Weekend in Beaujolais - Hameau Georges Duboeuf (France)
We discovered the beautiful region of Beaujolais in France. It's not only about wine but a wonderful destination for families just 2h from Geneva.
We kicked off our trip to the Beaujolais region in the beautiful town of Beaujeu where we met Vincent from the Tourism office who would be our guide for the morning. We parked in the centre of town where we were meeting Vincent to start our exploration of the town by using a geocaching app “les Gnolus". There are a number of different geocaching routes in the area which makes it an excellent way to visit the region with children. We gave control of the phone to Jude so that he could guide us from site to site, solving puzzles and learning about the history of the town as we went. The tour lasted about 45 minutes so the perfect length and Jude and Alba were really excited to reach the end and receive their prize hidden in a secret place. This was really fun for all the family and such a good idea for people visiting the area.
The geocaching ended close to the Maison du Terroir so we popped in for a look around. It’s a lovely space which gave us a really good feel for the region. We learned a lot about the different wine making areas and their characteristics, as well as local specialities and customs. It was very interesting and gave us a good understanding of the rich culture of the area. We especially enjoyed hearing about the festivities which are running throughout the year. On the ground floor of the Maison du Terroir is a wonderful gift shop packed full of delicious treats including delicious oil (Huilerie Beaujolaise) which is often used by top chefs in France, as well as locally made honey, biscuits and cheese. We were lucky enough to be able to try some of these delicacies with a glass of local red wine (Fleurie 2018) before we chose the things we wanted to buy to take home.
After a busy morning, we were all ready for lunch so we headed to Auberge l'Etape Cavalière in Beaujeu for lunch with Vincent. The drive up was incredible, and the area is so beautiful, it was a really wonderful discovery. The area reminded us somewhat of the Tuscan countryside with its abundant flowers and lush vegetation. L'Auberge l'Etape Cavalière is an equestrian centre offering different holiday packages, 3 types of accommodation and an auberge and it was here where we were having lunch on their lovely terrace with spectacular views. The lunch formula ranges in price from €15 to €22 and the food was delicious using local ingredients (we loved the charcuteries and cheeses) and serving local wines. Don't miss the waffles for dessert which we agreed were the best we had ever tasted! Its a great spot for lunch with children where they can run around freely. The chef even made some special eggs for Elio and he ate the lot.
Following our lovely lunch, we stopped at Terrasse de Chiroubles which is an incredible spot where you can enjoy the view all the way to the Mont Blanc on a clear day. It's actually a Geosite of Geopark Mondial UNESCO. There is a nice panoramic walk and we managed a short portion before it became a bit complicated with Elio in the pushchair and we went to explore the shop and bar area. We would recommend taking the baby-carrier to enjoy the walk which lasts about 1 hour. The bar has live music night every Wednesday in the summer "Beaujolez-vous" where hundreds of people enjoy the sunset and the music over a drink. I couldn't resist buying some more local honey in the shop before we left.
Our activity for the afternoon was the Touroparc zoo and this is where we parted ways with Vincent. We have to say a huge thank you to him for looking after us so well, for providing us with so much information about the area and for surviving the morning with the Family of 5 circus. It was a pleasure to meet him.
Touroparc is an amazing and vast place. We decided to start with the zoo part which was really well organised and packed with interesting creatures (+600 animals). We were surprised how close we were to the animals and the children were so excited to discover who was around each corner. Favourites definitely included the rhino and the flamingos (Alba still loves anything pink). Jean loved the giraffes. After the zoo, there is a water park open in the summer months which is full of slides and activities but sadly we hadn’t brought our swim things so we will have to go back another time to try that out.
The park is also packed full of amusements for all the family with, amongst other things, a log flume, merry go round and miniature train all included in the price of the entry fee (20-24€ pp). As if all that wasn’t enough, there are also plenty of places to eat and drink (you can also bring a picnic), a museum and a gift shop. You could easily spend a whole day here and there is a huge car park outside.
After so much excitement, it was time to head to our hotel. We were staying at Hotel Les Maritonnes*** in Romanèche-Thorins where we received a really warm welcome. The hotel is beautifully maintained with excellent facilities and is part of the famous chef Georges Blanc's group. We were staying in a family room which was enormous and comprised of one large living and sleeping space with double and single bed, and a second bedroom with a curtain to separate it from the main space, a modern bathroom and plenty of towels and a balcony overlooking the garden.
We got changed for dinner and went down to the restaurant. The restaurant Rouge et Blanc is also one of Georges Blanc's establishments and being big fans of the famous chef, we were excited to eat here again. We had lovely table on the terrace overlooking the park and ordered a delicious puree for Elio while we perused our menus. Jean and I opted for eggs "en meurette" to start followed by smoked haddock and risotto before indulging in dessert. There was a good selection for the children who had soon finished their meals and were running around the in park while we finished eating.
We had a really lovely evening and back in the room, we decided to put Elio in the separate space so that he wouldn’t be bothered, and the rest of us slept in the main room. We all slept like babies, including Elio who often doesn’t sleep at all in hotels and we were up bright and early to begin our day the next morning.
Breakfast in the hotel was delicious with a good choice of cereals, bread and pastries, fruit, meats, cheeses and yoghurts. Jean and I also ordered some eggs and the children got stuck into some pancakes.
There is also a lovely spa at the hotel but we didn’t have the chance to try it out this visit.
Our plan for Saturday was to visit the Hameau Georges Duboeuf which is a few minutes walk from the hotel. The Hameau Dubœuf is the 1st vine and wine theme park in Europe. We started in the main house which is a huge, impressive space, and began our tour. The first part tells you all about the history and techniques used for wine making, as well as its significance to the area and the different regions which comprise the Beaujolais region. The wine transport room retraces 3,500 years of civilization, from Antiquity to the 20th century and the museology room exhibits more than 3,000 ancient objects, winegrowers' tools and works of art.
The visit was a nice mix of exhibits, things to read, as well as videos and includes a trip into the cave where you can see where the wine is stored (take a cardigan as its a bit cooler down there :-)). These cellars from 1855 are still in operation and they are used for ageing some of the wines of Maison Dubœuf.
The children loved the first video "Mon Beaujolais" which was nominated for the "Parc World Experience Awards 2019", and is a unique experience, equipped with cutting-edge technology that allows you to get to know the incredible history of Beaujolais. There is also a 3D video experience which was great fun - we loved watching Alba reaching out trying to touch things :-).
The last part of the tour was a moving platform where we experienced life from a bees perspective. I won’t spoil the surprise but it was really good fun and even Elio enjoyed it.
Following the tour, we were invited to an all-important wine tasting where the children had some grape juice and Jean and I tried a glass each of Saint-Véran which is a wine we really like and often drink at home. You will enjoy this degustation in a reconstruction of a Lyonnais bistro, with personalities from these regions.
Important to mention that there are some parts within the main house that are not wheelchair accessible but fortunately there were some very kind people in our little group who helped us up and down the stairs with Elio.
We had a table booked for lunch and decided to sit in their lovely courtyard garden. There were so many tempting things on the menu, the children opted for fish and chips and Jean and I took salads while the kitchen kindly prepared a risotto for Elio.
Lunch was really lovely and we were all full of talk about our wonderful trip, before we headed over to the gardens which also make up part of the Duboeuf experience. Visitors can reach the park from the main house on a miniature train which shuttles regularly back and forth between the two sites, but we decided it would be a bit complicated with Elio's large and heavy pushchair so we took the car instead. Don't miss the authentic village station built in 1854 just at the opposite the main entrance to the house.
There is lots to see at the park with further exhibits indoors and you can even visit the factory where the wine is produced (Centre de vinification), and learn more about the region.
Outside, the park is a spectacular place, where children can hop into peddle powered horse carts to follow the path around the garden, Jude and Alba absolutely loved this idea and did a few laps each, leaving Jean and I to enjoy the sights. After that, we decided to have a round of mini golf which was fun and the children enjoyed the giant chess board. There is also the option to try the ExplorGames which is discovery game of the whole place which you play using a tablet. Two ExplorGames have been created to explore the oenoparc while having fun through puzzles to solve: an indoor game on the Hameau du Vin site (1h-1h30) and an outdoor game on the Jardin en Beaujolais site (1h30-2h). We didn’t have time for this during this visit but we heard excellent reports about it.
All too soon it was time to leave. We are so grateful to have had the chance to visit this beautiful area, to have learned so much and made so many wonderful family memories. All of the people we met were really welcoming and hospitable which made the visit extra special. There is such a large choice of activities for families, it is well worth a visit if ever you get the chance.
796 route de la gare 71570 Romanèche-Thorins
Hôtel Les Maritonnes Parc & Vignoble Restaurant Rouge & Blanc
D32, 71570 Romanèche-Thorins
400 Rue du Parc