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Food and Drink, France, STUNTS

Pedalling through Normandy and Brittany

  Cycling

Must... work... off... lunch...: Paying for meals bathed in butter along Normandy's country roads

While the rest of the world has turned its back on clarified butter, Normandy has not, and for this it is deserving of high praise. This means, however, that if you're going to travel along the coast of Normandy, you may wish to consider a high-cardio form of locomotion, especially if you're going to be doing things like eating a sole that took its final swim in sea of clarified butter.

Cross-country skiing would be your best choice, but Normandy has what the French call le climat oceanique, which is just a sophisticated way of saying "British weather." It's prone to cloud cover and rain, and by cloud cover I mean a thick, gooey blanket of light-sucking grey, and by rain I mean an interminable drizzle. There is no snow, but there are roads, and so the logical choice is also a fun one: the bicycle.

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Food and Drink, France, STUNTS

Working the Land in Burgundy

Terroir

A handful of Burgundian dirt: Is this the soil that launched a thousand sips?

Bad news was waiting in Burgundy: A wind was blowing. It was a perfect day to send up a kite, and therefore absolutely not perfect for going up in a hot air balloon, which was the reason I had driven all the way from Monaco. I was, in other words, grounded.

If there's a place on this planet to get grounded, however, it's Burgundy, and the reason has to do with the ground. It consists of a layer of clay soil -- from a geological point of view, a thin film -- and beneath it is limestone bedrock. It is the most delicious ground in the world. It is so delicious that buyers from France, the United States, Japan, Great Britain, Russia, and almost every other country are prepared to pay as much as $2,500 for a bottle of that ground. There are no rocks or soil in those slope-shouldered bottles. There is wine: red or white.

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