I’m not sure if the monks who built Abbaye de la Bussiere would recognise it now. The ancient abbey in the heart of Burgundy, France has been converted over the last few years into a luxury boutique hotel with just 18 rooms. Huge automatic gates swing open to reveal a sweeping driveway which passes by a lake and extensive gardens patrolled by ducks and the occasional miniature pony. Then the abbey comes into view with its imposing grey stone gothic building complete with gargoyles and stained glass windows.
|Grounds of Abbaye de la Bussiere|
Inside, the cloisters remain and the original paintwork but the monks tiny cells are a distant memory, replaced by suites the size of a small house. The suites are resplendent with antique furniture and also include every modern amenity you could want like flat screen tvs, wifi, and spa style bathrooms complete with Bulgari toiletries and jacuzzi baths. I think you start to get the picture of why I jumped at an invitation to visit.
|The cloisters form an amazing entrance to the Abbey|
Abbaye de la Bussiere has been a labour of love for Clive and Tanith Cummings who bought the property from the church in 2005. Clive calls the Abbey “the beauty and the beast”, neatly summing up the joy of creating an amazing hotel tempered with the ongoing trials of such a painstaking renovation. The Cummings are very hands on owners, living on the property and providing a warm welcome to all guests.
|Our room at Abbaye de la Bussiere – super luxurious|
Under their direction Abbaye de la Bussiere has already established itself as a gastronomic destination in its own right, even before plans to add a cooking and wine school to the property are finalised. Head chef Emmanuel Hébrard presides in the Michelin star gastronomic restaurant which is set amongst the cloisters in the heart of the Abbey. The setting for dinner is one of the most spectacular I haver experienced and the sense of theatre continues with the degustation menu (€89) or la carte menu both of which involve modern and intricate interpretations of French cuisine.
|The Michelin star dining room|
During our stay at the Abbaye we tried out both the Michelin star “gastronomic” restaurant and the more casual bistro. Before dinner at the gastronomic restaurant we sipped a apéritifs in the lounge upstairs. To accompany our drinks we were served hot prawns twisted in won ton wrappers alongside a surprisingly delicious carrot créme brulée. An amusé of of crayfish foam was velvety and rich while a mushroom starter was elegantly constructed and topped with a prosciutto like sliver of smoked duck. Charolais beef fillet arrived cut into tender medium rare slices and doused with a glossy sauce made from Irish beer. Dessert was a positively space age looking peach confection studded with tiny meringues. It erred on the side of bitterness but was certainly spectacular.
|Snacks to accompany our aperitif|
Service was fastidious but a little slow. We had to wait quite a while to order wine but we were impressed by the sommelier’s eventual suggestion of a bottle of 2009 La Fortune from Cote Chalonnaise which was very subtle and smooth and provided a great accompaniment for a meal which moved from seafood to beef.
|Dessert of a peach confection on a meringue base|
For simpler fare at Abbaye de la Bussiere there is also the bistro which serves up a great value €29 three course menu. The menu features local specialties such as Burgundy snails as a starter alongside dishes with a more international influence like a glossy square of pork belly with a sticky and sweet Asian marinade. On our visit, desserts included a classic chocolate fondant, oozing hot chocolate sauce and a towering rhum baba cake, delicately spiced and teamed with pineapple and lingonberries.
|Pork belly at the cheaper Bistro restaurant|
Breakfast is not generally included in the room price which is typical of France although I think for a luxury hotel it should be. For €22 it involved a selection of pastries alongside yoghurts, stewed fruits, smoked salmon and cheese all presented with silver service. A cooked breakfast is an additional €10.
|The breakfast spread|
The care and attention that has gone into every detail of Abbaye de la Bussiere makes it a truly unique place to stay. It is difficult to find any fault with the hotel although in summer months the planned swimming pool will be a welcome addition and internet addicts be warned the wifi works very intermittently through the thick Abbey walls. I recommend saving up for a visit for special occasions.
Details: Abbaye de la Bussiere, La Bussière-sur-Ouche, 21360 Dijon, France (+33 (0) 3 80 49 02 29)
Damage: A double room at the Abbaye starts from €205 on a room-only basis.
Gourmet Travel Tips
- With an easy connection in Paris to Dijon, the best travel time to Dijon using Eurostar from St Pancras International is 4h40 mins. Eurostar offers return fares to Dijon from London from £89 return.
- Abbaye de la Bussiere has bicycles available for guests use and we took these and cycled along the canal to the beautiful village of Chateauneuf for a bistro lunch. Helpfully it is downhill all the way home.
- Guests can also visit the beautiful Hospices in Beaune or organise wine tasting in the region.
Gourmet Chick was invited to review Abbaye de la Bussiere