My recent time in Burgundy, or Bourgogne as it is so-called in French, was a seven day bliss of slow travel, culinary experiences, and boutique hotel stays. And so if you’re looking for an alternative destination to the rugged coast of Brittany, the bright lights of Paris, or the sun-soaked villages of Provence, then Burgundy is the place to go. Here’s your complete guide and itinerary for one week in Burgundy…
Stay: 1 night
Where to stay: Panorama 360 Hotel & Spa
Located in the very southerly point of Burgundy, in a place where there’s a Mediterranean feel about the place and the sun shines for an incredible number of days each year in comparison with much of the rest of the region, Mâcon is the French city you wish you’d heard of before.
First inhabited as early as the Gallo-Roman period, and perhaps earlier, the city is home to a maze of cobbled lanes, pretty restaurants, and a laid-back way of life. Cross the medieval Pont Laurent and you’ll soon arrive in Bresse, another area of France and just as charming, albeit in a different way.
Read more: A guide to the best things to do in Mâcon
Chalon Sur Saône
Stay: 1 night
Where to stay: Saint Georges Hôtel
Timber-framed houses can be found in abundance across this quaint French city. While slightly larger than Mâcon, Chalon Sur Saone is by no means quite as large as the regional capital of Dijon. Alleged to be the birthplace of photography (the city’s most famous resident, Nicéphore Niépce took the earliest surviving photograph), there’s no shortage of things to do in this pretty city.
Highlights of Chalon-Sur-Saône, which is set across an isle in the River Saône and mainland France include the ever-so-impressiveDoyenné tower (this 15th-century tower was once located by the cathedral. During the 20th-century, it was dismantled and re-erected on the other side of the river) and Musée Vivant-Denon. If you’ve got a little more time in the city, then La Boule à Thé is a beautiful café serving all manner of hot drinks and cool beverages.
Stay: 1 night
Where to stay: Hôtel le Cep
The wine city of Beaune is every oenophile’s dream on a trip through l’Hexagon. Wander down any street and you’ll soon be greeted with wine vendors, as well as ample opportunities to head to one of the many tasting sessions that take place in the cellars that were constructed during the 17th-century.
Other must-see attractions in Beaune include strolling along the city’s ramparts (around half of the fortifications from the Middle Ages survive to this day) and visiting the other wine-themed attractions around town. For example, directly opposite The Hospices de Beaune, you’ll find the wine bookstore of Athenaeum, while the Musée du Vin de Bourgogne will tell you all you need to know about the region’s rich wine history.
Essential tour: Burgundy Full-Day Tour and Wine Tastings from Beaune
Stay: 1 night
Where to stay: Hotel Chateau de la Berchere
Located along the Route des Grands Crus, a UNESCO World Heritage rated wine route, Nuits-Saint-Georges is a quintessentially Burgundian town. But with a population of just five thousand residents and only a handful of tourist attractions (several churches, a belfry, and a few restaurants), you come to Nuits-Saint-Georges to enjoy the wine!
After all, from the town, it’s possible to walk or drive to nearby Vosne-Romanée. This French village is filled with wine vendors and tasting opportunities. Walk to the fringes of the village and you’ll soon stumble upon the vineyard that grows the grapes from Romanée-Conti wine, i.e. the most expensive wine in the world!
Read more: Your Guide to Nuits-Saint-Georges
Stay: 2 nights
Where to stay: Grand Hotel La Cloche Dijon MGallery by Sofitel
In order to truly enjoy the French capital city of mustard, you’ll need to set aside a full two days to wander around both the historic city centre and its wider counterparts. For a bird’s eye view of the city, be sure to climb Tour Philip Le Bon. From the top, you’ll soon discover one of the best views of the Dijon.
Other highlights of Dijon include mustard tasting (of course!), visiting the city’s many tiny churches, exploring the crypt of 6th-century Saint, Saint Beningnus, and exploring a handful of museums, scattered across the city. Many are free to visit, and of note is the Musée des Beaux-Arts (one of the oldest art museums in France) and the Musée de l’Art Sacré (a museum of religious art housed within a former church).
Read more: Here are the best secrets of Dijon
Stay: 1 night
Where to stay: Hôtel Les Maréchaux
Just over an hour and a half from Paris on the train, the city of Auxerre is lesser-known than its other Bourgogne counterparts, though it should still be on your radar. Characterised by its three impressive ecclesiastical buildings (An Abbey, A Cathedral, and a Church) set alongside the glittering River Yonne.
Elsewhere in Auxerre, you’ll soon discover that there’s more to meet the eye than the maze of cobbled lanes and timber-framed houses that are so synonymous with the region. After all, the Clocher (clock tower) dates all the way back to the 15th-century. Fortified and with a rather impressive astronomical clock, the stunning structure is reminiscent of that of Rouen.
Read more: The clock tower of Auxerre
Tips, tricks, and practical advice for visiting Burgundy
The best airport to fly into for this week-long itinerary is Aéroport Lyon-Saint Exupéry (Lyon Airport). I personally flew into here from London with a budget airline and thought that it was a great way to reach Eastern France.
Alternatively, Geneva also has a great international airport with regular connecting flights to the rest of Europe. Finally, if you want to complete this itinerary in reverse, then you could always fly to one of Paris’ airports (though I personally think that Charles de Gaulle is the easiest and most convenient of the Parisian airports).
All of the cities and towns listed within this itinerary can be reached via public transport, and for many of the more historic older towns, you probably wouldn’t want to have a car with you! For example, Beaune, Dijon, and Auxerre are all filled with one-way cobbled lanes and difficult enough to navigate on foot, let alone by car!
All of the destinations listed have tourism offices that are open throughout the year, and most offer free maps with walking tours (though some charge a nominal fee). Shops, cafés, and even pharmacies are generally closed all day on Sundays, and so you’ll want to stock up on groceries and the like on the Saturday as a result!
If you’re looking to learn a little more about wine prior to your visit, then I recommend purchasing a book like this one. Though it’s not absolutely necessary to know anything about vin before visiting Bourgogne, a little knowledge will certainly help you understand your preferences when selecting where you should go wine tasting and what you should purchase!
Finally, you’ll find that a general level of English-speakers can be found in pretty much every large town and city throughout the Bourgogne region. This is especially true of those working in the tourism industry; hotels, B&Bs, tourism offices etc. However, it’s only polite to try speaking a little French and I highly recommend bringing along a simple French phrasebook like this one!