We'll meet you at Dijon railway station in our air-conditioned vehicle and make the journey to our first hotel in la Bussière sur Ouche. This journey should take approximately 35 minutes, and will give you the opportunity to survey the terrain and marvel at the sheer number of vines on the slopes. You will definitely want to explore our magnificent first hotel, and the afternoon will be spent 'fitting' you to your bike, having the opportunity to meet and mingle with your fellow riders and shaking off the tiredness of travel with a relaxing swim for those who wish. Towards early evening we'll meet for a 'welcome' aperitif and sample our first gourmet meal together.
Well-rested and re-fuelled by the hearty breakfast, we hit the road for our first day in the saddle in the vineyards of Burgundy. Our first few kilometres are an easy and very pretty meander alongside the River Ouche, allowing everybody some time to acquaint themselves with their 'trusty steeds'. Being in a valley we do need to gain a little elevation, but the scenery and weather should be an adequate distraction as we make our way towards the appellation that some have described as the Champs Elysées of Burgundy, Côte de Nuits.
After a welcome lunch-break in the town of Nuits Saint Georges we continue South. With the majority of our day's journey completed we'll be looking to partake in a spot of wine-tasting. Being spoilt for choice we'll be crossing into the appellation of Côte de Beaune, passing through Ladoix Serrigny to reach our resting place in Aloxe Corton. On this narrow slope, barely a few hundred metres wide, magnificently exposed to the rising sun, the greatest dry white wines in the world grow alongside renowned red wines. One of the many growers near to our hotel will be our destination.
Leaving Aloxe Corton behind us we head into the vineyards that dominate the region. The morning ride takes us through some very pretty routes as we pass Château de Savigny les Beaune looking for our coffee-break venue on an exhilarating descent. Lunch will be taken in the village square of Meursault, once a Roman settlement, and perhaps some of you may be inclined to wash it down with a glass of the Chardonnay that the area is best known for producing.
Our afternoon ride is fairly short and takes us to Château de Pommard for a visit and wine-tasting. Amongst the items of interest in the museum are several original works of art by Picasso and Dali. Our aim is to arrive in Beaune with plenty of time to get settled into our hotel rooms and to have ample time to explore the town with its many cafés and interesting shops. The main attraction of the city being the Hôtel Dieu, a former charitable almshouse founded in 1443, and now a worldwide recognisable tourist attraction due to its very Burgundian glazed roof tiles.
With the van packed and our bodies re-fuelled we leave our memories of Beaune behind us and take to the road. This morning we'll be sauntering through Puligny Montrachet and Chassagne Montrachet on our way to the fascinating Château de la Rochepot. Built in the 13th century the Château de La Rochepot owes both its name and its entire architecture to two lords: Régnier Pot and his grandson Philippe Pot, two powerful vassals of the Dukes of Burgundy and Knights of the Golden Fleece. Although the last few hundred metres to the château will test our weary legs the visit is worthwhile. At least we have the descent from the château to look forward to after the visit and once back on our saddles we work our way through the quiet lanes to lunch in the tiny spa-town of Santenay.
Again, once refreshed and well fed, we have less distance to cover in the afternoon. After passing through Mercurey we'll eventually arrive in the town of Givry, our resting place for the evening. With our hotel being situated in the town, and after taking advantage of the facilities, including the hotel's spa treatments, we'll be dining out at one of the local restaurants, giving us the opportunity to mix with the locals.
Should there be any early-risers this morning then breakfast may be able to be taken a little earlier in order that you can explore the local market. Once all bargains have been bartered for and produce safely stowed we'll leave Givry on the voie verte (green lane), which should be our traffic-free route for the day. This popular route gives us the opportunity to be a bit less diligent and more care-free as it winds its way through the green pastures and fruit-bearing vines on its way to Cluny.
After stopping for a coffee-break in Buxy we'll take the voie verte through several quaint villages until we stumble upon Cormatin where we can reload with calories and take lunch before our visit to the château in the town. Undoubtedly one of the most sumptuous châteaux in Burgundy with the interior reflecting the fashion of early 17th century France, and particularly Paris, during the reign of Louis XIII. There is also the additional attraction of a Renaissance garden to wander around or perhaps even claim a place on the lawn for a short nap.
Our last stint will take us on to the town of Cluny, and our resting place for the evening. Hopefully time will allow for a walk into the town, built around the Benedictine Cluny Abbey, for those that want. Originating from the 10th century the abbey and the Benedictine order was a keystone to the stability of European society in the 11th century.
After another hearty breakfast we hit the road for our last day in the saddle, which takes us towards the Mâconnais region and its dominant Chardonnay grape. Our first port of call, and coffee-break venue, will be les Grottes d'Azé, an amazing network of Cro-Magnon caves and flowing subterranean river. With the sun having warmed us back up to operating temperature we'll continue South towards Mâcon and the northern part of the Beaujolais.
After lunch on the outskirts of Mâcon we'll take a leisurely ride skirting the vineyards of Pouilly Fuissé to reach our final hotel in Saint Amour Bellevue. There'll be time to enjoy a dip in the cooling pool with a welcome aperitif, or for a wander around the village before our last meal together and an exchange of memories of the week.
Waking rested and with the knowledge that the cycling is over may bring a mix of emotions over breakfast, but most will be looking forward to their next adventure or contemplating their journey home. With bags packed and memories stored we'll transport you to Mâcon railway station where we will say our goodbyes and leave you with many fond memories of Burgundy and France.