Country Living in the Ouche Valley, Burgundy
I spent 3 blissful weeks housesitting in the small town of Bligny-sur-Ouche in Le Val D’Ouche (Ouche Valley) in Burgundy in October 2016. I was without a car but certainly didn’t feel isolated. I spent most of my days exploring Bligny and neighbouring villages by foot or bike, hiking in the expansive countryside and a few times I caught one of 4 buses per day to either Dijon or Beaune.
If living in the French countryside is the experience you’re after, then look no further than the Ouche Valley in Burgundy. You will have a wonderful time, whether you want to just chill or are eager to get active and visit local sites of interest.
The Ouche Valley is the situated along the Ouche River which begins just upstream from Lusigny-sur-Ouche, crosses the Burgundy Canal at Pont D’Ouche, winding its way up to Dijon then back down to feed the Saône near Saint Jean-de-Losne.
Bligny-sur-Ouche and Neighbouring Villages
Affectionately known as ‘Bligny’ by locals, Bligny-sur-Ouche is one of the larger villages along the Ouche providing the neighbouring villages with a Boulanger (baker), bank, hair dresser, hotel, restaurant, brasserie and even a minimarket and tourism office. It’s also the location of the area’s local weekly produce market, in the town square. This is where I met local wine maker, Frederic Mazeau, who I joined for the season’s grape picking and grape stomping – read about this unique experience here.
Bligny has a large church, many gorgeous water wells and a beautiful river walk dotted with quaint bridges, flowers, and homes alongside the river.
Lusigny-sur-Ouche is known as the source of the Ouche River and the Lavoirs (washing houses) where women would go to the river to wash their clothes and linens.
The Ouche Valley is riddled with walking trails and old service roads just ready to be explored, I simply downloaded the Maps.Me app and each day embarked upon a different path to a different town.
Pictures L-R: Treehouse near Pont D’Ouche, Chaudennay-le-Chateau, Early morning fields and spider webs.
I happened upon several small villages, churches, waterways and made friends with hundreds of Burgundy cattle, who are extremely friendly.
The Panoramic views you’ll encounter will leave you breathless while the complete serenity of the region’s blissful silence will be a welcome sound for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city.
The walk up to La Grotte du Maquis is particularly interesting, and different to other walks (which are largely through fields) as you walk through a rather dense forest. The Grotto was occupied by 20 members of the French Resistance during WWII before they were betrayed and imprisoned. There is now a memorial at the site of the Grotto.
Pictures L-R: The walk up to the Grotto; the Grotto.
L’Auberge des Souces is a restaurant in Lusigny, run by the lovely Julie. The food, restaurant and chef are extremely home-style with not a whole lot of fuss about “plate-ing” up or fancy cooking techniques. But you will be sure to find delicious tasting, home-cooked traditional French cuisine typical of France and particularly Burgundy.
Pictures L-R: Jambon Persille and Pintade with vegetables and creme frâiche sauce, Cheese tarte
After eating lunch there one day, Julie invited me to join her in the kitchen to see how she prepares a handful of typical French dishes.
Pictures L-R: making “Four Quarter” Cake, boiling smoked sausage, smoked sausage served with potatoes and melted cheese.
La Ferme de la Ruchotte is first and foremost an organic farm which also runs a farm-to-table restaurant and guesthouse. It’s located in the very middle of a large patch of forest about 4 km from Bligny. It’s run by a couple who moved from Paris who were chefs in very high-end restaurants but wanted to reconnect with the country.
Pictures L-R: The farmhouse; farm inhabitants.
The restaurant is only open for lunch on the weekend or for large group bookings on request during the week. Each day there is a set menu for 50 Euro, including an entree, main, cheeses and dessert. This is a perfect destination for a family outing, romantic lunch or afternoon to yourself. On the day I dined at the restaurant there was only myself and a family of 6 dining, so we all sat at the same table and enjoyed the divine, home-cooked food together.
Pictures L-R, line by line: The day’s menu; Entrée of Rocket Soup; Main course of Barbezieux Chicken in wine with roast vegetables (vegetables not pictured); Dessert of chou chocolat; The day’s diners and new friends made.
There is much more you can see and do, from small museums, a tourist train along the Ouche River or an aperitif at sunset in the stunning Chateauneuf. Whatever your interests, there’ll be something for you in the Ouche Valley, that’s for sure!