The charming Burgundy hotel that offers gourmet dining and a touch of Austin Powers extravagance

The charming Burgundy hotel that offers gourmet dining and a touch of Austin Powers extravagance

The cheese course is here and the innkeeper’s wife, Sophie, is reading bedtime stories to our daughter Emma on a sofa at the reception.

We’re outside on the patio. The sun is setting and a light breeze gently rustles the leaves of the tree above our table as we sip a wonderfully buttery Chardonnay from Domaine Andre Bonhomme winery just 400 meters away and work our way through the heavenly fromages.

Yes, it’s safe to say that we already feel at home at the Hotel Frederic Carrion – a characterful 10-room former coaching inn in the pretty village of Vire in southern Burgundy, north of Macon. And we’ve only been here a few hours.

Ted Thornhill checks into the Hotel Frederic Carrion (above) – a characterful 10-room former coaching inn in the pretty village of Vire in southern Burgundy, north of Macon

Ted and his family are given an extravagant

Ted and his family are given an extravagant “love suite” (not the official description) that is at odds with the property’s rustic facade

The homey vibe is largely due to the charm of Sophie and her husband, chef Frederic Carrion.

Emma loves Sophie and we parents revel in the attentive yet uncomplicated service throughout our tasting menu experience.

Frederic personally introduces each dish and explains how it is put together. His English isn’t great, so he does it all in French, but luckily my partner is a local, so she translates descriptions of Frederic’s creations, which range from the sublime to the slightly surreal.

One of Hotel Frederic Carrion's more rustic bedrooms, complete with knotty wooden beams

One of Hotel Frederic Carrion’s more rustic bedrooms, complete with knotty wooden beams

An asparagus dish in the tasting menu One of the wonderful breakfasts served on the terrace

On the left is an asparagus dish on the Ted Experiences tasting menu and on the right is one of the wonderful breakfasts served on the patio

The hotel's

The hotel’s “Spinach Martini” consists of pureed spinach in a martini glass

For example, I’m not entirely sure about the mashed spinach in a martini glass, and he seems to have a slight obsession with asparagus — the veg shows up in three dishes. But aside from the cheeses, we love the tender beef main course with super-rustic poultry juice and the sophisticated cheese and ice cream dessert.

Frederic’s penchant for the unconventional is also evident in our bedroom – an extravagant ’80s ‘love suite’ (not the official description) at odds with the property’s cottage facade.

There is a huge round bed; passionately made-up partition wall (with a large hole in the middle), lamp, curtains and furniture – and high-gloss black tiles.

It all feels pretty Austin Powers.

Each morning we return to the terrace, with its pretty foliage and iron lampposts, and once again feel the boutique Burgundy vibe – and witness Mr Carrion’s wonderful breakfasts.

You don’t need to order anything, because of course there is a huge selection ready. The core elements are a large pot of coffee, yogurt, a basket of croissants and pain au chocolat, cherry pie, a cheese and sausage platter, and bread and jam, with the occasional bowl of raspberries coming off the bench.

After breakfast we take part in one of the most important activities in Burgundy – a walk through the idyllic villages where you do not live.

One gem we explore is Brancion – a tiny medieval hamlet where cars are forbidden.

Brancion – a tiny medieval hamlet where cars are forbidden.  It is just a short drive from Hotel Frederic Carrion

Brancion – a tiny medieval hamlet where cars are forbidden. It is just a short drive from Hotel Frederic Carrion

Brancion is a collection of buildings lost in time, including a fortress, connected by cobblestones and streets

Brancion is a collection of buildings lost in time, including a fortress, connected by cobblestones and streets

There is a parking lot about 100 meters outside the fence, from where we stroll into a cluster of buildings connected by cobblestones and streets.

An absolute delight.

There is a fortress to explore, a small gift shop and a lovely restaurant called Sandwicherie Les Granges Mathpieu. Here, bottles of the local red and white wine (a Pinot Noir and a Chardonnay from Domaine Debreuille) are brought out with the silverware, whether wanted or not, the owner insists guests try at least a sip of each (they’re superb).

Here time stands still.

There is a car park about 100 meters outside of Brancion

There is a car park about 100 meters outside of Brancion

Size isn't everything: Ted describes tiny Brancion as 'an absolute delight'

Size isn’t everything: Ted describes tiny Brancion as ‘an absolute delight’

The delightful Sandwicherie Les Granges Mathpieu Restaurant in Brancion At the restaurant, bottles of the local red and white wine are brought with the cutlery, whether requested or not, the owner insists that guests try at least a sip of each

The delightful Sandwicherie Les Granges Mathpieu Restaurant in Brancion. Here, Ted says, bottles of the local red and white wine are brought with the silverware, whether requested or not, the owner insists guests try at least a sip of each

POUR BLIMEY: 5 BRILLIANT BURGUNDY WINES – RECOMMENDED BY WINE EXPERT CHARLOTTE KRISTENSEN OF YOU MAGAZINE

Charlotte Kristensen, wine columnist for YOU Magazine

Charlotte Kristensen, wine columnist for YOU Magazine

POINTED

Domaine la Croix Montjoie, Crémant de Bourgogne, Brut, 12.5%, £19.95 at Berry Bros & Rudd

Elegant and refreshing burgundy pearls made using the same method as champagne but at a great price. A blend of 80% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Noir with floral and lemony notes and a delicious creamy mousse. Perfect for an aperitif or with delicate fish dishes.

WHITE

Definition White Burgundy 2020, 13%, £10.99 at Majestic

Accessible white burgundy at an unbeatable price. An IWC 2022 winner, this wine ticks all the boxes for a classic Burgundian Chardonnay – with aromas of ripe apple, fresh lemon and white peach with a buttery texture and a hint of toasted oak on the finish. Perfect for a Sunday roast chicken.

Maison Joseph Drouhin Chassagne-Montrachet 2019, 13.5%, £55 at Laithwaites

A full-bodied, complex and aging white wine from the famous village of Chassagne-Montrachet on the Côte de Beaune. Lush and creamy with notes of candied lemon and yellow apple evolving into tropical flavors of melon and pineapple. Goes well with gastronomic dishes such as fish with white bread or grilled lobster.

RED

Domaine Rois Mages, Rully ‘Les Cailloux’ 2018, 12.5% ​​(on sale until 9th ​​August), £20 at Waitrose Cellar

Produced by passionate winemaking families from the village of Rully in the Côte Chalonnaise. Fresh and characterful red with pure aromas of raspberry and cherry with earthy and mushroomy undertones. The Côte Chalonnaise can offer inexpensive wines as an alternative to the Côte de Beaune and Côte de Nuits.

Domaine Berthaut, Vosne-Romanee 2015, 13%, £54 at The Wine Society

A refined and perfumed red burgundy crafted by a leading winemaker from the superb 2015 vintage. Red berry fruit on the palate with hints of cinnamon spice and smoke. After seven years of aging in the bottle, subtle leather and forest soil notes develop. Excellent with truffle or game dishes.

Charlotte is YOU Magazine’s new weekly wine columnist. Read more here.

We also explore one of the jewels in Burgundy’s tiara – Beaune.

This stunning medieval town lies in the middle of Burgundy’s Route des Vins (“Wine Route”), a narrow band between Dijon to the north and Santenay to the south, with 38 picturesque wine-growing villages – including Pommard, Meursault and Chassagne – Montrachet – producing some of the finest wines in the world to produce.

Cobblestone streets meander past wine shops selling the region’s great produce – and even the cheapest-looking restaurants sell legendary Burgundian wines.

Ted and his family explore one of the jewels in Burgundy's tiara - Beaune (above).  “This stunning medieval town is right in the middle of the Route des Vins in Burgundy ("wine route"),

Ted and his family explore one of the jewels in Burgundy’s tiara – Beaune (above). “This stunning medieval town sits right in the middle of Burgundy’s Route des Vins (‘Wine Route’),” explains Ted, “a narrow strip of 38 picturesque wine-growing villages stretching from Dijon to the north and Santenay to the south.”

For a bit of fun we hop on the “Visiotrain” – a tourist “train” (note, with French commentary only) that rumbles and hops through the oldest and most heavily paved areas of Beaune and to some nearby vineyards.

Before heading back to our Hotel Frederic Carrion Lair, there is just enough time at a tourist cafe with an authentically gruff waitress for a seven euro croque monsieur and a glass of Meursault for my non-driving partner – one of the finest Chardonnays in existence.

The next morning we say a warm goodbye to Frederic and his story-weaving wife, bringing this chapter of our France trip to a reluctant end.

TRAVEL FACTS

Ted is staying at the Hotel Frederic Carrion, where rooms start at around £140 a night via Booking.com.

Valuation:

PROS: Charming hosts, good food, great wine, relaxing patio area, beautiful location.

CONS: Restaurant dishes can be a bit quirky, and some rooms are more rustic than others.

black track

Ted uses Blacklane’s excellent chauffeur service to transport him between Paris Gare du Nord and Gare de Lyon for his TGV services to and from Macon. It has an excellent user-friendly booking system and operates in more than 200 cities around the world. Visit www.blacklane.com/en.