This picturesque and historic Burgundian town, famed for its annual fête médiévale, held every May, has a wonderful new maison d’hotes and a talented chef at work in its terrace-with-a-view restaurant.
Former movie producer Charles Gassot took three years to renovate a grand town-house and the results are impressive. With only five luxurious bedrooms, lucky guests have several airy reception rooms, a billiard room, a salon de thé and a marvellous terrace with panoramic views across the walled city and down to the Armencon river below. The interior is a comfortable and stylish confection of natural stone, terracotta tomette tiles and grand wooden beams, the ensemble accented with an eclectic collection of contemporary art, sculpture and vintage Italian furniture.
The location couldn’t be better – right opposite the impressive Collégiale Notre Dame church, in the heart of the medieval quarter, with all kinds of local produce shops, antique emporiums, cafes and restaurants within just a few yards.
At the rear of the house, hidden away from passers-by, is La Fontaignotte’s restaurant. It is blessed with options for dining inside, in the orangery or, best of all, outside on the spectacular lamplit terrace.
Monsieur Grassot has ambitions to make his restaurant stand out from the crowd. With newly recruited chef Yohann Piron he has made a bold start, blending the freshest local produce with an intriguing variety of spices and flavours from other parts of the world. A locally sourced steak, nicely chargrilled, sliced and served with a Thai dressing à la “crying tiger” made for an original dish. Hake served with fennel, olives, tomatoes and pine nuts was subtle and well executed. A classic crème brulée was a real taste sensation thanks to vanilla imported specially from Madagascar.
La Fontaignotte, 4 Rue de la Fontaignotte, 21140 Semur-en-Auxois. Tel: +33 (0)3 80 96 61 26. Rooms from 160 Euros. Dinner around 50 euros per head, plus wine. Formule from 26 Euros. Highly recommended. Website: www.lafontaignotte.com