From the wide open landscapes of the Morvan hills and lakes to the fertile plains of the famous vineyards of the south, there is plenty to draw the visitor to Burgundy. An important wine-producing region and a once powerful kingdom, Burgundy has a rich history. With as many architectural marvels as gastronomic ones you’ll leave satisfied in mind and body. Quite apart from the wines produced in the various terroirs, Bourgogne is one of the most foodie regions of France, famous for boeuf bourgignon, coq au vin, Dijon mustard, escargots, and crème de cassis (blackcurrant liqueur). It is also known for its excellent cheeses, including one of Napoleon’s favourites, the Époisses de Bourgogne, which is said to be banned from public transport due to its strong smell.
Dijon, the capital of the region, has a well-preserved historic centre with traditional half-timbered houses and colourful tiled roofs. You’ll find a fine collection of paintings and sculptures in the Museum of Fine Arts in Dijon, housed in the splendid former Palace of the Dukes of Burgundy.
If you’re interested in wine, the route des vins will take you via the grand cru and “grand vin” rural vineyards and pretty villages such as Côte de Beaune, Pouilly-Sancerre and the Côte Chalonnais. To learn more about the history and processes of winemaking, stop off at the Maison des vins, in Macon. One of the major events in this wine-centric region is the annual wine auction at the Hospices de Beaune. This emblematic building with its multicoloured roof tiles also contains a top collection of Flemish-Burgundy art.
Other architectural highlights of Burgundy include the Cluny Abbey and the Fontenay Abbey, as well as the Saint Mary Magdalene Basilica of Vezeley. If you’re visiting Chalon sur Saône in May don’t miss the spectacular hot air balloon race. In fact, if you’ve a head for heights, hop in a balloon yourself to admire the stunning Burgundy countryside from on high.
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