Count’s grandfather fell in it one night and decided that it’s time had come. History does not record why he fell in it but I’d like to think it had something to do with (too much) wine! There is now a very tasteful dining room and a wine tasting cellar full of ancient barrels some of which have been converted to tables.
The Comte de Ternay, met us from our Uniworld luxury coach, an affable chap looking slightly frazzled. He explained that this was due to the obvious presence of three small boys who he refered to affectionately as his monsters. It was lovely to see that the same family has more children and that they do not see their château as a museum but a family home with a business attached. We felt lucky to be here knowing that this was a special place with no pretension whatsoever.
The Count started his introduction with a quote from Benjamin Franklin.
“Wine is sure proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”
However I prefer the Galileo’s words that my father often quotes before he enjoys a glass.
“Wine is sunlight, held together by water.”
The region of Burgundy produces some of the most regal Grand Cru and Premier Cru wines in the world, with 100 different appelations and more than 3,000 individual producers. The Château de Rully vineyards are one of only 120 in the entire region of Burgundy which are owned by an individual. Around 80% of the wines made here are from the Chardonnay grape vines which enjoy the limestone terroir and south-east exposure.
We were invited to a dimly lit cellar underneath the 12th century keep. It was full of ancient barrels some of which had been turned into tables and with the wine we were served some delicious cheese puffs called gougères. We tried the Premier cru 1er Cru Clos de la Bressande Monopol, the Clos being a low wall surrounding the vineyard which helps the grapes ripen by protecting them from the wind. The Count told us that the Chardonnay grapes are picked by hand and not by machine and then they are sorted again on tables, so that only the finest grapes are used in making the wines.
The wine had a floral nose with aromas of honey and orange blossom and an elegant oakiness. The Count told us that he loves drinking it with cold cuts of meat, fish or white meats and sauces and that it was particularly good with goat’s cheese. It really tastes like sunshine in a glass.
We then tasted the Appellation Village Rully Les Saint-Jacques Ouest which was a lower classification called a regional appellation. It was good too but there really was a difference and the Premier Cru was the one for me. It was delightful to be drinking such beautifully made wine while chatting to a man whose whole life is dedicated to the estate outside his sitting room window.
After the tasting we moved back to the former stable block where a delicious lunch awaited us. Unsurprisingly we were served the local speciality, a classic Boeuf Bourguignon made with the château’s own red wine. This was accompanied by a potato gratin with a crispy topping of local cheese. For pudding there was an equally classic and simple apple tart. It really doesn’t get much better than this.
After lunch the Compte gave us a personal tour of the Chateau. There were some beautiful objects within the part of the house, but most interesting was that the Compte’s family have lived there since the 12th century and throughout that long time they have been producing and clearly enjoying the delicious wines. It was a remarkable day out that allowed us to connect with what it means to be part of the Burgundy wine region.
The visit to Chateau Rully was offered as an optional excursion as part of our Uniworld Cruise. The Chateau is also open for visits by appointment in July and August. For more information visit the Chateau Rully website.
This guest article is by Guy Cowper, who enjoys accompanying Heather on her blogging trips, especially where wine tasting is involved!
Travelling with Titan Travel and Uniworld Cruises
You can book your Uniworld Cruise through Titan Travel who specialise in escorted holidays and cruises. When you book through Titan Travel you enjoy their VIP Home Departure Service which is included in your holiday, to transfer from your home to your departure airport in one of Titan’s own vehicles.
Uniworld offer boutique river cruising on the rivers of Europe as well as other worldwide destinations. Like their sister company, Red Carnation Hotel Collection, the Uniworld ships feature luxurious furnishings and artworks with outstanding, personalised service.
Heather and Guy travelled on Uniworld’s Burgundy and Provence River Cruise through Titan Travel, on an 8 day cruise from Lyon to Avignon, from £2049 per person. As with all Uniworld cruises, the holiday is all-inclusive and covers meals and drinks on board, daily excursions, gratuities and airport transfers.
Thanks to Titan Travel and Uniworld for hosting our cruise.
Dylan Thomas is the favourite literary son of Wales, born in Swansea and much celebrated before his untimely death at the age of 39. Even if you don’t know his poetry, my driving tour of the places he lived and loved will show you some of the most beautiful scenery in South Wales and give you a fascinating insight into the times that Dylan lived through.
Let’s start in Swansea
Let’s start our driving tour in Swansea, where Dylan Thomas was born, the place he spoke of as “an ugly, lovely town” since it was heavily bombed in the blitz and lost much of the charm of its pre-war Victorian architecture. If arriving in Wales by public transport, you can easily pick up a hire car in Cardiff, Swansea or Newport as the places on our tour are most easily visited by car. (Check out Alamo Rent A Car if you need a rental car)
In recent years Swansea has undergone a regeneration and in the Maritime Quarter surrounded by new apartments and restaurants, you’ll find a statue of the city’s most famous son, in front of the Dylan Thomas Theatre.
Dylan was a member of the local amateur dramatics society, the Swansea Little Theatre, who met in Mumbles and the theatre now provides a permanent home for the theatre group. All kinds of productions are put on here but it’s worth checking in advance whether there are any preformances related to Dylan Thomas. If not, you can still enjoy the murals on the walls of the theatre, depicting many of the characters that Dylan wrote about in his famous radio play, Under Milkwood. Dylan Thomas Theatre Website
The Dylan Thomas Centre in Swansea
Nearby is the Dylan Thomas Centre, which provides a permanent exhibition about Dylan’s life and work. On the walls are large photo murals of Dylan, his friends from the Swansea literary scene and a portrait of his wife Caitlin painted by Augustus John. You can hear the voice of Dylan himself, from the radio broadcasts he made to read his poetry and radio plays.
What comes through above all else is Dylan’s love of words which he used like colours in a paint box to create each scene, making lists of the words he might use on scraps of paper to keep by his desk. He wrote; “I wanted to write poetry in the beginning because I had fallen in love with words, I cared for the colours the words cast on my eyes”.
Dylan Thomas Centre, Somerset Place, Swansea, SA1 1RR
Let’s visit the Dylan Thomas Birthplace in Swansea
Dylan was born in 1914 into an upper middle class family and inherited a love of literature from his father, DJ Thomas, who was Head of English at Swansea Grammar School. The house at 5 Cwmdonkin Drive where Dylan was born and where he grew up has been restored in the same character as when the family lived there and is open to the public, as well as being available to rent as a place to stay. It’s just a short drive from the Maritime Quarter in the residential neighbourhood of Uplands.
The dark green and red colour scheme of the sitting room is just as Dylan described in “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” when aunts and uncles gather in front of the fire after Christmas lunch. Owner Geoff Haden restored and furnished the house from auctions and car boot sales, using information in family letters and Dylan’s own descriptions to recreate the house as it might have looked when Dylan was growing up, right down to the old gramophone player.
Upstairs Dylan’s tiny bedroom has been left just as if he had been living there now, with a messy desk covered with books, a packet of woodbines and a bottle of Hancock’s local ale, posters of Shakespeare next to Greta Garbo. At this tiny, crowded desk, Dylan would write poetry until he left home at the age of 20, doted on by his mother Florence who would bring him breakfast in bed.
Visit the Dylan Thomas Birthplace at 5 Cwmdonkin Drive, Uplands, Swansea for a guided tour – check the website for times, events or to book an overnight stay.
Cwmdonkin Park – where the young Dylan played
The Dylan Thomas birthplace looks out to Cwmdonkin Park where Dylan would play as a boy. In Dylan’s day there was a reservoir with swans which has now been filled in for a children’s playground, but the bowling green and pavilion look much as they did in Dylan’s childhood. The pavilion is open as a tea room with a pleasingly retro feel, serving ice creams, tea and welsh cakes on 1950s style china.
Where to stay in Swansea
Morgans Hotel was once the Harbour Trust Office, a grand Edwardian building from the era when Swansea was a major port and industrial city known as “Copperopolis” due to the large amount of copper smelted there.
The bedrooms, with mahogany doors, high ceilings and plaster mouldings, are individually named after the Swansea ships of the period. Downstairs is a stylish bar for evening drinks and breakfast is taken in the former banking hall of the Harbour Port Office, with original murals and copper globe lamps recalling Swansea’s industrial heyday. Morgans Hotel makes a luxurious base for exploring Swansea and the Dylan Thomas trail.
Morgans Hotel, Somerset Place, Swansea, SA1 1RR.
Mumbles and the Gower beaches where Dylan loved to walk
Let’s take a short drive to the seaside village of Mumbles, just outside Swansea, a place Dylan came to regularly to rehearse with the local amateur dramatics group, the Swansea Little Theatre. Afterwards the group would go for a drink at the Antelope pub where Dylan was known to enjoy a few pints.
From his home in Uplands Dylan could take the bus with friends to Mumbles and the beaches of the Gower peninsula, where they would go walking and camp overnight. Caswell beach which can be easily walked to from Mumbles, still has a retro air with the green painted beach huts and the cafe on the promenade.
A couple of his short stories were set on Rhossili beach and Dylan enjoyed long walks along the cliff path. Read my article about walking the coastal paths of the Gower.
Mumbles is a good place to base yourself for a night or two to explore some of these same beaches, either walking direct from Mumbles along the cliff path or driving to the stunning beaches of Caswell, Langland and Rhossilli.
Where to stay in Mumbles
Promenade View is a stylish 3 bedroom holiday home set right on the promende at Mumbles and an ideal place to base yourself to explore Mumbles, the Gower peninsula and be within easy reach of Swansea. The house has 3 en suite bedrooms with views over Swansea bay and the cyclists, walkers and sailing boats on their stands along the promenade, as well as being a short stroll from plenty of pubs, restaurants and the Mumbles pier where the coastal path begins. Read my review of Promenade View here.
The Boathouse at Laugharne in Carmarthenshire
From Mumbles you can drive to Laugharne, the village in Carmarthenshire that Dylan made his family home in the final years of his life. The Boathouse is set just below the cliff path with striking views across the Taf Estuary from the windows and was described by Dylan as “my sea shaken house on a breakneck of rocks“.
Here Dylan lived with his wife Cailin and children until his untimely death in 1953 and it’s furnished partly as it was when he lived there, partly as a museum in the attic room that would have been their bedroom.
A little further along the path is Dylan’s writing shed where he worked, with desk with cigarette stubs, as if he had just popped out for a walk. The window looks over the Taf estuary, where the sandbanks are exposed at low tide and wading seabirds pick their way through the shallows, described by Dylan as “the mussel pooled and the heron priested shore.”
When he lived here, Dylan would walk along to Browns bar to read the papers, or drop in to see his parents who lived opposite, before working in his writing shed in the afternoon and returning in the evening to Browns with his wife Caitlin for a few more beers.
The Dylan Thomas Boathouse, Dylan’s Walk, Laugharne, Carmarthenshire, SA33 4SD
Overlooking the estuary is Laugharne Castle, which was built in the 13th century and came under siege in the English Civil War after which it was partly dismantled. When Dylan first came to Laugharne, the castle and house next door were owned by his friends the writers Richard and Frances Hughes. Dylan was allowed the use of the gazebo in the garden which overlooks the estuary and it was here that he wrote the short stories “Portrait of the artist as a Young Dog”.
The castle is now open to the public and there’s a writing desk and old typewriter within the summerhouse to recreate how it would have looked when Dylan worked there. Laugharne Castle website.
Where to stay in Laugharne
Brown’s Hotel where Dylan went for a drink is now a stylish pub with rooms that have a retro feel with stripy carpets and modern oak furniture. They only serve snacks in the evenings but there are several places to eat when you are staying there including the Three Mariners pub next door. Brown’s Hotel, King Street, Laugharne, Carmarthenshire.
A tour of South Wales taking in the places associated with Dylan Thomas is easily done in 2-4 days but of course there are plenty more things to enjoy in Wales if you’d like to extend your stay. If you are planning a driving holiday in Wales, check out Alamo Rent A Car for your car rental.
Useful information for visiting Wales
For more information on everything to see and do in Wales check the official website at Visit Wales
For more information about Dylan Thomas on the official Dylan Thomas Website
For more information about things to do in and around Swansea including the Dylan Thomas attractions visit the Visit Swansea Bay website
This article was brought to you in partnership with Alamo Rent A Car
It was a perfect day for walking in Menorca, one of those late May days when the sun is warm, the sea sparkling but the temperature in the comfortable early 20s. Although we’d had showers the day before, the skies had cleared with puffs of cloud and the sea seemed to be lit up an intense turquoise. Spring and autumn is the perfect time for walking on Menorca, when the weather is generally warm, before the heat of summer descends and everyone just heads for the beach.
Our walk for the day would take us along the Cami de Cavalls, an ancient walking path and bridle way that encircles the whole island of Menorca. The importance of this path was recognised by the island’s rulers in the Middle Ages so that horses could move around for defence and goods could be easily transported. The trail gets its name from the Catalan word Cavall which means horse – it’s literally a path for horses.
Our walk for the day started at Cala Galdana, one of Menorca’s most popular resorts where we were staying at Hotel Artiem Audax, a lovely, stylish 4* hotel overlooking the marina. The resort on Menorca’s south coast is an excellent place to base yourself for a walking holiday, with immediate access to the coastal path as well as a number of bars and restaurants to enjoy in the evenings.
We climbed up from the little marina onto the coastal path, almost immediately giving us the kind of views that you expect to see on postcards. Our path took us up onto the rocky cliffs, where wind-twisted pines framed the view of the the turquoise sea glittering below and the cliffs of the headland beyond.
Before long the route veered off away from the sea on a broad, flat stony path with scrub and trees of pine, olive and oak dotted around us. On one side, the path was bordered by a dry stone wall. Scattered in the grass were miniature pink gladioli and wild orchids, which would have been in full bloom in March and April but were just starting to dry out as summer approached.
The whole of the southern coast of the island is now owned by the Menorca government, to ensure that it is preserved from development. However, the land on either side of the path is owned by individual farmers who graze animals there to ensure that the trees and shrubs do not become too dense.
As I walked, I breathed in the scent of pine needles crushed underfoot and noticed the splash of pink flowers on the cistus and the vibrant green clumps of pine seedlings, pushing up beside the rocks covered with yellow lichen.
From the broad path, there were other paths that took us to viewpoints on the cliff where only the twisted olive wood fences protected us from a sheer drop down to the sea below. A white speedboat passed below us and I imagined myself to be the girl at the wheel, wind in my hair, speeding to one of the secluded coves along this coast.
We reached a boardwalk which took us down to Macarella beach, with broad wooden steps leading down through the pine trees. The beach is a very popular one, although due to all the ravines that run down to the coast, it can’t be easily reached by car, which is one of its charms for walkers. The normal bridle path continued alongside although it was so steep that I wouldn’t have fancied riding a horse down it.
Although the Cami de Cavalls encircles the whole island, there are some sections that are better for walkers, others that are more flat and open for horse-riding. Many farms have stables near the trail and offer horse-riding which my friend Zoe tried while we were doing the walk – read her article about horse-riding on the Cami de Cavalls.
Macarella beach is broad and sandy, with some shady pine trees offering shade at the back and sides of the beach. This would be a lovely place to spend an afternoon with the family and despite having no public road access, there was a large cafe at the back of the beach serving drinks and meals.
While some of our group stopped to relax at the cafe, I decided to walk a little further round the headland to the smaller Macarelletta beach (the name means little Macarella). Set into the cliff face beside the steep path were some caves, probably used in the past as an ancient burial site by Menorca’s Talayotic culture.
The walk around to Macarelleta was idyllic, the sea coloured intense turquoise with patches of deep blue. The path led down through the dunes and over the rocks with a few sunbathing spots on the rocky ledges. As I came down, I realised that this is a nudist beach although in May most people seemed to be keeping their swimsuits on, still I had to be a bit careful where to point my camera.
At the back of the beach were sand dunes and a covering of pine trees, with a rattan fence to protect the dunes. Once again this idyllic spot is only accessible by walking, with the nearest car park being at Cala en Turqueta, which is the next beach if you continue along the coastal path.
As for us, it was time to return by the same route, clambering up the path through the dunes and around the headland to Macarella, then along the broad path back to Cala Galdana. It’s an easy and popular walk, and all the nicer because the lack of car access means the beaches are natural and unspoiled. In the spring and summer I’d walk on to Cala en Turqueta and perhaps some of the pretty beaches and coves beyond, while in the heat of summer it would be perfect to stop at Cala Macarella under the shade of a pine and laze the afternoon away.
Where to stay in Menorca
I stayed in Hotel Artiem Audax in Cala Galdana overlooking the marina, which was right opposite the start of the coastal walk I’ve described. The hotel is Adults Only with bright, modern decor and delicious food with breakfast and dinner served buffet style. The hotel is part of the Artiem Hotel group which has many excellent hotels around the island including the Hotel Artiem Capri in Mahon where I also enjoyed staying.
Hotel Artiem Audax, Urbanización Serpentona, 07750 Cala Galdana, Menorca
Compare prices and book hotels in Menorca on my Hotels Booking page powered by Hotels Combined.
Have you done any walking in Menorca? What was your favourite part of the Cami de Cavalls?
More articles about Menorca
Visitor Information for Menorca
If you need a guide to show you the sites of Mahon and Menorca, I can highly recommend Luis Amella of Menorca Guides
Thanks to Menorca Tourism for hosting my stay in Menorca, in a project in partnership with Spain Tourism, Menorca Tourism and Travelator Media