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introduction to Burgundy
Map of Burgundy - vineyard areas shaded in pink
Today, Burgundy makes up the eastern half of the new
Bourgogne–Franche-Comté region of France. Burgundy lies astride the
main lines of communication between Paris and Lyon, and anyone
travelling by train or on the French motorway network between Paris or
north-east France, and Lyon and the south of France, must pass through
it. The area and former region is bordered by the river Loire, in the
by the Franche-Comté
east. To the south it is bordered by the Rhone
Burgundy is made
up of four departments. Northern Burgundy comprises the
department of the Yonne
(89), capital Auxerre, a rolling
agricultural area bordering on the outer fringes of the Paris region.
In the west, the Nièvre
(58), capital Nevers, is a hilly department that includes the
from hundreds of Burgundy hotels available at best rates
peak of the Morvan hills (Le Haut Folin, 903 m), and a large
part of the Morvan
regional regional park. The Côte-d'Or
department (21), around Dijon, is hilly in the north west, and flat in
the south east; finally the department of Saône
(71) in the south of the region stretches
from the banks of the Loire
in the west to the foothills of the Jura in the east, and includes
large flat expanses of the Saône valley.
The historic and modern capital of the
Burgundy region is Dijon
(population 150,000), a thriving administrative and cultural centre,
which is also a major communications and freight-distribution hub. The
city is just 1hr. 40 mins. from Paris by direct TGV high-speed train
service. Dijon has a historic city centre, with old narrow
streets, and houses built in the local pale honey-coloured stone; of
particular interest to visitors are the Palace of the Dukes of
Burgundy, and the gothic Cathedral of Saint Bénigne. The centre of old
Dijon is classed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The world-famous Burgundy
produce some of the most prestigious and expensive wines in the world.
The top wines are mostly produced on a narrow strip of land running
from Dijon, on the western fringe of the Saône
plain, in the Côtes de Nuits and the Côtes de
vineyard areas. These include names such as Gevrey-Chambertin,
Vosne-Romanée, Pommard, Volnay and Clos Vougeot. Many of
the top vineyards, which are quite small and called "Clos" (closed
areas) are protected behind stone
walls and iron gates, so valuable are the grapes that they produce.
They are probably the most valuable agricultural real estate in the
Fortunately most top Burgundy wines do not come in at silly prices like
this. Some red Grands Crus
can still be bought for under 100 Euros... and Premiers Crus
third of this. Generic "Bourgogne" reds and "Bourgogne Aligoté" whites
are comparable in price to wines from other areas .
to reach the Burgundy area :
By TGV train from
, or from Lille; train from many cities, motorway from
Paris, Lille, Strasbourg, Nancy, Lyon, Geneva.
is currently no commercial airport in the Burgundy area operating
regular international flights. The north of the region is
accessible from the Paris airports
the south of the region is closer to Lyon St
value and convenient hotels in Burgundy
(21 Côte d'or) Gare
Dijon Gare is located opposite the railway station, and a good choice
for visitors arriving by train. This air-conditioned upper **
hotel, with pool, is well located for exploring Dijon and the
area, and is well reviewed by travellers. Plenty of restaurants close
(21 Côte d'Or)
***** Warm hospitality, reasonably priced for the
This hotel occupies a historic villa close to the old town. The famous
Hospices are in walking distance . A comfortable base for exploring
(21 Côte d'Or)
de la Cloche
** For those on a tighter budget, this is reputedly the best address in
the centre of Beaune. Some parts could do with a new coat of paint, but
this is a friendly hotel and good value for money.
de la Poste et du Lion d'Or
Classic French hospitality in the old centre of Vézelay, below the hill
on which stands the great basilica. The hotel is in a calm location,
and has large clean rooms
le Mas des Lilas
** Close to the river Yonne, this is a modern ** hotel just
of Auxerre; it has large mature gardens, and is close to the RN6
highway, a few kilometres from Exit 20 on the A6 Paris-Lyon motorway.
Autun - Morvan (71 Saone et Loire)
de la Chaloire
** Not far from Autun, with its magnificent cathedral, this hotel is
located in the heart of the Morvan regional park. quiet rural location,
friendly welcome, and very good service.
A6 motorway Chalon sur
Saône (71 Saone et Loire)
*** A short distance and easy to find from the A6 motorway, exit 25,
this standard Ibis hotel has an outdoor pool.
- (71 Saone et Loire)
is a hotel with 34 rooms and lots of character, which was once
guard house. It has two restaurants, and stands in the centre of old
Tournus, near the river Saone and St. Philibert church. Easy
access from A6 motorway , exit 27.
a modern ** hotel in a quiet location just a short distance from the
the old town.Good value, and facilities for the disabled.
canal (Canal de Bourgogne) and rivers Saône and Yonne
- The Morvan
mountains - forested uplands
d'Or department (21)
- near Montbard. Muséoparc
history museum on the site of the Battle of Alesia, where Julius Caesar
defeated the Gauls, led by Vercingetorix in 52 BC.
Interpretive center and archaeological museum. Part
reconstitution of the Roman defences. Historic reenactments.
- the medieval hospice at Beaune is one of the most
monuments in France, a medieval hospital that opened in 1483
and remained in
for five centuries – until the late 20th century. Today the hospice is
a museum and art
gallery, and contains one of the most famous works of medieval Flemish
art, the Beaune altarpiece by Rogier van der Weyden, painted for the
and still in situ. The hospices, with their sixty hectares of prime
Burgundy vineyards, are still owned by the Beaune Hospital; the annual
Beaune wine auction - now run by Christie's – is the world's most
prestigious wine auction, with profits going to the hospital and to
area: the vineyards
of Burgundy, cellars and estate visits. Visit the Chateau du Clos
Vougeot or the château de Pommard, near Beaune, or the
museum in Beaune. Route des vins des Grands Crus - the Grand vintage
wine trail. See Burgundy
the capital city of Burgundy; historic city, palace of the
dukes of Burgundy, gothic Cathedral, Museum, shops
Heritage Site), near Montbard.
& Loire department 71
the small town on the edge of the Morvan hills boasts one of the
finest romanesque cathedrals in France, with
remarkable sculptures, as well as a number of Roman remains, including
city walls, and two city gates.
in the extreme west of Burgundy, is a popular pleasure boating centre,
at the junction of the Loire valley canal and the Canal du Centre, and
has a fine canal aqueduct over the Loire
- The site of Cluny,
the old town
and the remains of the Benedictine abbey, once the largest
chuch in Chrisendom.
between Chalon s/ Saône and Cluny. Fine 17th century château surrounded
by a moat, and recently renovated gardens. Richly decorated
the golden rooms.
Open daily April to mid-November.
former mining and steel town, le Creusot has one of the world's largest
preserved steam hammers, built in 1876. For those with an interest in
- the southern
part of the Burgundy vineyards,
around the city of Macon.
The church of St
one of the oldest churches in France (early 11th
en Brionnais. Listed among the "plus beaux villages de
France" Semur is a bit off the beaten trail so is rarely
swamped by tourists. Fine medieval chateau and Burgundian romanesque
romanesque churches of Burgundy, including the remarkable Abbaye de Vézelay
(UNESCO World Heritage Site),
starting point of one of the main
pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostella. There are many delightful
historic churches in the Saone et Loire area
- the northern part of the Burgundy vineyards, old towns, wine museums
and cellar visits. Auxerre is a popular centre for boating on the Yonne
and Burgundy canal.
- attractive old walled town
- the castle featured on BBC television's "Secrets of
the Castle" series. Treigny. amazing living history
attraction; since 1997, a team of
have been building a medieval castle, using historic methods and tools.
- famous fortified hilltop village
- La Charité sur Loire Historic
small town with several monuments. The large Romanesque Notre
basilica, with fine sculpted tympana, is a UNESCO heritage
the Pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostella. Sixteenth centry stone
bridge over the Loire. Sections of medieval ramparts.
regional natural park. Area of outstanding natural
beauty (mostly in
the Nièvre), popular with hikers and nature-lovers. Though
only just over 900m, this is seen as the closest area
of mountain to Paris.
historic town on the banks of the river Loire, at the confluence of the
Allier. The Palace of the Dukes of Nevers is a fine Renaissance
château. St Cyr & Ste. Juliette's Cathedral is a fine small
cathedral in the Burgundian style.
- The vineyards of Pouilly
Photo top of page:
The Hôtel Dieu in Beaune. Also known as the Hospices de Beaune, this is
a unique Medieval hospital opened in 1443, and in operation as a
hospital until the 1980s. The remarkably preserved building still
contains the historic beds and hospital equipment from the past, as
well as the invaluable Beaune altarpiece, painted for the hospital by
Flemish artist Rogier van der Weyden.
the world over for its wines, Burgundy is one of the great
historic regions of France; indeed, in the Middle Ages, Burgundy was
the great dukedom which rivalled in power and prestige with the kingdom
of France itself. In those days it covered a large part of central
eastern France, including half of modern-day Switzerland.
Burgundy grands crus.... for special occasions
A Burgundy "Grand cru" vineyard, protected by stone walls and iron
Romanesque typanum of Autun cathedral
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