Hotel Of The Week: Villa Louise, Burgundy

You know you're in wine country when the signposts point to venerable vineyards such as Clos-de-Vougeot. Stay at Villa Louise in Burgundy and you can explore its own 'cave', too
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The Independent Travel

France's premier wine-growing region, the Côte d'Or of Burgundy, has been described as "a long and talkative street, warming itself in the light of the rising sun."

After driving south from London via Calais, we arrive at this oenophile's dream destination at sunset. As we pass serried rows of vineyards, bathed in a bronze glow, the tingle of anticipation is heightened by the signposts en route - Gevrey-Chambertin, Vosnes-Romanée, Clos-de-Vougeot, Nuits St Georges - this could be the wine list at a top restaurant.

Our hotel, Villa Louise, lies in the village of Aloxe-Corton whose vineyards nourish the famous grand crus of white Corton-Charlemagne and red Corton. Owned and run by Véronique Perrin, whose family has been viticulteurs for generations, the hotel has its own cave from which these and other appellations are available.

Fine wines are just one of this sleepover's strong points. Standing next to the chateau of Corton-Grancey, whose varnished lozenge roof is an example of the Flemish-Gothic architecture bequeathed to the area by the dukes of Burgundy, the white-washed, 15th-century house is screened from the road by a creeper-covered wall. After our 10-hour drive, the sitting-room, scented with woodsmoke from the period fireplace and furnished with rustic good taste is a welcome place to relax.

Even better is the discovery that a little spa has been discreetly constructed at the end of the picturesque cottage garden. A swim in the heated indoor pool, gazing upon vineyards that stretch to the horizon, followed by a sauna and steam bath is a wonderfully restorative pick-me-up.

When I return to our room, I discover my partner fast asleep on the bed. He too took the plunge - but into the cave. I hope he wakes up in time for dinner.

The location

The hotel stands on the edge of Aloxe-Corton, which is a could of miles north of Beaune and 23 miles south of Dijon. To journey through the wine villages take the parallel road route N74.

The comfort factor

The rooms - 11 in all, including one suite - are spacious, light-filled and tasteful, with pale walls set off by original wooden beams, dark wooden furniture and French country floral bedspreads. Top-quality linen makes falling into the wide beds a pleasure. Room 44 has a terrace overlooking the vineyards while room 40 comes with romantic dormer windows. Satellite TV is an added bonus. A masseuse is available on request.

The bathroom

Room all have elegant, en suite bathrooms in warm-hued stone accented with beige ceramic pots. There's a generous selection of natural products and there are slippers in every room.

The food and drink

There is no restaurant but breakfast is so delicious it is almost worth going hungry the night before. In addition to rolls and pastries, the feast includes fromages, cold meats, local gingerbread, baked apples and home-made peach and pear compôtes - all served on charming Provençal tableware next to French windows which overlook the garden. Standing out amid a wealth of good restaurants is Le Charlemagne (00 33 380 21 51 45; lecharlemagne.fr) just over a mile away in Pernand-Vergelesses, which specialises in Franco-Japanese cooking.

The people

The hotel is particularly popular with Germans, Belgians and Americans, who appreciate it as a super-relaxing stopover en route to the south of France. It is also a popular mini-break for couples without children.

The area

A trip into nearby Beaune should include wine tasting at the Bouchard Aîné et Fils caves and a tour of the spectacular medieval poorhouse, the Hôtel-Dieu des Hospices de Beaune. Abbey addicts should visit the ruins at Cluny, once the greatest medieval abbey of all and now reduced to evocative ruins. Alternatively, drive up to the exquisite Romanesque Basilica of Sainte Madeleine in the hilltop village of Vézelay where you will also enjoy magnificent views over the Morvan forest.

The access

No lift makes it unsuitable for wheelchair users. Children are permitted but not encouraged.

The damage

Doubles from €75 (£53) in low season (December to March) and from €92 for the rest of the year. Breakfast costs an extra €15 per person.

The address

Villa Louise (00 33 3 80 26 46 70; hotel-villa-louise.fr), 9 rue Franche, 21420 Aloxe-Corton, Burgundy.

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