Cheese course and Sophie, the owner’s wife, came on a sofa at the reception reading our daughter Emma’s bedtime stories.
We are outside on the balcony. The sun is setting and a light breeze gently rustles the tree leaves above our table as we sip a lovely buttery chardonnay from the Domaine Andre Bonhomme winery just 400m away and work our way through les fromages, which are divine.
Yes, it’s safe to say we already feel right at home at the Frederic Carrion Hotel – a 10-bedroom former carriage house located in the cheerful town of Fire in southern Burgundy, just north of Macon. We only spent a few hours here.
Ted Thornhill takes records at the Frederic Carrion Hotel (above) – a former 10-bedroom coaching inn located in the southern Burgundy town of Vere, just north of Macon.
Ted and his family get a shiny “love suite” (not the official description) that contrasts with the property’s rustic facade.
The homely atmosphere is largely due to the charm of Sophie and her husband, chef-owner Frederic Carrion himself.
Emma Sophie and our parents love to indulge in the attentive, hassle-free service while we try our tasting menu.
Frederick introduces each dish himself 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 native, so she translates descriptions of Frederick’s creations, which range from the sublime to the slightly surreal.
One of Frederic Carrion’s more rustic bedrooms, complete with knotty wooden beams
On the left is a plate of asparagus on the Ted Experiences tasting menu and on the right is one of the delicious breakfasts served on the terrace.
The hotel’s “spinach martini”, consisting of crushed spinach in a martini glass
For example, I’m not entirely sure about chopped spinach in a martini glass and he seems a little obsessed with asparagus—the vegetable appears in three bowls. But in addition to the cheeses, we love the lean beef main course with lots of rustic poultry jus and cheesy ice cream dessert.
Frederick’s soft, somewhat unconventional setting also reveals itself in our bedroom – the cheery 80s “love suite” (not the official description) contrasts with the property’s country facade.
There is a large round bed. A passionate red partition wall (with a big hole in the middle), lamps, curtains, furniture – and high-gloss black tiles.
Everything looks just like Austin Powers.
Every morning we return to the terrace, with its beautiful leaves and iron lamp posts, and feel the boutique burgundy vibe again – and experience mr. Carrion’s delicious breakfasts.
There is no need to order anything, of course large spreads are introduced. The basic items are a large pot of coffee and yogurt, a basket of croissants, pain au chocolat, cherry cake, cheese board, charcuterie, bread and jam with bowls of berries that come from the sub bank every now and then.
After breakfast we take part in one of the main activities in Burgundy – walking in the rural villages where you don’t live.
One gem we explore is Branción – a small medieval town where cars are banned.
Brancín – a small medieval town where cars are prohibited. It is only a short drive from Frederic Carrion Hotel
Branción is a collection of buildings lost to time, including a castle, connected by sidewalks and paved roads.
There is a parking lot about 100 m outside the perimeter, where we enter a lost group of buildings connected by sidewalks and paved roads.
to absolute delight.
There is a castle to explore, a small gift shop and a wonderful restaurant called Sandwicherie Les Granges Mathpieu. Here, bottles of local red and white wines (Pinot Noir and Chardonnay by Domaine Debreuille) are brought along with cutlery Whether requested or not, the owners’ guests insist on at least trying a dose of each (this is the best).
Time stands still here.
There is a car park 100 meters or so outside the perimeter of Branción
Size isn’t everything: Ted Brancion describes petite as an ‘absolute delight’
The wonderful Sandwicherie Restaurant Les Granges Mathpieu in Brancón. Here, says Ted, bottles of local red and white wine are brought with cutlery whether requested or not, and the owner insists that guests try at least a dose of each.
Purée Blemy: 5 brilliant Burgundy wines—recommended by Charlotte Christensen’s oenologist
Charlotte Christensen, Wine columnist for Huisgenoot Tydskrif
Domaine la Croix Montjoie, Crémant de Bourgogne, Brut, 12.5%, £19.95 at Berry Bros roses
Elegant and refreshing burgundy bubbles made in the same way as champagne, but at a good price. A blend of 80% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Noir with floral and citrus notes and a delicious creamy mousse. Perfect for appetizers or with delicate seafood dishes.
Definition White Burgundy 2020, 13%, £10.99 at majestic
An approachable burgundy white at an unbeatable price. An IWC 2022 winner, this wine ticks all the boxes for a classic Burgundian Chardonnay – with flavors of ripe apple, fresh lemon and white peach with a buttery texture and warm oak nuances on the finish. Perfect for a Sunday roast chicken.
Maison Joseph Drouhin Chassagne-Montrachet 2019, 13.5%, £55 at Lithwits
A full-bodied, complex and aged white wine from the famous village of Chassagne-Montrachet on the Cote de Beaune. Sensual and creamy with notes of candied lemon and yellow apple that develop into tropical flavors of watermelon and pineapple. Pair it with gastronomic dishes such as fish with mullet blanc or grilled lobster.
Domaine Rois Mages, Rully ‘Les Cailloux’ 2018, 12.5% (on display until 9 August), £20 at Waitrose vault
Created by enthusiastic family winemakers from the Rully village of Cote Chalonnaise. Fresh red and distinct with pure flavors of raspberry and cherry with earthy and mushroom undertones. The Cote Chalonnaise can offer excellent wines as an alternative to those in the Cote de Beaune and Cote de Nuits.
Domaine Berthaut, Vosne-Romanee 2015, 13%, £54 at Wine Association
Pure and fragrant red burgundy made by one of the leading winemakers of 2015 premium wines. Red raspberry fruit on the palate with nuances of cinnamon spice and smoke. With seven years of bottle life, delicate leather notes and woodland floor develop. Excellent combination with truffles or game dishes.
Charlotte You Magazine is the author of a new weekly wine column. Read more here.
We also explore one of the jewels in Burgundy’s crown – Beaune.
Located in the middle of the Burgundy des Vences (Wine Route), a narrow belt between Dijon in the north and Saintenay in the south, this beautiful medieval village of 38 picturesque wine villages – including Boumard, Morceau and Chassany-Montrachette – produces some of the best wines types of wines on the planet.
The cobbled streets pass wine shop after wine shop selling fine local products – and even cheaper looking restaurants selling legendary Burgundian wines.
Ted and his family explore one of the jewels in Burgundy’s crown – Beaune (above). Ted explains: “This stunning medieval town lies in the middle of the Burgundy Road (“Wine Route”), a narrow band between Dijon in the north and Saintenay in the south, of 38 picturesque wine villages.
For a bit of fun, we boarded a “vision train” – a tourist “train” (note, with a special commentary in French only) rocking and hopping around Bonn’s oldest and most cobbled area and up way to some of the nearby vineyards.
Before we go back to the den of the Frederic Carrion Hotel, there is enough time in a tourist cafe with a genuinely rude waitress for seven euros a Monsieur Crêpe and a glass, for my non-driving partner, of Murceau – one some of the best Chardonnay available to man.
The next morning we say goodbye to Frederic and his story-making wife and reluctantly close this chapter of our French trip.
Frederic Carrion hosts Ted, rooms from around £140 per night Booking.com.
Advantages: Charming hosts, good food, good wine, comfortable balcony area, beautiful location.
Negatives: Restaurant dishes can be a bit exotic and some rooms are more rustic than others.
Ted uses his amazing chauffeur service Blacklane to shuttle him between Paris Gare du Nord and Gare de Lyon for his TGV connections to and from Macon. It has a brilliant easy-to-use booking system and works in over 200 cities around the world. Visit www.blacklane.com/ar.