When we were planning our Europe adventure, we were going to be gone long enough that we felt fairly comfortable leaving some plans open ended and kind of letting life take us where it wanted when we were on the road. One of those happy little unplanned surprises was a quick one night stay in the charming Medieval French Hilltop village of Mont Saint Jean, France. Driving between Normandy and Zermatt was going to be a little bit longer of a drive than we wanted to do in one day, so we decided to stop in this hilltop medieval village . The beautiful Château Les Roches is a private residence perched on the hilltop with unobstructed views of the incredible French countryside that has been lovingly restored, by an owner from San Francisco of all places!
This little village was SO quiet. Like almost eerily so. One of the things that surprised me more than anything about driving across France is that there are villages like this dotting the countryside everywhere. We seemed to always find ourselves venturing through these villages in the middle of the afternoon. Coming from the states, one would expect the town to be bustling mid-day with shoppers and such. It was a surprise to drive through all of these towns and have them appear shuttered and empty. The way the old buildings are situated along the street with closed shutters, they literally look abandoned. It was only once we had been in France for a few weeks that we learned the French routine of closing shops and restaurants during the heat of the middle of the day, returning home to rest and relax, and then opening up shop again in the evening. After arriving in Mont Saint Jean and finding it looking shuttered as well, we were surprised to find the little old community center come to life in the evening with a Yoga Class and Wine club. It was almost as if the people attending appeared out of thin air! While these buildings look old and abandoned from the street, we noticed that when you had a vantage point where you could see into the backyards of these medieval homes, many had lush French gardens, beautiful pools and were full of life.
Where to Stay
Les Roches is a bed & breakfast that has been operating since 2005. Five beautiful bedrooms, each with private en-suites, were completely renovated in 2005. Les Roches is a popular place to spend holidays in Burgundy, come for weekend getaways in the countryside and stay overnight on your way to the south of France or Italy given the convenient proximity to the main A6 motorway. There is a beautiful salon, library, dining room, terrace, lawns, park, fitness studio, complimentary wifi, guest kitchenette and comfortable bedrooms. The kids had a wonderful time exploring the gardens and hillside behind the Château. We met a lovely family from Australia also staying at the home and they had kids about our kids’ same ages, so adventures abounded in our short stay with new friends from halfway around the world. Mont-Saint-Jean is located in the heart of Burgundy and is within an easy reach of the famous Burgundy wine areas like Côte-de-Nuits, Côte-de-Beaune and Chablis as well as châteaux, historical sites, medieval villages and many other popular places of interest. It is unique experience to stay in a place like this while traveling though Europe and I highly recommend a little detour through the countryside if you have the chance.
There is a beautiful fortified castle just down the street from the bed and breakfast, and it was fun to walk around and explore. It is dated as early as 924AD, which just blows my mind! Complete with it’s own chapel and cemetery, it is clear that the property has also been lovingly restored and is now being used as a private residence as well.
There are no restaurants, shops, anything in Mont Saint Jean, so we had to head down the hill to another little town to grab some dinner. No problem! It was just an excuse to check out another cute French village!
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