Floating through history
A few hours drive from Paris, Burgundy is one of the richest regions of France, best known for producing among the world's finest wines. A stroll through Bourgogne is a unique experience in in what many centuries of civilization can produce.
Burgundy spans a watershed. The Saone River runs south to the Mediterranean; the Yonne flows north to join the Seine. In addition, canals link the main cities and towns. A boat ride along Burgundy's waterways makes a truly delightful way to float through history.
Outside of its town and cities, the region is full of wonderful landscapes, from the regional park of the Morvan to the pastures of the Brionnais. To the east, the mountainous region of the Jura is a tranquil land of deep valleys and waterfalls.
Last stand of the Gauls
The Battle of Alesia (52 BC) was turning event of the Gallic Wars, as it marked the last major engagement between Gaulish and Roman armies. After a siege of several months, Julius Caesar defeated Vercingetorix, a few kilometers northwest of Flavigny, near the village that now known as Alice-Ste-Reine. A hillside indicator shows the presumed battle lines, and the whole area is a must-stop for diehard fans of Roman history.
Richer and more powerful than France
Situated between the great trade route between the Mediterranean and Northern Europe, the dukedom of Burgundy was for a long part of its history richer and more powerful than the kingdom of France. It was also larger, since at its height, it included Flanders, Luxembourg, Holland and much of what is now known as Belgium. Its capital city, Dijon, was the cultural center of a vast area ,and the best musicians and artists of the time resided there. In fact, until 1477 – when it became part of France – Burgundy looked like it was going to absorb France, and not the other way around. The 13th century saw the rise of the powerful dukes of Burgundy, and many of their magnificent palaces, noble mansions and art collections dot the countryside as well as the museums of Dijon.
Important center of French Christianity
Austere Cistercians abbeys and superb example of Romanesque churches testify to the importance of Christianity here throughout the Middle Ages. The Benedictine Abbey of Vezelay was one of the starting points for the pilgrimage ot Santiago de Compostela. Between the 10th and 11th century, the Benedictine rule reached its time of greatest influence at Cluny. In the 12th century, Saint Bernard founded the order of the Cistercians. The Abbey of Fontenay still stands as a tribute to the industry and austerity of monastic life. In Burgundy, one can see the architecural development in church building from the Romanesque barrel vault, to the Gothic naves of the cathedrals of Sens and Auxerre.
The Cote d'Or
The Golden Hillside runs 60 km south of Dijon with Beaune as its historical center. Its vine-covered hills are the source of such world-famous wines as Gevrey-Chambertin Vosne-Romanee, Aloxe-Corton, which can be found north of the city of Beaune, and Pommard, Puligny-Montrachet and Santenay, south of Beaune.
Burgundy includes four départements:
- Côte d'Or (21)
- Nievre (58)
- Saône-et-Loire (71)
- Yonne (89)
- Dijon. The mustard capital of the universe is the region's major hub and a great place to start your visit.
- Beaune. At the heart of the Côte d'Or and the wine route.
- Auxerre. The closest city from Paris has a charming old center, and beautiful river views of the Yonne.
- Mâcon. At the center of the region's southernmost wine-producing region, near Pouilly-Fuissé, it's a lively little town with a pedestrian center and 16th century houses.