Stylist’s deputy editor Susan Riley devours every wine, cheese and crêpe in her path as she tours the vineyard-rich region of Burgundy
If you’ve ever harboured a desire to buy a crop of dilapidated outbuildings in rural France and slowly convert them into a series of swanky crashpads, then I’d recommend going to steal a few ideas from Le Domaine des Prés Verts first, because they’ve been there, done that, and done it very well indeed.
Located in the sleepy hamlet of Pochey, deep in the heart of France’s Burgundy region (half way between Paris and Geneva, so a perfect stop-off driving south), finding said outbuildings – now four years old – is all very Penelope Pitstop. Too off the grid for sat nav, you pootle through one village, then the next and are about to turn round when out of nowhere, you spot – like a giant doorstop – a fully restored Citroën 2CV car, majestically black and shiny with the words Bourgogne Chic emblazoned down the side. It’s a stylish welcome, especially when your own car is now so scattered with croissant crumbs that it’s like travelling in a mobile bakery.
Check-in happens in a converted shed at the bottom of the garden, which also doubles as an artisan tuck shop stocked with confiture, lemonade and mustard, all made and sourced locally from the region. Next door to that is a carport housing another black 2CV (you can hire one of the motors for half-day drives; there are also Solex mopeds or folding bikes available), while two accommodation options flank the outskirts of a beautiful walled garden. There’s La Cabane, a cute and dinky two-storey log cabin overlooking fields; or Le Logis, a former 19th-century barn that’s been so handsomely restored, George Clarke would practically combust. (For added novelty there’s also the treehouse with jacuzzi La Réserve and gypsy caravan Le Refuge, both a 15-minute drive away in Mont-Saint-Jean.)
Le Logis is made up of three bedrooms and an open-plan loungekitchen but as it’s just us, they’ve carved it up into one en-suite room and locked off the rest. Which means we get the entire glorious outside patio to ourselves on which to sit, pour wine and pretend that Le Domaine des Prés Verts’ private garden and the fields beyond are all owned by us. For an even more French summer’s evening, head over to the corner of the garden and play boules in the sandpit to a chorus of mooing cows housed in the working farm next door. After a couple of victories (me, in case you’re wondering), it all gets a bit parfait.
Breakfast – ordered with quite a lot of faff on an in-room iPad – is brought to your room at a selected time slot; 16 euros each for juice, coffee, a bread basket and choice of honeys, preserves and fromage frais. A little steep for a simple continental but we’ll roll with it for its authenticity and the fact it’s served al fresco, which is always lovely apart from when there are wasps. And there are always wasps. But after you’ve wafted them away with a napkin and pored over a map of the area, you can get on with touring the Côte-d’Or, which is exactly why we’re here – to taste wine, buy wine and eat everything in our paths.
As one of France’s finer and more reputable wine-growing regions, driving around Le Domaine’s hood – through the strip of land from the exit of Dijon to the Maranges – is a total treat. The views? Endless acres of hillside vineyards that line the famous Route des Grands Crus; a tourist pathway that guides through the Côte de Nuits, the town of Beaune, and 33 other villages and small towns that boast centuries’ worth of wine-growing heritage and cellars stocked with some of the world’s finest.
The best bit? When your belly’s full and your boot can’t fit in another box of wine (no matter how great a packer you are), Le Domaine des Prés Verts sits waiting for your return; a little plot of tranquillity in the middle of one of France’s greatest treasures.
Prices start from €140 (£113) per night based on two sharing (sawdays.co.uk/domainedespresverts)
The pick of the Burgundy bunch
Stylist’s wine expert Jane Parkinson chooses the best Burgundy wines to uncork at home - find her favourites in the gallery below
Cave de Lugny NV Sparkling Burgundy Blanc de Blancs
A gorgeous fizz made purely with chardonnay grapes, this is super refreshing with lively little bubbles, zesty apple flavours and a tangy, sour bite for the finish. It’s a no-brainer with party nibbles, and great value to boot. (£13.99, Waitrose)
Domaine Labruyere Moulin-a-Vent Coeur de Terroir 2013
This is benchmark and beautiful beaujolais with a pretty floral aroma then juicy, generous, lush black cherries and red plums. It’s a keeper too, if you fancy holding onto it for another four to five years. (£19.95, Corney & Barrow)
Louis Jadot Macon Les Roches Rouges 2014
Another great value red with raspberry and red cherry but also a savoury mushroom earthiness. This is very distinctive in that it’s a combination of Burgundy’s red grape, pinot noir, with the grape that makes beaujolais, which explains its fruitiness. (£11.99, Majestic)
Domaine Moreau-Naudet Chablis 2014
One of my favourite chablis producers. Not only is the wine a good buy, they always have great labels, which really stand out next to the rest. This one has tangy lemon and grapefruit flavours pepped up with a rounder buttery warmth. Cool yet classic. (£16.95, Lea & Sandeman)
Vallet Freres Gevrey Chambertin Clos de la Justice 2011
This is a very smart pinot noir from one of Burgundy’s most famous wine villages. It has a funky, spicy character as well as strawberry and beetroot flavours. The perfect bottle for impressing relatives. (£35.99, allaboutwine.co.uk)