Whether on a wine trip in Burgundy or looking for a peaceful yet luxury place to stay at while visiting this beautiful French region, the Chateau de Gilly is a 5-star hotel set in an ancient Cistercian Priory and a seducing blend of charm, grandeur and well-lbeing.
Chateau de Gilly
Ideally located in between Dijon to the North and Beaune to the South, the Chateau de Gilly sits in the heart of the famous Burgundy Wine Road. Prestigious wine villages and vineyards such as Gevrey-Chambertin, Nuits-Saint-Georges, Vosne-Romanée, Meursault, and Montrachet are short drives away.
It’s about a four hour drive from Paris to get to the hotel, or you can take a high-speed TGV train that will take you to Dijon in 1.5 hours. From there, it’s about a 30 minute drive to Gilly.
An ancient history
The iconic Chateau du Clos de Vougeot is less than two kilometres away. It actually was created by the monks living in the close by Citeaux Abbey 900 years ago. The Cistercian order reached its zenith in the 12th century. In these early days they already knew how to take full advantage of this unique terroir where vines were meant to grow. They did observe that for each plot however small it was. Its soil and sun exposure as well as its location gave specific qualities to the wine. This is the reason they made different wines from each plot. Little has changed since then and today, famous Burgundy “clos” and “climats” are an almost exact copy of the vineyards designed by the monks.
The Abbot Pavillion
In the 12th century, Gilly was a priory belonging to the same monks who built the Citeaux Abbey and grew vines all over the region. They used its huge cellar to keep the wine made in Clos de Vougeot.
Little by little the priory was extended becoming a real castle but in the 16th century it was looted and burned. Only the ancient kitchen and the cellar were saved from the disaster. It wasn’t long before the Cistercian monks were able to rebuild the castle. In the 17th century the abbots decided to make a pleasant country residence of the former castle. They built the chateau that we can see today surrounded by a large park crossed by a river.
5-Star Chateau de Gilly
The Chateau de Gilly is a member of the Grandes Etapes Françaises – Great French Stops- a family company founded in 1957 by Simonne and René Traversac. They first bought a castle in the Loire Valley restored it to turn it into a luxury hotel. Encouraged by the success of their first transformation, they bought several more beautiful buildings that needed tender loving care. The company is now run by their son, Pierre Traversac, who manages ten luxury hotels in the most beautiful French regions.
Simonne and René Traversac bought the Chateau de Gilly in 1987, and restoring it was a great challenge.
After the French Revolution the chateau had been sold and bought several times. In 1978, a theatre company had the strange idea to create a theatre in the remote castle but it was not a very successful endeavor. It went bankrupt in 1985. The castle was in poor condition until the Traversac family brought life and style back to the castle and opened it as a hotel in September 1988.
The magnificent architectural features of the Abbots’ castle have been carefully restored. Splendid mantelpieces, vaulted rooms, painted beams, the ancient kitchen dating from the 14th century, arched cellar… have all been preserved and the hotel’s guests can enjoy these spectacular decors. They blend seamlessly with modern amenities such as the outdoor swimming pool.
The pool nestled in the hotel’s park
The hotel has 48 rooms and suites that are nicely decorated in a French country house style, and enjoy views over the park or Gilly village and the river. They are vast, bright and well-equipped with free WIFI, mini-bars, and large bathrooms.
The main dining restaurant, Le Clos Prieur, is set in the impressive arched cellar supported by tall, sculpted pillars. It’s the former monk’s cellar, built during the 13th century. A young and skilled chef, Julien Girard, is in charge of the kitchen and menus. After training in several prestigious restaurants throughout France, he is now creating his own recipes using fresh seasonal products. Eggs with Meurette sauce -a typical Burgundy red wine sauce, sea bass carpaccio, snacked scallops with butternut and spiced butter, beef filet Provencal, Poached pear in red wine and blackcurrant were just just a few examples of his incredible talent.
In summertime you can also dine on the outside terrace under the beautiful wisteria. The restaurant is open from Wednesdays to Sundays. Julien Girard also proposes a gourmet menu at Sunday lunch, a real feast of the taste buds. As expected in Burgundy, the wine list gives a place of honour to regional wines. White, red or sparkling, they have been carefully selected by the sommelier who will help you make your choice for the best wine and food pairing.
Renowned Burgundu Givry 1er Cru
Breakfast is served in a beautiful room on the second floor. It has historical painted beams and mural frescoes made in around 1625 by the abbot Pierre de Nivelle, all carefully restored in 1988. The buffet offers a wide range of savoury and sweet dishes, cakes and croissants, cheese, fruits—everything you need to start your day in a good mood.
Magnificent ancient painted beams in the breakfast room
BeSeeingYou In: Burgundy
Good to know: The hotel is pet friendly
WOW! Factor: From the hotel you can walk through the vineyards to get to Chateau du Clos de Vougeot
Tip: The restaurant is also open to those not staying at the hotel
Author bio: Annick Dournes
Photos: ©Frederic de Poligny or ©Annick Dournes