chablis: we came for the calories
the sky was barely hinting at dawn as my feet hammered against the scrappy dirt road. on either side of me were endless undulating fields of green grape vines, that gave way to a sky swathed in dark blue with a thin vein of pale pink at the horizon. my breath puffed out in front of me in cold bursts as i tried to catch it - both in amazement at where i was, and in pure exhaustion.
i was just outside the small french village of chablis, at the north end of burgundy wine country. brooke, my travel companion and friend since childhood, and i were out for a run before sunrise, trying to shake our hips of the added wine and cheese that had begun to cling thanks to an obscenely decadent weekend in paris. we had just kicked off a three-day wine tour of boutique wineries in burgundy as we drove our way south toward nice. day two was just starting and we knew we were in for one wine-soaked adventure.
i could give you a play-by-play of each sip, swish, and savor, but to be quite honest after three days and 10 tastings (yes, 10), even my mind can’t wrap itself around all the facts and figures. what i can tell you, though, is about this moment that will forever be in my mind: running through the vineyards outside chablis as we made our way back to the charming farmhouse that we called home for the night.
we had checked into domaine gueguen, an estate that belonged to celine and frederic gueguen. the century-old farmhouse sits on a small hill between the auxerrois and chablisien vineyards. celine is from a family of wine-growers, but after 13 years working for her father she decided to forge ahead on her own, and today she is producing some of the most delicious boutique wines in the region.
her farmhouse is home to her family and a small attached guest house, which has its own entrance. the stone building is straight out of a period french film, with vineyards that practically knock on the back door, white linens drying on a line out back, and nothing around you but the rooftops of nearby farmhouses and miles upon miles of vines.
domaine gueguen is a must for anyone wine-tasting in the region of chablis. the b&b is just 10 minutes outside of the quaint village. in fact, brooke and i went for dinner the night before at au fil du zinc, a brand-new gastronomic restaurant that opened last year, and is bring a touch of chic to the quaint town of chablis. the modern menu is a five-course tasting endeavor with codfish, corn soup, foie gras, and salmon. you can see why we were up running before dawn.
inside the one-bedroom guest house is a lofted bed area with a shower, small refrigerator, and a bottle of celine’s own wine. it is cozy and warm, but decidedly elegant and modern.
celine herself is charming and sweet - like that aunt that you love to stay with because she never asks whether you want another glass of wine - she just pours. as we returned from our run and were cooling off on the deck, she came out to let us know that breakfast would be ready in a few minutes.
and my word, was it ever. turns out when you’re in france all forms of exercise are rendered completely useless. we entered the kitchen of the main house to find the table strewn with pastries, fresh cheese, baked breads, jams, and juice. everything from sweet cakes to pan au chocolat to croissants. there was soft cheese, hard cheese, goat cheese, crusty bread, cakey bread...our eyes and heads were spinning at the cornucopia of calories laid out before us.
as i picked up a pan au chocolat, still warm from the oven, and cracked open the flakey shell to reveal gooey ropes of melted chocolate, a strong “fuck it” fell from my lips. the sun had risen. i had happiness in my hands. we came for the calories. vive le france.