By Annick Dournes & Frederic de Poligny
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 very good choice. This 5-star hotel set in an ancient Cistercian Priory is a seducing blend of charm, grandeur and wellbeing.
The “Chateau de Gilly” is ideally located in between Dijon to the North and Beaune to the South. It will take you a 4-hour drive from Paris to get there or you can take a TGV train, the French high-speed train, that will take you to Dijon in 1 hour and a half, hire there a car and drive for 30 minutes to Gilly. You will then be in the heart of the famous Burgundy wine road. Prestigious wine villages and vineyards such as Gevrey-Chambertin, Nuits-Saint-Georges, Vosne-Romanée, Meursault, Montrachet… are just a few miles away.
An ancient history
The iconic Clos de Vougeot is only 2 miles 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 twelfth 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 location gave specific qualities to the wine. This is the reason why they made different wines from each plot. Little has changed since the monks’ era and today famous Burgundy “clos” and “climats” are an almost exact copy of the vineyards designed by the monks.
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 this first transformation they bought several more beautiful places needing tender loving care. The company that is now ruled by their son Pierre Traversac, manages ten luxury hotels in the most beautiful French touristic regions.
Simonne and René Traversac bought the Chateau de Gilly in 1987. Restoring it was a great challenge. After the French Revolution the chateau had been sold and bought several times, having its highs and downs. In 1978 a theatre company had the strange idea to create a theatre in the remote castle and was not very successful. It went bankrupt in 1985. The castle was in poor condition but the Traversac family took up the challenge and the hotel opened 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 hotel has 48 rooms and suites that are nicely decorated like in a 17th century country house with view over the park or the close by Gilly village and the river. They are vast, bright and well equipped with free WIFI, mini-bar and a large bathroom. You can even take your pet with you while staying at the hotel.
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 cuisine. 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… are just a few examples of his talent.
In summertime you can also dine on the outside terrace under the beautiful wisteria. The restaurant is open from Wednesdays to Sundays with menu from €32. Julien Girard also proposes a gourmet menu at Sunday lunch for €66, a real feast of the taste buds! Off course the wine list gives the place of honour to Burgundy wines. White, red or sparkling they have been carefully selected by the sommelier that will help you make your choice for the best wine and food pairing. You can also enjoy a delicious meal at the restaurant if you are not staying at the hotel. It really is worth the trip!
Breakfast is served in a beautiful room set on the second floor. It has historical painted beams and mural frescoes made 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.
More details, direct booking and special offers at www.grandesetapes.com/chateau-hotel-gilly-bourgogne/en/overview/
The Clos de Vougeot is only 2km away from Chateau de Gilly. You can take a walk through the vineyards to get there. The Clos de Vougeot proposes great lunch menu with wine pairing. Read more about it in our previous article: b-c-ing-u.com/architecture/masterly-wine-tasting-in-prestigious-clos-de-vougeot-meanderings-through-france-n-252/
Text ©Annick Dournes
Photos: ©Frederic de Poligny or ©Annick Dournes
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