Winter is a great time to visit Burgundy. Its vineyards are known throughout the world and a little chill in the air adds something to the sublime wines from Gevrey-Chambertin, Nuits-St-Georges, Vosne-Romanée and Chablis, to name just a few. And, there’s plenty of things to do in winter in Burgundy…
Dijon, the capital of the Cote d’Or department, is an ideal town to visit in Winter and a great base from which to explore the vineyards and valleys. This town is perfect for those who love great architecture, culture, food, wine, street markets and friendly folk. There’s the fabulous and free to visit Musée des Beaux Arts to Le Consortium Arts Centre and plenty more art venues and museums in between – including a gingerbread museum. You could easily spend two days just on culture. But you’d miss out on the chance to dine in some of the finest restaurants in France. This really is a city that takes food seriously as you’ll discover if you visit the glorious market.
And then there are the fabulous wine bars like funky Monsieur Moutarde – nothing to do with mustard despite this being Dijon. With its roof terrace and quirky rooms, it’s perfect for a glass of wine of local aperitif Kir. It was invented by a former Mayor of Dijon – wine and cassis (preferably from a local cassis producer!).
Beaune makes for a great base to tour the local countryside and the vineyards of the Route des Grands Crus. The city has a beautiful old centre with cobbled streets and is terrific for wandering. Let yourself get lost in its winding streets and enjoy the wonderful architecture. The must-see place is the Hotel Dieu founded by Guigone de Salins and her husband Nicolas Rolin in 1443. On the third week-end of November the 3 Glorieuses take place. Festivals, concerts, cellar opening and a unique charity wine auction. The proceeds fund the local hospital’s equipment and the hotel-dieu’s conservation.
In Beaune you’ll enjoy plenty of choice for great restaurants. Of course Boeuf Bourguignon is a firm favourite as well as coq au vin made with Burgundy wine. Ideal winter dishes and perfect with a glass of robust red.
Take a wine tasting: Sensation Vin in the town, open year-round. Perfect for novices or experts, and tastings are from 1.5 hours in a 10th century cellar to a day in the vineyards. (sensation-vin.com)
Wine and dine: Hotel Le Cep, an institution in Beaune. Gastronomic dishes and 70 different wines by the glass in a historic 16th century mansion (hotel-cep-beaune.com).
Stay at: Les Jardins de Lois, 5-minute walk from the Hospices and town centre. Authentic, cosy and tranquil B&B in a characterful house with rooms named after vineyards and owned by local wine makers the Dufouleurs. (jardinsdelois.com)
Lots of winegrowers open their cellars to the public in winter. You can follow several wine routes through frosty countryside. You’ll pass wonderful little villages with cosy cafés as you follow the Route of the Rineyards of Yonne though the Serein Valley, famous for its Chablis wines. Take the Rourte de Crémant through the little known Pays Châtillonnais, renowned for its sparkling wines. It’s a land of castles and abbeys, churches and pretty villages. Don’t miss the Museum of Pays Châtillonnais. Open year round, it houses the incredibly preserved burial treasures of the Lady of Vix, dating to around 500 BC.
There’s also the Côte Chalonnaise Great Wine Route which takes in the vinueards planted by monks more than a thousand years ago. And the Mâconnais-Beaujolais Wine Route wends its way through south of Burgundy and the Saône Valley. Finally, the Routes des Grand Crus which takes you through to the vineyards of Côte de Nuits and Côte de Beane.
Find out more about cellars that are open to the public on the Vins de Bourgogne website: vins-bourgogne.fr
The colourful festival of Saint Vincent Tournante honours the feast day of St. Vincent, patron saint of wine. The festival is held on the weekend closest to the Saint’s Day 22 January. The event attracts thousands to enjoy a choreographed collaboration between the Brotherhood of Tastevin, the Church and local wine making societies.
In Novemner in Noyers-sur-Serein, a medieval jewel of a village, the town comes to life with a truffle market that’s famous throughout Burgundy (details: www.noyers-et-tourisme.com/).
Whilst in Bresse, famous for its plump, tasty chickens, said to be the best in France, a December competition is held. The annual Glorieuses de Bresse attracts visitors from all over France.