Burgundy is well-known for its reputation. At the very heart of the country, Burgundy is one of France’s most prosperous regions. In addition to its rich historical and cultural heritage, the region is also a world-renowned wine producing area. Its peaceful way of life, celebrated wine, delicous food and numerous outdoor activities all combine to make this region the ideal place to discover and appreciate la vie française.
Burgundy has a rich history that dates back to the 5th century, roman legacy visible in the substantial Roman remains at Autun. Every village has its Romanesque church, there’s more history on show at Alésia, the scene of Julius Caesar’s epic victory over the Gauls in 52 BC. Since the 9th century that the region really started to flourish, with cities like Dijon on the rise and what would be famous works of art and architecture being produced.
During the Middle Ages, Burgundy became one of the great church-building areas in France. The province was once home to the Dukes of Burgundy from the early 11th until the late 15th century. The capital of Dijon was one of the great European centres of art and science, a place of tremendous wealth and power, and Western Monasticism. There’s evidence everywhere of this former wealth and power, both secular and religious: the dukes’ capital of Dijon, the great abbeys of Vézelay and Fontenay, the ruins of the monastery of Cluny (whose abbots’ influence was second only to the pope’s), and a large number of imposing châteaux. In early Modern Europe, Burgundy was a focal point of courtly culture that set the fashion for European royal houses and their court.
Located in Bourgogne-Franche-Comte region, Burgundy is home to an impressive selection of attractions and experiences.Noted for its rich history and diverse scenery, the region stretches from the rolling Burgundy wine country in the west to the Jura Mountains and Swiss border in the east. Burgundy and Franche-Comté have a rich architectural inheritance of remarkable buildings, including castles and major Romanesque and Gothic cathedrals. Aside from cities and towns, many of them walled, the countryside is dotted with numerous pleasant and picturesque villages.
The vineyards of the region are some of the most prestigious in the world, with the Burgundy wine region including Beaujolais and Chablis. Wine produce played the key role in the local economy since Louis XIV’s doctor prescribed wine as a palliative for the royal dyspepsia. Its green-hedgerowed countryside, medieval villages, and stellar vineyards deserve to be rolled on the palate and savored.
The glorious of Burgundy between rolling hills draped in vineyards that gather into quaint villages, magnificently preserved of their medieval charms. Thanks to circuitous country roads, the region still reflects the lovely pastoral prosperity it enjoyed under the Capetian kings. Those were the glory days, when self-sufficient Burgundy held its own against the creeping spread of France and the mighty Holy Roman Empire.
The region also offers natural beauty. Burgundy has lakes and forests, and plenty of opportunities for fishing, walking or riding. A gentle landscape of hillsides covered with vineyards lines the river Loire. The Nièvre holds a vast area of wild countryside ideal both for sport and cultural activities. The Jura is a low range of wooded mountains with many gorges, caves and rocky peaks, which gave its name to the Jurassic period.
The rolling hills of Burgundy gave birth to superior wine, fine cuisine, spicy mustard, and sleepy villages smothered in luscious landscapes. With all this history, all this art, all this natural beauty comes with delicious refreshments, as the extraordinary quality of its Chablis, its Chassagne-Montrachet, its Nuits-St-Georges, its Gevrey-Chambertin. Burgundy flaunts some of the best food in the world. Taste a licensed and Bresse chicken embellished by the poetry of one perfect glass of Burgundian Pinot Noir.
The best time to visit Burgundy is between September and November when the weather cools and the vineyards feature an array of autumn colors. Many travelers make Dijon their home base since it provides easy access to the towns and villages that spool out from the region’s capital. The crown of this fairy-tale region is Dijon, the capital city, which brims with remembrances of the days when the Dukes of Bourgogne used to reside here.
The best way to get around Burgundy is by car and train. These quick and efficient modes of transportation will get you where you want to go on your own timetable. There are also networks of buses throughout Burgundy, and taxis are an option, too, though they are far from affordable. Cycling can be a scenic means of getting around in the spring, summer or fall, another increasingly popular and scenic means of traveling between villages or wineries. Between bouts of gastronomic indulgence, engage in some moderate activity: for walkers there’s a wide range of hikes, from Côte d’Or to the Parc Régional du Morvan.
Burgundy is rich in its natural and built heritage, from fortified castles to cadoles, via abbeys and cathedrals. Tourist sites of Burgundy include the Rock of Solutré, the Hospices de Beaune, the Ducal Palace in Dijon, and many Renaissance and mediaeval châteaus, castles, churches and abbeys. With regard to cuisine, the region is famous for Dijon mustard, Charolais beef, Bresse chicken, the Burgundian dishes coq au vin and beef bourguignon, and époisses cheese.
It is possible to visit the site of Alésia and its MuséoParc Alésia, where Vercingétorix held a siege against the armies of Julius Caesar in 52 BC. AD, as well as the site of Cluny where the Benedictines made their abbey in the 10th century the greatest spiritual and intellectual center in Europe.
Burgundy is a land rich in cultural sites, some of which are unique, including the palace of the Dukes of Burgundy in Dijon, the Hospices de Beaune, the Saint-Philibert de Tournus abbey, the Cîteaux abbey, the Fontenay abbey, the Pontigny Abbey, Saint-Germain Abbey in Auxerre, Saint-Étienne Cathedral in Sens, Saint-Lazare Cathedral in Autun, Saint-Cyr-et-Sainte-Julitte Cathedral in Nevers, Saint- Étienne d’Auxerre, the Sainte-Marie-Madeleine basilica in Vézelay, the Sacré-Coeur basilica in Paray-le-Monial, the Notre-Dame church in La Charité-sur-Loire, the castles of Guédelon, Pierreclos, Tanlay, Bussy-Rabutin, Cormatin, Ancy-le-Franc and Bazoches, the arboretum of Pézanin, which make this territory attractive and has strong tourist potential.
Burgundy is one of France’s main wine-producing areas. It is well known for both its red and white wines, mostly made from Pinot noir and Chardonnay grapes, respectively, although other grape varieties can be found, including Gamay, Aligote, Pinot blanc, and Sauvignon blanc. The region is divided into the Côte-d’Or, where the most expensive and prized Burgundies are found, and Beaujolais, Chablis, the Côte Chalonnaise and Mâcon. The “Climats du vigne de Bourgogne” have been listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site since 2015.
Burgundy is a region that is easily accessible, explore the most beautiful towns of Burgundy. The towns of Burgundy far from crowded, ooze a certain hedonistic art-de-vivre. Good wines, good food, beautiful monuments. From Dijon to Beaune, via Mâcon and Auxerre, an exotic urban touch in a enjoyable city break with good things in life.
Auxerre is an historical city in the French region of Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, at the heart of one of the country’s largest wine-producing areas. Auxerre is a commercial and industrial centre, with industries including food production, woodworking and batteries. It is also noted for its production of Burgundy wine, including Chablis. In 1995 Auxerre was named “Town of Art and History”. This beautiful old city with historic churches was also the birthplace of Joseph Fourier, who is considered the founder of modern engineering. A very pretty and historic town of narrow lanes and lovely open squares, get the best view point of the town from Pont Paul-Bert over the river Yonne and the riverside quays. Moored houseboats and barges, with churches soaring dramatically and harmoniously above the surrounding rooftops.
The Gothic style Cathedral of St. Étienne, has three doorways with bas-reliefs. There are stained-glass windows in the choir and the apsidal chapel. The 11th-century crypt houses the remains of the former Romanesque cathedral. Abbey of Saint-Germain, existing from the 9th century. The crypt has some of the oldest mural paintings in France, and houses the tomb of the bishops of Auxerre. There is a chapter room, a cellar and a cloister. The church of St. Pierre en Vallée, established over a 6th-century abbey. In late Gothic style, it has a tower similar to that of the cathedral. Portions of the decorations and inner chapels were financed by local winegrowers. Church of St. Eusèbe, founded in the 7th century. The nave was rebuilt in the 13th century, while the tower is in Romanesque style.
Avallon is a city in Bourgogne-Franche-Comté. The Gallo-Romans built a temple, a court and a theater, but even before Roman times, the site of the town was home to a fortified stronghold of the Aedui, a Celtic tribe. Later, in the Middle Ages, Avallon had an important strategic position. Today, many buildings here recall the city’s rich past: the fortress wall, with its turrets and bastions, still surrounds parts of the Old Town, where the St. Lazarus Church, the bell tower, and old half-timbered houses have all stood the test of time in admirable condition.
Its chief building, the formerly collegiate church of Saint-Lazare, dates from the twelfth century, on an earlier foundation dedicated to Notre Dame. Vestiges of the earlier church were revealed beneath the high altar in an excavation of 1861. The acquisition of a relic of Saint Lazare prompted its rededication: Saint Ladre is attested in the fourteenth century. It was the seat of an archdeaconate answering to the bishop of Autun. The two western portals are densely adorned with sculpture in the Romanesque style; the tower on the left of the facade was rebuilt in the seventeenth century. The Tour de l’Horloge, pierced by a gateway through which passes the Grande Rue, is an eleventh-century structure containing a museum on its second floor. Remains of the ancient fortifications, including seven of the flanking towers, are still to be seen. Avallon has a statue of Vauban, the military engineer of Louis XIV.
The village of Chablis gives its name to one of the most famous French white wines. Chablis is made with Chardonnay, a grape that grows particularly well in the region. Lying in the valley of the River Serein, Chablis is surrounded by rows of vines, interspersed with yellow splashes of fields full of sunflowers. The side door of the church of St-Martin, which is decorated with ancient horseshoes belonging to St-Martin being the protector of horsemen. The wacky Corkscrew and Vineyard Museum at Beine, a ten minutes’ drive west of Chablis. Each year the Festival du Chablisien is held May to June in Chablis, featuring classical, jazz, and world music.
Charolais is a historic region of France, takes its name from the pretty little water-enclosed market town of Charolles. Throughout this region, scattered across the rich farmland, are dozens of small villages, all with Romanesque churches. 14km west of Charolles, Paray-le-Monial, whose major attraction is its Basilique du Sacré-Coeur. Not only is it an exquisite building in its own right, with a marvellously satisfying arrangement of apses and chapels stacking up in sturdy symmetry to a fine octagonal belfry.
South of Dijon, the attractive countryside of the Côte d’Or is characterized by the steep scarp of the côte, wooded along the top and cut by sheer little valleys called combes, where local rock climbers hone their skills. Some of the major tourist attractions are the Gothic abbey church of Saint-Seine-l’Abbaye and the 11th-century Romanesque abbey church at Saulieu, as well the 12th-century Château de Bussy Rabutin at Bussy-le-Grand. The Abbey of Cîteaux, headquarters of the Cistercian Order, lies to the east of Nuits-Saint-Georges in the south of the department.
Beaune is one of the key wine centers in France, and the center of Burgundy wine production and business. Beaune is the perfect example of French art-de-vivre: cobbled streets, remarkable heritage sites including the famous Hospices, pleasant wine-tasting cellars, shops on every street corner, all surrounded by a prestigious vineyard. Beaune has much to recommend as it is a bustling, wealthy, and charming place of pilgrimage for art lovers, wine lovers, and gastronomes. Because of its historical importance in wine production and the unique system of terroir in the region, the town of Beune was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2015 as part of the Climats, terroirs of Burgundy site.
Beaune is a walled city, with about half of the battlements, ramparts, and the moat, having survived in good condition. The central “old town” or “vieille ville” is extensive. Historically Beaune is intimately connected with the Dukes of Burgundy. The historic centre is charming and a pleasant place to walk around. The 15th-century Hospices de Beaune, in the town center, is one of the best preserved renaissance buildings in Europe.Other landmarks in Beaune include the old market (les Halles), the Beffroi (clock tower), and the collegiate church of Notre Dame. Beaune is the main center for the “Burgundian tile” polychrome renaissance roofing style of the region.
There is a comprehensive “traditional” shopping area clustered around the central square with a focus on gourmet food, fashion, and wine, while large supermarkets, business parks, etc., are situated on the outskirts of town. Beaune has a major fine food market on Saturdays, where there are a large number of stall holders supplying a broad selection of products and specialties from Burgundy and the surrounding regions. For example, Bresse chickens, Jura cheeses, small goods, spices, produce of every variety as well as seasonal specialties such as truffles. There is a smaller market on Wednesday, and special-event markets and fetes are held throughout the year.
Beaune makes a good base for exploring other small wine towns in the Côte-d’Or. The town is surrounded by some of the world’s most famous wine villages, while the facilities and cellars of many producers, large and small, are situated in the historic center of Beaune itself, as they have been since Roman times. With a rich historical and architectural heritage, Beaune is considered the “Capital of Burgundy wines”. It is an ancient and historic town on a plain by the hills of the Côte d’Or, with features remaining from the pre-Roman and Roman eras, through the medieval and renaissance periods.
Dijon, the elegant Town of the Dukes. The province was home to the Dukes of Burgundy from the early 11th until the late 15th centuries, and Dijon became a place of tremendous wealth and power, one of the great European centres of art, learning, and science. The city has retained varied architectural styles from many of the main periods of the past millennium, including Capetian, Gothic, and Renaissance. Many still-inhabited town-houses in the city’s central district date from the 18th century and earlier. Dijon’s architecture is distinguished by, among other things, toits bourguignons (Burgundian polychrome roofs) made of glazed terracotta tiles of various colours arranged in geometric patterns.
Dijon has a large number of churches, including Notre Dame de Dijon, St. Philibert, St. Michel, and Dijon Cathedral, The church of Notre Dame is famous for both its art and architecture. Popular legend has it that one of its stone relief sculptures, an owl (la chouette) is a good-luck charm. Dedicated to the Saint Benignus, the crypt of which is over 1,000 years old. The Grand Théâtre de Dijon, built in 1828 and one of the main performing venues of the Opéra de Dijon, was declared a monument historique of France in 1975.
The Palais des Duc stands at the hub of the city. Facing the main courtyard is the relaxed place de la Libération, built by Jules Hardouin-Mansart, one of the architects of Versailles, towards the end of the seventeenth century. The fourteenth-century Tour de Bar dominates the courtyard in front of the east wing, and now houses the Musée des Beaux-Arts, which houses an interesting collection of works from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century; among the highlights are the Flemish paintings, particularly the Nativity by the so-called Master of Flémalle, a shadowy figure who ranks with van Eyck as one of the first artists to break from the chilly stranglehold of International Gothic, Burgundy’s homespun phase of Gothic art. Visiting the museum in Palais des Duc also provides the opportunity to see the surviving portions of the original ducal palace, including the vast kitchen and the magnificent Salle des Gardes.
The city has retained varied architectural styles from many of the main periods of the past millennium, including Capetian, Gothic and Renaissance. Many still-inhabited town houses in the city’s central district date from the 18th century and earlier. Suggestive of the city’s former glories, are the lavish townhouses of the rich burghers. These abound in the streets behind the duke’s palace, most notably on rue de la Chouette. Some are half-timbered, with storeys projecting over the street, others are in more formal and imposing Renaissance stone. Particularly fine are the Renaissance Hôtel de Vogüé, 8 rue de la Chouette, the Hôtel Aubriot at no.40 rue des Forges, plus the Hôtel Benigne Malyot and the Maison des Cariatides at no. 1 and 28 rue Chaudronnière respectively.
Formerly a mining town, Le Creusot’s economy is now dominated by metallurgical companies such as ArcelorMittal, Schneider Electric, and Alstom. In 1836, the Schneider brothers launched Le Creusot steel in Saône-et-Loire. At the time, as the industrial revolution was underway and the train business was developing, they began producing locomotives and railway tracks. This was the start of an empire, which is today centred around electricity. Since the 1990s, the town has been developing its tourism credentials. Its main attraction is the Parc des Combes. The Creusot steam hammer is exposed as a tourist attraction in a square at the entrance to the town from the south. In the former Schneider family château, there is the Musée de l’Homme et de l’Industrie.
The Mâconnais district is located in the south of the Burgundy wine region in France, west of the Saône river. It takes its name from the town of Mâcon. The Mâconnais wine-producing country lies to the west of the Saône, a 20km-wide strip stretching from Tournus to just south of Mâcon. The Maconnais region, between Sennecey-le-Grand and Saint-Verand, has plenty of charming little towns and villages to explore.
It is best known as a source of good value white wines made from the Chardonnay grape; the wines from Pouilly-Fuissé are particularly sought-after. Almost all the wine made in the Mâconnais is white wine. Chardonnay is the main grape grown in the district. The region’s best white wines, including all the grands crus and some of the best white grands crus, labelled Pouilly-Fuissé, come from the southern part of this strip, around the pretty villages of Pouilly, Vinzelles and Fuissé.
Mâcon is a lively, prosperous town on the banks of the River Saône, and marks the passage between Rhône Valley and Burgundy. The city gave its name to the nearby vineyards and wine ‘appellation’. Explore the banks of the Saône on foot or by bicycle, admire the colourful façades, visit Musée Lamartine, the marina. A centre for the wine trade, with a surprisingly relaxed, seaside atmosphere, thanks to its long café-lined riverbank and free outdoor concerts in late June, July and August, it also boasts the best nightlife between Dijon and Lyon.
The “Eté frappé” Festival, a free art and music festival, takes place every summer from June to August all over the town (notably on the Lamartine esplanade alongside the river Saône) featuring many concerts of a wide range of musical styles (classical, French song, jazz, rock, folk, hip-hop, rap), many shows (dance, comedy), open air film shows, open air plays, sporting events. Every year in July, the Crescent Jazz Club holds a jazz festival during three days (as part of the “Eté frappé” Festival) featuring international jazz musicians.
The Morvan region lies in the middle of Burgundy between the valleys of the Loire and the Saône, stretching roughly from Clamecy, Vézelay and Avallon in the north to Autun in the south. I Carpeted with forest and etched by cascading streams, the Parc Régional du Morvan was officially created in 1970, when 170,000 hectares of hilly countryside were set aside in an attempt to protect the local cultural and physical environment with a series of nature trails, animal reserves, museums and local craft shops. It’s an excellent place for outdoor activities, especially cycling and walking, with a good network of simple accommodation.
Autun is a small walled hill city in Bourgogne-Franche-Comté. Steeped in Roman history, complete with a spectacular Romanesque spire standing proud against the Morvan hills, Autun, formerly Augustodunum, was a garrison town during the Roman Empire. The city boasts two ancient Roman gates (Porte Saint-André and Porte d’Arroux) and other ruins dating to the time of Augustus. One of the most impressive remains is that of the ancient theatre, which was one of the largest in the western part of the empire with a 17,000-seat capacity. To the northwest of the city is the so-called Temple of Janus, only two walls (faces) of which remain. To the southeast is the mysterious Pierre de Couhard, a rock pyramid of uncertain function which may date to Roman times.
Autun Cathedral, also known as Saint Lazare Cathedral, dates from the early twelfth century and is a major example of Romanesque architecture. It was formerly the chapel of the Dukes of Burgundy; their palace was the actual episcopal residence. The cathedral was originally built as a pilgrimage church for the veneration of the relic Saint Lazarus, mentioned in the Gospels, and considered the first bishop of Marseille, and who, always according to tradition, arrived in Provence with Mary Magdalen. The Autun Cathedral is famous for its architectural sculpture, particularly the tympanum of The Last Judgment above the west portal, surviving fragments from the lost portal of the north transept, and the capitals in the nave and choir.
Nevers is on the banks of the Loire, narrow winding streets lead from the quay through the town where there are numerous old houses dating from the 14th to the 17th century. Place Carnot is the hub of the centre; nearby is the fifteenth-century Palais Ducal, former home of the dukes of Nevers, which has octagonal turrets and a central tower adorned with elegantly carved hunting scenes. That aside, Nevers’ main attractions are its religious monuments, including the Cathédrale de St-Cyr and the late eleventh-century church of St-Étienne. The town itself is quite pictureque especially if viewed from the bridge across the Loire River, the longest river in France. Besides the beautiful duke’s palace,other highlights of this town include earthenware, good wine including the famous Pouilly-Fumé, boat trips, etc.
The Ducal Palace (now occupied by the courts of justice and an important ceramic museum) was built in the 15th and 16th centuries and is one of the principal feudal edifices in central France. The façade is flanked at each end by a turret and a round tower. A middle tower containing the great staircase has its windows adorned by sculptures relating to the history of the House of La Marck by the members of which the greater part of the palace was built. Behind the palace lies an open space with a fine view over the Loire Valley. The Porte du Croux, a square tower, with corner turrets, dating from the end of the 14th century, is among the remnants of the old fortifications; it now contains a collection of sculptures and Roman antiquities.
Among the ecclesiastical buildings the most important is the Cathédrale of Saint Cyr-Sainte Julitte, dedicated to Saint Quiricus and Saint Julietta, which is a combination of two buildings, and possesses two apses. The apse and transept at the west end are the remains of a Romanesque church, while the nave and eastern apse are in the Gothic style and belong to the 14th century. There is no transept at the eastern end. The lateral portal on the south side belongs to the late 15th century; the massive and elaborately decorated tower which rises beside it dates to the early 16th century. The church of Saint Étienne is a specimen of the Romanesque style of Auvergne of which the disposition of the apse with its three radiating chapels is characteristic. It was consecrated at the close of the 9th century, and belonged to a priory affiliated to Clun
A triumphal arch from the 18th century, commemorating the victory of Fontenoy and the hôtel de ville, a 19th century building which contains the library, are of some interest. The Loire is crossed by a modern stone bridge, and by an iron railway bridge. At the Chapel of Saint Bernadette at the mother house of the Sisters of Charity of Nevers, it is possible to view the incorrupt body of Saint Bernadette Soubirous, the famous seer of Our Lady of Lourdes apparitions, which are presented in a gold and crystal reliquary.
Paray-le-Monial is a commune in the Saône-et-Loire department in the region of Bourgogne-Franche-Comté. The town is mainly known for its Romanesque church of the “Sacred Heart” and as a place of pilgrimage. It was built from the 12th century as a small-scale version of the Abbey of Cluny. It was finished in the 14th century, while the cloister dates to the 18th century. The Hôtel de Ville, in Renaissance style, is also one of the historical monuments. Another major building in Paray-le-Monial, is Saint Nicolas’ tower, built during the 16th century, which hosts different exhibitions but mainly mosaic exhibitions.
The Saône valley south from Chalon-sur-Saône via Tournus all the way to Mâcon is prosperous and modern, an area full of hilly pastures and woodland, nourished by tourism, industry (especially metalworking), and the wine trade. Chalon is a sizeable port and bustling town on a broad meander of the Saône. Its old riverside quarter has an easy charm, and the town itself makes a cheerful base for exploring the areas of the Côte d’Or.
In the past, the region was famed for its religious institutions; almost every village clusters under the tower of a Romanesque church, spawned by the authority of the great abbey at Cluny. Many large and powerful abbeys were established in the eleventh and twelfth centuries under the aegis of Cluny. St. Vincent’s Cathedral on the Place Saint-Vincent which, while dating mainly from the 12th to the 15th centuries, has some elements dating from the eighth century and a neo-gothic nineteenth century façade. The city square also has a number of cafés and a busy market on Fridays and Sundays. Every year in July, Chalon-sur-Saône hosts an international street artists festival, called Chalon dans la Rue (“Chalon in the street”). Over four days, artists from across Europe and beyond come to the streets of Chalon to perform, mostly for free, in music, theatre, acrobatics, comedy, etc.
Sens is a commune in the Yonne department in Bourgogne-Franche-Comté. Sens is an ancient city, with a history going back to the days when France was a Celtic land, and then the days of Roman rule, when it was called Agedincum. Its archbishops were powerful and prestigious during the Middle Ages, which accounts for the town’s famous Gothic cathedral. As Paris rose in power and influence, Sens eventually declined, with the result that its rich heritage of historic buildings has remained more nearly intact.
Burgundy begins just south of Fontainebleau, near where the river Yonne joins the Seine, and follows the Yonne valley through the historic towns of Sens and Joigny before it reaches Auxerre. Scattered in a broad corridor to the east and west in the riverbanks of the Yonne’s tributaries – the Armançon, Serein, Cure and Cousin – is a fascinating collection of abbeys, châteaux, towns, villages and other sites as ancient as the history of France. They all deserve a visit, for reasons ranging from architecture (Pontigny) and wine (Chablis) to sheer secluded beauty (Noyers-sur-Serein).
Rivers and Canals
The thousands of km of rivers and canals, once used for trading purposes, make this a popular holiday destination today. There are so many wonderful heritage sites to explore in the towns and villages along the water’s edge. The water acts as a mirror for nature, reflecting the unique and revitalising landscapes. The many canals and rivers throughout Burgundy offer an unforgettable cruise or a walk along the water’s edge.
Canal de Bourgogne
Burgundy Canal flows across the entire French department of Côte-d’Or, from the Saône, to the Yonne. Discover the local history and admire the châteaus, or pedal along the cycle path that runs alongside the canal. This route is a great way to experience the very best of Burgundy, other than the vineyards, with stops in Dijon, the lush green Ouche Valley or in the hills of the Auxois region. East of Joigny, and, conveniently close to the TGV stop of Laroche-Migennes, the Canal de Bourgogne branches off to the north of the River Yonne southeast towards Dijon. Along or close to the canal are several places of interest: the beautiful town of Tonnere, the Renaissance châteaux of Tanlay and Ancy-le-Franc, the Abbaye de Fontenay, and the site of Julius Caesar’s victory over the Gauls at Alésia. Just east of the canal, perched above the River Armançon, lies the picturesque town of Semur-en-Auxois. Further east the Canal encompasses the upper reaches of the River Seine: at Châtillon-sur-Seine is the famous Celtic Treasure of Vix.
Canal du Centre
The Canal du Centre flows peacefully from Chalon-sur-Saône to Digoin, past vineyards and ancient mining towns, before reaching the gastronomic land of Charolais. This narrow, winding canal is 112 km long and offers a picturesque route between Saône and Loire along the EuroVelo6. Since it was first dug out at the end of the 18th century, it has contributed to the economic boom of the mining town of Montceau-les-Mines, and is still partially in use today. This canal will lead you past the Côte Chalonnaise and Côte de Beaune vineyards and through the green Charolais meadows, used for cattle breeding. For a spot of culture, stop off in Paray-le-Monial, a hotspot for Roman art and pilgrimage, before going to admire the superb aqueduct that straddles the Loire in Digoin.
Canal du Nivernais
Nivernais Canal is 178 km long and links the Loire to the Seine, for a real journey back in time. The majority of tourists begin their cruise at the historic city of Auxerre after which, the canal winds south through the department of Yonne countryside past a number of small, picturesque villages and hamlets, departing from and rejoining the river Yonne on this ascending leg. At roughly the half-way point, the canal passes through a landscape of limestone outcrops and undulating farmland until arriving at the medieval town of Clamecy. The Romain Rolland Museum in Clamecy houses a permanent exhibition dedicated to the former industrial and communicatory importance of the canal. Those interested in the history of the canal will be able to visit the now unused parts which were replaced by a stretch of the river.
Canal de Roanne
The Canal de Roanne à Digoin connects the Canal latéral à la Loire and Canal du Centre at Digoin to Roanne. This canal was built between 1830 and 1836 to cover the 55 km between Roanne and Digoin, and is worthy of its nickname thanks to the quiet and naturally beautiful banks. This superb itinerary leads towards southern Burgundy, the Canal du Centre and the Loire side canal, across the Brionnais region, a famous little region of Burgundy that is known for the beauty of its Romanesque churches, warm colours of the villages and the exceptional quality of the gentle, hilly landscapes. The ideal destination for those looking for a change of scenery and fans of religious art. Around the canal, you can admire the unmissable Roman monuments of the Brionnais: Baugy Romanesque church, St Hilaire collegiate church in Semur-en-Brionnas and many more.
Burgundy boasts both a national and a regional park, there also hiding some discreet and endearing little places: Auxois, Puisaye, Bresse, Charolais-Brionnais, etc. these countryside destinations that are perfect for walking or getting some much-needed fresh air.
Forêts National Park
The Forêts National Park is the first French lowland national park. It is located on the Langres plateau. It protects the broad-leaved trees typical of the southeastern Paris Basin plateau. Visiting the Forêts National Park is about much more than just a walk: it is about getting up close with the wildlife here, in an exceptional, protected natural area. Come and observe the rare wildlife here, and meet the producers who are proud to share their expert knowledge. Set off on a hike or nature outing with one of the passionate guides. Fans of culture won’t be disappointed either. Close to the park, the Musée du Pays Châtillonnais-Trésor de Vix has some great collections on display, including the huge, ancient Vix Krater.
Morvan Regional Natural Park
Morvan Regional Natural Park is a protected area of woodlands, lakes and traditional farmland in the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region of central France. It covers a total area of 285,000 hectares (700,000 acres) and extends through four different departments with the majority being in Nièvre. The Morvan has a rich ecosystem: a combination of forests, farmland, hedgerows and rivers. There is a rich ecosystem in Morvan, with three Natura 2000 sites, and Natural Zones of Ecological Interest, Fauna and Flora (ZNIEFF), showcasing the wealth and diversity of the natural habitats in Morvan Park. One of these sites is Mont-Beuvray, featuring Bibracte, a permanent archaeological site. The maison du parc (main visitors center) is located in the small commune of Saint-Brisson. It maintains one of the park’s six natural history museums (Écomusée de Morvan).
Burgundy wine is much more than a simple beverage, it is an embodiment of the culture, a “wine civilisation”. The historical importance of the Burgundy wine region and its unique climats system led to sites in the region being inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List as part of the Climats, terroirs of Burgundy site. It is at the source of the landscapes, traditions, local history and anecdotes. There are so many ways to get a taste of this culture, explore the vineyards, wine tourism, the Route des Grands Crus (Route of the Great Wines), tastings, purchases.
Burgundy farmers have been growing grapes since Roman times, and Burgundy’s wines are some of the most renowned in the world. The single most important factor determining the “character” of wines is the soil. In both the Côte d’Or and Chablis, its character varies over very short distances, making for an enormous variety of taste. Chalky soil makes a wine drier and more acidic， while clay brings more fruitiness and body to it.
This specific term refers to the winegrowing land. A ‘climat’ is a vine plot, that has been carefully marked out and named for centuries, with its own history and with very specific geological conditions and its own microclimate. The ‘Climats’ of Burgundy is a model of terroir-based viticulture, unique in the world. The winegrowers and vineyard owners have acquired this knowledge of the terroir and winegrowing know-how, over centuries, from as far back as the Early Middle Ages. For 2,000 years, this vine cultivation has progressively revealed a unique and diversified heritage: This architectural heritage is evidence of how Man (monks, Valois-Burgundy dukes, merchants, winegrowers, etc.) has made its mark, and shaped and protected the “Climats” over time, each in turn. This cultivation also created the remarkable landscapes.
Burgundy has a higher number of appellations d’origine contrôlée (AOCs) than any other French region, and is often seen as the most terroir-conscious of the French wine regions. The various Burgundy AOCs are classified from carefully delineated grand cru vineyards down to more non-specific regional appellations. The practice of delineating vineyards by their terroir in Burgundy goes back to medieval times, when various monasteries played a key role in developing the Burgundy wine industry.
Burgundy is a land of encounters, discussions, and culture, where you’ll really be able to “experience” the winemaking destinations bearing the Vignobles & Découvertes label: the Yonne vineyards (Chablisien, Auxerrois, Tonnerrois, Vézelien and Jovinien), the ‘Route des Grands Crus de Bourgogne’ (Route of the Great Burgundy Wines), Bourgogne: Couchois, Mâconnais and Côte chalonnaise, Pouilly-Giennois-Sancerre and Châtillonnais.
There are vineyards everywhere in Burgundy. That’s why these wine routes were created, so you can explore Burgundy and discover the white wines, rosés, red wines and Crémant de Bourgogne sparkling wine all at the same time. Explore the cultural heritage along the way and discover the sheer wealth of the vineyards of Burgundy.
The Route des Grands Crus (Route of the Great Wines) is probably the most well-known wine route in Burgundy, and crosses through a great number of towns that are renowned for their heritage and of course, their great wines. This 60 km route, featuring the “Climats” of Burgundy’s vineyard, listed by UNESCO, begins in Dijon and ends in Santenay, just after Beaune.
In the north of the Côte-d’Or department, the vast open spaces and lush green Châtillon landscapes make this route an ultimately sparkling one! This 120-km-long marked itinerary winds its way around the 23 towns that are classified “AOC Crémant de Bourgogne”. It is also a great opportunity to visit some fantastic places concerned with winegrowing or local history: the famous Trésor de Vix in Châtillon-sur-Seine, The Oenocentre Ampélopsis museum, the Château de Montigny-sur-Aube and many more.
The Route Touristique des Grands Vins goes to the heart of the Côte Chalonnaise to discover a vineyard that dates as far back as the Middle Ages and the monks of Cluny. On the programme of this “Sightseeing Route of the Great Wines”: tasting of well-known red wines such as Rully and Mercurey. Not-to-mention white wines including the famous Givry, which incidentally, was once Henry IV’s favourite wine.
An hour away from Lyon, follow the signs on this Maconnais-Beaujolais wine route, or rather routes (there are 8 different tours) and explore estates full of regional appellations that are extremely varied. These include the very well-known Beaujolais and the famous Pouilly-Fuissé, a dry white wine with delicate, subtle flavours. On this route across southern Burgundy, the weather is often very similar to the south of France, giving it a real “holiday” feel.
The Route des Vignobles de l’Yonne escaping the crowds of the capital, for a natural experience through vineyards and past rivers. A surprise for both the tastebuds and the eyes as admire the sheer diversity of flavours and views along this Route des Vignobles de l’Yonne (Route of the Yonne Vineyards)! This sightseeing route includes five tours around the vineyards of the Yonne and surrounding area, dotted with tourist and cultural points of interest.
The Burgundian side of the route des Coteaux de Pouilly-Sancerre runs along the right banks of the river and takes you on an exploration of the Pouilly-Fumé and Pouilly-sur-Loire vineyards, produced from Sauvignon and Chasselas grape varieties respectively.