Burgundy: The region and places of interest





Lying in the eastern region of France in the valleys west of the Saône River, south-east of Paris, Burgundy has a greater saturation of Appellations d'Origine Contrôlée (AOCs) than any other region in France. Famed for their belief in terroir, wines from Burgundy tend to be a homage to the region’s geography, geology and climate, embodying the unique qualities that are specific to the environment in which Burgundian wine is produced. Having said all that, there is plenty to see aside from the region’s rich winemaking traditions.

From the sprawling châteaux to the plethora of UNESCO World Heritage sites steeped in religious, artistic and medieval history, the picturesque Burgundian countryside is awash with notable places to visit.

For several centuries up until 1477, Burgundy was independent of France and sided with the English during the Hundred Years’ War, famously capturing Joan of Arc and handing her to the English for financial reward prior to her execution on 30 May 1431. During this period Burgundy was a rich state and the legacy of its illustrious and wealthy history remains to this day.

The beautiful Fontenay Abbey, founded in 1118 by Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, is six kilometres east of Montbard and is immersed in history. Attacked on several occasions during the aforementioned Hundred Years War but restored in 1905, in remains in pristine condition lying in an expansive wooded valley and is a must for an visitor to Burgundy.
 
Picture by Dan Liebgold
 
The Hospices de Beaune (or Hôtel-Dieu) in the heart of the Côtes de Beaune, is an emblematic icon of 15th century Flamboyant Gothic architecture and is an ideal attraction for visiting tourists because it represents a culmination of the region’s artistic, historical and winemaking traditions. The Hospices de Beaune houses one of France’s most famous wine auctions each year, when its 60 hectare vineyard in Côte de Beaune, Côtes de Nuits and Pouilly-Fuissé sells its wines to connoisseurs and professionals from all over the world. While it’s an important annual event in the wine industry calendar, taking place on the 3rd Sunday of November, the auction is open to the public and it is a great opportunity to taste and understand Burgundian wine.  
 
 Picture by John Picken

Yonne in north-west Burgundy is famed for its medieval architecture and home to Ancy-le-Franc castle on the Canal de Bourgogne. Built in the 16th century it is one of the first and finest examples of a Renaissance chateaux in France. The elegantly manicured gardens situated alongside the Burgundy canal provide an idyllic setting for visitors and this area of the region also houses a number of quaint and charming Burgundian villages including Montreal and of course Chablis.
 
Picture by Sylviane Moss
 
Saone-et-Loire in south-east Burgundy and Nievre in the south-west are perhaps less frequented but the latter is popular with cycling and hiking enthusiasts, eager to explore the unspoiled countryside, or the notable UNESCO World Heritage sites like the town of La Charite-sur-Loire and its stunning monastery.
 
Picture by akial
 
While Burgundy remains perpetually aligned to its winemaking traditions and expertise, the region remains a beautifully engaging and at times secluded destination for tourists eager to broaden their horizons.  
 
 
 [Main image 'Hospices de Beaune' by André Mouraux]
 

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