A former 10thC monastery converted into an incredibly charming Relais and Chateaux property with a Michelin-starred restaurant, the transformation of the Abbaye de la Bussière from spiritual to secular retreat could never have been predicted by the Cistercian monks who first built it.
Since 2005, this family-owned property has been overseen by Clive and Tanith Cummings, who themselves cut their teeth managing Clive’s father’s Relais and Chateaux property in England before they struck out on their own.
As I sit down with Clive in a high-ceilinged salon with a hunting lodge feel (complete with stag’s head and stone fireplace), he’s eagerly waiting to set up the perfect marriage proposal for a guest, who we spy on the terrace enjoying lunch with his unsuspecting fiancée-to-be.
“That’s a good sign, they’re very touchy-feely,” he observes. (The couple has just helicoptered in straight from the French Open, and in this case, Clive has set up candles and Champagne in the abbey’s crypt, complete with a professional photographer lurking to capture the moment of truth.)
Our friends at the Abbaye have long been accustomed at this point to the sight of B&R bikers arriving, ready for five-star refreshment and rest after a long day of pedalling through Burgundy’s vines.