HIGHLIGHTS ON BURGUNDY
Burgundy may well be renowned for its wine – with villages such as Chablis and Nuits-St-Georges known throughout the world – but rural Burgundy has a great deal more to offer. Renaissance chateaux, medieval abbeys and fortified villages all stand testimony to the colourful history of this lesser-known region of France.
The region also boasts some of France’s most spectacular castles. Chateau d’Ancy le Franc is styled on the Italian Renaissance; Chateau de Cormatin is a unique survivor from the days before the revolution. And there are scores of other, more intimate castles.
At Burgundy’s rural heart lies the Morvan National Park, 1,000 square miles of unspoiled wildness. It’s dotted with lakes and picturesque villages, many of which have family-run brasseries in their tree-shaded squares. I come to the Morvan to get away from the world. What better way to while away the heat of the day than with a slab of homemade pate and a glass of chill Puligny-Montrachet?
Even if there were no historical wonders in Burgundy, the gastronomic cuisine would be reason enough to holiday here. Boeuf bourguignon is the region’s signature dish but there are scores of other local specialities. One of France’s most celebrated cheeses, Epoisses, comes from a lovely little village of the same name (complete with rambling medieval castle). Locals will insist you wash down the cheese with a glass of vielles vignes (old vine) Chablis.
After a decade spent exploring its hidden corners - and living here for a year - I’m left with one unanswered question. Why do so many British holidaymakers speed southwards, to Provence and the Dordogne, when they could be enjoying one of France’s most beguiling areas?
Burgundy has history at every turn. This was once a formidable duchy that was more powerful than France itself. In its heyday, its territory stretched as far north as Holland and as far eastwards as Flanders. The dukes of Burgundy spent a fortune beautifying their capital, Dijon. The city - these days a rich provincial centre - remains one of the region’s greatest draws. Burgundy’s history stretches even further into the past. Hilltop villages and market towns are adorned with some of the most magnificent Romanesque structures in Europe. The basilica of Vezelay, the abbey of Cluny and the abandoned Fontenay Abbey are among the must-see sights.
Some of the hotels in Burgundy that you may be interested in. Call us on 1300 302 623 for rates
Les Jardins de Loïs Hotel, Beaune: Close to the Hospices de Beaune, the Jardins de Lois makes a perfect base for exploring both the city and the surrounding countryside. The owners also make their own (delicious) wine.
Abbaye de la Bussiere Hotel, Dijon: This Burgundy hotel, set in a 12th-century abbey, offering a Michelin-starred restaurant, 15 acres of private parkland and whirlpool baths, close to the Burgundy vineyards and 20 miles south-west of Dijon.
Château D'igé Hotel - Igé, A happy blend of medieval charm and 21st century comfort. The medieval century Chateau d’Ige has been impeccable restored. Surrounded by beautiful gardens, it’s a place to unwind and allow yourself to be pampered. Breakfast is served on the patio when the weather is fine.
Carpe Diem Hotel - Carpe Diem hotel, in France, is a Burgundy hotel offering beautifully furnished rooms and excellent home cooking in a restored farmhouse setting, close to many of Burgundy's main attractions.
Maison Lameloise Hotel - Chagny: A Relais & Chateaux hotel that’s been in the hands of the same family for three generations, the hotel's three-star Michelin restaurant makes this an essential stay for foodies visiting the famous wine-growing area around Beaune.
Hostellerie De Levernois Hotel - Levernois: Boasting a Michelin-starred restaurant and a cellar with more than 8,000 wines, guests at the hotel are certainly well looked-after when it comes to food and drink. Situated in the heart of the wine-growing region, there's also a golf course nearby.
Le Relais Bernard Loiseau Hotel - Saulieu: Five-star Le Relais Bernard Loiseau and its two Michelin-starred restaurant have been an irresistible magnet for food-lovers since the late chef bought this venerable hotel in 1982. This jewel in Burgundy’s heart is not only an excellent stop-over but also a destination in its own right.
Aux Terrasses Hotel - Tournus: If you’re intimidated by the thought of Michelin dining, expecting snooty frostiness and pomp, you’ll find no better ambassador to the contrary than Aux Terrasses. Despite holding a star since 1999, this family-run hotel/restaurant with boutique aspirations and cheery surroundings oozes chumminess and warmth.
Auberge Du Paradis Hotel - Saint-Amour-Bellevue: With its flower-filled garden, eye-catching décor, and friendly welcome, this quirky hotel, with its blend of traditional and modern styles, is an attractive and comfortable base from which to explore Tournus and the vineyards of southern Burgundy.
Chateau de Vault de Lugny Hotel - Vault-de-Lugny:A medieval castle set in the heart of the Burgundian countryside, not far from the Morvan National Park and close to Vezelay. Guests can swim in a pool located in the underground vaults, or fish in the castle moat.
La Ferme de Marie Eugenie Hotel - Bruailles: Rural France at its most welcoming, featuring peaceful gardens, home-cooked food, and beautiful rooms, in a lovingly restored 18th-century farmhouse. Not far outside Tournus, it's the perfect place from which to explore southern Burgundy.
La Cimentelle Hotel - Etaule: Although La Cimentelle is based around an old cement factory, don’t let that put you off. This is a spacious country residence – beautifully furnished with antiques – and boasting an orangerie and a lake. The ruined factory buildings only enhance the charm.