Vive le tour de Burgundy

The world famous Tour de France cycling event gets under way on July 2nd. This year however it comes nowhere near Burgundy so we’ve organised a couple of ‘Petits Tours’ of our own, around some of the lovely and pretty much empty roads of the region.

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If you’ve cruised with us on Le Papillon you’ll know we keep six sturdy bikes on board for those who like to cycle along the towpath, or head off into a nearby village for a look around then catch up with us at their leisure. But for our special Biking through Burgundy weeks they’d make heavy weather of it so it’s off to the local cycle expert to rent a serious road bike for a serious tour.

We aim to bike about 40 km (25 miles) every day, with climbs up to category 5, on comfortable lightweight (25lb) hybrid bikes with an aluminium frame geared with a 27-speed Shimano Deore LX equipped groupset. That means the bikes are ideal for the road but also run nicely on gravel paths if we go off road.

One day during the week Le Papillon’s very own ‘Peleton’ sets out on a 100 km trek to give you a chance to see even more of brilliant Burgundy, with our support vehicle in close attendance to hand out refreshment en route. Choose a comfortable gear, adopt a relaxed cadence and enjoy the views.

Our first bike week of the year has just finished. In one respect the weather was a bit overcast so the fields and hedgerows didn’t look quite as spectacular as they do under a blue sky. However it made for brilliant biking weather – not too hot. For really serious bikers we do offer a specialist road bike itinerary which goes a little further. You’ll need your own pedals and shoes.

Check out the itineraries section for further details of the route and wonderful places we pass through – including Flavigny-sur-Ozerain where the film of ‘Chocolat’ was made. It’s classed as one of ‘les plus beaux villages de France’. We plan to hold more Biking through Burgundy tours this year, please contact us for details.

All in all it’s great exercise and great days out – supported by great evening drinks and dinners back on board. Bearing in mind you’ll have burned off the calories we’ll offer some robust menus – just like the one we’ve picked to share this week from Ellie Garvin’s book The Papillon Recipes (available through Amazon). It may be vegetarian, but it is at the same time a hearty, earthy roast and healthy into the bargain for those who have been exercising.

LEGUMES ROTIS: Roasted root vegetables

Roasted vegetables

Roasted vegetables

All root vegetables contain sugars that caramelize when they are roasted, imparting a concentrated earthiness as well as natural sweetness which balances something like a lemon and garlic cream.

4 tablespoons canola or sunflower oil

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 lbs mixed root vegetables – such as turnip, rutabaga (swede or turnip), celery root, carrot and Jerusalem artichoke – cut into 2-inch chunks

Fine sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 375˚

Heat the oil and butter in a large roasting pan on the top of the stove. Put in the vegetables and stir-fry for 5 minutes over a high heat, until well-coloured. Season and add just enough water to cover the vegetables. Bring to a boil and reduce the liquid by half. Transfer to the oven and cook for 20 minutes until the water has evaporated and the veg are tender. Give a stir and continue to cook for 10 minutes more. You can season them and serve warm, or re-heat them later when needed.

We always serve this dish with an equally hearty wine – something like a Nuit-St Georges or Gevrey-Chambertin that has a strong rustic appeal.

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