Burgundy has it all: glorious countryside, vineyards, amazing gastronomy, a fabulous history, picturesque villages, awesome towns, the Burgundy Canal and an incredible capital city – Dijon.
Wine, chateaux, gastronomy!
Of the hundreds of reasons Burgundy, or to give it its French name Bourgogne, will tempt you to visit again and again – these three stand out. The wonderful wines, some of the best in the world. The plethora of delicious cheeses. And, the astonishingly beautiful chateaux. There are more chateaux in this region than any other in France.
And, I haven’t even mentioned the diversity of the local landscape, the chance to stay in a fabulous chateau, amazing heritage, picturesque villages, the waterways, the peacefulness of the countryside…
Dijon Capital of Bourgogne-Franche-Comté
The Dukes of Burgundy were once more powerful than the royal family of France. Their footprint in Dijon is incredible. Hugely wealthy, the Dukes of Burgundy were patrons of the arts and spent fortunes on making Dijon as beautiful as possible. An enormous palace, wide open squares, medieval streets with gorgeous mansions – their legacy is on every corner.
Wander round Dijon town and take in the sights of this historic town that bears so many traces of its illustrious and very prosperous past. Pop into a modern clothes shop and discover an ancient well left over from the 15th Century. Dip down an alleyway and find a hidden medieval house that looks like it was built yesterday.
The unique and free to enter Museum of Burgundy Life in Dijon has an eclectic and wonderful mix of objects. The recreations of shops and their contents from the 19th and early 20th Centuries are truly superb.
Dine out in Dijon
Rest your feet and people watch at Place Francois Rude, encircled by cafés and bars whose tables spill onto the pedestrianised square. A lively place named after the Dijon-born sculptor of “La Marseilleise” which graces the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. The locals call it Place du Bareuzai thanks to the statue of a naked man treading grapes. The name means ”red stockings” (from bas rosé) which the winegrowers had after crushing grapes with their feet
There’s a huge choice of places to eat in Dijon. I really love Les Oenophiles restaurant for its 15th century pigeonnier, 17th century dining room, 100% home cooked food and incredible tasting boeuf bourguignon, the region’s signature dish.
The Perfect day in Dijon
Start at the gorgeous market with its Eiffel designed architecture, the great man and designer of the famous tower in Paris was born in this town. Burgundians love their food and in this market you will really see, smell and taste the love that goes into preparing it. From bread with little heart shaped ends to snail cake and divine chocolate nibbles. There are amazing cheese such as Epoisses produced in a little village of the same name. Perfect washed down with locally produced wine such as Chablis. There is a café in the centre of the market that simply oozes joie de vivre as happy customers sit and chat… and eat.
Afterwards enjoy coffee in the square with a nibble on a nonette, the local gingerbread cake. Then it’s time to browse the second hand book stalls, lunch in the Place Francois Rude and then hop on the tram to Beaune which is slower than taking the train but a fun and charming route.
Beautiful Beaune the winetastic town
Wine tasting in Beaune, home of the famous and really quite sensational Hospices de Beaune. It’s a pretty town where they take their wine seriously. When one of the locals discovered that robbers had been tunnelling from her wine cellar into the local bank, she called the robbers “idiots” for ignoring her wine collection which she felt was far more worthy than the gold or money in the bank! The Hospices de Beaune was a cutting edge hospital in the 1400s and incredibly parts of it stayed open until the 1990s. It is a fascinating place to visit and you will never forget the site of that magnificent multi-coloured tiled roof. (About 20 mins by train from Dijon, or scenic route by tram about one hour 20 mins).
Great activities for families in Burgundy
- Enjoy a picnic along the famous Burgundy canal
- Cycle – there are 800 km of cycle routes and 5 major routes.
- A must-see is the Chateau of Guedelon, Yonnne, a medieval castle being built in the 21st Century. (Open March – November).
Chateauneuf- en-Auxois is a fairy-tale looking picture perfect hill top Burgundian country town. It overlooks the Burgundy Canal and is officially one of the “Plus Beaux Villages de France”. A great place to spend a relaxing day chilling out though there is not a lot to do other than wander, wonder and eat – the views alone are worth the detour.