Les Hospices de Beaune - a medieval hospital

Burgundy - an area guide

castles, rivers, and lots of history

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An introduction to Burgundy 

► Go to... About Burgundy Main tourist attractions Selected hotels

Map of 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 west, and by the Franche-Comté and Champagne areas in the east. To the south it is bordered by the Rhone Alpes area.
      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
Hotels in Burgundy
Hotels in Dijon and the  Côte d'or (21)
Hotels in  Auxerre and the Yonne (89)
 Hotels in the Nièvre (58)
 Hotels in  Southern Burgundy (71)
Choose from hundreds of Burgundy hotels available at best rates
highest 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 & Loire (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 vineyards 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 south from Dijon, on the western fringe of the Saône plain, in the Côtes de Nuits and the Côtes de Beaune 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 world.
Burgundy grands crus
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 for a third of this. Generic "Bourgogne" reds and "Bourgogne Aligoté" whites are comparable in price to wines from other areas .

How to reach the Burgundy area : 

  By TGV train from Paris Gare de Lyon, or from Lille; train from many cities, motorway from Paris, Lille, Strasbourg, Nancy, Lyon, Geneva.
By air:  There 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 Euxpéry airport


Good value and convenient hotels in Burgundy - The About-France.com selection.
  • Dijon (21 Côte d'or) Gare
    The Hotel Kyriad 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 by.
  • Beaune (21 Côte d'Or)
    Hostellerie le Cèdre  *****  Warm  hospitality, reasonably priced for the quality. This hotel occupies a historic villa close to the old town. The famous Hospices are in walking distance . A comfortable base for exploring Burgundy.
  • Beaune (21 Côte d'Or)
    Hotel 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.
  • Vezelay (89 Yonne) Hotel 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
  • Hotel le Mas des Lilas  ** Close to the river Yonne, this is a modern  ** hotel just south 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.
  • Near Autun - Morvan (71 Saone et Loire)
    Auberge 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.
  • Off A6 motorway Chalon sur Saône (71 Saone et Loire)
    Hotel Ibis *** A short distance and easy to find from the A6 motorway, exit 25, this standard Ibis hotel has an outdoor pool.
  • Tournus - (71 Saone et Loire)
    Le Rempart *** is a hotel with 34 rooms and lots of character, which was once a  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.
  • Nevers (58 Nièvre)
    The Hotel Astrea is a modern ** hotel in a quiet location just a short distance from the the old town.Good value, and facilities for the disabled.

Main tourist attractions  in Burgundy

Routes and areas:

  • The Burgundy canal (Canal de Bourgogne) and rivers Saône and Yonne waterways.
  • The Morvan mountains - forested uplands

Côte d'Or department (21)

  • Alésia - near Montbard. Muséoparc Living 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.
  • Les Hospices de Beaune - the medieval hospice at Beaune is one of the most unusual ancient monuments in France, a medieval hospital that opened in 1483 and remained in use 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 hospice, 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 medical research.
  • Beaune area: the vineyards of Burgundy, cellars and estate visits. Visit the Chateau du Clos Vougeot or the château de Pommard, near Beaune, or the Burgundy wine museum in Beaune. Route des vins des Grands Crus - the Grand vintage wine trail. See Burgundy wines
  • Dijon: the capital city of Burgundy;  historic city, palace of the dukes of Burgundy, gothic Cathedral, Museum, shops 
  • Fontenay great Cistercian abbey   (UNESCO World Heritage Site), near Montbard.

Saone & Loire department 71

  • Autun - 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. 
  • Digoin, 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.
  • Cormatin, between Chalon s/ Saône and Cluny. Fine 17th century château surrounded by a moat, and recently renovated gardens. Richly decorated interiors, including the golden rooms.  Open daily April to mid-November.
  • Le Creusot - 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 industrial archaeology...
  • Le Maconnais - the southern part of the Burgundy vineyards, around the city of Macon.
  • Tournus; The church of St Philibert is one of the oldest churches in France (early 11th century).
  • Semur 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 church

Yonne department (89)

  • The 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
  • Auxerre and Chablis - 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.
  • Avallon - attractive old walled town
  • Guédelon - the castle featured on BBC television's "Secrets of the Castle" series.  Treigny. amazing living history attraction; since 1997, a team of craftsmen have been building a medieval castle, using historic methods and tools.
  • Montreal - famous fortified hilltop village

Nièvre department (58)

  • La Charité sur Loire Historic small town with several monuments. The large Romanesque Notre Dame basilica, with fine sculpted tympana, is a UNESCO heritage site on the Pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostella. Sixteenth centry stone bridge over the Loire.  Sections of medieval ramparts.
  • The Morvan regional natural park. Area of outstanding natural beauty (mostly in the Nièvre), popular with hikers and nature-lovers. Though peaking at only just over 900m, this is seen as the closest area of mountain to Paris.
  • Nevers; 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 gothic cathedral in the Burgundian style.
  • The vineyards of Pouilly sur Loire

Further tourist information

Official Burgundy tourism site

The Burgundy wine trail
On the Burgundy wine trail, through the vineyards
Building a medieval castle at Guédelon
Living history : at Guédelon, in the Yonne, discover a new castle, being built as in the Middle Ages.
Burgundy vineyards at Volnay
Burgundy "Grand cru" vineyards, at Volnay, near Beaune

Producers' wine store in the village of Pommard
A wine-producers' outlet in Pommard.

The Saone at Seurre, Burgundy
Boating on the River Saone

Auxerre, on the river Yonne
Auxerre, on the river Yonne

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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.
 Famed 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.

grand crus
Burgundy grands crus.... for special occasions

Burgundy vineyard and village
Burgundy village

Burgundy village and vineyard
A Burgundy "Grand cru" vineyard, protected by stone walls and iron gates

Tympanum - Autun cathedral
Romanesque typanum of Autun cathedral

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Photo of Guédelon  © Guédelon

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