Burgundy is a region in central France that covers an area of more than 12,000 square miles. There are many castles, museums and historic towns to visit but – you can also experience this beautiful area from Burgundy’s point of view.
Vineyards & Wine Tasting Experience Burgundy France
Probably most famous for its vineyards and wine production, you’ll find many tours that will take you behind the scenes and let you sample the various wines of Burgundy.
Burgundy wine can be either red or white. It actually gets its name “Burgundy” because of where it’s produced, not because of its color. Interestingly, almost two thirds of the wine produced in Burgundy is dry, white wine. Pinot noir and Chardonnay are the two main wines made in this region of France. Pinot noir is a Bourgogne Rouge – a dry, red burgundy wine. It is one of the most popular wines in the world. Chardonnay, on the other hand, is a Bourgogne Blanc or a white burgundy.
There are several wine-producing areas in France. Most of them have only a few large vineyards. Burgundy has much smaller vineyards – thousands of them! The grape-growing season lasts through the autumn and at the end of the grape harvest, a celebration takes place annually in the Burgundian town of Beaune. The event is known as the Trois Glorieuses and began in 1851, it has been held every year since then. It’s an incredible food and wine-tasting event that begins the third weekend in November. In addition to the festivities of Trois Glorieuses, one of the most famous charitable auctions in the world is also held then – The Hospices de Beaune Wine Auction.
Classic Foods Experience Burgundy
Food and wine do seem to mix in Burgundy – whether it’s wine with your meal or food that is prepared with it. A few wine-flavored dishes that originated in Burgundy include Bœuf bourguignon (beef), Coq au vin (chicken), Escargots de Bourgogne (snails), Pôchouse (fish), and Oeufs en meurette (eggs).
Gougère, a cheese pastry made with Gruyère choux, is also popular and there are famous Burgundian cheeses you should absolutely try if you go including Chaource, Epoisses and the Abbaye de la Pierre-qui-Vire.
The world-famous Dijon mustard was first created in the city of Dijon. Today the mustard is still produced in Dijon in a variety of flavors. Blackcurrants are abundant in Burgundy and are often used in sauces, mousses and sorbets. A dessert favorite – Tarte de Semoule au Cassis – is made using blackcurrants. Sampling the different foods can be quite a treat. What about learning how to make them? Do you love to cook? There are cooking, cuisine and gourmet tours available in Burgundy to suit every gastronomic desire!
Cruise the Burgundy Canal
Cruising is another way to experience Burgundy. If you enjoy being near the water, you’ll find several rivers in this area of France. Perhaps the most well-known are the Burgundy Canal and the Saône River, both of which feature in cruise packages in Burgundy. The Canal de Bourgogne or Burgundy Canal is 150 miles long and is one of the major waterways in the region.
Did you know that you can reach Burgundy from Paris by way of water? The Seine River in Paris is connected to the Yonne River, which flows through northwestern Burgundy. The Yonne is a tributary of the Seine and is the traditional waterway to Paris from Burgundy.
Canal cruises are popular in Burgundy and barge riverboats typically have about 8 to 12 passengers. You’ll see a lot of boating activity on the Yonne River and Burgundy Canal near Auxerre. Located in northern Burgundy near the city of Chablis, there are vineyards and historic old towns complete with picturesque half-timbered houses around Auxerre which make it a popular tourist destination. Another major waterway in Burgundy is the Ouche River, which is connected to Canal de Bourgogne and is also a tributary of the Saône River. The Ouche flows through the popular city of Dijon. Throughout Burgundy, the rivers join historic towns and picturesque villages together, indeed there are three rivers that flow through the lovely city of Louhans (top photo) – the Vallière, Solnan and the Seille.
The Popular Towns of Burgundy
Dijon is the capital of Burgundy and is probably the most well-known city in this region of France. High-speed train travel is available to Dijon from Paris and other major cities, but if you want to travel through Dijon at a slower pace, you might enjoy a ride on a steam locomotive train. Ouche Railways will take you on a 90-minute train ride between Epinac and Dijon. The two towns are only 5 miles apart, so the journey by train is at a very leisurely pace along the Ouche River Valley.
The city of Beaune is known for having some of the world’s most famous wine villages and is often referred to as the “Capital of Burgundy Wines”. Beaune is located about 28 miles south of Dijon. There are several other beautiful villages in Burgundy, especially in Côte-d’Or, Saône-et-Loire and Yonne. You’ll see beautiful architecture, often surrounded by or decorated with real flowers.
However you spend your time in Burgundy – visiting vineyards and tasting wines, walking through historical villages, taking a barge canal cruise – you’ll be sure to enjoy the food and the scenery!
Lauri Wakefield is a travel enthusiast who writes about river cruising and travel destinations in Europe. Burgundy by bike
Flavigny-sur-Ozerain, the town in Burgundy where Hollywood blockbuster “Chocolat” was filmed