In Burgundy the term “climat” (which literally translates as climate) isn’t just about the weather, it’s also about the ground. The “climats of Burgundy” refers to 1247 specific vineyards, each of which has a distinct character. In the autumn, fiery red leaves on the vines echo the shimmering hues of the glazed roofs of Flamboyant Gothic monuments which pepper the land. It’s the perfect time to take a trip by river or canal, passing through medieval villages, spotting Romanesque churches and visiting exceptional vineyards.
From the exuberance of the Flamboyant Gothic style to the simplicity of Romanesque art, the rich architectural heritage of Burgundy is evident in every corner of the region.
The Hospices de Beaune
In Burgundy you’ll discover a wonderful combination of art and wine. The lustrous, glazed tiles of red, green and gold that cover the roof of the 15th century Hospices de Beaune are a fabulous example of the Flamboyant Gothic style of Burgundy. Each November, at this former hospital for the poor where you can still see the curtained double beds that were used, a wine auction is held. The finest wines of the region often sell for record prices at this famous event.
Côte de Nuits and Chablis
Dijon, nicknamed the city of 100 steeples, has many facets including its UNESCO classified 100 hectare protected sector, one of the largest in France, in recognition of the “climats” of Burgundy vineyards. The former capital of the mighty Duchy of Burgundy is also the gateway to one of the most prestigious French vineyards: the Côte de Nuits. Chablis, known as "The Golden Gate of Burgundy”, is a charming village where wine tasting and heritage are combined. Explore the Obédiencerie, a former Romanesque monastery whose cellars date from the ninth and twelfth centuries.
The Abbey of Fontenay and Vézelay
The Abbey of Fontenay has witnessed 900 years of history. It is the oldest preserved Cistercian abbey in the world. Founded in 1118 by Bernard of Clairvaux, its unadorned architectural style is a masterpiece of its genre. Bernard was a monk who became one of the greatest French saints and his fiery sermons at the Basilica of Vézelay contributed to the launch of the Second Crusade. A major pilgrimage destination on the holy route of Saint Jacques de Compostela, the Basilica is one of the most beautiful Romanesque churches in France. Vézelay is a charming medieval village with truly outstanding arcaded facades. Don’t miss a visit to medieval Noyers-sur-Serein, one of the 100 most beautiful villages in France with many splendid 15th century half-timbered houses.
The route of the “climats” of Burgundy
No trip to Burgundy would be complete without a tour of the wine routes which run through the unique “climats”. This exclusively Burgundian term has applied for centuries to individual parcels of land defined by Benedictine and Cistercian monks. They built dry stone wall boundaries to enclose specific vineyard plots taking into account the different natural environments such as the quality of soil and the slope of the ground as well as exposure to the sun which created diverse micro-climates. It’s a unique mosaic of vineyards, 1247 of which are UNESCO registered. Among the Burgundy wine routes, the most illustrious, "The Champs Elysées of Burgundy", crosses the wine domains of the Côte de Beaune and comprises eight grand crus, with no less than seven white wines. It includes the famed Montrachet, possibly the greatest Chardonnay vineyard in the world, though Chablis Grand Cru and Chablis Premier Cru are equally prestigious Chardonnay appellations.
Traditional cuisine in Burgundy
It may surprise you to know that Burgundian specialities meaty boeuf bourguignon and oeufs en meurette (a traditional dish made with poached eggs) have something in common. Both recipes call for bacon but it’s red wine that makes them so exceptional. Even the famous Burgundian snails taste better with a good red wine, preferably from the region. If you fancy something different – try a Burgundy fondue made from small cubes of meat immersed in boiling oil, accompanied by another Burgundian speciality - Dijon mustard. And finally, not much beats the deliciously distinct earthy aromas, with a hint of hazelnut, found at the truffle markets of Vézelay and Noyers-sur-serein…