The name Burgundy immediately conjures up visions of superb wines and wonderful gastronomy. Regional specialities range from the classic ‘Boeuf Bourguignon’ and ‘Escargot de Bourgogne’ to the delicious Charolais beef and 'Jambon Persillé a l’ancienne', delicious eaten cold accompanied by a glass of Chablis on the banks of one of the many canals or rivers that cross Burgundy, possibly followed by ‘tarte au fromage blanc sucrée’ or a little Bleu de Bresse, both typical of the Saône et Loire. The vineyards are recognised as being the finest in the world. From Chablis in the north via Côte de Nuits and the Côte de Beaune to the Côte Chalonnaise, Mâconnais and Beaujolais in the South. The choice of superb wines is endless. With 96 wines categorised AOC, 33 attract the highest appellation of ‘Grands Crus’.
The history of the region is fascinating. The Archéodrome de Bourgogne is an extensive leisure park with a life-sized reconstruction of the fortification techniques employed by Julius Caesar in the siege of Alesia when he battled against a young Gallic hero, Vercingetorix. A museum documents Burgundy’s history from the Palaeolithic era to the Middle Ages when the two greatest monastic reform movements originated: Cluny and Cîteaux. Both became established political forces and, as a result, Burgundy has many magnificent buildings from this era including the Abbey of Fontenay, the Basilica of Vézelay, and cathedrals such as Autun, Dijon and Auxerre. There are scores of Romanesque churches and one of the most illustrious of the Burgundian vineyards, Château du Clos de Vougeot, renowned as the home of the Chevaliers de Tastevin, owes its splendour to the monks who first inhabited it.
The Morvan, a mountainous area to the west of Burgundy, is the perfect place for walking, sailing and rafting whilst the gentler slopes of the Bresse lend themselves to cycling tours as does the Châtillonnais. There is plenty of scope for fishermen on the many trout streams and lakes or on the Saône, known for its catfish. Riding, rock climbing, pot-holing, micro-lighting and ballooning are also popular. Burgundy is easily accessible whether by plane to Dijon with regular flights from London Stansted, by Eurostar to Dijon or by one of the three main autoroutes which cross the region. Copyright: Sarah Francis