Renowned throughout the world for its venerable wines, Burgundy is an essential destination for those who appreciate the finer aspects of the winemaker’s art. This is a region where you can visit some of the oldest and most prestigious vineyards in the world and taste wines that are regularly regarded as the best France has to offer (which is saying something). As one of the richest regions of France for hundreds of years, Burgundy also offers a wealth of history and culture as well as beautiful landscapes that offer the adventurous visitor plenty of stuff to do, even if it’s just a walk to admire the scenery. If you’re booking one of our fantastic villas and chateaux in Burgundy, you’ll want to read this fantastic Burgundy travel guide to find all the best things to do, see, eat and drink.
For lovers of the great outdoors, from its unspoilt landscapes to its tantalising produce, there is no finer corner of France than Burgundy. This east-central region is blessed with blueberry-covered hills, forested fields, glistening lakes and, of course, vast vineyards. It is a nirvana for ramblers, hikers and cyclists alike, particularly those who like their landscapes dotted with medieval villages, magnificent châteaux and Renaissance architecture. No wonder it’s so popular for weddings. Add in the delicious regional cuisine, comprising everything from Dijon mustard and boeuf bourguignon to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, and it isn’t difficult to see why Burgundy is one of France’s most beguiling destinations.
- Dijon – Discover the former capital of the dukes of Burgundy, and the home of mustard!
- Château de Tanly – Be seduced by the turrets and stone drawbridge of this fairytale castle.
- Beaune – Explore the city’s cobbled alleys, shaded squares and historic buildings by foot.
- Fontenay Abbey – Get an insight into medieval monks at this preserved Cistercian abbey.
- Vézelay – Discover this picturesque hilltop village on the fringes of Morvan National Park.
When to Visit?
Despite its endless attractions, Burgundy is yet to be overrun by tourism, so even visits in the height of summer are unlikely to be spoiled by camera-clicking tourists. What’s more, Burgundy in summer is simply stunning, with long, sunny and warm days (July and August see average highs of 25 degrees Celsius). That makes summertime ideal for hiking, cycling or boating Burgundy’s myriad waterways.
However, if your plan is more about wine tasting and cultural activities, it’s worth considering a visit in August, September and October. Not only is it harvest season, so you can see the pickers at work and taste the young wine at festivals, but the cooler weather makes for easier city sightseeing. Avoid winter, when days are dark and cold and many attractions, shops and restaurants are closed.
- Airports: There is no direct flight from the UK to Burgundy but you can easily fly to Paris and hire a car or take the train to reach your final destination in less than 2 hours.
- Public transport: Burgundy’s major cities and towns are connected by the regional railway network TER, so you can travel between places such as Dijon, Autun and Beaune with ease. However, some of the region’s popular attractions, like the hilltop Vézelay, are only accessible by bus.
- By bike: Burgundy by bike is a joy, with quiet countryside roads and towpaths linking several towns in the region. But be prepared for rather a lot of up and down, particularly among the vineyards.
- Hiring a car: Driving is the best way to see the most of Burgundy in the least amount of time. There are a number of car hire companies in the region, most notably Auto Europe who have offices in all airports and eight of Burgundy’s towns.
- Explore the pretty little village of Chablis. Although world-famous for its white wines, Chablis is not top of most people’s list when visiting Burgundy, but perhaps it should be. As you enter the city by a grand gateway (the Porte Noël) consisting of two turreted towers, you enter a world of narrow stone streets and beautiful timbered houses dating from the 1300s. A beacon of Burgundian beauty.
- Keen cyclists, avid boaters and history buffs alike will adore the Canal de Bourgogne. Built between 1775 and 1832 and stretching for more than 150 miles to connect the Atlantic to the Mediterranean, it crosses the entire Burgundy region, which makes it a great jumping on-and-off point for sightseers. Why not hop onto the route in Dijon and – on the road between Paris and Dijon, visit Auxerre. This beautiful yet under-appreciated town is more often driven-through than delved into, but we think it deserves more credit. Pick up a town map from the tourist office and explore the city’s crooked streets, stone-and-timber buildings and café-lined squares. And explore the city’s trio of churches – particularly the flamboyant Gothic Cathédrale Saint-Étienne d’Auxerre.
- Head to Beaujolais for a rare wine experience. While most of Burgundy’s vineyards are given over to growing the ‘big two’ grape varietals – Pinot Noir reds and Chardonnay whites – the far south of the region focuses on Gamay. A fruity, light red wine grape with low acidity and high tannin, Gamay makes some fine wines, yet this is one of the few places in the world you can try them in their purest form.
- Gird your loins for a climb up the steep path to Châteauneuf-en-Auxois. This charming little hilltop town is well worth the exertion, both for the town itself and the vistas of the surrounding woodland and farms. Often billed as a ‘mini-Carcassonne’, Châteauneuf-en-Auxois boasts a turreted, fortified castle dotted with pretty merchant houses; all dating back to between the 12th and 15th centuries.
Okay, so they’ll have to forego the region’s famous wine – and perhaps go easy on the mustard – but children still have plenty to keep them entertained in Burgundy. After all, this is a region that’s full of fairytale castles, cobblestone streets and crooked, half-timbered buildings – ideal for made-up tales of heroic knights, dastardly rulers and gutsy princesses. The variety of natural landscapes, from wild woodland to wide waterways, also allow the children to run, jump and swim to their hearts’ desire. The locals are used to family tourism and will invariably go out of their way to make you and the kids feel welcome. Even at vineyards and bistros, (tasty) grape juice and kids’ menus are usually available. But, best of all, there are several attractions that have been specifically designed with young ones in mind. From amusement parks to skating rinks, here are our favourite Burgundy family attractions.
The Best Family Activities in Burgundy
- There’s an abundance of history in Burgundy, and the relative wealth of the region means there’s plenty of castles and museums in Burgundy to visit. And if you think the little ones might get tetchy wandering around ruins, there are loads to choose from that offer something a bit more engaging.
- Want to sneak in a bit of education while you’re entertaining the kids? The MuséoParc Alésia in the Côte-d’Or is a huge archaeological site spanning some 7,000 acres where you can delve into the history of the Gauls and their ferocious battles with the Romans.
- How about something a bit more contemporary, but equally enticing? Guédelon Castle in Treigny isn’t actually a medieval castle but an ongoing recreation of one. The whole family can join in and enjoy typical activities from the age, including crafts, decorating and even a spot of baking.
- Many rivers, canals and waterways criss-cross Burgundy, and taking to their gentle currents provides a great day trip for everyone. Indulge in a cruise if you’re feeling like a gentle day out, or older kids might enjoy getting in a kayak or canoe and paddling through the majestic landscape.
- Edge Charter offers boat trips with a bit of a difference. You can charter your very own péniche (think a cross between a canal boat and a barge) and take a leisurely trip down the Yonne or the Canal de Nivernais, with breakfast and lunch included.
- There’s lots of family-friendly stuff to do in the countryside of Burgundy too – take a ramble through the woodland landscapes to get in touch with nature, get on your bikes or even try a spot of horse riding at the stables that dot the region.
- Why not head a little higher? Near the town of Givry is a treetop adventure playground with high(ish) altitude activities and ziplines, and courses suitable for younger children too.
If you want more ways that you can enjoy your holiday as a family, come on over to the best family activities in Burgundy page.
The Best Family Cycling Routes in Burgundy
- The Canal de Bourgogne runs for an impressive 212km, and its towpaths make great cycling routes. The southern end is particularly pretty, so pick your starting point and pedal for as long as you like.
- The Voie Verte route from Givry to St-Gengoux-le-National is a fairly hefty 21km, but you’ll be passing though beautiful woodland and the charming village of Bexy so there’s plenty of opportunity to stop, admire the scenery, or break out the picnic basket.
- Alternatively, head south from Auxerre down the banks of the river Yonne. Depending on the age of the kids, you’ll probably have to head back the way you came at some point but the relaxing landscapes and waterside views are worth seeing twice.
The finest wine, the tastiest food and the loveliest landscapes: just the idea of a Burgundy break with friends or family is already your holiday of a lifetime. Ask anyone who’s been to this charming corner of France if they have any regrets and their answer is always the same: We wish we’d stayed longer. The key to getting the most out of your group break to Burgundy is to plan ahead and pencil in some fun activities.
Well, you don’t want to arrive home afterwards to learn that you missed out on the mustard tasting, the canoeing or the F3 car driving, do you?! Yes, those are all real experiences you can enjoy during your holiday in Burgundy; you can see a full list of suggested group activities below.
Adrenaline-Fuelled Activities in Burgundy
- Burgundy is awash (pun intended) with canals, rivers and lakes that provide endless opportunities for adventurous activities. From rafting to canoeing to the high-octane riverboarding, strap on your life jacket and prepare to jump in.
- AN Rafting is based in the beautiful Morvan National Park and can sort you out with some seriously exciting white-water rafting – and if that doesn’t float your boat (pun also intended) the park can also play host to paintballing, potholing and climbing.
- If you really want to get your pulse racing (there’s another pun) then why not head to the Circuit Magny Cours? You could try a two-hour endurance race or even get behind the wheel of an F3 car, or if you’re not that confident behind the wheel you can enjoy the thrill of high speeds with a professional driver.
- And though you might prefer to take it easy than challenge your endurance, seeing Burgundy on two wheels is one of the best ways to enjoy the region. Take it easy on the tow paths of the Canal de Bourgogne or hire a mountain bike and head to the hillier spots near Morvan for something a bit more strenuous.
- Looking for somewhere to hire a bike? Velibourgogne are the people to talk to, and they include all the extras like helmets, lights and handy route maps.
Laid Back Activities to Enjoy in Burgundy
- If you’re a foodie, you might be surprised to know that Burgundy is a great place to find that most prized culinary gem – the truffle. But don’t just look to the nearest menu, as you can actually get out there and enjoy finding truffles of your own.
- L’Or des Valois is a family-run business that can take you and your friends on your own truffle hunt – as well as providing you with the chance to take home loads of tasty truffle-based treats.
- Another surprise up Burgundy’s sleeve is its relative abundance of great golf courses – 21 across the region, to be exact. Whether you’ve got a decent handicap or are just picking up a club for the first time, it’s a great way to while away a lazy day.
- Château de Chailly is a fantastic course designed by Thierry Sprecher that sits in the grounds of a spectacular chateau – and as well as a lazy game with your mates, they also offer lessons and competitions to sharpen your skills.
- Seeing as you’re on holiday, why not indulge in some real relaxation? You’ll find a great choice of spas and therapy centres throughout Burgundy, and let’s face it – the landscapes here might be beautiful, but they’re certainly a lot nicer through the French windows of a spa while you’re enjoying a massage.
- CeltÔ spa in Bourbon Lancy offers visitors a thermal pool, jacuzzis, saunas and a range of treatments that’ll have you feeling fresh as a daisy (and twice as relaxed).
If you want to try more activities, check out our post the best things for adults in Burgundy.
What can we say about Burgundy wine? One of the planet’s most famous wine regions, it produces some truly glorious vintages – especially dry red wines made from Pinot Noir grapes and white wines from Chardonnay grapes – that have oenophiles flocking from all over the world.
But Burgundy isn’t only about wine.The region is also a mecca for foodies, with the tender bœuf (from premium cattle breed the Charollais), delicious escargots (snails, stewed in white wine and garlic) and tasty fromages (from creamy white Chaource to orange-skinned Époisses) drawing in tourist crowds year-after-year.With such a rich heritage of gastronomy, Burgundy is also inevitably home to some of France’s finest restaurants, food shops and unique dining experiences. To help ensure you experience the very best of Burgundy dining and food-related fun, here’s our selection of the region’s top culinary attractions.
The Best Restaurants in Burgundy
- A fine restaurant in fine settings (it’s a converted former mill) Au Fil du Zinc in Chablis serves quality french food cooked impeccably, and if you can’t decide there’s a tempting tasting menu that’ll let you try a bit of everything.
- Maison Lameloise in Chagny is the place to head if you feel like splashing out – it’s been awarded three Michelin stars, so you know you’ll be getting one of the finest dining experiences of your life.
- For something a bit less formal that still hits the fine dining spot, head to Paray-le-Monial and try Restaurant Frédéric Doucet, which serves such delights as Breton lobster and Morvan truffles but welcomes groups and families too.
Want to find more delectable inspiration? Take a look at our best foodie experiences.
Tempting Dishes to Try in Burgundy
- The practice of eating escargots actually originated in Burgundy. If you haven’t tried them, don’t be put off – if you like shellfish such as mussels and clams, you’ll surely appreciate a snail or two.
- Of course, Burgundy’s magnificent wine is used a lot in cooking, which has given rise to two of its most famous dishes – beef bourguignon and coq au vin. Make sure you try at least one while you’re over there to appreciate them in truly authentic style.
- Oeufs en meurette also utilises wine, but not with meat – this dish pairs poached eggs with a wine reduction and is usually eaten for brunch.
- One of the strongest cow’s milk cheeses you’re likely to try, Époises is a Burgundy classic and is considered one of the great French cheeses. It pairs perfectly with a nice robust red wine.
The Best Foodie Activities in Burgundy
- Many of the dishes that are considered ‘French’ actually originated in Burgundy – so make sure you sample some of these staples with a tour from Burgundy on a Plate. Based in Chagny, they offer a fantastic range of foodie tours including truffle hunting, cheese tasting and even customised tours including an activity of your choice.
- Everyone knows that French cookery is among the best in the world, so why not take a few of those skills back home with you? The Cook’s Atelier will let you get to grips with the basics of French cookery, guided by top professionals and using fresh, local ingredients.
- Of course, it wouldn’t be a trip to Burgundy without sampling some of that world-famous wine. Joseph Drouhin Oenothèque is a renowned winery in Beaune that covers some 200 acres, and a tour includes a visit to their ancient cellars and a sampling session of some of their finest vintages.
- If you fancy a wine tour with a bit of a twist, Authentica Tours (which operates out of Dijon and Beaune) can take you around some of the region’s best vineyards while indulging in a bit of sightseeing on the way.