Top 10 places to visit in Burgundy, France

Burgundy, in the heart of rural France, is famous for its elegant chateaux, celebrated wine and delicious food. The landscape is one of rolling hills covered in forests of oak, maple and pine and where spring, summer and autumn each leave a unique signature. Medieval towns are surrounded by unspoilt countryside and the wonderful markets have stalls brimming with fresh local products cultivated on the fertile plains.

Château de Tanlay

The château at Tanlay, one of the finest in Burgundy, was built in the 15th and 16th centuries and has a beautifully-decorated interior. Ensconced in a series of moats, arcades and iron grills, the château is actually a petit château and a grand château, all surrounded by a park.

Chateau de Tanlay

Dijon

Dijon is a modern, growing city with a well-designed boat harbor. It is the center of Côte d’Or and was the ancient capital of Burgundy in the 14th and 15th centuries. Visitors can wend their way through the narrow streets of the old quarter and may be drawn to the city’s numerous museums; the Ducal Palace, which opens onto the square; the Parliament Building; and the 13th century Cathedral St-Bénigne, with its Romanesque crypt.

Dijon

Beaune

Beaune is one of the best preserved medieval cities in the region. Until the 14th century, Beaune was the residence of the Ducs de Bourgogne. In 1477 it was annexed by Louis XI. First a Gallic sanctuary and then a Roman town, Beaune is now a mecca for wine lovers. This thriving town is surrounded by ramparts and has a labyrinth of caves (wine cellars).

Beaune

Chablis

On the banks of the River Serein, Chablis is a pretty little village. Called the “Golden Gate” of Burgundy, it is famous the world over for its white wines. Visitors enter through the turreted towers of the Porte Noël gateway, opening on to narrow stone streets and houses dating from the 14th to 16th century.

Chablis

Châteauneuf-en-Auxois

Châteauneuf-en-Auxois is a tiny, charming, hilltop town, well worth the climb up the steep path. This romantic and fascinating village is like a miniature Carcassonne, with its turreted castle, its encircling walls, and its elegant houses once belonging to rich merchants. The château, built in the 12th and 15th centuries, affords a broad view over the rolling farmlands, with a view of the Canal de Bourgogne and the woodlands of the Morvan.

Chateauneuf en Auxois

Clos de Vougeot

Clos de Vougeot is one of the largest vineyards in Burgundy. The Château de Clos de Vougeot is a small château built to house the wine presses needed by the Cistercian monks to make wine for their masses (the religious ceremonies, not the unwashed). The château is now the seat of Burgundy’s most sophisticated wine lovers, the Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin.

Chateau du Clos de Vougeot

Abbey at Fontenay

The Abbey at Fontenay was founded in 1118 by St-Bernard. Situated at the bottom of a remote valley, this large Cistercian monastery near Montbard is noteworthy for its rather simple, austere style and its no-frills architecture. Having been ravaged and abandoned during the French Revolution, and later serving time as a paper factory, the Abbey has been so carefully restored that it is now the most complete remaining medieval monastery.

Abbaye de Fontenay

Château Commarin

Château Commarin has been in the hands of the same family for more than seven centuries. This once fortified castle, built in 1346, was transformed in the 17th century and again in 1702. Today two large towers and a small chapel are the only 14th century structures that remain.

Chateau de Commarin

Auxerre

At the junction of the Canal du Nivernais and the River Yonne, Auxerre is a beautiful city and a pleasant port, with elegant buildings gracing its waterfront. Auxerre was an important spiritual center and a big market town for timber and wine.

AUXERRE

Vézelay

Vézelay is an historic hilltop town in the Cure Valley and a Christian shrine. It was the site of the Call to the Second Crusade by St-Bernard in 1146. During the Middle Ages it was a major pilgrimage site and a special stop on the way to Compostella. Pilgrims still stop here on their way to St-Jacques-de-Compostel. The imposing Roman Basilica of Ste-Madeleine (12th – 13th century) is perched high above the “eternal hill”. The interior, with its immense Christ in Glory, is one of the greatest Romanesque works of art in the west.

VEZELAY

Chris Gant is Marketing Manager at European Waterways Ltd..

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Comments (1)

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  1. Mark Haldon says:

    I’m heading to Burgundy in a few weeks – such a beautiful corner of Europe and a trip to Clos de Vougeot is well and truly on the cards!

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