As a freelance writer, one has to count the pennies and cents. But having had the good luck to win a prize (mit cheque) for my recent book on Champagne, I decided to have a rest from bubbles and take a few days holiday in a place where my love affair with France began: the land of plenty that is Beaujolais, Bresse and Beaune. Due to a mix-up on SNCF timetables, I had to wait around for the TGV from Paris Gare du Lyon to Mâcon-Loché, but it raced the 400 kilometres to Burgundy’s southern city in just 100 minutes. I found a spotlessly clean hotel close to Mâcon Ville station. Pleasantly tired but needing some exercise, I strolled down through the handsomely restored town and crossed the bridge over the broad Saône to St Laurent, the first township you come to in the Bresse department of Ain, a mecca for foodies.