Burgundy, located in central eastern France south-east of Paris, is a paradise for nature lovers and wine lovers alike. The region offers a green environment through its many rivers, including the Saône and Yonne, and its canals, including the famous Canal of Burgundy. Vineyards scatter the landscape and stretch from one enchanting village to the next, featuring the ‘celebrities’ of the wine world. From north to south Burgundy has many faces and a wealth of treasures for us to discover and explore. From historic and religious settings to natural sites, from castles and châteaux to striking towns, let us guide you on our Burgundy cycle tour.
The rolling terrain of Burgundy is ideal for the more established cyclist with cycle-paths, canal tow-paths and quiet meandering roads criss-crossing the vineyards and countryside to create routes for all abilities.
The name comes from the Burgundians, a Germanic race possibly originating in Bornholm (Baltic Sea), who settled there and established their own kingdom following the power vacuum left by the collapse of the Western half of the Roman Empire. The History of Burgundy stretches back much further though to the times when the region was inhabited in turn by Celts, Romans (Gallo-Romans) and, then in the 4th century, the Roman allies the Burgundians. By the end of the 6th century the Burgundian kingdom had been conquered and inhabited by another Germanic tribe, the Franks. The region was later to be divided between the Duchy of Burgundy, which became the province of Burgundy as we know it today, and the County of Burgundy, which is now known as Franche-Comté.
The Burgundy region is known for its attractive countryside, numerous historical towns and villages and Burgundy wine, held in high esteem the world over. Visit Cluny Abbey, an important abbey in the Saône-et-Loire department of Burgundy. Wander through the streets of Beaune and visit Hôtel-Dieu (Beaune Hospices), that still bears witness to the past when the power of the Duke of Burgundy stretched from Flanders to the Netherlands. Sample some of the world famous wine as we visit the odd vineyard. Your French cycling tour will allow for this and more.
Burgundy is one of France's most significant wine producing areas, with the region divided into the Côte-d'Or, where the most expensive and prized Burgundies are found, and Beaujolais, Chablis, the Côte Chalonnaise and Mâcon. It is well known for both its red and white wines, with the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes featuring heavily. Other grape varieties that can also be found include Gamay, Aligote, Pinot Blanc, and Sauvignon Blanc. Some Burgundies rank among the most expensive wines in the world due to the reputation and quality of the top wines, together with the fact that they are often produced in small quantities.
Thriving in the same soil and climatic conditions as the vine, and growing abundantly in Burgundy can be found the blackcurrant, Cassis. Cassis coulis, mousse and sorbet appear on many Burgundian menus. In early July you can see armies of workers collecting blackcurrants in the fields around the Côte-de-Nuits and the Hautes Côtes. In 1836 Crème de Cassis was born when Auguste Denis Lagoute founded a liqueur factory in Dijon and noted that the blackcurrant flavoured variety was particularly popular. The blackcurrant berries are steeped in clear alcohol and then the juice is sweetened with crystallised sugar.
The white Charolais cattle are also a hallmark of the Burgundy landscape and with so much good beef around it comes as no surprise that Beef Burgundy, or Boeuf Bourguignon as it is known locally, is the regional dish. The Fête du Charolais, held in Saulieu in late August each year, celebrates the prize beef with contests, parades, street music and regional produce.