26 Top-Rated Attractions & Places to Visit in Burgundy

Written by Lisa Alexander Updated Dec 28, 2023 We may earn a commission from affiliate links ( )

The Burgundy region is a veritable treasure trove of historic monuments and picturesque towns, tucked away in a sleepy countryside. The landscape of deeply wooded forests and green rolling hills abounds with Romanesque chapels, quaint villages, and medieval abbeys. There are more than 300 churches in Burgundy, and many are masterpieces of Gothic architecture.

Historical medieval town of Semur-en-Auxois, Burgundy, France

Burgundy has its own unique culture. Burgundian buildings feature a distinctive architecture of colorful tiled roofs, and the hearty cuisine is famously delicious.

You should sample traditional local specialties such as escargot , boeuf bourguignon , and poulet à la moutarde (chicken in mustard sauce) to truly savor quintessential France.

This beautiful region of France offers endless tourist attractions and things to do. Plan your trip with our list of the best places to visit in Burgundy.

See also: Where to Stay in Burgundy

5. Abbaye de Fontenay

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Dijon has an air of old-fashioned elegance thanks to its impressive architecture, atmospheric cobblestone streets, and traditional boutiques. In case you're wondering: Yes, you will find shops that sell fancy jars of fine mustard!

At the historic center of town is the Palais des Ducs et des États de Bourgogne . (Dijon was once the capital of the Duchy of Burgundy). This medieval palace allows you to imagine the grandiosity of Ducal life, which included lavish gourmet banquets. Also scattered around the city are the historic residences of the dukes, hôtels particuliers (mansions).

Housed inside a wing of the Palais des Ducs et des États de Bourgogne, is the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Dijon , which ranks among the top attractions in Dijon and the best art museums in France. Exhibits cover a range of historic periods and genres, including Egyptian antiquities, medieval religious objects, Renaissance paintings, and Impressionist art.

The Musée Magnin occupies a 17th-century hôtel particulier , considered one of Dijon's most exquisite mansions. Gorgeous rooms, decorated with Louis XV and Louis XVI furnishings, display the works of art. The collection includes école française (French) paintings, as well as masterpieces of European painting and antique furniture of the 16th and 19th centuries.

Eglise Notre-Dame in Dijon

The most important church in Dijon is the Burgundian Gothic Eglise Notre-Dame , built in the 13th century. The spectacular exterior, with its profusion of grimacing and expressive gargoyles, provides a contrast to the somber interior.

Another noteworthy example of Burgundian Gothic architecture is the Cathédrale Saint-Bénigne . The building incorporates a Romanesque-era crypt, which contains the relics of the local patron saint, Benignus, a 3rd-century martyr who brought Christianity to Dijon. Mass is celebrated here daily, at 6pm during the week, 5pm on Saturdays, and 10am on Sundays.


This lovely historic town brims with old-world ambience. It's one of the best places to visit in Burgundy for a taste of the region's charm.

Beaune's most important landmark is the Hôtel-Dieu (Hospices de Beaune), built in the 15th century as a hospital for the poor. The distinctive Flemish Gothic building now houses a museum that displays exquisite tapestries and a precious 15th-century altarpiece.

Other attractions are the Romanesque Collégiale Basilique Notre-Dame and the Musée des Beaux-Arts , which displays masterpieces of French, Flemish, and Dutch painting, as well as modern artworks.

Read More: Top-Rated Things to Do in France


The most important monastic order of the Middle Ages, the Benedictine monks of Cluny founded the Abbaye de Cluny in the early 10th century. The abbey's church was the largest in Christendom, until Rome's Saint Peter's Basilica was built in the 16th century.

Although the abbey church was mostly destroyed during the French Revolution, there are still remnants of the original architecture, including many masterpieces of Romanesque sculpture.

The Abbaye de Cluny is open for visits year-round, daily. Entrance requires an admission fee. The site presents an educational film that brings the historic abbey to life.

In the town of Cluny, the 13th-century Eglise Notre-Dame is classified as a Monument Historique. The church has a splendid Gothic sanctuary, remarkable for its bright and harmonious high-vaulted nave, which is illuminated by delicate stained-glass windows.

Forteresse de Berzé

Amazing castles are found nearby, including the Forteresse de Berzé , six kilometers from Cluny, (open April until early November) where The Last Duel starring Ben Affleck and Matt Damon was filmed; the Château de Saint-Point (open April through July for guided tours), a medieval castle restored by poet Alphonse de Lamartine; and the sumptuous 17th-century Château de Cormatin (open April until mid-November for guided tours), enclosed by a moat and leafy gardens.

Resembling a fairy-tale castle, the Château de Brancion is a medieval fortified castle surrounded by forests and farmland. The castle reveals architectural elements of various historical epochs, from the Carolingian period (10th century) to the Wars of Religion (16th century). The Château de Brancion is open for self-guided visits from April through mid-November.

Amid vine-covered rolling hills, the romantic Château de Pierreclos has been converted into an upscale boutique hotel with modern rooms and an outdoor swimming pool.

Cluny Map - Tourist Attractions

Vézelay perches on a hilltop overlooking the Morvan mountain range. Because of its beauty and charm, the town is listed as one of the Plus Beaux Villages de France .

Crowning the village is the UNESCO-listed Basilique Sainte Marie-Madeleine, a gem of Romanesque architecture. The 12th-century church was a stop on the Chemin de Saint-Jacques medieval pilgrimage trail to Santiago de Compostela in Spain.

This serene site, with sweeping views of the Burgundian landscape, still functions as a monastery and attracts many pilgrims. The Basilique Sainte Marie-Madeleine is often filled with inspiring music sung by monks and nuns of the "Fraternités Monastiques de Jerusalem" during Mass and Vespers.

The Basilique Sainte Marie-Madeleine is open every day year-round. You may take a guided tour, go on a self-guided visit, or attend a religious service (held at least once or twice daily and several times on Sundays).

Basilique Sainte Marie-Madeleine

You will enjoy exploring the medieval walled village of Vézelay, with its narrow cobblestone streets, charming medieval buildings, and Renaissance houses featuring ornate decorative details.

Art lovers will appreciate Musée Zervos , which displays an exceptional collection of modern art, including pieces by Picasso, Chagall, Miró, Kandinsky, and other 20th-century artists.

The Musée de l'Oeuvre Viollet-le-Duc educates visitors about the renowned French architect Eugène Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc's restoration project of the Basilique Sainte Marie-Madeleine which began in 1840. The museum also exhibits original sculptures from the basilica's facade, as well as capitals and statues from the basilica's sanctuary.

Abbaye de Fontenay

The 12th-century Abbaye de Fontenay is the world's oldest surviving Cistercian abbey. The Abbaye de Fontenay is a classified Monument Historique , as well as a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site . The property nestles within the 1,200-hectare Vallon de Fontenay, a nature preserve that encompasses forests, ponds, waterfalls, and meadows.

Constructed between 1139 and 1147, the Abbey Church is a rare 12th-century Cistercian church that exists in a state of almost perfect preservation. The church exemplifies simple and austere Romanesque Bourgogne architecture. The lack of adornment ensures that nothing distracts from spiritual worship.

The 12th-century cloister is considered a gem of Romanesque art. Designed to inspire prayer and meditation, the cloister features graceful colonnaded galleries, which create an ambience of serenity.

Gardens at the Abbaye de Fontenay

The medieval monastic gardens were redesigned in 1996. These beautifully landscaped grounds have been labeled as a Jardin Remarquable .

The Abbey of Fontenay has retained its original bakery, church, and dormitory. Visiting these domestic quarters gives you a realistic impression of the 12th-century monks' daily life.

The site is open daily year-round, for self-guided visits or guided tours (in French). Entrance requires an admission fee. You may also visit the abbey's Lapidary Museum (medieval sculpture collection) and gift shop.

Address: Fontenay Abbey, Montbard 21500


This lively riverside town brims with architectural treasures. The historic part of Auxerre is a maze of winding streets with a sprinkling of half-timbered houses and old churches.

The Place Charles Surugue town square is especially picturesque. Auxerre's most important religious monument is the 11th-century Abbaye Saint-Germain , a marvelous Romanesque church with a Carolingian crypt dating to the 6th century.

The Cathédrale Saint-Etienne has a splendid Gothic interior with breathtaking high vaulting and luminous stained glass. The well-preserved 15th- and 16th-century stained-glass windows are considered some of the most beautiful in France. The cathedral's treasury contains precious reliquaries with Limoges enamel decoration.

You may visit the cathedral year-round daily.

Saint- Maurice Church in Sens, Burgundy

The early Middle Ages was an eventful time in Sens. The doctrines of Abelard were condemned at a church council held here in 1140, and Louis IX was married in the cathedral in 1234. The grandiose Palais Synodal, a former Episcopal Palace, was also built during this period.

For your sightseeing tour of the town, begin at the 13th-century Palais Synodal which displays contemporary art exhibitions during the summer. Then, continue at the Palais des Archevêques to admire the collection of fine arts .

Not to be missed, the Cathédrale Saint-Etienne has an immense Gothic interior illuminated by stained-glass windows. The cathedral's treasury is one of the richest in France .

Roman Ruins in Autun

Autun has a distinguished history dating back to Roman times. On the east side of the town are ruins of the largest Roman theater in Gaul (that seated 20,000 spectators), ancient town gates ( Porte d'Arroux and Porte St-André ), and the imposing remains of the Temple of Janus .

From the 12th century, the Cathédrale Saint-Lazare is a glorious example of Romanesque architecture. The sanctuary has multiple richly decorated chapels, and the third one on the left contains the Martyrdom of Saint Symphorien painting by Ingres (1834). This painting reveals the artist's skill in creating a complicated three-dimensional crowd scene.


Still surrounded by its ancient walls, Avallon is renowned for its beautiful architecture. At the center of the historic quarter is the 15th-century clock tower on the Grand Rue.

A must-see site in Avallon is its Romanesque collegiate church, the Collégiale Saint-Lazare . The church is distinguished by its richly decorated 12th-century facade, which features some of the finest Romanesque portals in Burgundy.

Other historic churches are the Eglise Saint-Julien , which dates back to the 11th century, and the 12th-century Eglise Saint-Martin-du-Bourg , listed as a Monument Historique .

La Maison des Sires de Domecy in Avallon

The Musée de l'Avallonnais displays collections of art, archaeology, and ethnography. A highlight of the museum is its collection devoted to the Yao Mien and Mun people of China, Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand. Exhibits feature Yao costumes, textiles, and jewelry, as well as exhibits about Yao culture and heritage.

In the peaceful Morvan Forest, about 27 kilometers from Avallon, is the Abbaye Sainte-Marie de la Pierre-qui-Vire . Here monks spend a life of prayer and community service. You may visit the abbey to participate in prayer, meditation, or religious services.

If you would like to stay overnight, a hostel ( hôtellerie ) provides basic accommodations in an ambience of serene silence. You may choose from individual and double rooms. There is also a space that accommodates groups.

A short distance from the monastery is an organic farm that belongs to the Abbaye Sainte-Marie de la Pierre-qui-Vire community, L'Huis Saint-Benoît . This 170-hectare farm includes cows and goats that produce milk to create a variety of cheeses and yogurts.

The monastery also has an atelier , where monks create handcrafted pottery.

Avallon is 15 kilometers away from Vézelay and both towns could easily be visited on the same day.

Monastère Royal de Brou in Bourg-en-Bresse

Bourg-en-Bresse is a historic market town known for its chickens: Poulets de Bresse , which have an Appellation d'Origine Protégée (AOP) designation. The celebrated French chef Paul Bocuse created a famous recipe for Bresse chicken in a creamy morel sauce.

When it comes to sightseeing, the main reason to visit Bourg-en-Bresse is the magnificent Monastère Royal de Brou à Bourg-en-Bresse . The monastery's church is a jewel of Flamboyant Gothic architecture with a marvelous high-vaulted sanctuary.

The church is open year-round daily (except for January 1st, May 1st, and December 25th) for self-guided visits. Audioguides are available for an additional fee.

The cloisters of the Monastère Royal de Brou à Bourg-en-Bresse house a Musée des Beaux-Arts . This excellent fine arts museum contains a collection of 15th- to 20th-century French, Flemish, and Italian paintings and 12th- to 17th-century sculptures. The museum also hosts special exhibitions throughout the year.

Read More: Top-Rated Day Trips from Lyon

Château de Saint-Fargeau

The Château de Saint-Fargeau has an illustrious history, which extends over 10 centuries. In 1652, Anne-Marie Louise d'Orléans, the first cousin of Louis XIV, lived here and contributed to redesigning the château's interior.

With its harmonious proportions and graceful turreted towers, the Château de Saint-Fargeau represents French classicism at its finest. A luxuriant English-style park surrounds the château.

Château de Saint-Fargeau is open from April through mid-November. You may see the furnished apartments, the chapel, the stables, and park.

Facade of the Château de Saint-Fargeau

On Thursday nights from mid-July through late August, the château hosts Visites de Nuit (Nighttime Visits). During these soirées, you are invited into the candlelit dining room and grand salon by château "residents" wearing authentic costumes.

For a truly unique experience, spend the night on the property. The estate's renovated historic farm, La Ferme du Château , offers simple rustic accommodations. This is a good choice for groups and families.

Address: Le Château, 89170 Saint-Fargeau


On the banks of the Saône River, Mâcon is a delight to explore. A pleasant stroll through town leads to a discovery of cultural sites and historic buildings.

The Musée des Ursulines , housed in a 17th-century convent, is an excellent museum of fine arts and archaeology. The collection comprises over 25,000 items, from antiquities to Impressionist paintings and abstract 20th-century artworks.

Nearby, the Apothicairerie de l'Hôtel-Dieu (apothecary shop located in the old Hotel-Dieu hospital) appears exactly as the original 18th-century apothecary. This historic shop is now a museum, and admission is free of charge.

The oldest house in Mâcon is the 15th-century Maison de Bois , with a carved wood-paneled facade that features amusing statuettes of men with grimaces, monkey masks, and characters with wings.


Several exceptional historic monuments make Nevers worth a detour.

Not to be missed is the Renaissance Palais Ducal , where the Counts and Dukes of Nevers once resided. The Palais Ducal hosts exhibitions and is open for visits year-round daily, except Sundays during the low season.

The spectacular Cathédrale Saint-Cyr-et-Sainte-Julitte dates back to the 11th century. This classified Monument Historique shows a range of architectural styles: a Romanesque west choir, Gothic nave, and Renaissance spiral staircase. The cathedral also boasts over 1,000 square meters of contemporary stained-glass windows created by several artists. You may visit year-round, daily from 9am until 5pm (and until 6:30pm in summer).

In the Porte du Croux medieval gate tower, the Musée Archéologique du Nivernais displays Gallo-Roman archaeological finds and Romanesque sculptures. Highlights include the Gallo-Roman Busts of the Emperor Hadrien ; the 12th-century sculpture of the Virgin; and the 16th-century Bas-Relief of Saint-Hubert , classified as a Monument Historique . The museum is open June through October, 2pm until 6pm Thursday through Sunday.

In the northeast of the old town is the Eglise Saint-Etienne , built in 1097 and a rare example of a purely Romanesque church.


Paray-le-Monial grew up around a Benedictine abbey founded in 973. The abbey's 12th-century Romanesque church became a place of pilgrimage in the 17th century, when the nun Marguerite-Marie Alacoque saw apparitions of Christ.

In 1875, the abbey church was renamed the Basilique du Sacré-Coeur by Pope Pius IX. The Neo-Romanesque Chapelle des Apparitions was built on the spot where Saint Marguerite-Marie Alacoque (canonized in 1920) had her visions.

Other noteworthy attractions in Paray-le-Monial are the medieval Chapelle de Romay; a Marian sanctuary; and the Musée du Hiéron , which displays classical-era Christian art and temporary exhibitions of contemporary works. The Musée du Hiéron is open every day in July and August, and from Wednesday through Sunday the rest of the year.

Lac de Saint-Agnan, Parc Naturel Regional du Morvan

The Morvan Regional Natural Park is a wild landscape of mountains, woodlands, valleys, and gorges. The name "Monts du Morvan" has a Celtic origin and means "black mountain," probably referring to the deep-green forests of this area (between the Loire River and the Saône River).

At higher altitudes in the granite hills, patches of farmland are intersected by hedges and bordered by expanses of lush forest.

The natural park's rivers and streams are great for fishing, canoeing, and rafting . Other things to do outdoors include boating at the lakes, hiking, and rock climbing.

Cascade de Narvau, Morvan Regional Natural Park

Amid this unspoiled natural landscape, there is also an interesting cultural heritage. The pastoral landscape is dotted with small villages, magnificent castles, and ancient churches.

Perhaps a luxurious retreat in the countryside interests you? Try the Château du Creuset , which has been converted into an upscale bed-and-breakfast hotel. You'll enjoy a restful night's sleep at this renovated 17th-century French castle, which is surrounded by 14 hectares of parkland.

Château d'Ancy-le-Franc

In the little village of Ancy-le-Franc, the 16th-century Château d'Ancy-le-Franc is a masterpiece of Italian Renaissance architecture with a pleasing symmetry of design. The castle was created by Sébastiano Serlio, the court architect of François I.

An expansive park surrounds the château, giving the impression of an unspoiled paradise. Built alongside the Burgundy Canal, this 50-hectare park features romantic wooded areas with a large pond and many streams traversed by footbridges. There is also a formal French garden with geometric lawns, parterres, fountains, and statues.

The interior is sumptuously decorated with Renaissance murals, the largest collection of its kind in France. These 16th- and 17th-century murals were created by great masters of the Ecole de Fontainebleau.

The château is open for self-guided visits from May through mid-September. Private parties and wedding receptions are often held here, as well as special events such as a LEGO exhibition in 2023.

Address: 18 Place Clermont-Tonnerre, 89160 Ancy-le-Franc

Medieval buildings in Noyers-sur-Serein

Take a delightful step back in time by visiting Noyers-sur-Serein. Ancient ramparts with 23 towers enclose the medieval village. In this enchanting little world, winding pedestrian streets lead to old churches, Renaissance mansions, and half-timbered houses.

Noyers-sur-Serein is listed as one of the Plus Beaux Villages de France . It's also a desirable place to shoot period films thanks to the beautiful riverside setting and quaint historic ambience.

The Place du Marché-au-Blé (Corn Market) and the Place du Grenier-à-Sel (Salt Storehouse) give you a sense of the town's importance during the medieval era.

Take a stroll to admire the town's charming buildings and browse the boutiques. In quiet corners, you will find inviting little shops that sell artisan-crafted items and regional products.

If you appreciate traditional crafts and folk art, visit the Musée des Arts Naïfs et Populaires (Museum of Naïve and Popular Arts) on the Rue de l'Eglise. This museum displays one of the largest collections of naïve art in France.


Tournus is renowned for its 11th-century abbey, the Abbaye Saint-Philibert. The abbey's church (Eglise Saint-Philibert) is considered a masterpiece of early Romanesque architecture.

The Eglise Saint-Philibert is open year-round daily, but is closed on Sunday mornings during religious services. Step inside to marvel over the surprisingly bright high-vaulted nave. The airy interior contrasts with the building's somber fortified exterior.

The town of Tournus is known as " La Perle de Bourgogne du Sud " ("The Pearl of Southern Burgundy"), thanks to its lovely buildings with pastel facades and red-tile roofs. Also of interest are two Romanesque churches in the Vieille Ville (Old Town): the Eglise Sainte-Madeleine , and the Eglise Saint-Valérien.

In the former Hôtel-Dieu (hospital), the Musée Greuze has an excellent collection of European paintings from the 14th to 20th centuries. The museum is currently closed for renovations.


Standing above the Armançon River on a rocky ridge, Semur-en-Auxois has preserved much of its medieval character with the remains of a grand château, the 15th-century Porte de Sauvigny (town gate), and many historic houses.

At the highest point of the town is the Collégiale Notre-Dame , a refined Burgundian Gothic church built between the 13th and 14th centuries. Visitors are dazzled by the intricately sculpted facade and fantastical 15th-century gargoyles (a monkey, lion, pig, and other whimsical figures). The interior has a grandiose high-vaulted Gothic nave and 14th-century stained-glass windows.

With its collections of fine arts, archaeology, and natural science, the Musée de Semur-en-Auxois (in a 17th-century Jacobin convent) presents a wide range of exhibits. The museum displays a diverse assortment of paintings and sculptures created from the 14th to the 19th century. Not to be missed are the landscape paintings by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot.

Another must-see sight, the Tour de l'Orle d'Or (open from May through September) is a 13th-century watch tower, where guards once surveyed the surroundings.

The Burgundy Canal and Châteauneuf-en-Auxois

From its lofty site overlooking the Burgundy canal, Châteauneuf-en-Auxois' imposing ancient fortress enjoyed a strategic advantage in the 12th century. The castle's round towers and imposing walls are visible from far in the distance.

The village is a pleasant place to explore at leisure. Winding medieval streets are lined with splendid 14th- to 16th-century houses that belonged to Burgundy merchants.

Châteauneuf-en-Auxois is listed as one of the Plus Beaux Villages de France . Many spots in this picturesque hilltop village offer panoramic views of the countryside.

The village is also known for its cultural events. During summertime, the town welcomes theater productions organized by the Fonds Régional d'Art Contemporain.

A medieval festival, Les Médiévales de Châteauneuf , enlivens the town (for two days in mid-July) with minstrels, dances, games, and other entertainment.


This picture-perfect village is nestled in a scenic spot on the Seine River. A riverside path invites tourists to take a leisurely stroll while admiring the historic buildings.

The village's oldest quarter, the Quartier Saint Vorles , is particularly charming with its quaint old houses and atmospheric alleyways.

A must-see attraction in the town is the Musée du Pays Châtillonnais , which has an excellent collection of archaeological objects, as well as religious art from local abbeys. The museum's claim to fame is the enormous bronze Cretère de Vix , dating to 530 BCE, which holds 1,100 liters (the largest ancient vase ever found).

Château de Tanlay

Built in the 16th and 17th centuries, the Château de Tanlay has all the elements of a fairy-tale castle: a wooded estate, water-filled moat, turreted towers, and grand reception rooms. This majestic Renaissance castle is classified as a Monument Historique .

Despite its dreamy appearance, the castle has endured tough times. During the Wars of Religion , the château owner Admiral de Coligny often gathered with other Protestant (Hugenot) leaders at his property.

The Marquis de Tanlay acquired the château in the late 17th century. Since then, the castle has been inherited by his descendants, and the same family continues to reside here. The current owner is the Comte de La Chauvinière, the son of Marguerite de Tanlay and Edouard de La Chauvinière. The count's daughter currently manages the château.

You may see the interior of the château by taking a 50-minute guided tour (in English or French), available from early April through early November every day except Tuesdays. Noteworthy aspects of the interior include a room with a gallery of trompe l'oeil paintings and frescoes in the Ligue Tower.

The guided tour provides access to the Château de Tanlay's park. The verdant, densely wooded grounds invite leisurely strolls along the pedestrian paths and alongside the canal. For a small fee, you may visit the park (open during the same period as the château) without taking a guided tour of the château.

Address: 2 Grande Rue Basse, 89430 Tanlay

Château de Ratilly

Built in 1270, this formidable medieval château has a noble history. The château withstood the Hundred Years' War and has been the residence of Lord Guy de Vallery, the Knight Jean de Chandiou, and Louis de Menou, Governor of the Duchy of Saint-Fargeau.

Cultural events are a main attraction of visiting the château. There are temporary exhibitions of contemporary art throughout the year. On weekend evenings during the summer, the château presents music concerts and film screenings.

One unique aspect of the château is its artisanal pottery atelier where Nathalie Pierlot creates her signature Grès de Ratilly ceramic cookware, dinnerware, vases, and decor. The atelier's assortment of handcrafted pottery is available for visitors to purchase.

The Château de Ratilly is open year-round for self-guided visits. Guided tours are available for groups by reservation.

Address: Château de Ratilly, 89520 Treigny


This characteristic Burgundian town is listed as one of the Plus Beaux Villages de France because of its historic charm. Perched on a hilltop and enclosed within ramparts, Flavigny-sur-Ozerain is a jumble of narrow, winding cobblestone streets and old stone buildings.

The village may look familiar to visitors. It was used as a film set for Chocolat , the movie made in 2000 that stars Johnny Depp and Juliette Binoche.

The former Benedictine abbey no longer serves religious purposes, but the premises are still used to make traditional anise-seed confectioneries, based on a recipe passed down by the monks. The local factory that produces the candies, Fabrique des Anis de Flavigny , (in the ancient abbey) is open to the public for visits.

Located in the historic village, the Maison des Arts Textiles & du Design is a museum and research center dedicated to the artisanal craft of creating textiles. The Maison des Arts Textiles & du Design also offers workshops on fabric design.

Eglise Saint-Hilaire, Semur-en-Brionnais

In southern Burgundy, Semur-en-Brionnais is a tiny hilltop village that has earned a place on the Plus Beaux Villages de France list. Visitors will appreciate the photogenic quality of this lovely hamlet, with its handsome old stone buildings, rose-tinted pastel-painted houses, and idyllic views of the countryside.

The town is the former capital of the historic Brionnais region and was a stronghold of Saint Hugues who founded the Abbaye de Cluny in the 10th century.

To learn more about the Romanesque period when the Abbaye de Cluny flourished, tourists should visit the Maison du Chapitre , which presents educational exhibits about the region's Romanesque churches and artworks.

The village's rich heritage is seen in its 10th-century feudal castle, the Château Saint-Hugues , which features imposing medieval fortifications; and the Collégiale Saint-Hilaire , a 12th-century Romanesque church with ornately sculpted portals and a graceful arcaded interior.

Also worth visiting is the 11th-century Eglise Saint-Martin-la-Vallée , a simple Romanesque chapel in a tranquil green valley outside the village.

Small square in Saulieu

In the heart of Burgundy, the small village of Saulieu offers culture and charm.

The village is known for its exceptional gastronomy and is a good place to indulge in a gourmet meal. Saulieu boasts several excellent restaurants.

The two-star Michelin establishment La Côte d'Or , at Le Relais Bernard Loiseau, specializes in modern French cuisine. If you decide to indulge in a meal here, you will be treated to a refined gastronomic experience. During summer, the garden terrace provides delightful outdoor seating.

We recommend these conveniently located hotels in charming towns like Saulieu, Dijon, Beaune, and Cluny:

  • Le Relais Bernard Loiseau : This five-star Relais & Châteaux property has a Michelin-starred restaurant, a casual bistro, an outdoor swimming pool, and spa. Some guest rooms have exposed beam ceilings and classic decor; suites feature sleek contemporary decor.
  • Hotel Oceania Le Jura Dijon : This four-star hotel offers stylish room decor, Nespresso machines, an indoor pool, sauna and Jacuzzi.
  • Hostellerie Le Potin Gourmand : Located in Cluny, this three-star property is set in a historic building and has a traditional French restaurant.
  • ibis Styles Beaune Centre : You can't beat this accommodation for affordable rates in a great location. The three-star hotel also offers a complimentary breakfast.

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The Ultimate 2 to 3 Days in Burgundy Itinerary

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burgundy tourist sites

Burgundy is a beautiful wine region in eastern France with few cities and plenty of rural towns, chateaux and hiking trails. While you can easily spend a relaxing week discovering the whole region, our 2 or 3 days in Burgundy itinerary will cover the main highlights that you can experience in this gorgeous area.

From wine tasting and mustard-making to pottering around the old towns and discovering unique local treasures, Burgundy has plenty to offer visitors.

Table of Contents

How Many Days in Burgundy?

Burgundy is a small region so you don’t need to spend weeks in the area to get a feel for the place or discover everything, so how many days to spend in Burgundy depends on your style of holiday.

If you’re short on time, you can have a fantastic time over just 2 days in the area, filling each day with a cultural and gastronomic experience in the city of Dijon or the town of Beaune, each bursting with exceptional food and history.

Those who have a bit more time to spare, 3 days would be ideal to see the main sights of the largest towns, and spend one day wine-tasting or visiting a picturesque chateaux that’s off the beaten track.

If you can take the time, over one week in Burgundy you can have a relaxing trip, visiting small villages such as the picturesque hilltop town of Vézelay, or the renowned white wine vineyards of Chablis from a base out in the countryside, or moving from campsite to campsite as you tour through the area as part of a Burgundy road trip.

Beautiful Vineyards in Burgundy

Getting To & Around Burgundy

While famous for wine-making, Burgundy is not so famous internationally for tourists and isn’t as easily accessible as other major cities in France.

If you’re reaching Burgundy from afar, your best option is to fly into Paris , Geneva or Lyon and rent a car or take the train into the region.

Cities like Dijon, Auxerre and Maçon are all well connected with public transport, so you won’t have a problem taking a train over from the airport, whichever one you choose to fly into. You can view schedules here .

Plus, there are regular trains to smaller towns such as Beaune, and buses available for even shorter excursions to smaller villages. However, if you’re spending longer than a few days in the region, it’s advisable to rent a car.

There are wineries, quaint villages and chateaux scattered all over the Burgundy countryside, so if you want to discover some of its best kept secrets, you’ll need a car to get around and turn your holiday into a Burgundy road trip. You can browse car rental options here .

With your own car, you can then feel free to stop anywhere that piques your interest along the way, as well as stop by local boulangeries for fresh bread, and markets for your cheeses and meats, so you can have delicious picnics as you travel and keep your costs down.

Driving towards Beaune

2 to 3-Day Burgundy Itinerary

From mediaeval streets and colourful tiled roofs to exquisite pinot noir, mustard and, of course, beef bourguignon, Burgundy has everything for a wonderful trip over a few days to eat and drink at your leisure or have a packed itinerary of activities.

Our itinerary will take you around the region’s largest city of Dijon, complete with quaint old town and gastronomic heaven, to the smaller town of Beaune to the south with historic buildings and cultural activities.

We’ll then offer you a few day trip ideas so if you’re lucky enough to have 3 days to explore the region, you can choose whether food, history or culture wins out for your final day.

Day 1 – Dijon

Dijon is a beautiful mediaeval-turned-university city with plenty of vibrant activity taking place within the historic streets lined with half-timbered houses.

Whether you simply amble around the city on your first day, join a walking tour or get involved in a cooking class, you’re sure to have a great time.

Timber Houses in Dijon

Vieux Dijon

The best place to explore Dijon is on foot, wandering around the beautiful streets of the old town. From the iconic Place François Rude with its half-timbered houses and classic carousel to the central square Place de la Libération and all of the small streets in between.

Dijon’s tourist office offers maps of the city’s Owl Trail which you can follow to discover all of the hidden gems of the old town, marked by numbered plaques of owls, or you can simply wander around the pretty streets, discovering the city for yourself and following your nose and ears as the bustling city and mouth-watering treats are sure to draw you in.

You can wander from the enormous gothic Cathédrale Saint-Bénigne de Dijon and its neighbouring Romanesque Abbey now housing the Archaeology Museum of Dijon.

You can also follow the popular Rue de la Liberté, usually bustling with locals and tourists perusing the shops, into Place François Rude where you can stop for the famed pictures of Dijon as well as a coffee or lunch in a brasserie, before heading down Rue des Forges, with ornate buildings and boutique shops galore.

At the end of the street is another Gothic architectural wonder of Dijon, the Cathédrale de Notre Dame de Dijon, its facade lined with gargoyles and its interior covered with impressive historic paintings and stained glass windows.

At the back of the cathedral you’ll find the 16th-century owl sculpture that has become symbolic of Dijon, and the most important stop on the Owl Trail – don’t forget to stroke the owl’s head with your left hand while making a wish!

Just behind the cathedral is Dijon’s central marketplace, Les Halles. Take a look at all of the local produce before stopping by one of the neighbouring bars and restaurants for a fantastic and scenic lunch spot.

Notre-Dame de Dijon

Place de la Libération and Palais des Ducs et des États de Bourgogne

Surrounded by restaurants and bars on one side and the Palace of the Dukes and Estates of Bourgogne on the other, Place de la Libération is a must-see stop on your itinerary for Burgundy.

The heart of Dijon since the 17th century, the square has seen many changes over the centuries yet still remains a popular spot for tourists and locals alike to meet and spend an afternoon in the sun or an evening with a glass of wine.

Next to the square is the beautiful private mansion Musée Magnin which is open to the public, but the highlight of this area is the incredible Palace of the Dukes and Estates of Bourgogne.

Having been rebuilt in parts and been extended over many centuries from its original construction in the 1300s to the final additions of the 1800s, the palace has a mix of architectural styles visible as you wander around the outside, creating the unique appearance that stands proudly in the square today.

Since the palace is so large, it has been transformed into two sections, the town hall of Dijon to one side, and the city’s Fine Arts Museum on the other, both of which can be visited.

The Fine Arts Museum is well worth a visit and not just because it’s free to enter and gaze upon the 1500 works of art contained within.

From the tombs of the former Dukes of Burgundy and Egyptian antiquities to Renaissance works from the likes of Rubens and more modern collections including Monet and Manet – the Fine Arts Museum contains a huge number of impressive paintings and sculptures that you can easily spend a whole afternoon in awe of.

The palace also has access to the Philippe Le Bon Tower, built in the 15th century and standing at 46-metres high to give incredible views over the city.

Place de la Libération

International Cité of Gastronomy and Wine

If Fine Arts Museums aren’t your cup of tea and you want to get a more unique experience while in Dijon, then head down to the Cité Internationale de la Gastronomie et du Vin for one of the city’s more modern attractions.

This complex of boutique shops, luxury hotels and marketplace hosts a number of events aimed at educating visitors on the local gastronomic and wine-making traditions.

You can book a cooking class on location, or book tickets to attend a talk or wine tasting event to learn more about the food and wine history of Burgundy and the wines from the nearby Côte de Nuits region.

Or, simply take in the exciting sights and smells of the space that was once a hospice, and now offers some of the most delicious artisanal produce of the region.

It’s best to book classes and talks in advance to ensure a space, but if you have a few days in the area and fancy staying at the onsite four-star hotel, you may get lucky and attend a talk on the spur of the moment.

Day 2 – Beaune

Nestled in the heart of the Burgundy wine region, Beaune is a charming town renowned for its rich history, exceptional wines, and vibrant culinary scene.

With its picturesque streets, mediaeval architecture, colourful rooftops, cultural attractions, and warm hospitality, Beaune offers a quintessential Burgundian experience that captivates everyone seeking a blend of history, gastronomy, and wine culture.

Hôtel-Dieu Museum

The Hôtel-Dieu Museum (also referred to as the Hospices de Beaune) is the highlight of any trip to Beaune, and possibly Burgundy as a whole as the incredible architecture, history and art combine into one extraordinary location.

Founded in 1443 by Nicolas Rolin, chancellor to the Duke of Burgundy, and his wife Guigone de Salins, the Hôtel-Dieu was originally established as a hospital for the poor and sick. Its iconic architecture, characterised by colourful tiled roofs and intricate Gothic details, shows off the philanthropic endeavours of its founders and makes for fantastic photo opportunities.

Today, the Hôtel-Dieu Museum is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and showcases a wealth of historical artefacts, artwork, and medical instruments, located within expertly restored wards and kitchens providing a glimpse into the daily life of those living and working in the Hospice during the Middle Ages to gain a better understanding of the evolution of healthcare over the centuries.

One of the museum’s highlights is the magnificent ‘Last Judgement’ artwork over several panels by Flemish artist Rogier van der Weyden, located in the hospice’s chapel and considered one of the masterpieces of early Northern Renaissance art.

You can also explore the museum’s tranquil courtyards and gardens for more incredible photos of the immaculate coloured tiles and cobbled ground.

Hospices de Beaune


Dijon mustard is world-renowned, yet the oldest traditional mustard manufacturer in the area is located in Beaune and offers both tours and experiences to make mustard in the traditional manner, by grinding mustard seeds in a mortar.

La Moutarderie Fallot has a shop in Dijon you can visit if you simply want to take some souvenirs home with you.

However, the factory tour is well worth visiting to learn about the history of mustard-making in the area. This includes what herbs and aromatic spices they use to flavour their mustard as well as the incredible Burgundy cuisine that has been influenced by the exceptional local mustard production.

Book your tour before your arrival to ensure you have a guide speaking your language, as the factory receives many visitors and offers tours in various languages throughout the day.

Patriarche Wine Tour

Burgundy is synonymous with medium-bodied red wines, so you have to visit at least one vineyard or wine cellar while in the area for a few days.

If you’re not able to get out to a vineyard over just 2 days in Burgundy, fear not, as Beaune has one of the most remarkable wine cellars in France located just below the street, which offers tours and tastings as well as a small shop for souvenirs.

Patriarche Père et Fils has 5 kilometres of vaulted caves below Beaune, filled with around 2 million bottles of wine!

You can wander around the caves yourself, admiring the sheer quantity of high-quality wine, and be joined by a wine expert at the end of your trip who will discuss the 6 wines you’ll taste and answer any questions you may have.

The Patriarche tour is an excellent stop for any trip to Burgundy, especially if the weather is unfavourable, but if you want to get outside and enjoy some sunshine, you can take an organised tour to a nearby vineyard to see how the producers collect the grapes and turn them into liquid gold.

Vineyards near Beaune

Day 3 – Chalon-sur-Saône, Savigny-lès-Beaune or Wine Tasting

There are plenty of delightful Burgundy day trips to take, from visiting the lesser-known villages and towns, to excursions to see the amazing chateaux, wine tasting or hiking; so choose your activity for your final day wisely!

If you don’t have a car, some organised options from Dijon include this bike tour  or  this full-day bus tour .


Chalon-sur-Saône is a small pretty town to the south of Beaune and worth a day trip if you’re staying in Burgundy for 3 days or more.

As a significant Roman settlement, you can explore the historic centre with quaint mediaeval streets filled with colourful half-timbered houses before stopping in various caves for wine tasting opportunities, and exceptional traditional Burgundy cuisine.

Located on the Saône River, you can also enjoy pleasant strolls or boat rides along the river to see the town from another perspective, enjoy picnics of local wines and cheeses and end your trip to Burgundy in a state of relaxation.

Just outside of Chalon-sur-Saône, easy to reach in 10 minutes by bus or by car on your Burgundy road trip, is the unique Nicéphore Niépce Museum of Photography.

This museum is named after the inventor of photography and is located in the inventor’s studio, the oldest photography lab in the world, where he took and developed the first-ever photograph.

For fans of photography and history, this museum offers an experience to delve into the traditional techniques of the practice and understand its significance in the world of art.



If you’re staying closer to Beaune or have a keen interest in vehicles, then you shouldn;t miss out on a trip to the epic Château de Savigny-lès-Beaune which has been transformed into an amazing museum of motor vehicles.

With reportedly the world’s biggest collection of fighter jets, as well as helicopters and fire engines in the grounds, and numerous rooms filled with all kinds of motorbikes, there is plenty to take in on a day trip to the Château, just 10 minutes driving north of Beaune – not to mention the entire room dedicated to Fiat Abarth race cars.

You can then spend your afternoon ambling around the very small town, and stopping for wine tasting in one of its many cellars.

Wine Tasting

For a full day of wine tasting, you’re not stuck for choice in Burgundy, with renowned locations like, the Route de Grand Crus, Gevrey-Chambertin and Meursault right on your doorstep around Beaune for those with expensive tastes or just looking to experience the finer things in life.

Those who prefer white to red wine are also in luck, as the town of Chablis is located in the northwest of Burgundy, towards the town of Auxerre, and offers some excellent choices for sipping chardonnay and vineyard day trips.

Domaine William Fèvre is one of the most prominent producers in Chablis, known for its wines that reflect the unique characteristics of local limestone soils, which visitors can enjoy tastings of, including their range of Premier Cru and Grand Cru Chablis wines.

Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard is another well-known producer of Chablis, although with a focus on organic and biodynamic practices to produce more expressive and vibrant Chablis wines. Here you can taste a variety of Chablis, experiencing the vast range of flavours on offer in the area.

Otherwise in Burgundy, Domaine des Comtes Lafon is a beautiful vineyard situated in stunning surroundings in Meursault, perfect for an afternoon of wine tasting in the sun, while further north, towards Dijon is Domaine Armand Rousseau in Gevrey-Chambertin famous for its outstanding and elegant red Burgundy wines, including its Grand Cru Chambertin and Chambertin-Clos de Bèze.

Wine Route in Burgundy

Have More Time?

If you have more than 3 days in Burgundy, you should definitely deviate one day to vineyard tours and wine-tasting, while spending a couple of other days visiting the other, larger towns in the area.

While the small valley between Dijon and Beaune is ideal for shorter breaks, over at least 4 days, you can travel further in the region, visiting Auxerre and Chablis to the northwest, or Maçon to the south.

Hiking in the Gorges de la Canche in Burgundy offers an ideal day out for nature enthusiasts seeking stunning scenery and outdoor adventure.

With its dramatic limestone cliffs, meandering streams, and lush greenery, the gorge provides a picturesque backdrop for hiking, catering to all skill levels with a variety of trails which are clearly marked.

With plenty of wildlife and plants around, hikers can delight in trekking around this area, coming across ancient ruins and mediaeval landmarks along the way.

Hiking in the Gorges de la Canche promises a memorable and enriching experience, blending natural beauty, cultural heritage, and outdoor recreation in the heart of Burgundy.

Mâcon is located in the far south of Burgundy and offers ample opportunities for wine tasting and exploration of local vineyards. The city itself has a charming historic centre with picturesque streets, lively markets, and architectural gems such as the towering and ornate Saint-Pierre Cathedral.

Mâcon is also a lovely place for riverside walks as it’s situated along the banks of the Saône River, providing scenic riverfront promenades and opportunities for boat rides.

Food enthusiasts will also appreciate the city’s gastronomic delights, including regional specialities like Poulet de Bresse (Bresse chicken) and the famous Mâconnais cheeses.

Auxerre is a charming town in Burgundy, France, offering a rich tapestry of historical and cultural attractions worth exploring.

One standout site is the Clock Tower, originally a Gallo-Roman tower turned prison in the 15th century, now restored and housing a fascinating clock mechanism dating back to 1483. Its unique solar and lunar hands not only tell time but also indicate moon phases, making it a captivating piece of heritage.

The town is also graced by the tranquil Canal du Nivernais, known as the “stop Vineyard,” offering scenic paths for boat rides, biking, or leisurely walks through picturesque wine villages along its banks.

Among its architectural marvels, Auxerre boasts the Saint-Germain Abbey, founded in the 5th century by Queen Clotilde and home to ancient crypts adorned with remarkable murals, making it a testament to the town’s rich history spanning over sixteen centuries.

Visitors can also ascend the 12th-century tower of Saint Jean for panoramic views and immerse themselves in Burgundy’s wine culture with a visit to Domaine Louis Moreau.

Town of Auxerre

Where to Stay in Burgundy

Hôtel des Ducs – A central, 3-star hotel in the lovely city of Dijon, this is a good mid-range base for exploring Burgundy. There are several room types to choose from, a bar and a very good breakfast available.

Led Nomades Beaune – A chic, modern hotel in Beaune, this is an excellent upmarket place to stay during your time in Burgundy. Not only are there 2 swimming pools but there is also a spa, a bar and a superb breakfast.

City Loft Apparthotel – These apartments in Dijon are great for those after their own space in Burgundy. They are well-located, breakfast is available and all flats are fully equipped with all you may need during your stay.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Burgundy hotels!

Burgundy is a diverse region so creating an itinerary for your stay should include a variety of history, culture, nature and, of course, food and drink to make the most of your trip.

Are you planning to visit Burgundy? Have any questions? Let us know in the comments!

burgundy tourist sites

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Brittany Scott-Gunfield

About Brittany Scott-Gunfield

Brittany is a writer for The World Was Here First. Originally from Colchester, England, she is slowly but surely travelling the world as a digital nomad. She loves to hike around different landscapes and has a deep love for travelling around France (and elsewhere in Europe).

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Burgundy   Travel Guide

burgundy tourist sites

Why Go To Burgundy

Imagine rolling hills draped in vineyards that gather into quaint villages, magnificently preserved of their medieval charms, and you'll start to picture Burgundy, a glorious region in central-east France. 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. Beaune, a walled village surrounded by vineyards, is completely delightful, too – especially since wine tasting is the village's predominant pastime. But enough can't be said for the numerous châteaux and abbeys, the incredible Morvan Regional Natural Park and the gastronomic appeals of the region.

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  • # 6 in Best Wine Vacations
  • # 16 in Best Places to Visit in France

Best of Burgundy

Best hotels in burgundy.

  • # 1 in Hôtel Le Cep
  • # 2 in Hostellerie de Levernois
  • # 3 in Grand Hôtel La Cloche Dijon - MGallery Collection

Hôtel Le Cep

Best Things to Do in Burgundy

  • # 1 in Cathédrale Saint-Lazare d'Autun
  • # 2 in Hospices de Beaune
  • # 3 in Owl's Trail

Popular Tours

Burgundy Grand Crus Route Day Tour - 12 Wines Tastings in Domains

Burgundy Grand Crus Route Day Tour - 12 Wines Tastings in Domains

(83 reviews)

from $ 267.27

Burgundy Bike Tour with Wine Tasting from Beaune

Burgundy Bike Tour with Wine Tasting from Beaune

(397 reviews)

from $ 229.09

Full day from Dijon: the most of Burgundy with lunch

Full day from Dijon: the most of Burgundy with lunch

(21 reviews)

from $ 240.00

Burgundy Travel Tips

Best months to visit.

The best time to visit Burgundy is between September and November when the weather cools and the vineyards feature an array of autumn colors. Winters in Burgundy are cold and dark (average lows hover in the 30s), though December, January and February tend to be the best times to find deals on flights and accommodations. Spring is another sweet shoulder season, while June to August are considered peak season thanks to the warm, dry weather. Keep in mind: Temperatures can vary widely across the region; you'll want to pack layers if you plan to visit multiple towns.

Weather in Burgundy

Data sourced from the National Climatic Data Center

What You Need to Know

  • It's Bourgogne in France In America, we refer to the region as Burgundy. In France, it's Bourgogne .
  • It's medieval and modern Virtually untouched by the world wars that ravaged much of Europe's great cities, Burgundy retains its medieval charms, yet it's fitted for modern life.
  • It's a wine capital The Burgundy region specializes in chardonnay and pinot noir wines, and vineyards and wine bars are staples here.

How to Save Money in Burgundy

  • Stick to one city Burgundy is filled with marvelous cities and villages, from regal Dijon to the cathedral-dominated Autun, but the transportation costs of bouncing around will stack up quickly.
  • Travel in the low season Wintertime can be cold and bleak in Burgundy, but the money you can potentially save on accommodations and airfare should cheer you up.
  • Enjoy a prix-fixe lunch Take your big meal at lunch and enjoy a delicious yet affordable two- or three-course prix-fixe meal, then eat a light (read: cheap) dinner.

Culture & Customs

Burgundy has a rich history that dates back to the 5th century, when the Burgundians – a Scandinavian people from a southern stretch of the Baltic Sea – settled the region. But it was not until 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. 

The official language in Burgundy is French, and though you'll find that many in the tourist industry speak English, it's best to learn a few phrases or even pick up a phrasebook to help you get around. "Merci" is thank you and "s'il vous plaît" is please. If you're at a loss for words, politely ask the waiter or shop attendant "Pouvez-vous m'aider?" (Can you help me?) or "Parlez-vous anglais?" (Do you speak English?). Another helpful phrase: "Excusez-moi" (Pardon or excuse me). 

In France, the currency is the euro (1 euro equals about $1.23), and travelers can exchange their dollars for euros at the airport exchange booths or kiosks throughout Burgundy. Since the euro to U.S. dollar exchange rate fluctuates, be sure to check what the current exchange rate is before you go. When it comes to tipping, visitors should note that service charges are usually included on restaurant bills, though it is common to round out the bill with a small tip. Tipping hotel staff a euro or two for their services is also customary.

What to Eat

Burgundy is known for a number of culinary delights, including its famous Dijon mustard, which mustard-maker Jean Naigeon first created back in the 1750s. Boeuf bourguignon , a traditional Burgundy-style beef stew later popularized by famous chef Julia Child, is another staple. And arguably the world's most pungent cheese, Époisses, hails from a Burgundy city by the same name. 

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. Some of Dijon's traveler-approved eateries include Les Pré aux Clercs , L'Arôme and La Maison des Cariatides for a fancy French meal, and Café de l'Industrie and Café Gourmand for bistro fare. Of course, no matter where you base yourself, you're bound to stumble upon a memorable gastronomic experience thanks to the region's rich ingredients and Michelin-starred chefs. 

Of course, Burgundy is also a center for winemaking – and there are tens of thousands of acres devoted to vineyards growing chardonnay and pinot noir grapes across Burgundy's Côte de Beaune, Côte de Nuits, Chablis, Côte Chalonnaise and Mâconnais regions. Driving the historic 37-mile Route des Grand Crus is a great way to get an overview of some of the heavyweights, though taking a curated wine tour is another way. If you consider yourself an oenophile, you'll want to take time in Beaune to visit the Musée du Vin to learn about the region's wine-making tools, tradition and art. Beaune's Marché aux Vins is another must-see if you're looking for a more low-key tasting or tour than a full-day wine tour can provide. Tastings start at 9 euros (around $11) per person.

Getting Around Burgundy

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 is another increasingly popular and scenic means of traveling between villages or wineries. 

To reach Burgundy, many travelers fly into Paris ' Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG), Paris Orly Airport (ORY) or Lyon-Saint Exupery Airport (LYS), and either take trains to the Burgundy region or rent a car and drive. Burgundy sits about 200 miles southeast of Paris and about 120 miles north of Lyon. If you're hoping to take the train into the region, you'll find a high frequency of trains running from Paris to Dijon, the region's capital. Trains from Paris to Dijon take approximately 90 minutes, with tickets starting at $18. From Dijon, you can hop local trains to other hot spots within the region, including Mâcon, Beaune and Montbard, among others.

Fall is a golden time to visit Burgundy.

Explore More of Burgundy

Hospices de Beaune

Things To Do

Best hotels.

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Burgundy - an area guide

Vineyards, castles, rivers, and lots of history.

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An introduction to Burgundy 

Map of Burgundy

How to reach the Burgundy area : 

Selected burgundy hotels: .

  • 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

The Burgundy wine trail

Everything you need to know before booking your Burgundy vacation

Nicola Williams

Feb 8, 2022 • 8 min read

The charming cobbled streets of Semur-en-Auxois are worth a pit stop on your Burgundy road trip

Semur-en-Auxois is a highlight of Burgundy’s Côte d’Or, accessible by public transportation or by car © Nigel Jarvis / Getty Images

Burgundy or Bordeaux? That’s million-dollar question for any lover of French wine.

Should your fantasy be sipping a glass of Domaine de la Romanée Conti in situ, picnicking between golden vines at harvest time or cruising past Grands Crus vineyards on the back of a vintage Mobylette, Burgundy it is.

Indeed, for those seeking a taste of quintessential France – think drop-dead-gorgeous villages, rolling countryside and sumptuous cuisine – Burgundy beckons . Plan in advance to visit the right vineyard and vaulted cellar tour for you. And once you’re on the ground, under no circumstances should you ask for escargots à la bordelaise when dining out.

Planning your trip to Burgundy

Are you a boater or budget explorer.

Hone in what you hope to get out of your trip to Burgundy and make sure your travel aspirations tally with the season. This bucolic region of vineyards, canals and mustard fields in eastern France has something to offer visitors each month of the year, but each season has its own surprises, challenges and rewards .

Boaters, for example, can only cruise Burgundy’s peaceful waterways between March and November. Sun worshippers and walkers should bear in mind that days remain awfully nippy at either end of the boating season. Festivalgoers can join the Burgundian party in late spring and summer, while winter’s short days are the domain of museum buffs and budget explorers.

A wide shot of vineyards in the autumn season with golden leaves on the vines and mist on the hills in the distance, Burgundy, France

If you’re in Burgundy just for the wine, visit in fall

The mellow days of September and October – when pea-green vineyards turn blazing gold, orange, and fiery red – raise the curtain on the vendage. If you’re here to delight your wine-tasting palate, there is no finer time to visit. Many châteaux throw open their vineyards for picnic parties in September.

Scour Burgundy Tourism to research and book wine tours (on foot or by bike, e-bike, scooter, vintage car or Segway), guided tastings and cellar visits.

Decide your lifestyle vibe and book accommodation to match

Whether you’re a city slicker, small-town mouse or rural recluse, there’s a type of Burgundian accommodation that will suit both your personality and your budget.

We’d advise booking hotels, chambres d’hôtes (B&Bs) and countryside gîtes (self-catering farms, cottages and châteaux) at least a month in advance – and farther out for high-season summer stays. The most memorable options mirror the region’s rich history and wine-making traditions. Fall asleep in a medieval turret, wake up to sunlight flooding a surrounding sweep of vineyards at a wine-growing château, or overnight in a centuries-old pilgrim's hostel on the ancient route to Santiago de Compostela.

For urbanites, the sophisticated city of Dijon and regional hub of  Beaune  make excellent bases.

Sort out wheels: two or four?

Exactly what you’d like to do most during your time in the region will determine  how you wish to get to, and around in, Burgundy . 

If you’re happy hopping between Dijon, Beaune and other popular towns, then getting around by train – and keeping your carbon footprint low – is easy. Local buses to surrounding villages are an option in some areas, though services are less frequent or non-existent on Sundays and during school holidays. Be sure to cross-check your travel itinerary against real-time bus and train timetables with  Mobigo , a region-specific transportation app. 

In the insanely handsome but rural Côte d’Or , public transport might get you from Dijon or Beaune as far as Châtillon-sur-Seine or hilltop Semur-en-Auxois. To really savor this world-class wine-growing region, though, you’ll need your own wheels – whether two or four. Green explorers can rent regular bicycles and e-bikes region-wide, and grab a car with Mobigo’s environmentally friendly car-sharing scheme or Dijon-based Divia .

By car, Burgundy is an easy stopover on the way from the English Channel or Paris to the Alps or southern France. The A6 autoroute (highway) traverses the region and offers speedy connections north to Paris and south to Lyon .

A bicycle with wicker basket rests against a vine-covered fence next to a vineyard in Burgundy, France

Download the right apps 

Before hitting the road, download Balades en Bourgogne, the free app from the Côte d’Or tourist board that maps 160 walking, cycling, mountain biking, and driving itineraries around the region.

The other handy app is Atlas Bourgogne , a digital atlas of Burgundy’s vineyards. Included are dozens of handy maps searchable by both town and by climat  (the French word for a grape-growing parcel of land in Burgundy, of which the region has 1443 – collectively protected as a Unesco World Heritage site).

Score music festival tickets

Festivals in Burgundy don’t require booking months in advance. Still, to avoid disappointment, buy tickets online for headliner summer festivals like Beaune’s Festival International d’Opéra Baroque et Romantique in July, and the Rencontres Musicales de Vézelay, which fills the tiny hilltop village and its Unesco-prized basilica with song for several days in August.

Reserve canal boats, bike tours and hot-air balloons in advance

Cruising along Burgundy's 1200km (745 miles) of placid waterways by houseboat is pure joy, with peaceful rivers and nature-rich canals fringed with pretty towpaths. Rental companies offer boats from late March to mid-November and require advance booking; early birds often get discounted rates. Try British-run France Afloat or Locaboat Holiday , both about 25km (16 miles) from Auxerre.

Book cycling tours of Burgundy a few months in advance – May, June and September are peak months.

A hot-air balloon flight over Burgundy's handsome mosaic of vineyards, hills and rivers is a breathtaking highlight and is best booked before you leave home – even if you won’t know if the weather will cooperate for the scheduled date of your excursion.  Air Escargot , 20km (12 miles) southwest of Beaune, is one of a dozen companies taking to Burgundian skies. Tourist offices in Beaune and Dijon can also help with bookings.

Reserve tables at gastronomic hot spots

Depending on the season, making reservations a few days or even a couple of weeks in advance is vital at Burgundy’s most sought-after dining addresses: boutique hotel–restaurant Aux Terrasses  in Tournus, helmed by Michelin-starred chef Jean-Michel Carrette; and Ma Table en Ville in Mâcon. 

For unmatched vineyard dining, reserve at contemporary La Millésime in the Côte de Nuits wine-growing area south of Dijon; or at  L’O des Vignes , southwest of Mâcon, where Burgundy-born chef Sébastien Chambru pairs seasonal menus with zero-kilometer Pouilly-Fuissé whites.

Etiquette in Burgundy

An aluminum pan of escargots de Bourgogne snails with garlic, herbs and butter in on rustic wooden table

Eat snails like a Burgundian

Locally reared  escargots de Bourgogne (Burgundy snails, or Helix pomatia ) – meaty specimens in shiny black shells that come stuffed with garlic and parsley butter before getting baked in the oven – are an irresistible regional specialty. And there is only one correct way to eat them.

Clutch the shell with special snail tongs in one hand, and prize out the earthy gastropod with the other using a twin-tong snail fork. Mopping up the puddle of garlicky oil with bread afterward is perfectly acceptable – and possibly the best bit about eating what any French gourmet will say are the finest snails in France.

Don’t barge in on Mass in churches and abbeys

The region is dotted with historic churches, medieval basilicas and Unesco-prized abbeys of world renown such as Abbaye de Fontenay and Cluny . Many still serve as working churches where Mass is celebrated: some close to visitors during services, but others leave their doors open and allow curious visitors to enter. If a Mass is underway, be sure to behave in a respectful, non-intrusive manner. Remain at the rear of the church, and don’t wander around, talk or make noise. 

Churches don’t enforce a strict dress code, but dress respectfully – no short shorts or mini-skirts, with something to cover up bare shoulders.

Take a wine class – and don’t mention Bordeaux!

It’s all very well knowing the difference between a vertical and horizontal tasting. But to understand the curious quirks and minutiae of France’s foremost wine-growing region, refine your palate and really get the most out of cellar visits while in Burgundy, sign up for a wine-tasting class.

Beaune’s hallowed École des Vins de Bourgogne runs a variety of courses, from a three-hour fundamentals class to a three-day wine-taster’s certificate program. If you prefer tasting in situ, consider a half- or full-day tasting session at some of the area’s most famous vineyards with Sensation Vin .

Favor independent eateries – and no giggling over nun’s farts

Most Burgundians take enormous pride in their centuries-old kitchen and culinary traditions. Invest time in learning about the regional cuisine bourguignonne before experiencing some of its traditional dishes. Indeed, there is no finer place on earth to tuck into authentic boeuf bourguignon (slow-cooked beef in red wine) than the region that lends its name to this famous dish.

Other dishes to look out for in traditional bistros and restaurants include oeufs en meurette (eggs poached in red wine), gougères (cheesy choux-pastry puffs, typically served with pre-dinner drinks), and anoudouillette de Mâcon (tripe sausage, grilled and served with mustard). And please, no smirking or giggling, when you come across pets de nonne – literally, “nun’s farts”; actually, deep-fried, deeply delicious donuts doused in sugar or fruit coulis – on the menu.

Never end a meal with a cappuccino

It just isn’t done. When in Burgundy un café (a short sharp espresso) is the only self-respecting option.

Health and safety in Burgundy

Drink the right water.

Tap water is safe to drink here, and no meal in France is considered complete without une carafe d’eau (a jug of tap water) on the table. If you prefer bottled mineral water, order une bouteille d’eau  plat  (still) or une bouteille d’eau gazeuse  (sparkling).

Almost every hilltop village and small town has at least one water fountain, sculpted in ornate stone a century or so ago. If the fountain has a sign reading “ eau potable ” it means the water spouting forth is drinkable.

You might also like: The best of Burgundy: 15 ways to find French joie de vivre Why you should follow Burgundy's Route des Grands Crus Why now is the perfect time to visit Burgundy on a budget

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Burgundy places to visit and attractions

Below you can explore some of the most popular highlights and places of interest in the Burgundy region. See also our Burgundy travel guide .

photo of Anzy-le-Duc

Anzy-le-Duc (Saone-et-Loire)

photo of Autun

Autun (Saone-et-Loire)

photo of Auxerre

Auxerre (Yonne)

photo of Avallon

Avallon (Yonne)

photo of Beaune

Beaune (Cote d'Or)

photo of Beze

Beze (Cote d'Or)

photo of Brancion

Brancion (Saone-et-Loire)

photo of Chablis

Chablis (Yonne)

photo of Chalon-sur-Saone

Chalon-sur-Saone (Saone-et-Loire)

photo of Chateau d'Ancy-le-Franc

Chateau d'Ancy-le-Franc (Yonne)

photo of Chateau de Tanlay

Chateau de Tanlay (Yonne)

photo of Chateauneuf-en-Auxois

Chateauneuf-en-Auxois (Cote d'Or)

photo of Chatillon-sur-Seine

Chatillon-sur-Seine (Cote d'Or)

photo of Clamecy

Clamecy (Nievre)

photo of Cluny

Cluny (Saone-et-Loire)

photo of Corbigny

Corbigny (Nievre)

photo of Cormatin

Cormatin (Saone-et-Loire)

photo of Dijon

Dijon (Cote d'Or)

photo of Flavigny

Flavigny (Cote d'Or)

photo of Fontenay Abbey

Fontenay Abbey (Cote d'Or)

photo of Guedelon

Guedelon (Yonne)

photo of Joigny

Joigny (Yonne)

photo of La Charite-sur-Loire

La Charite-sur-Loire (Nievre)

photo of Macon

Macon (Saone-et-Loire)

photo of Montbard

Montbard (Cote d'Or)

photo of Montreal

Montreal (Yonne)

photo of Morvan Regional Park

Morvan Regional Park (Nievre)

photo of Nevers

Nevers (Nievre)

photo of Noyers-sur-Serein

Noyers-sur-Serein (Yonne)

photo of Nuits-Saint-Georges

Nuits-Saint-Georges (Cote d'Or)

photo of Paray-le-Monial

Paray-le-Monial (Saone-et-Loire)

photo of Paray-le-Monial basilica

Paray-le-Monial basilica (Saone-et-Loire)

photo of Pontigny

Pontigny (Yonne)

photo of Saulieu

Saulieu (Cote d'Or)

photo of Semur-en-Auxois

Semur-en-Auxois (Cote d'Or)

photo of Semur-en-Brionnais

Semur-en-Brionnais (Saone-et-Loire)

photo of Sens

Sens (Yonne)

photo of Solutre-Pouilly

Solutre-Pouilly (Saone-et-Loire)

photo of Tonnerre

Tonnerre (Yonne)

photo of Tournus

Tournus (Saone-et-Loire)

photo of Tournus abbey

Tournus abbey (Saone-et-Loire)

photo of Vezelay

Vezelay (Yonne)

photo of Vézelay basilica

Vézelay basilica (Yonne)

For more information see the Burgundy guide

Tourist attractions to visit in Burgundy

The following sites have received official "tourist classifications"...

Grand Sites of France

Bibracte-Mont Beuvray

Roche de Solutre / Roche de Vergisson

UNESCO world heritage sites

Abbatiale Notre-Dame de La Charité-sur-Loire (monuments on French pilgrim routes): See tourist guide

Asquins église St Jacques (monuments on French pilgrim routes)

Fontenay Abbey: See tourist guide

Vezelay: See tourist guide

Vézelay basilica St Madeleine (monuments on French pilgrim routes): See tourist guide

Villages classified as "most beautiful villages"

Chateauneuf-en-Auxois: See tourist guide

Flavigny: See tourist guide

Noyers-sur-Serein: See tourist guide

Semur-en-Brionnais: See tourist guide

National Monuments

Bussy-Rabutin Chateau

Towns classified as Recommended Detours

Chatillon-sur-Seine: See tourist guide

Joigny: See tourist guide

Regional Natural Parcs

Morvan: See tourist guide

Secteur Sauvegardé (protected historical town centre)

Autun: See tourist guide

Auxerre: See tourist guide

Chalon-sur-Saone: See tourist guide

Clamecy: See tourist guide

Cluny: See tourist guide

Dijon: See tourist guide

Tournus: See tourist guide

Towns of Art and History

Nevers: See tourist guide

Paray-le-Monial: See tourist guide

Ville d'etape


4* Towns in Bloom

Beaune: See tourist guide

Macon: See tourist guide

Sens: See tourist guide

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Burgundy Travel Guide

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My niece and I attended this terrific workshop. We learned a lot and had tons of fun. The bread and pastries were amazing. It was great to get behind the s...

At the very heart of the country, Burgundy is one of France’s most prosperous regions. 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 . Wine is, of course, the region’s most obvious attraction, and devotees head straight for the great vineyards, whose produce has played the key role in the local economy since Louis XIV’s doctor prescribed wine as a palliative for the royal dyspepsia. Wine tasting is particularly big business around Chablis, Mâcon and Beaune.

The Canal de Bourgogne

Château living, the food of burgundy, the côte d’or, the saône valley, getting to the maconnais, things to do in the maconnais, the wines of burgundy.

For centuries Burgundy’s powerful dukes remained independent of the French crown, and during the Hundred Years' War they even sided with the English, selling them the captured Joan of Arc. By the fifteenth century their power extended over all of Franche-Comté, Alsace and Lorraine, Belgium, Holland, Picardy and Flanders, and their state was the best-organized and richest in Europe. Burgundy finally fell to the French kings when Duke Charles le Téméraire (the Bold) was killed besieging Nancy in 1477.

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. During the Middle Ages, Burgundy – along with Poitou and Provence – became one of the great church-building areas in France. Practically every village has its Romanesque church, especially in the country around Cluny and Paray-le-Monial , and where the Catholic Church built, so had the Romans before, with their legacy visible in the substantial Roman remains at Autun . There’s more history on show at Alésia , the scene of Julius Caesar’s epic victory over the Gauls in 52 BC.

Between bouts of gastronomic indulgence, you can engage in some moderate activity: for walkers there’s a wide range of hikes, from gentle walks in the Côte d’Or to relatively demanding treks in the Parc Régional du Morvan.

Tailor-made travel itineraries for France, created by local experts

An active walking tour out of the way in France

14 days  / from 3860 USD

An active walking tour out of the way in France

Your trip starts with an in-depth introduction to France in Paris: several unique day excursions connect you with local Parisians to show you their city and way of life. Afterwards continue south to start a few days walking journey through Southern France before ending around Avignon.

Southern France – Walks in the Alpilles and Lavender fields

10 days  / from 2411 USD

Southern France – Walks in the Alpilles and Lavender fields

Start your tour in the coastal city of Marseille, exploring Cassis on the way. Around the Alpilles in Provence, you will be provided with detailed walking materials to explore the area on foot, from both Les Baux and St Remy. End your tour in famous Avignon.

Tasting Eastern France

12 days  / from 2948 USD

Tasting Eastern France

A delicious yet active journey through Eastern France. Start your trip in Lyon with some unique food tours before setting off on a 4-day walk across the Beaujolais region. Almost every day ends with a wine tasting in your guesthouse, soothing for body and soul.

Most travellers to Burgundy arrive in Auxerre , the chief population and industrial centre in the north of Burgundy – and with good reason. A very pretty and historic town of narrow lanes and lovely open squares, it looks its best from Pont Paul-Bert over the river Yonne and the riverside quays. From here you get a lovely view of moored houseboats and barges, with churches soaring dramatically and harmoniously above the surrounding rooftops. To enjoy some local colour, and pick up some local produce, try the market in place de l’Arquebuse (Tues & Fri morning).

The most interesting of Auxerre’s many churches is the airy, light abbey church of St-Germain , famous for its ten-ribbed vaults, containing three of only five in existence worldwide. The monks’ former dormitories, around a classical cloister, now house a historical and archeological museum , but the real highlight is the crypt where the tomb of St Germain, fourth bishop of Auxerre (378–448), was the epicentre of the bishops’ burial catacombs. The tomb is empty – St Germain’s remains were used for various reliquaries and what was left was desecrated by Huguenots in 1567. The crypt is one of the few surviving examples of Carolingian architecture, with its plain barrel vaults still resting on their thousand-year-old oak beams. Its wonderfully vivid and expressive ochre frescoes are the oldest in France, dating back to around 850 AD.

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 .

Abbaye de Fontenay

The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Abbaye de Fontenay is the biggest draw in the area. Founded in 1118, it’s the only Burgundian monastery to survive intact, despite conversion to a paper mill in the early nineteenth century. It was restored in the early 1900s to its original form, while the gardens were re-landscaped in 2008 in full harmony with its Romanesque structure. It is one of the world’s most complete monastic complexes, including a caretaker’s lodge, guesthouse and chapel, dormitory, hospital, prison, bakery, kennels and abbot’s house, as well as a church, cloister, chapterhouse and even a forge.

A few kilometres south of Montbard, on Mont Auxois, above the village of Alise-Ste-Reine is Alésia (closed Dec & Jan). It was here in 52 BC that the Gauls, united under the leadership of Vercingétorix, made their last stand against the military might of Rome. Julius Caesar himself commanded the Roman army, which surrounded the final Gallic stronghold and starved the Gauls out, bloodily defeating all attempts at escape. Vercingétorix surrendered to save his people, was imprisoned in Rome for six years until Caesar’s formal triumph, and then strangled. The battle was a fundamental turning point in the fortunes of the region, as Gaul remained under Roman rule for four hundred years. The modern Muséoparc d’Alésia brings the battle of Alésia to life with a visitor centre, a museum and a multimedia exhibition about Gallo-Roman life. You can also visit excavations, including the theatre and a Gallo-Roman house.

Chevalier d’Éon: the cross-dressing diplomat

Tonnerre’s quirkiest claim to fame is that it was the birthplace of the great eighteenth-century cross-dresser, Chevalier d’Éon . Born in the Hôtel d’Uzès in 1728, still the most magnificent structure in Tonnerre, d’Éon went about his important diplomatic missions for King Louis XV dressed in women’s clothes. He fell out with the king, however, and, when he was in exile in London, wore a (male) dragoon’s uniform – yet still bookmakers took bets on his sex. When Louis XVI ascended to the throne he allowed d’Éon to return to France – but exiled in Tonnerre – and also recognized his claim to be a woman and to dress as such. After the Revolution, Chevalier d’Éon slowly slid into debt, and died penniless in London in 1810. An autopsy determined that he was undoubtedly a man. A museum in Tonnerre, at the Hôtel Chevalier d’Eon, 22 rue de Pont, features much of his correspondence as well as his lavish silk dresses and other personal effects.

On the Paris–Sens–Dijon TGV train route, Tonnere is a great base for exploring this corner of the region, and far cheaper than Chablis, just 18km away. Although not as prosperous as its world-renowned neighbour, it is much prettier, since it was not bombed during the war – unlike Chablis – and it has several sights well worth a look. Another string to its bow is the local golden, fruity Chardonnay – the newest appellation contrôlée in Burgundy, recognized in 2006. Tonnerre is also an excellent starting point for cycling along the Canal de Bourgogne; from here to Dijon it’s four or five days of easy cycling through some superb countryside. You don’t even have to worry about luggage: Bag Transfert will pick up your bags and take it to your next stop for €12 per piece.

Treasure of Vix

For anyone interested in pre-Roman France, there is one compelling reason to visit Châtillon-sur-Seine , around 30km east of Tonnerre: the so-called Treasure of Vix , discovered in 1953 6km northwest of Châtillon. The finds, from the sixth-century BC tomb of a Celtic princess buried in a four-wheeled chariot, include the famous Vase of Vix , which, weighing 208kg and 1.64m high, is the largest bronze vase of Greek origin known from antiquity, with a superbly modelled high-relief frieze round its rim, and Gorgons’ heads for handles. The treasure is displayed in the Musée du Pays Châtillonnais , which also boasts an impressive collection of objects from Celtic, Gallo-Roman and medieval periods found in the Châtillonnais region.

Burgundy – and in particular the area to the east and south of the Morvan – is one of the prime château regions in France. Whether still in the hands of old families like the Château de Vauban ,whose current owner is related to Vauban, the great French fortification builder, or state-owned and state-maintained like the Château de Castellux , their remoteness and association with a feudal aristocratic class places them several steps above a simple stately mansion.

As the upkeep of such massive structures becomes more and more expensive, many château owners rent their properties to large families or groups. Depending on numbers, costs can be as low as £300 per week, but take note: wi-fi may not penetrate the thick stone walls, and you will almost invariably need your own car; some places come with a cook and a maid, and occasionally the owners may still live on the premises (though you might never even bump into them). The range of experiences is broad, however, and you should be able to find something to suit your tastes – from Château de Missery near Saulieu, who offer weekend cookery courses and wine tastings for about a dozen people, to Château de Tailly , which is split into three buildings and can accommodate smaller parties of guests.

In Celtic times, Dijon held a strategic position on the tin merchants’ route from Britain to the Adriatic. It became the capital of the dukes of Burgundy around 1000 AD, and in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, under the auspices of dukes Philippe le Hardi (the Bold – as a boy, he had fought the English at Poitiers), Jean sans Peur (the Fearless), Philippe le Bon (the Good – he sold Joan of Arc to the English), and Charles le Téméraire (also the Bold), Dijon flourished. The dukes used their tremendous wealth and power – especially their control of Flanders, the dominant manufacturing region of the age – to make this one of the greatest centres of art, learning and science in Europe. It lost its capital status on incorporation into the kingdom of France in 1477, but has remained one of the country’s pre-eminent provincial cities. Today, it’s an affluent university city: elegant, modern and dynamic, especially when the students are around.

Dijon is not enormous and the area you’ll want to see is confined to the eminently walkable centre. The two tram lines that started service in the winter of 2012/13 have transformed the place, with cars being forced out onto the outskirts; if you have driven to Dijon, you are advised to leave the car at your hotel and forget about it until you leave. Rue de la Liberté forms the spine of the city, running east from the wide, attractive place Darcy and the eighteenth-century triumphal arch of Porte Guillaume – once a city gate – past the palace of the dukes of Burgundy on the semicircular place de la Libération .

The Palais des Ducs

The focus of a visit to Dijon is inevitably the seat of its former rulers, the Palais des Ducs , which 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. It’s now something of a suntrap on a good day, and the decision to close it to traffic has stimulated a boom in café trade. 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 also provides the opportunity to see the surviving portions of the original ducal palace, including the vast kitchen and the magnificent Salle des Gardes . Displayed here are the lavish, almost decadent, tombs of Philippe le Hardi and Jean sans Peur and his wife, Marguerite de Bavière, with their startling, painted effigies of the dead, surrounded by gold-plated angels.

Quartier Notre-Dame

Architecturally more interesting than the dukes’ palace, and much more 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.

The richness of Burgundy’s cuisine is largely due to two factors: the region’s wines and its possession of one of the world’s finest breeds of beef cattle, the Charolais. Wines are often used in the preparation of sauces, especially à la bourguignon . Essentially, this means that the dish is cooked in a red wine sauce to which baby onions, mushrooms and lardons (pieces of bacon) are added. The classic Burgundy dishes cooked in this manner are bœuf bourguignon and coq au vin . Another term that frequently appears on menus is meurette , which is also a red wine sauce but made without mushrooms and flambéed with a touch of marc brandy. It’s used with eggs, fish and poultry as well as red meat.

Snails ( escargots ) are hard to avoid in Burgundy, and the local style of cooking involves stewing them for several hours in white wine with shallots, carrots and onions, then stuffing them with garlic and parsley butter and finishing them off in the oven. Other specialities include the parsley-flavoured ham ( jambon persillé ); calf’s head ( tête de veau , or sansiot ); and a pauchouse of river fish (that is, poached in white wine with onions, butter, garlic and lardons ).

Like other regions of France, Burgundy produces a variety of cheeses . The best known are the creamy white Chaource, the soft St-Florentin from the Yonne valley, the orange-skinned Époisses and the delicious goat’s cheeses from the Morvan. And then there is gougère , a savoury pastry made with cheese, best eaten warm with a glass of Chablis.

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. It’s a land of wooded hills and, with poor soil and pastures only good for a few cattle, villages and farms are few and far between. In the nineteenth century, supplying firewood and charcoal to Paris was the main business and large tracts of hillside are still covered in coniferous plantations.

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.

With its Gothic spire rising against the backdrop of the Morvan hills, Autun is scarcely bigger than the circumference of its walls ; most of the enclosure still consists of Roman fortifications that have been maintained through the centuries. The emperor Augustus founded the town in about 10 BC as part of a massive and, ultimately, highly successful campaign to pacify the brooding Celts of defeated Vercingétorix. The splendour of Augustodunum, as it was called, was designed to eclipse the memory of Bibracte, the neighbouring capital of the powerful tribe of the Aedui. Autun did indeed become one of the leading cities of Roman Gaul until it was sacked by the Arabs in 725 AD. Today, it is a picturesque provincial town, and an excellent base for exploring the surrounding countryside, particularly the Parc du Morvan. This town’s past remains very tangible, and two of its four Roman gates survive – Porte St-André , spanning rue de la Croix-Blanche in the northeast, and Porte d’Arroux in the northwest – while a number of other remains are dotted about the town.

The tourist buses winding their way up the steep incline to Vézelay should not deter you from visiting this attractive hilltop hamlet, which is surrounded by ramparts and has some of the most picturesque, winding streets and crumbling buildings in Burgundy. While the main draw is undeniably the Basilica of Ste-Mary La Madeleine – one of the first UNESCO-inscribed sites in France – Vézelay is also a popular destination for art-lovers, with many small galleries and antique shops on rue St-Pierre, and an impressive art collection in the Musée Zervos .

Some 60km west of the Parc du Morvan, Nevers , on the confluence of the rivers Loire and Nièvre, is a strange place, where motorbikers and boy racers drawn to the Formula One racing ring at nearby Magny-Cours mingle in the streets with religious pilgrims come to pay their respects to Bernadette of Lourdes , gourmands attracted by the local nougatine sweets, and shoppers out to buy fine hand-painted pottery. Faïence , as it’s called, has been a hallmark of Nevers since the seventeenth century, and is painted in the deep colour known as bleue de Nevers ; there’s a stunning new museum – the Musée de la Faïence et des Beaux Arts – celebrating the renowned earthenware, housed in the restored Abbaye de Notre Dame at 15 rue St-Genest.

Place Carnot is the hub of the centre; nearby, just above the tourist office you’ll find 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 .

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. Spring is a good time to visit this region; you can avoid the crowds and the landscape is a dramatic symphony of browns – trees, earth and vines – punctuated by millions of bone-coloured vine stakes, standing like crosses in a vast war cemetery. The main administrative and shopping centre is the beautiful city of Beaune , south of which is the Great Wine Route , which checks off the big names in Burgundy winemaking.

Beaune , the principal town of the Côte d’Or, manages to maintain its attractively ancient air, despite a near-constant stream of wine aficionados using the place as their base. Narrow cobbled streets and sunny squares dotted with cafés make it a lovely, albeit expensive, spot to sample the region’s wine. Beaune’s chief attraction is the fifteenth-century hospital, the Hôtel-Dieu , founded in 1443 by chancellor of Burgundy, Nicholas Rolin. As grateful ex-patients or their families donated vine plots to the hospital, the town prospered quickly to become the centre of the local wine trade. The cobbled courtyard is surrounded by a wooden gallery overhung by a massive roof patterned with diamonds of variegated tiles – green, burnt sienna, black and yellow – and similarly multicoloured steep-pitched dormers and turrets. Inside is a vast paved hall with a glorious arched timber roof, the Grande Salle des Malades, with the original enclosed wooden beds. Passing through two smaller, furnished wards, one with some stunning seventeenth-century frescoes, then the kitchen and the pharmacy, you reach a dark chamber housing the splendid fifteenth-century altarpiece of the Last Judgement by Rogier van der Weyden and the tapestry of St Eloi, which is comparable to the Lady and the Unicorn in the Musée National du Moyen Age in Paris.

The Great Wine Route

The place names that line the legendary Great Wine Route National 74 – Gevrey-Chambertin, Vougeot , Vosne-Romanée, Nuits-St-Georges, Pommard , Volnay, Meursault – are music to the ears of wine buffs. These prosperous villages are full of wine cellars where you can get good advice on different vintages; you can taste and buy direct from the source at most of the vineyards by just turning up and asking.

If you’re interested in French wine culture, it’s worth visiting the Château du Clos-de-Vougeot to see the winemaking process. Particularly impressive are the mammoth thirteenth-century winepresses installed by the Cistercian monks who owned these vineyards for nearly seven hundred years. The land now belongs to more than eighty different owners, each growing and marketing their own wine.

The Saône valley south from Chalon-sur-Saône via Tournus all the way to Mâcon is prosperous and modern, nourished by tourism, industry (especially metalworking), and the wine trade. But turn your back on the river and head west and you immediately enter a different Burgundy, full of hilly pastures and woodland. This country is best known for its produce: the white wines of the Mâconnais are justly renowned, and the handsome white cattle that luxuriate in the green fields of the Charolais are an obvious sign that this is serious beef territory. 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.


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 cheap and cheerful base for exploring the more expensive areas of the Côte d’Or. The highlight of the old town , set just back from the river, is the lively place St-Vincent , where you can sit outside a café and admire the twin towers of the Romanesque cathedral, surrounded by medieval timber-framed houses. The Saône quays , meanwhile, provide some nice, though not always shaded, walking opportunities.

Chalon festivals

You may be tempted to visit Chalon during the pre-Lent carnival (Feb or March), which features a parade of giant masks and a confetti battle, or for one of the most remarkable festivals in Burgundy, the three-day Montgolifiades , which has a display and a race of dozens of multicoloured hot-air balloons; it takes place in the last weekend of May. As most of the sponsors are wine producers, the event is a great excuse to drink and be merry.

Scattered among the houses of the attractive modern-day town, the abbey of Cluny is the Saône Valley’s major tourist destination. The monastery was founded in 910 in response to the corruption of the existing church, and it took only a couple of vigorous early abbots to transform the power of Cluny into a veritable empire. Second only to that of the pope, the abbot’s power in the Christian world made even monarchs tremble. However, Cluny’s spiritual influence gradually declined and the abbey became a royal gift in the twelfth century. Centuries later, in the wake of the Revolution, Hugues de Semur’s vast and influential eleventh-century church , which had been the largest building in Christendom until the construction of St Peter’s in Rome, was dismantled. The most exciting thing that has happened since has been the burial of Mme Danielle Mitterrand, the President’s wife, in the town cemetery; her grave attracts many visitors.

What you see of the former abbey today is an octagonal belfry and the huge south transept . Standing amid these fragments of a once huge construction gives a tangible and poignant insight into the Revolution’s enormous powers of transformation. Access to the belfry is through the Grand École des Ingénieurs , one of France’s elite higher-education institutions, and you can often see the students in their grey lab coats.

Mâcon is a lively, prosperous town on the banks of the River Saône, 58km south of Chalon and 68km north of Lyon, with excellent transport connections between the two. 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. It is, however, a nightmare to drive around and parking is problematic, so it’s not recommended as a base for a regional wine-tasting tour for anyone renting a car.

Alphonse Lamartine: the great Romantic

Often compared to Lord Byron, Alphonse Lamartine (1790–1869) is one of the best-known of the French Romantic poets. He was born and grew up in Milly (now called Milly-Lamartine), about 15km west of Mâcon, and published his first poetic work, Méditations poétiques , in 1820. After the 1830 Revolution in Paris, he became involved in politics and was elected to the Chambre des Députés in 1833.

Lamartine, having acquired a reputation as a powerful orator on the weighty questions of the day, like the abolition of slavery and capital punishment, had his finest hour was as the leading figure in the provisional government of the Second Republic, which was proclaimed from the Hôtel de Ville in Paris on February 23, 1848. He withdrew from politics when reactionary forces let the army loose on the protesting workers of Paris and Marseille in June 1848. Retiring to St-Point, he continued to write and publish until his death in 1869.

The Charolais and Paray-le-Monial

The Charolais takes its name from the pretty little water-enclosed market town of Charolles , with its 32 bridges, on the main N79 road. In turn, it gives its name to one of the world’s most illustrious breeds of cattle : the white, curly-haired, stocky Charolais, bred for its lean meat. Throughout this region, scattered across the rich farmland, are dozens of small villages, all with Romanesque churches, the offspring of Cluny’s vigorous youth.

Some 14km west of Charolles, across countryside that becomes ever gentler and flatter as you approach the broad valley of the Loire, is 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, it’s the best place to get an idea of what the abbey of Cluny looked like, as it was built shortly afterwards in devoted imitation of the mother church.

The Mâconnais

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 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 .

The Chardonnay grape is the most popular, with around 80% of vineyards in the region growing it. The area, in general, specialises in high-quality wines, mostly whites but distinctive reds and roses also make an appearance in most places.

vineyards near Fuisse, Burgundy, France

Fuisse, The Maconnais © Richard Semik / Shutterstock

The Maconnais is 2 hours from Paris or Marseille by train and an hour from Lyon. If travelling by car, follow the A6 and exit and Tournus or Macon.

The Maconnais region, between Sennecey-le-Grand and Saint-Verand, has plenty of charming little towns and villages to explore.

Along the banks of the Saone River, lies Macon, the main city in the Maconnais region. Here you can explore the Old Cathedral of Saint Vincent and the New Cathedral of Saint Vincent. Simply strolling through the old town centre and walking down Quai Lamartine is pleasant enough, as with visiting the museum of Ursulines and the Church of Saint-Pierre.

City of Macon with Saone river in Burgundy, France

Saone river in Macon © Labrador Photo Video / Shutterstock

Cluny, North-east of Macon, is home to Cluny Abbey, a national monument of France. Once the largest in Europe, Cluny Abbey has a museum with historical collections and stonework that you can't help but admire. Exploring the streets of Cluny is just a lovely, with pretty old buildings and cobblestone streets.

Cluny Abbey, Nigel Jarvis

Cluny Abbey © Nigel Jarvis / Shutterstock

Solutre-Pouilly Vergisson

The national site of Solutre-Pouilly Vergisson is not just known for its vineyards but it's the classic landscape of limestone cliffs and lush green vegetation. Explore the area and look out for the infamous Solutre rock.

famous Solutre Rock with vineyards, Burgundy, France

Solutre Rock © Prochasson Frederic


The Berze-le-Chatel is a castle made up of a fortress, 13 towers and beautiful terraced gardens providing views of the rolling vineyards and cliffs.

Top I mage: Vineyard in The Maconnais © Catalinka / Shutterstock

Graced by ancient, golden buildings, Tournus is a beautiful little town on the banks of the Saône, 28km south of Chalon. Its main attraction is the old abbey church of St-Philibert , one of the earliest and thus most influential Romanesque buildings in Burgundy. Its construction began around 900 AD but the present building dates back to the first half of the eleventh century. The facade, with its powerful towers and simple decoration of Lombard arcading, is somewhat reminiscent of a fortress.

Burgundy farmers have been growing grapes since Roman times, and Burgundy’s wines are some of the most renowned in the world. In recent years, though, Burgundy’s vineyards, and those in other regions of France, have suffered due to competition from the southern hemisphere. However, because of stringent legal restrictions banning watering and other interference, French wines, more than others, remain a faithful reflection of the terroir where they are produced, and Burgundy experts remain confident that the climate and soil of their region will fight off any temporary economic challenges.

Burgundy’s best wines come from a narrow strip of hillside called the Côte d’Or that runs southwest from Dijon to Santenay, and is divided into two regions, Côte de Nuits (the better reds) and Côte de Beaune (the better whites). High-quality wine is certainly produced further south as well though, in the Mâconnais and on the Côtes Chalonnaises . Reds from the region are made almost exclusively from the Pinot Noir grape, while whites are largely from Chardonnay. Fans of bubbly should look out for the often highly regarded sparkling whites, which crop up across the region and won’t set you back half as much as a bottle of Champagne.

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.

For an apéritif in Burgundy, you should try kir , named after the man who was both mayor and MP for Dijon for many years after World War II – two parts dry white wine, traditionally aligoté , and one part cassis. To round the evening off there are many liqueurs to choose from, but Burgundy is particularly famous for its marcs, of which the best are matured for years in oak casks.

The Yonne valley

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 ).

Chablis and around

Some 16km south of Pontigny, the pretty red-roofed village of Chablis is home to the region’s famous dry white wines. Lying in the valley of the River Serein , the town is surrounded by rows of vines, interspersed with yellow splashes of fields full of sunflowers. While wandering around the wealthy, modern village take a look at the side door of the church of St-Martin , which is decorated with ancient horseshoes belonging to sick horses left by visiting pilgrims – St-Martin being the protector of horsemen.

The wacky Corkscrew and Vineyard Museum at Beine , a ten minutes’ drive west of Chablis, is great fun; spot the phallic and occasionally X-rated bottle-openers and corkscrews, and indulge in a little wine tasting.

Chablis wines

The combination of fossilized/limestone Jurassic soil, as well as a perfect vineyard climate with hard, wet winters and dry, sunny summers have made the village of Chablis one of the best-known names in dry white wines. Chablis follows the four Burgundy denominations in its own, particular way: the plots on a plateau are the cheapest, denominated as Petit-Chablis . The ones with a northern or eastern orientation (and thus limited sun exposure) are simply called Chablis . Those facing south or west are much more expensive and classified into 79 premiers crus . At the top of the pyramid are 103 hectares on the west side of the Serein facing south and comprising just seven Grand Crus that many believe produce the finest dry white wine in France: Blanchot, Bougros, Le Clos, Grenouilles, Preuses, Valmur and Vaudésirs. You can pick up a premier cru bottle in local cellars for €20 and a Grand Cru for less than €40.

For tastings try domain Jean-Marc Brocard in Préhy; they use a unique biodynamic model of viniculture which they are happy to explain to you (in English). Vititours offer English-speaking tours that end in tastings. They can pick you up from any hotel within a 35km radius of Chablis, which includes Auxerre. The hotel Du Vieux Moulin also offers tastings of its own domain Laroche.

Eating and drinking

The café terraces on place de la République are a great spot for a drink or light meal and are open quite late by French provincial standards.


Around 23km southeast of Chablis – you’ll need to drive, or take a taxi (about €35–40 from Tonnerre or Montbard train stations) – you come to the beautiful little town of Noyers-sur-Serein . Half-timbered and arcaded houses, ornamented with rustic carvings – particularly those on place de la Petite-Étape-aux-Vins and around place de l’Hôtel de Ville – are corralled inside a loop of the river and the town walls; you can pass a few pleasant hours wandering the path between the river and the irregular walls with their robust towers. The Serein here is as pretty as in Chablis, but Noyers, being remarkably free of commercialism, has more charm.

Pontigny lies 25km east of Joigny, and has a beautifully preserved twelfth-century Cistercian abbey church , standing on the edge of the village. There’s no tower, no stained glass and no statuary to distract from its austere lines, though the sombre effect is somehow compensated for by the seventeenth-century choir that occupies much of the nave.

Three Englishmen played a major role in the abbey’s early history, all of them archbishops of Canterbury. Thomas Becket took refuge from Henry II in the abbey in 1164, before moving to Sens in 1166; Stephen Langton similarly hid here during an argument over his eligibility for the primacy from 1207 to 1213; finally, Saint Edmund of Abingdon retired here in 1240, after unsuccessfully trying to stand up to Henry III. Saint Edmund’s relics lie in a seventeenth-century tomb inside the abbey.

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How to spend one week in Burgundy: Travel Guide & Itinerary

By: Author Sophie Nadeau

Posted on Last updated: 1st March 2023

Categories France , Itineraries

Last Updated on 1st March 2023 by Sophie Nadeau

My recent time in Burgundy, or Bourgogne as it is so-called in French, was a seven day bliss of slow travel, culinary experiences, and boutique hotel stays. And so if you’re looking for an alternative destination to the rugged coast of Brittany, the bright lights of Paris, or the sun-soaked villages of Provence, then Burgundy is the place to go. Here’s your complete guide and itinerary for one week in Burgundy …

Tour de l'Horloge d'Auxerre (Auxerre Clock Tower)


Chalon sur saône, nuits-saint-georges, tips, tricks, and practical advice for visiting burgundy, enjoyed reading about how to spend one week in burgundy pin it now, read it again later:, suggested itinerary for one week in burgundy.

Stay: 1 night

Where to stay: Panorama 360 Hotel & Spa

Located in the very southerly point of Burgundy, in a place where there’s a Mediterranean feel about the place and the sun shines for an incredible number of days each year in comparison with much of the rest of the region, Mâcon is the French city you wish you’d heard of before.

First inhabited as early as the Gallo-Roman period, and perhaps earlier, the city is home to a maze of cobbled lanes, pretty restaurants, and a laid-back way of life. Cross the medieval Pont Laurent and you’ll soon arrive in Bresse, another area of France and just as charming, albeit in a different way.

Read more: A guide to the best things to do in Mâcon

Maison de Bois (House of wood), 13 Place aux Herbes

Where to stay: Saint Georges Hôtel

Timber-framed houses can be found in abundance across this quaint French city. While slightly larger than Mâcon, Chalon Sur Saone is by no means quite as large as the regional capital of Dijon.

Alleged to be the birthplace of photography (the city’s most famous resident, Nicéphore Niépce took the earliest surviving photograph ) , there’s no shortage of things to do in this pretty city.

Highlights of Chalon-Sur-Saône, which is set across an isle in the River Saône and mainland France include the ever-so-impressiveDoyenné tower (this 15th-century tower was once located by the cathedral.

During the 20th-century, it was dismantled and re-erected on the other side of the river) and Musée Vivant-Denon. If you’ve got a little more time in the city, then La Boule à Thé is a beautiful café serving all manner of hot drinks and cool beverages.

Chalon Sur Saone, Burgundy, France

Where to stay: Hôtel le Cep

Essential tour: Burgundy Full-Day Tour and Wine Tastings from Beaune

The wine city of Beaune is every oenophile’s dream on a trip through l’Hexagon. Wander down any street and you’ll soon be greeted with wine vendors, as well as ample opportunities to head to one of the many tasting sessions that take place in the cellars that were constructed during the 17th-century.

Other must-see attractions in Beaune include strolling along the city’s ramparts (around half of the fortifications from the Middle Ages survive to this day) and visiting the other wine-themed attractions around town.

For example, directly opposite The Hospices de Beaune, you’ll find the wine bookstore of Athenaeum, while the Musée du Vin de Bourgogne will tell you all you need to know about the region’s rich wine history.

Beaune, France travel Guide: Best things to do in Beaune, the wine capital of Burgundy (Bourgogne). Here’s where to stay, best attractions, and the best wine locations in Beaune, which is a timber-framed town filled with museums, eateries, and churches

Where to stay: Hotel Chateau de la Berchere

Located along the Route des Grands Crus, a UNESCO World Heritage rated wine route, Nuits-Saint-Georges is a quintessentially Burgundian town.

But with a population of just five thousand residents and only a handful of tourist attractions (several churches, a belfry, and a few restaurants) , you come to Nuits-Saint-Georges to enjoy the wine!

After all, from the town, it’s possible to walk or drive to nearby Vosne-Romanée. This French village is filled with wine vendors and tasting opportunities. Walk to the fringes of the village and you’ll soon stumble upon the vineyard that grows the grapes from Romanée-Conti wine, i.e. the most expensive wine in the world!

Read more: Your Guide to Nuits-Saint-Georges

Nuits Saint Georges village centre

Stay: 2 nights

Where to stay: Grand Hotel La Cloche Dijon MGallery by Sofitel

In order to truly enjoy the French capital city of mustard, you’ll need to set aside a full two days to wander around both the historic city centre and its wider counterparts. For a bird’s eye view of the city, be sure to climb Tour Philip Le Bon. From the top, you’ll soon discover one of the best views of the Dijon.

Other highlights of Dijon include mustard tasting (of course!) , visiting the city’s many tiny churches, exploring the crypt of 6th-century Saint, Saint Beningnus, and exploring a handful of museums, scattered across the city.

Many of the museums in Dijon are free to visit, and of note is the Musée des Beaux-Arts (one of the oldest art museums in France) and the Musée de l’Art Sacré (a museum of religious art housed within a former church). I particularly love all of the hidden gems of Dijon .

La Maison Sans Toit (the house without a roof), Place Bossuet

Where to stay: Hôtel Les Maréchaux

Just over an hour and a half from Paris on the train, the city of Auxerre is lesser-known than its other Bourgogne counterparts, though it should still be on your radar. Characterised by its three impressive ecclesiastical buildings (An Abbey, A Cathedral, and a Church) set alongside the glittering River Yonne.

Elsewhere in Auxerre, you’ll soon discover that there’s more to meet the eye than the maze of cobbled lanes and timber-framed houses that are so synonymous with the region.

After all, the Clocher (clock tower) dates all the way back to the 15th-century. Fortified and with a rather impressive astronomical clock, the stunning structure is reminiscent of that of Rouen.

Read more: The clock tower of Auxerre

auxerre river view, Burgundy, France

The best airport to fly into for this week-long itinerary is Aéroport Lyon-Saint Exupéry (Lyon Airport). I personally flew into here from London with a budget airline and thought that it was a great way to reach Eastern France.

Alternatively, Geneva also has a great international airport with regular connecting flights to the rest of Europe. Finally, if you want to complete this itinerary in reverse, then you could always fly to one of Paris’ airports (though I personally think that Charles de Gaulle is the easiest and most convenient of the Parisian airports).

Cherry blossom tree on the quai lamartine Mâcon, Burgundy

All of the cities and towns listed within this itinerary can be reached via public transport, and for many of the more historic older towns in Burgundy , you probably wouldn’t want to have a car with you!

For example, Beaune, Dijon, and Auxerre are all filled with one-way cobbled lanes and difficult enough to navigate on foot, let alone by car!

All of the destinations listed have tourism offices that are open throughout the year, and most offer free maps with walking tours (though some charge a nominal fee) .

Shops, cafés, and even pharmacies are generally closed all day on Sundays, and so you’ll want to stock up on groceries and the like on the Saturday as a result!

Here's why you need to visit the Burgundy capital of wine, Beaune, historic seat of the Dukes of Burgundy. Best Beaune attractions and things to do in eastern France

If you’re looking to learn a little more about wine prior to your visit, then I recommend purchasing a book like this one . Though it’s not absolutely necessary to know anything about vin before visiting Bourgogne, a little knowledge will certainly help you understand your preferences when selecting where you should go wine tasting and what you should purchase!

Finally, you’ll find that a general level of English-speakers can be found in pretty much every large town and city throughout the Bourgogne region.

This is especially true of those working in the tourism industry; hotels, B&Bs, tourism offices etc. However, it’s only polite to try speaking a little French and I highly recommend bringing along a simple French phrasebook like this one !

A one week travel itinerary and guide for seven days in Burgundy. Looking for inspiration for your trip to Bourgogne? This guide will tell you where to stay and the best towns to visit!

Sophie Nadeau loves dogs, books, travel, pizza, and history. A Francophile at heart, she runs when she’s not chasing after the next sunset shot or consuming something sweet. She splits her time between Paris and London and travels as much as she can! Subscribe to Sophie’s YouTube Channel.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed .

Katrina Laemmerhirt

Thursday 12th of September 2019

Hello! This post is great :) Did you find that you needed to make reservations at wineries/ vineyards to do tours and tastings? Or can you just walk in? Thanks in advance!

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The 12 Most Iconic Sites in Burgundy

The 12 Most Iconic Sites in Burgundy

There is much to see in this region rich in Roman and medieval history and heritage. Here are our top picks.

Related articles: A Complete Guide to Burgundy: Venture Beyond the Vineyards Where to Stay and Eat in Burgundy


Celebrating its 80th anniversary this year, this wine route strings together some of the world’s most recognisable names in wine-making – and all of them lie on the relatively short drive between Dijon and Beaune. Website:

burgundy tourist sites

La Route des Grands Crus


Head to Cluny, in the Saône-et-Loire department, to discover the ruins of an extraordinary spiritual centre. Founded by William I, Duke of Aquitaine, way back in 910AD, it was dedicated to Saint Peter and was once the seat of the largest monastic order in western Europe. Website:

burgundy tourist sites

Château de Guédelon


In the northern tip of Burgundy, a team of 50 master-builders have taken on an extraordinary challenge: building a castle using only medieval techniques and materials. The 21st-century medieval adventure offers a unique opportunity to see experimental archaeology in action. Website:

burgundy tourist sites

Clos de Vougeot


Within the largest single vineyard in Côte de Nuits entitled to the Grand Cru designation, this medieval Cistercian winery is the headquarters of the Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin – among other things, the organisers of the Saint-Vincent Tournante Festival. Website:

burgundy tourist sites

Musée des Beaux Arts de Dijon


The Museum of Fine Arts in Dijon is one of the oldest and most important in France. Located in the east wing of the Palace of the Dukes of Burgundy, seat of one of the most influential courts in Medieval Europe, it is currently being refurbished. Website:

burgundy tourist sites

Musée Magnin Dijon. Photo: Sylvia Edwards Davis


A collection of around 2,000 works of art bequeathed to France in 1938 by Maurice Magnin and his sister Jeanne, along with their home, an outstanding 17th-century hôtel particulier in the historical district of Dijon that had become part of the family’s estate in the 19th century. Website:

burgundy tourist sites

Chateau de Meursault.


The monastic cellars of this celebrated winery in the heart of Burgundy date back to the 12th century and the vineyards extend over nearly 60 hectares, from Puligny-Montrachet to Aloxe-Corton. Among them are 15 Premiers Crus, two Grands Crus as well as a Monopole. Website:

burgundy tourist sites

Hospices de Beaune. Photo: smallcoho


One of the best-known historical landmarks in France, the Gothic building used to house an almshouse. Every year in November, its wine cellars host a candlelit wine auction of some considerable global renown. (Its services to the poor are now administered by the State.) Website:

burgundy tourist sites

Canal de Bourgogne


This emblematic waterway, which first opened in 1832, runs for a total of 242km and, by connecting the Rivers Yonne and Saône, effectively joins the Mediterranean Sea to the Atlantic Ocean (which comes in handy if the British have just taken Gibraltar, as was the case at the time). Website:

burgundy tourist sites



The location for the classic movie Chocolat , starring Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp, Flavigny-sur-Ozerain stands on the site of a Gallo-Roman stronghold. The charming nook is a favourite with tourists and was awarded ‘Plus BeauxVillages de France’ status. Website:

burgundy tourist sites



A thriving trading hub during the Middle Ages, due to its favourable location at the meeting point of Roman roads and inland waterways, this lively town is also at the start of the Côte Chalonnaise wine-growing area. It was also important in the development of photography. Website:

A defendable hill town and a major site of Christendom on the pilgrimage route of Saint-Jacques, and a magnet for artists and writers who found sanctuary here, the town and its 11th-century Basilica of Sainte-Marie-Madeleine are now designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Website:

From France Today magazine

burgundy tourist sites

Vezelay. Photo: Alain Doire/ Bourgogne Tourisme

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Sylvia Edwards Davis is a writer and correspondent based in France with a focus on business and culture. A member of the France Media editorial team, Sylvia scans the cultural landscape to bring you the most relevant highlights on current events, art exhibitions, museums and festivals.

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burgundy tourist sites

4 sites recognised by UNESCO

The 4 Burgundian heritage sites listed as World Heritage sites by UNESCO are exceptional examples of cultural and natural heritage, evidence of bygone days and of the extraordinary connections between Mother Nature and Mankind. These places of outstanding universal value are irreplaceable and we strongly recommend you come and visit them!

burgundy tourist sites

Fontenay Abbey

Fontenay Abbey was founded in 1118 by Saint Bernard, and is one of the most ancient Cistercian monasteries in France . It was one of the very first places in France to be recognised by UNESCO.

Find out more about Fontenay

burgundy tourist sites

Vézelay Abbey Church and Hill

The Benedictine monastery was founded in the 9th century and houses the relics of Mary Magdelene, making it a popular place of pilgrimage

Find out more about Vézelay

burgundy tourist sites

Priory Notre-Dame of La Charité-sur-Loire

The Priory was founded in 1059 and is perfectly located on the banks of the Loire and on the pilgrimage routes of the Way of St. James . This Priory is a "daughter house" of the powerful Cluny Abbey

Find out about the Priory

burgundy tourist sites

The "Climats" of Burgundy's vineyard

This open-air mosaic of vine plots stretches across the Côtes de Nuits and Côtes de Beaune. The "Climats" are a remarkable example of wine production that has been developed since the Early Middle Ages.

Find out more about the "Climats"


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