La Cadole du Vigneron is a tiny home situated at the top of the vineyards of Fleurie.

The Tiny Home in Beaujolais: Where to Stay in Fleurie

File Under: One of the Most Unique Wine Experiences of My Life

4 min read

Last summer, I had a spare weekend in Eastern France. What luck! I had been traveling across central Italy, reporting on the wines of Abruzzo, but I had an appointment on Monday in the city of Mâcon, where a tour of Bourgogne was set to begin. With barely a month to plan everything, I settled on exploring the Beaujolais region for 48 hours. On my own dime, I rented a car at the Lyon airport, drove north to Fleurie, and rented a tiny home in Beaujolais from the Aufranc family. It was easily one of the most memorable wine travel experiences of my career.

Fog settles on to La Tonne, a high-altitude lieu-dit in the commune of Fleurie
The tiny home is visible on the edge of the fog … a scene that greeted me as I walked amidst La Tonne and its vines on my first morning. ©Kevin Day/Opening a Bottle

When I arrived to check in, Philippe was pushing a lawnmower through the steeply pitched vines above his family’s winery. With his spotty command of English — and my even more tenuous grasp of French — we were able to communicate just enough to get the ball rolling. But first, he offered a tasting of their wines, which were focused, typical of the area, and very reasonably priced. I bought a bottle of Fleurie, then we headed up the hill to the tiny home.

Philippe Aufranc of the Fleurie winery in his name
Retired winemaker/innkeeper Philippe Aufranc in his cuverie. ©Kevin Day/Opening a Bottle
The wines of Philippe & Baptiste Aufranc.
The wines of Philippe & Baptiste Aufranc are not currently imported into the United States, but they are fresh, typical of Beaujolais and Fleurie, and classically styled. ©Kevin Day/Opening a Bottle

We ambled up the paved road toward Les Labourons and then exited onto a bumpy dirt road through the upper vineyards of Fleurie. The lieu-dit La Tonne surrounds the tiny home, and you are free to walk in any direction and savor the views. Bring sturdy shoes or hiking boots, especially if it rains (although, this being the Beaujolais Cru where granite soils dominate, it rarely gets muddy).

On the first night, a beautiful rainstorm lulled me to sleep. You are all alone out there, especially in June when vineyard work is not as pressing as August and September. The sense of calm is sweeping; the quiet, all-encompassing.

Poppies, a tiny well, and a well in La Tonne vineyard of Fleurie, Beaujolais, France
Poppies and fog in the morning at Aufranc’s tiny home in Beaujolais. ©Kevin Day/Opening a Bottle

When I awoke, I took a 45-minute walk in whichever direction my boots took me, taking photographs of an emerald sea of dewey vines. Philippe arrived in a van with my breakfast, setting a basket down on the edge of the tiny home and waving to me as I climbed back up “home.”

Breakfast is modest — a baguette, some jams, cheeses and juice — but it is certainly enough to get you going for the day. I had appointments in Morgon and just over the hill in Les Labourons for my day, but you are within easy driving distance of all the Beaujolais Cru, and if you are a cyclist, its a nice downhill glide to downtown Fleurie (and a heart-pumping climb past La Madone on the way back).

La Cadole du Vigneron tiny home in Beaujolais with a patio and breakfast.
A basket with my breakfast awaits my return to the tiny home; the patio and view over Fleurie and the distant La Madone. ©Kevin Day/Opening a Bottle

Don’t expect a luxury weekend away. While there is a kitchen and a shower, I’d still call the experience “roughing it.” In fact, it took me several tries to get the shower to work just right, and I never bothered with the stove given my plans to dine out in Fleurie and Morgon. The bed was comfortable, and the patio expansive, but one evening when I returned to the tiny home, it was swarmed by flies and bees. They hadn’t nested on the structure, but seemed to be attracted to the heat emanating off the siding as the cool night air rolled in. By morning, they were gone. This is, after all, a vineyard you are sleeping in. You are the guest, and you are reminded of that every silent minute spent at the tiny home. But like camping, the discomforts are temporary … the memories, on the other hand, indelible.

Wine writer Kevin Day in Fleurie, France.
Taking in the views of Fleurie from the tiny home’s patio. ©Kevin Day/Opening a Bottle

Red Corkscrew Illustration ©Opening a Bottle

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