Not to miss sights in Bourgogne
• Dijon, capital of the Dukes of Burgundy
It is called "la ville aux cent clochers" ("The town of 100 bells"), because of its beautifully preserved architectural heritage, dating back to the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Come and admire the Palace of the Dukes, the Philippe Le Bon Tower and the scores of churches and mansions, following the flight of the owl, the city's emblem.
• Les Hospices de Beaune
This flamboyant Gothic 15th century former hospital, crowned with polychrome slates, is known worldwide for its 60 hectare (150 acre) vineyard. The wines of Côtes de Nuit, Pouilly-Fuissé and Côtes de Beaune are sold at auction on the 3rd Sunday of November: mark your calendars, wine-lovers!
• The artistic and historic city of Chalon-sur-Saône
Of medieval tradition, Chalon is also the birthplace of Nicephore Niepce, the inventor of photography, who is immortalized by a museum here. Stroll in the pedestrian streets, around the Place St Vincent, where charm buds like the grapevines.
• The abbeys of Cluny and Tournus
For lovers of religious sites, the imposing Cluny abbey, a cultural and intellectual center founded in the 10th century, should be your first stop. Next up is the St Philibert abbey of Tournus, a masterpiece of Romanesque art with the look of a fortress.
• The Palace of the Dukes of Burgundy
At the heart of Dijon, this is where the sovereigns of the Burgundy state had taken up residence in medieval times. Redesigned by Mansart, open on a place of honor, the stone building today houses the town hall, the museum of fine arts and the tourist office.
• The Cathedral of Saint-Étienne in Sens
Gothic art afficianados, this cathedral is calling. The architect-builder invented the ogival cross, a revolutionary concept in the 12th century.
• The small town of Chablis
Surrounded by the famous vineyards that produce dry white wine, Chablis is a fine example of a medieval Burgundian village. Visiting the Obédiencerie, a former monastery built in the 9th century, will whet your appetite before sitting down at Fil du Zinc, an exceptional restaurant in the heart of the city.
• The Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Paray-le-Monial
A high place of pilgrimage in France, the sanctuaries of Paray-le-Monial attract hundreds of thousands of people each year. The Romanesque basilica of the Sacred Heart, erected in the 10th century, still bears witness to the Christian faith.
• The Guédelon medieval castle construction site
Do you have a builder's soul? Give it free reign here. On the living site of Guédelon, you will learn how to use materials to build... a castle! By participating in their workshops, you will find out how to carve the stone, bake tiles and reduce iron ore. This should keep you busy until 2025, the date of completion of this project unlike any other.
• The priory church in La Charité-sur-Loire and the Basilica in Vézelay
Two major sites to discover religious art: Le prieuré de la Charité at the Gothic cloister, and the Basilica of Vézelay, which represents Romanesque style and a step on the road to Santiago de Compostela.
Things to do in Burgundy
• Travel the Route des Grands Crus wine trail
With nearly 100 appellations, Burgundy wine is distinguished by its great diversity (of both red and white) and "climates," shaped by soils and very specific geographical properties. Here, on the 60 kilometers (37 miles) of the Route des Grands Crus, the famous names are crisscrossed into a Burgundian patchwork: Meursault, Gevrey-Chambertin, Clos de Vougeot, Nuits St Georges, Vosne-Romanée, Pommard, Aloxe-Corton, Puligny-Montrachet...
• Visit Château de Béru and taste its exceptional wine
A charming break in the vineyards of Chablis: the castle has belonged to the Counts of Béru since the 17th century. Here they produce 100% Chardonnay grapes, which release a distinct mineral aroma onto the small parcel, protected for 700 years by fortified walls.
• Try the mustard bar at the Fallot mustard mill
If you thought you knew everything about Dijon mustard, you will be surprised. This traditional factory offers an interactive Thrills circuit, which reveals the secrets of Sénevé seeds, verjuice and various herbs. The namesake condiment is to be enjoyed at the bar without moderation.
• Cycle the green way
From Chalon sur Saône to Macon, 70 kilometers (43.5 miles), the greenway allows to discover Burgundy's vineyards and the heritage by bike, at your own pace.
• Feast on a rare and delicate treat: truffles
The Burgundy truffle, or "Tuber Uncinatum" for the specialists, thrives on the limestone plateaux of the region, at the feet of black pine, hazel and hornbeam trees. Black in color, this truffle releases a subtle aroma of hazelnut and mushroom. Take a look at the markets in the fall and enjoy it in one of the Burgundian restaurants that offer "all truffle" menus.
• Traverse 900 years of history at Fontenay Abbey
The religious heritage of Burgundy has thrived through centuries, and the Cistercian Abbey of Fontenay is one of the oldest of its type preserved in the world. Founded in 1118, nestled in a historical valley of 1200 hectares (about 3000 acres), the Abbey serenely testifies to Burgundy's rich history.
• Make a wish to the legendary owl of Dijon
Find the alleyway of the Rue de la Chouette, where the Notre Dame church de Dijon stands, to find the wish-granting owl that perches on side of the chuch! It's said that the statue brings good luck to all those who touch it with the left hand, keeping their right hand on their heart. If you believe strongly enough, your wish might just come true...
• Learn something new at the Burgundy Wine School in Beaune
A school to learn everything about wine—in France, of course it exists! In Beaune, an essential stop in the Burgundy, you can attend organized courses, conferences and tastings, to initiate or improve your knowledges, at the Burgundy Wine School.
• Cruise the Nivernais Canal
Roaming over nearly 180 kms (112 miles), between St Léger des Vignes in the Nièvre and Auxerre, capital of Lower Burgundy, the Nivernais canal beckons visitors to sail closer to the greenery, villages and vineyards, in boats without requiring a license. All aboard!
• Tour the great lakes of Morvan
The six lakes are all different, nestled between rolling hills: Settons, Pannecière, St Agnan, Chaumeçon, Chamboux or Crescent. Canoeing, swimming, cycling, fishing—find aquatic adventures or lakeside tranquility, it's up to you.