Discovering Burgundy

An introduction and invitation to the region

Burgundy is one of the most fascinating of the 22 regions in France, often labled as the "Land of fine art and living". A vast and varied landscape with wide fertile river beds, dense forests, granite hills,and limestone valleys. Day to day life is to be enjoyed, but at a snail's pace, and the secret is good food and wine, with a dash of lush vegetation in a rich culture.

One of the highlights of the region is cruising on the canal with a barge trip or self-drive boating holiday.
We Look forward to sharing and seeing you soon on the gentle waterways of the canals and rivers.

Canal cruises

One of the most important changes for Burgundy was the construction of the Burgundy Canal (Le Canal de Bourgogne). It dramtically changed the social evolution for hundreds of small villages and hamlets. The canal is a masterpiece of pre-industrial revolution technology, spanning more than 250 kilometres in length

The canal struggles to span across the region, slowly winding in smooth curves along the plains, or rising steeply with a concentration of locks which appear like staircases, before reaching the summit at Pouilly en Auxois. For almost two hundred years the waters of this man made canal have carried the weight of wooden or steel hulled barges.

The construction of the canal has changed the destiny of Burgundy, raising its status from a rural farming area to a that of a great state with navigable waterways connecting the north of Europe to the Mediterranean sea.

Today the canal retains a small float of cargo carrying vessels, but it's purpose has temporarily changed to offering vacational cruises on boats.

Heritage and history

The Celtics, Romans, Cistercians and the powerful Burgundian Dukes sculpted the towns and villages.

The feudal rule was imposed for many years by the local lords. The dukedom of Burgundy was at one time a large empire spreading though eastern France, into Germany, up to Belgium and the Flanders. Enemies of the French crown and allied with the the English king, the succession of Dukes held a solid frontier which eventually became a province with Louis XI, then finally entering the realm of France at the end of the 17th century.

The Catholic church was a driving force of inspiration and energy, the construction of the basilica Vezelay near Avallon, which was founded in 868 AD. The building of the abbeys of Cluny, Citeaux, La Bussiere built by the Cistercian and Benedictine orders.

There are examples of many of the epochs such as Roman, Gothic and Renaissance such as the castles of Ancey le Franc and Tanlay, or the fortified chateau of Chateauneuf en Auxois.

Burgundy tiled roof.The traditional coloured tiles used on the roofs can be seen in many places. This was not only reserved for the prestigious. The influence came from eastern Europe, but has remained in Burgundy. Even is small villages you can see examples of coloured roofs, which is both appealing and relaxing to the eye.

» Read more about the local history

Flavors and the cuisine

As the area is a historical crossroads form the north of Europe to Italy and the Mediterranean coasts, the region has inherited influences from many other cultures and regions.

The ancient trade routes along the Rhone and Saone river valleys have been travelled upon throughout the centuries, bringing spices and ingredients which are used in the local cuisine.

The traditional cuisine is rich and tasty, which can be enjoyed at a very affordable price in many of the small traditional restaurants in villages and towns; whilst the gastronomic restaurants with the highest standards and star ratings can be found in all the corners of Burgundy.

The red grapes used for wine

Wines which were introduced by the Romans as they progressed northwards along the Rhone valley; and then mastered by the monks at Nuits Saint George, creating famous names like Volany, Pommard, Gevery and Aloxe Corton which are now known throughout the world.

The vineyards spread southwards for miles on the slopes of the hills, with many producers still using the traditional methods, oak barrels and years of aging in the coolness of vaulted cellars to give us some of the best know Crus.

As you travel south through the region, you will pass through the wine growing areas of Chablis, Cote de Beaune, Cote de Nuits, Chalonais and Maconais before arriving in the Beaujolais. There is a concentration of Pinot Noir and Chardonay grapes in the vineyards, but also lesser well know names such as the Aligoté white which is used in the famous Kir served as a refreshing aperitif.

Charolais cattle

The varieties of Cheeses are abundant, in all shapes, sizes and colours, strong in character such as the Epoise or mild and fresh. To be tasted with fresh bread and some of the famous red or white wines.

The white Charolais cattle, which can be seen in the green pastures on the hill slopes, bred to give a remarkable quality of beef, which gives us one of Burgundy's most well know dished, the Boeuf Bourguignon.

Markets and local fresh products are plentiful, cultivated in the fertile river plains of the Saone.

The art of Mustards, Cassis, and even Ginger breads are other secret ingredients for a refined cuisine. The art of a gourmet table requires talent and experience which you can find in some of the worlds finest restaurants such as Bernard Loiseau, Joigny, Marc Meneau.

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